Gallstones are hard, pebble-like deposits that form in your gallbladder, a small organ located just below your liver. If you have these stones, you might not even know it until they cause pain or other problems. It is important to know what causes gallstones and how you can prevent them from forming. People with diabetes are at a higher risk of developing gallstones. Onlymyhealth editorial team spoke to Dr. Ranjit Unnikrishnan, Vice Chairman & Consultant, Dr. Mohan’s Diabetes Specialities Centre, to know about the link between diabetes and the risk of gallstones.
One reason behind the same is that they are more likely to have high levels of triglycerides, which can lead to the formation of gallstones. People with diabetes may also have an impaired gallbladder motility and autonomic neuropathy, both of which promote gallstone development. Individuals with type 2 diabetes are also more likely to be overweight or obese, which by themselves are risk factors for gallstone formation.
However, people may also develop gallstones when their diets change. For example, losing a significant amount of weight from surgery or following a low-calorie diet can cause gallstones. Weight cycling, in which one gains and loses weight repeatedly, may also lead to the development of gallstones. Fasting can decrease gallbladder movement and increase cholesterol in the bile (bile is a liquid made by the liver), leading to the formation of stones. If you have type 2 diabetes, talk to your doctor about ways to lower your risk of developing gallstones.
Link between diabetes and gallstones
While the exact cause of gallstones is unknown, there is a strong link between diabetes and the development of these stones. In fact, people with diabetes are three times more likely to develop gallstones than those without the condition.
There are several theories as to why there is a link between diabetes and gallstones. One theory is that people with diabetes have increased levels of cholesterol in the bile, which can then harden into stones. Another theory is that diabetes interferes with the normal function of the gallbladder, leading to the formation of stones.
Whatever the exact mechanism, there is no doubt that there is a strong link between diabetes and gallstones. If you have diabetes, it is important to monitor your blood sugar levels closely and talk to your doctor about ways to reduce your risk of developing these stones. Here are some tips on how to reduce your risk of gallstones:
1. Eat a balanced and healthy diet that includes a lot of fruits, vegetables, and whole grains.
2. Exercise regularly.
3. Monitor your blood sugar levels and see your doctor regularly.
4. If you are overweight or obese, lose weight slowly and steadily.
Fatty foods and those with high sugar content need to be avoided. These include:
- Ice cream
- Fruit juice
- Sports drinks
- Sweetened coffee or tea
Gallstones are a common problem, and they can be very painful. If you have diabetes, you are at increased risk for developing gallstones. You can lower your risk by maintaining a healthy weight and keeping your blood sugar level under control.