Greasy foods lead to acne and gallbladder problems?

Originally Published: September 1, 1994 - Last Updated / Reviewed On: April 29, 2011
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Alice,

I have had terrible stomach problems for a few years now. My doctor says it's due to my love of greasy and oily foods, and that I should concentrate on eating healthier, broiled foods. Do you think if I continue on this unhealthy eating cycle, that I could develop gallbladder problems? Also, do you think my diet contributes to my acne-prone skin? Thanks for your help.

—Grease lover

Dear Grease lover,

In the movie "Grease," John Travolta may not have been referring to fries, donuts, and pizza when he sang "You're the One That I Want," but it's not difficult to understand why greasy foods hold a special place on our taste buds. Although eating foods that are high in cholesterol may contribute to gallbladder problems, not all greasy and oily foods are high in cholesterol. And for some good news: oily and greasy foods do not contribute to acne. Nevertheless, keep reading…

The gallbladder is an organ that stores bile — the substance that helps break down fats — that is created by the liver. (FYI, bile is the substance that gives urine and feces their distinctive colors.) Gallstones and gallbladder inflammation (cholecystitis) may be brought on by high cholesterol diets. The response in What can I eat after having my gallbladder removed? in the Go Ask Alice! fitness and nutrition archives has more information on the gallbladder and gallbladder problems.

You mentioned that your doctor chalked up your stomach problems to eating oily and greasy foods. Although it may be difficult to pinpoint the exact cause of these symptoms without the appropriate diagnostic tests, you may want to consider cutting down on greasy foods and see if your stomach problems lessen or disappear completely. It also may not hurt (too much) to consider adopting strategies for eating a nutritious, well-balanced diet. If so, go ahead and check out the responses in Kickstart for getting healthy eating and exercise plan in gear, Dining out's effects on health, Good vs. bad fats, and What to Eat in the Go Ask Alice! fitness and nutrition archives for some tips.

As for acne, it's not the grease in your food that causes the zit-producing "greased lighting" on your T-zone. Rather, acne occurs when skin pores get clogged by oil and dead skin cells. If your acne is bothering you and you would like some tips on how to deal with it, Acne treatment in the Go Ask Alice! general health archives may have some informative options. However, a health care provider (such as a dermatologist) is the best one to help you decide how to banish those blemishes.

If you are a student at Columbia and would like to see a health care provider and/or nutritionist for any or all of these issues, you can make an appointment(s) by calling x4-2284 or by logging in to Open Communicator. Keep in mind that a health care provider can also make referrals for a specialist, i.e., gastroenterologist, dermatologist, if needed. For more nutrition resources, you can also visit the Dining Services' nutrition resources.

Although you may feel "hopelessly devoted" to greasy foods, in moderation they are not likely cause gallbladder problems.

Alice