How Do Bile Salts Emulsify?

Written by contributing writer
  • Share
  • Tweet
  • Share
  • Pin
  • Email
How Do Bile Salts Emulsify?

Other People Are Reading

Medical Definition

The liver creates a detergent-like chemical, stored in the gallbladder, that absorbs certain parts of food and prevent others from absorption as well. Bile salts are created from bile acids conjugated to glycine or taurine and secreted in the bile from the liver. The main purpose is to breakdown fat globules for easier digestion and absorption in the intestine by emulsifying them. Bile salts is mixture of sodium salts of the bile acid and cholic and chenodeoxycholic acids produced in the liver as a compound of cholesterol. The presence of bile salts also increases the quantity of bile and returns through the capillaries and to the liver by way of a portal vein.


Emulsification involves the bile salts surrounding the fat molecule with the sterol part of the salt inside the fat, while the carboxyl and polar parts affect the outside. The reaction causes a droplet of fat to become soluble in water and decreases the interfacial tension of fat from food that digests in the gastrointestinal tract. As the tension breaks down, the fat turns into smaller particles that help the enzymes from the pancreas digest this compound easier. Bile salts also divide the hydrolyzed fatty acids and monoglycerides to prevent the reformation of triglycerides due to emulsification. Lipase works side-by-side to hydrolyze the fats along with the bile salts.


Cholesterol in bile forms lumps in the gallbladder and creates gallstones that can clog the biliary tree and cause jaundice. Vomiting may leave a bitter taste in the mouth and appear yellow or green due to the presence of bile. Without bile, the fats do not digest as normal and excrete with the faeces in a condition called steatorrhea. The gastrointestinal tract is not used to digesting fats that can cause issues with the distal areas of the intestine. Medications can help patients treat these complications.

Don't Miss

  • All types
  • Articles
  • Slideshows
  • Videos
  • Most relevant
  • Most popular
  • Most recent

No articles available

No slideshows available

No videos available

By using the site, you consent to the use of cookies. For more information, please see our Cookie policy.