How Diet Affects gallbladder Health
- A high cholesterol diet may lead to gallstones forming.
- The diet can directly affect the health of the gallbladder due to its key role in digesting foods. Its job is to collect and store bile, then add that bile to food as it enters the small intestine. The bile breaks down fats.
- Gallstones form when the bile that comes into the gallbladder is too high in cholesterol or bilirubin, or is too low in bile salts. Most gallstones themselves are made from hardened cholesterol.
- When gallstones form, they block the connection from the gallbladder to the small intestine, making it difficult or impossible for bile to get through.
- If gallstones cannot be removed, the gallbladder itself may need to be removed. Even without the gallbladder, the liver still makes enough bile for most normal digestion to be possible, though a low fat diet is recommended. However, caring for the gallbladder before complications occur is advised so you can avoid the issue altogether.
Foods to eat
The gallbladder diet can reduce the stress that diet has on the gallbladder. Easily digestible foods help the digestion process, and support the gallbladder itself.
High plant intake: One vital aspect of any balanced diet is to provide the body with a variety of foods in order to get as many different nutrients as possible. The easy way to do this is to increase the number of different fruits and vegetables eaten regularly. Eating a wide variety of plant foods can provide a broad range of nutrients to the body and keep it healthy.
Lean protein: Fats can add stress to the gallbladder and so it is important that proteins in the diet be as lean as possible. White-meat foods, fish, and vegetable proteins are more lean proteins, which may help to relieve excess stress on the gallbladder.
Fiber: Fiber plays an important role in a healthy digestive system. Fiber in its various forms can help to keep you feeling full for a longer period of time, feed healthy bacteria in the gut, and add bulk to the stool. Fiber can also assist the body in toxin removal.
Healthful fats: Polyunsaturated fats such as omega-3 seem to help keep the gallbladder healthy and reduce the risk of gallbladder problems. These fats are commonly found in cold-water fish, nuts such as walnuts, seeds such as flaxseed, and oils from fish or flaxseed.
Coffee: Healthful coffee consumption also plays an important role in keeping the gallbladder working correctly.
Calcium: A healthy gallbladder is supported by a diet of calcium rich foods such as leafy greens, broccoli, and sardines. Increasing the levels of calcium in the diet can also support a healthy gallbladder. Calcium is found in dark, leafy greens including kale, sardines, and broccoli. Dairy products have a lot of calcium too, but they can also have a very high fat content, mainly from saturated fats. Alternative plants milks that are fortified with calcium, such as almond or flax milk, are higher in healthful fats and lower in saturated fats and may still provide ample calcium.
Alcohol: While heavy drinking can cause liver problems, moderate drinking (one drink per day) can protect the gallbladder from gallstones and other complications.
Vitamin C: People who have higher levels of vitamin C in their blood appear to experience fewer gallbladder problems. Vitamin C is easily obtained by eating a varied diet containing many fruits and vegetables. It can also be found easily as a supplement in most markets, but supplements do not offer the same health benefits as getting the nutrient from food.
Foods to Avoid
Some foods increase the risk of developing gallbladder disorders such as gallstones. If gallbladder health is a concern, avoid or limit these foods:
Refined carbohydrates: While carbs make up much of the food that humans eat, refined carbohydrates may increase the risk of gallbladder disorders. Refined carbs include sugars and sweeteners, flour, refined grains, and starches. They are most often found in baked goods including cookies and cakes, as well as in candy, chocolate, soft drinks, and battered and fried foods.
Excessive fats: The bile produced from the gallbladder is important in digesting fats, so eating a fat-heavy diet may force it to work overtime.
Processed foods high in trans fats, hydrogenated oils, fried foods, and excessive saturated animal fats can overwork the gallbladder. A study from 2008 revealed that men with the highest long-chain saturated fat intake, primarily from red meat, were the most at risk for gallstones. Medium-chain fats, found in plant foods such as coconut, did not increase gallstone risk.
Diet after gallbladder surgery or problems:
For mild gallbladder issues, symptoms may be eased with an easy-to-digest diet including juiced vegetables.
After a gallbladder surgery, the hospital will often give a patient liquid food for 1-2 days and then switch them back to solid foods. The liver produces enough bile for normal digestion under most circumstances, but it does take time for the body to adjust.
A low-fat diet is recommended indefinitely after surgery. Some people may experience diarrhea and other digestive symptoms if they eat fatty or greasy foods after surgery, if they are unable to digest fat optimally, or both. Report to your doctor if you notice greasy, frothy, or foamy stools.
For those with mild gallbladder issues, a liquid and easy-to-digest diet can be done at home to try to ease symptoms. This usually starts with liquids including chicken broth, vegetable broth, and fresh, juiced vegetables.
Watery soups can then be added, as well as low-fat, low-cholesterol, high-fibre foods.
Gallbladder cleanses: A gallbladder cleanse, or gallbladder flush, has recently become a trend. It is designed to reset the gallbladder, flush out gallstones, and improve digestive health and function of the gallbladder.
A sample process involves eating a strict diet including apple juice for 2 weeks. Then follow a plan of drinking Epsom salts and a mixture of olive oil and citrus juice.
There are many claims made about this gallbladder flush, but little research has been done on the topic. As researchTrusted Source in the World Journal of Gastroenterology points out, the gallbladder flush may be misleading, and the “stones” that you see in your stool may be the oil and citrus juice mixed together.
Cleansing the gallbladder may not be as simple as drinking a solution, but you can take clear steps to keep your gallbladder healthy.
- yellowing skin
- inflammation of the pancreas
- inflammation of the gallbladder
If you notice these symptoms, visit a doctor to be properly diagnosed.
Lifestyle Tips for Better Gallbladder Health
•Controlling obesity: Because obesity is a risk factor for gallbladder problems, it may be helpful to stay physically active and in shape.
•Avoiding rapid weight loss: Rapid weight loss demands the liver and gallbladder to work overtime, which can mean more gallstones. Slow and steady weight loss is best and is also able to be maintained for longer.
•Avoiding allergens: There may also be a link to food allergies and gallstone health. Taking an allergy test, following an elimination diet, and avoiding specific allergens may be helpful for people with gallbladder issues.
•Quitting smoking: Tobacco smoke can contribute to gallbladder dysfunction, up to and including gallbladder cancers.
•Vegetarian diet: Eating a high-fiber, vegetarian diet rich in plant foods may be wise for optimal gallbladder health. Many foods to avoid, like excessive saturated fat, are found in animal products.
- Cholecystitis is an inflammation of the gallbladder, which usually occurs due to a gallstone getting stuck in the opening.
- Gallstones raise the risk of heart disease by 20 percent. While gallstone disease and heart disease share many risk factors, a new analysis finds that, even without these, gallstones increase cardiac risk.
- Gallbladder disease: The gallbladder stores and releases bile. Gallstones and cholecystitis can affect its health, leading to pain and other complications.
- Biliary colic: Causes and treatment Biliary colic happens when a gallstone blocks a bile duct, causing intense stomach pain, aka a gallstone attack.