The gallbladder is a small, pear-shaped organ located below the liver. It collects and stores bile, which is produced by the liver and releases it into the small intestine to aid the process of digestion.
Majority of people seldom give a thought to the health of their gallbladder. Although unlike the liver, heart and the kidneys, the gallbladder isn’t really necessary for maintaining body health and proper functioning, yet it is an important body organ.
There are varieties of foods that keep the gallbladder healthy while there are some that increase the likelihood of problems like gallstones or inflammation. These problems can trigger agonizing symptoms such as nausea, vomiting, bloating and abdominal pain. Such a scenario often leads to surgery, where the gallbladder is removed. Therefore, it is important to consume a healthy gallbladder diet to promote good health and keep problems at bay.
Although diet doesn’t have a direct impact on gallbladder problems, watching what one eats and maintaining a healthy body weight can help to prevent the formation of gallstones and consequently, avoid the discomfort they cause.
Diet and gallstone risk
Diets that are high in fat and cholesterol and low in fiber are more likely to result in gallstones. Also, the risk of gallstones is much higher in people who are overweight and obese.
If one is overweight and wishes to lose the extra pounds, then it should be done gradually. Following crash diets can also cause the liver to release more cholesterol into the bile, upsetting the normal balance of bile salts and cholesterol. This extra cholesterol can form crystals, leading to gallstones.
Diet for a healthy gallbladder
A healthy gallbladder diet is full of fruits and vegetables. Both are extremely rich sources of nutrients and fiber, the latter of which is essential to promote gallbladder health.
Apart from that, foods rich in Vitamin B, C and calcium are healthy for the gallbladder. It is also believed that consuming more of plant-based protein can prevent all sorts of gallbladder diseases. One should try to avoid red meat and instead, consume healthy portions of foods such as nuts, beans, tofu, lentils, etc.
Some foods that one should definitely include in the gallbladder diet are as follows:
- Citrus fruits
- Green leafy vegetables
- Bell peppers
- Low-fat dairy products
- Fish and shellfish
Certain foods to avoid gallbladder problems
A diet that is high in carbohydrates and saturated fats are linked to increased chances of gallstones.
If one is diagnosed with gallstones and experiences excessive pain, it is because the gallbladder is trying to release the stored bile while the gallstones are blocking this outflow. This results in abdominal pain. Consuming fatty foods makes the gallbladder try harder to release the bile, making the pain even worse.
Making alterations in the diet does not destroy the gallstones that are already present. However, a healthy gallbladder diet can help to ease the symptoms.
Certain food items that one should avoid in the diet include the following:
- Vegetable oil
- Peanut oil
- Fried foods
- Highly processed food items such as cookies, pies, cakes, etc.
- Whole-milk dairy products
- Red meat
- Refined white foods such as bread and pasta
- Processed foods.
Also, one should stay away from extremely low-calorie diets. Weight should be lost in a healthy way by following a well-balanced diet along with regular exercise. It is best to observe a diet under the guidance of a doctor.
Gallbladder diet after surgery
If the symptoms continue to persist, the doctor might recommend going for a gallbladder removal surgery. After the surgery, a person is quite likely to experience loose stools and diarrhea for 1 week. This happens because there is no place to store the bile and there is a continuous release of bile into the intestine.
In order to quickly recover from the surgery, the following foods should be avoided:
- Greasy or processed foods
- Full-fat dairy products
- Foods containing more than 3 grams of fat
- Thick and creamy sauces and gravies.
A healthy gallbladder diet after a surgery consists of food items low in fat. Also, it is best to start with eating smaller portions of food on a frequent basis to ease the symptoms. Fiber intake should be gradually increased and soluble fibers, such as oats, should be consumed.
Gallstones or inflammation can often be painful. Consuming the right gallbladder diet can effectively help to improve and protect the health of one’s gallbladder. This is important as having a healthy gallbladder will also have a significant impact on one’s overall health and will help avoiding problems in the long run.