- There are many causes of gallbladder problems including a poor diet high in fatty, processed foods. Learn which foods to eat and which to avoid if you have gallbladder problems.
- Gallbladder problems are on the rise and the average age at which people develop gallbladder problems is becoming younger each year. Know the cause and how you prevent to your loved ones if it is running in the family.
- One of the biggest mistakes that people make after gallbladder surgery is to completely cut out fat. Learn about good and bad fats and how avoiding good fats can lead to many other serious problems or how your body suffers avoiding healthy fats.
The types and causes of gallbladder problems are numerous. In the last few years, there has been a rise in the number of people who experience gallbladder problems and the average age is becoming younger and younger. Anyone who has ever had gallbladder problems will know that it is a terrible experience.
Luckily, there are things that you can do to treat some of the problems naturally and prevent problems in the future. In this article, we will be discussing what the causes and symptoms and how to treat and prevent these problems. If you have had your gallbladder removed, this article will also give you practical tips to make sure that you can live a great life by following the ultimate gallbladder surgery diet.
What Does the Gallbladder Do
The gallbladder is situated by the liver and is responsible for storing and secreting bile which plays a very important role in digestion.
If you have problems with your gallbladder there may not be enough bile going through to your intestines during digestion. Another possible cause for this is also a buildup of toxins or blockage in the liver as the liver is responsible for making bile for the gallbladder to store and secrete during digestion.
Other Causes of Low Bile Include:
- High-fat diet consisting mostly of processed foods
- A diet high in sugar
- Eating foods that mimic or raise estrogens such as dairy, inorganic produce, processed carbohydrate-rich foods, and soy. Soy isolates are in most pre-packaged foods these days, even bread, so always read the nutrition labels.
- A high consumption of cooked protein such as meat and roasted nuts
Symptoms of Low Bile
- Bloating and Burping
- Signs of toxin buildup (acne, dark marks, increase in weight)
- Hormone imbalances due to vitamin E deficiency
- Skin problems due to vitamin A and E deficiency
- Eye problems due to vitamin A deficiency
- Painful or weak bones due to vitamin D deficiency
- Frequent bruising due to vitamin K deficiency
- Greasy stools due to fat not being absorbed by the body during digestion
- Floating Stools
- Pale Stools
- Oily leakage from the anus
Post-Gallbladder Surgery Diet, Prevention, and How to Improve Your Gallbladder Health
By eating the right foods, you can help your liver to produce enough bile and keep your gallbladder healthy. If you have had your gallbladder removed there may be many side effects that you may be dealing with. These tips will be very helpful to you.
1. Eat lots of Vegetables
Your vegetable intake should be at least 3 cups. A cup each of leafy greens (spinach, kale, broccoli, etc), sulfur-rich vegetables like cauliflower, onion, and mushrooms, and colorful vegetables. Broccoli sprouts, in particular, are very beneficial to the health of the liver.
Eating a wide variety of vegetables daily will give you a wide range of nutrients to nourish and cleanse your digestive tract. Vegetables are also rich in fiber which also helps your gut health which is essential for overall health as well as good digestion. Sulfur also reduces inflammation in the body, which is important for good health. There are vegetables that are great for bile production:
- Raw Beets
- Dandelion greens
Juicing is a great way to up your vegetable and nutrient intake in a way that is gentle on your digestive system, especially those already struggling with gallbladder health or without a gallbladder. Read more about the amazing health benefits of juicing here.
2. Eat Smaller, Healthier Meals
Eating large meals will place a big burden on your already burdened digestive system. Rather eat 3-4 smaller meals a day. Constantly eating throughout the day (for example, 6 meals, including snacks) can be problematic as your gallbladder can’t concentrate the bile so it will not be effective. Intermittent fasting can be very beneficial for your gallbladder.
Check out this video on intermittent fasting by Dr. Berg for better gallbladder health:
Your meals should be mostly alkaline. This will help to prevent inflammation in your body. Meat, dairy, grains, eggs, and coffee are all acidic. Alkaline foods are mainly vegetables.
3. Lower Your Sugar Intake
Another cause of gallbladder problems is a high sugar intake. Take special note of this if you are diabetic as it is important for you to keep your blood sugar levels in check. In fact, by lowering your sugar intake, eating more vegetables, and staying active, you can reverse your diabetes. This will lower your risk of gallbladder problems and help you to manage current gallbladder problems.
Sugar also has a direct impact on your liver, especially fructose which is found in junk food and fruit. Never eat more than one fruit a day, preferably, even then, only a slice or two.
Carbohydrates are a form of sugar, so you need to lower your intake or avoid these foods too:
- Savory snacks like crackers or crisps
4. Healthy Fats
Avoiding fat after you have had your gallbladder removed or are struggling with liver problems can make the problem even worse as the liver will struggle to produce enough bile.Though you may struggle to absorb fats, healthy fats should be eaten.
Short-chain and medium-chain fatty acids are a type of saturated fat. These fatty acids bypass the liver and gallbladder and require no bile to be absorbed and used by the body. These fats are great for those with no gallbladder or those who may really struggle to absorb fats. Coconut oil and MCT oil are both made up short-chain and medium-chain fatty acids.
Coconut oil, however, is mostly made up of at least 50% lauric acid, which is not a true medium-chain fatty acid and needs to go through the liver to be digested. While coconut oil is still easier to digest than other fats and is great for cooking, consuming MCT oil will be even better. C8 and C10 or a combination of these two MCT oils will give you the energy that you need and help you to absorb the fat-soluble vitamins A, D, E, and K.
Other sources of short-chain fatty acids and medium-chain fatty acids include milk, butter, coconut milk and cream, as well as palm kernel oil though these levels are lower than pure MCT oil.
Avoid processed fatty foods. Rather stick to whole foods. Omega 3 found in fatty fish and walnuts lower inflammation in the body. Saturated fats like ghee and eggs are also healthy fats that can be included by those with gallbladder problems in moderation.
A helpful supplement to take is non-soy lecithin. Lecithin is a type of fat that helps to remove fatty deposits in your liver and helps to break down bile. It may also help to keep cholesterol from crystalizing in the gallbladder which in turn prevents gallstones.
5. Stay Hydrated
Your body will also struggle to produce bile if you are dehydrated. Consume 6-8 glasses of water a day. You can also drink unsweetened herbal teas or flavor your water with lemon or cucumber slices but aim to make sure most of your intake is plain water.
Limit or cut out alcohol completely. If your liver or gallbladder is already struggling, then consuming alcohol will only make it worse. If you have no gallbladder, compromising the health of your liver can cause excess bile or lower your bile production even more among other problems. Cut out the alcohol completely.
6. Lemon Water and Apple Cider Vinegar
Drink a glass of lemon water every morning on an empty stomach. This will help to gently detox your body and improve the health of your liver and gallbladder.
Raw apple cider vinegar (ACV) can also be drunk daily. Mix a teaspoon to a tablespoon of ACV with a glass of water and drink 1-3 glasses of water a day. It promotes alkalinity and can help to kill harmful bacteria in your gut as it is prebiotic meaning it helps to feed good bacteria in your gut.
You can also supplement with bile. Ox bile is recommended because it is the most similar to ours. It’s best to use a supplement that combines ox bile with pancreatic enzymes before a meal to improve digestion.
It is recommended to take 500 mg of ox bile before each meal. So you may need to supplement with the ox bile and pancreatic enzymes separately. But if the combined supplement with it’s lower ox bile content helps you, then stick to that. Everyone’s digestive system is different.
Bile may not be suitable for everyone. Avoid bile if:
- You experience digestive distress (especially diarrhea) after taking it.
- If you have a hyperactive thyroid to prevent even more production of thyroid hormone.
Bitters is an ancient Swedish remedy. It is made up of herbs that improve digestion, increase the functioning of the gallbladder as well as stimulate the liver to produce bile. It can be taken before meals.
You can also include bitter herbs in your diet either in your food or as tea:
- Tumeric, be sure to combine it with pepper which increases the health benefits of turmeric
- Milk thistle
Herbs are also great for keeping your liver healthy. Read more about herbs that help your liver to cleanse your body.
Stay away from bromelain and papain supplements or extracts.
9. Increase Stomach Acid
This may seem counter-intuitive, particularly if you are experiencing heartburn, but low stomach acid can actually cause digestive problems (including malabsorption of nutrients) and heartburn. Here are a few helpful remedies:
- Add Himalayan salt to your diet
- Include ACV in your diet
- Drink bone broth
Probiotics are essential to the health of your gut. They will also improve your overall health. Probiotics are healthy strains of bacteria that make sure your digestion occurs normally and help to remove toxins from your body.
If you want to supplement with probiotics, try this one.
Other Types of Gallbladder Problems
- Gallstones (cholelithiasis): Gallstones are usually formed when high amounts of fat over-saturates the bile and forms small, hard stones. Gallstones are often not noticed until they cause problems.
- Inflamed gallbladder (cholecystitis): Cholecystitis is caused by gallstones that end up blocking the gallbladder so that no bile can leave the gallbladder causing inflammation.
- Gallbladder perforation: This is when one of the gallstones pierces the gallbladder. It can also be caused sudden and severe inflammation of the gallbladder and needs to be treated as soon as possible.
- Common bile duct stones (choledocholithiasis): Stones can sometimes form in the common bile duct (primary stone), though this is rare. A gallstone can also form in the gallbladder and move to the common bile duct where it gets stuck (secondary stone).
- Common bile duct infection: When the common bile duct is blocked it can become infected.
- Gallbladder abscess: This is when pus develops because of gallstones. This is known as empyema and is very painful. Not everyone develops this but if you have diabetes, are obese, or have a low immune system, your risk of developing empyema is higher.
- Gallstone ileus: This is very rare, but sometimes a gallstone can move into your intestines causing them to become blocked.
- Dysfunctional gallbladder (chronic bladder disease): This is when the gallbladder keeps having problems over and over again. This doesn’t necessarily mean gallstones or common bile duct stones. Gallbladder disease without gallstones is called acalculous gallbladder disease.
- Gallbladder polyps: These are usually benign growths which means that they are not cancerous. If they are small they may not even cause any problems, but the larger polyps can cause problems and need to be removed.
- Porcelain gallbladder: This is when the gallbladder becomes calcified which is due to a buildup of calcium in the muscles of the gallbladder.
- Gallbladder cancer: Gallbladder cancer is extremely rare. Gallbladder problems and other health factors like obesity and diabetes, as well as being female can increase your risk, however. By keeping yourself and your gallbladder healthy, you minimize the risk significantly.
Symptoms of Gallbladder Problems
- Nausea and vomiting, especially after meals
- Pain in the upper or mid right part of your abdomen (stomach area)
- Pain when inhaling
- Dark urine
- Pale or chalk-like stools
- Right shoulder pain as a swollen gallbladder can push against the free neck nerve triggering pain in the shoulder
While these symptoms can come or go or be a sign of something else completely, if you treat these symptoms and they do not go away, it could be a sign of gallbladder problems, particularly if the pain in your stomach lasts for longer than about five hours.
You will need to see a doctor, especially if there are signs of infection like fever and chills that don’t start to ease with treatment. It is important to keep the infection from spreading. If you follow the tips to increase bile and your symptoms still persist, you should also see your doctor to rule out anything serious. Gallbladder removal should be a last resort.
- The gallbladder stores bile and ensures the absorption of fat and fat-soluble vitamins (A, D, E, K) from food.
- Symptoms of gallbladder problems include nausea and vomiting, pain in the upper right side of the abdomen, pale and/or greasy stools, hormonal imbalances, and heartburn.
- A gallbladder infection may cause symptoms like fever and chills and should be treated as soon as possible if home treatment doesn’t work.
- To improve the health of your gallbladder and liver, eat a lot of vegetables, stay well hydrated, consume bitter herbs like turmeric and neem, maintain a mostly alkaline diet including probiotic foods, and taking a non-soy lecithin supplement.
- Ox bile may be helpful to those with low bile or no gallbladder, but should not be taken by anyone with an overactive thyroid or has an adverse reaction to it.
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- What are the most common gallbladder problems
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- MCT OIL: What you need to know