The gallbladder is an important organ and crucial part of the digestive system. It stores bile produced by the liver, which helps you to digest and absorb fat, including fat-soluble vitamins (such as vitamins A, E, D and K.) The gallbladder then releases this bile into the intestines when you eat. Unfortunately, particles from the bile can sometimes stick together and form what’s known as gallstones. If you’re lacking bile, this can also make it harder for you to digest food and you may feel nauseous. In many cases, gallstones will not cause any significant symptoms. However, when they do cause symptoms or when gallstones are recurring, you may need a surgical procedure to remove the gallbladder. This procedure is known as a cholecystectomy.
There are many reasons why you might develop gallbladder problems. Research has shown that individuals who are overweight or obese, or do not maintain a healthy weight, are at an increased risk of having inflammation and swelling within the gallbladder. This is known as cholecystitis. When it comes to gallstones, weight can also be a factor, as can hormonal changes, pregnancy, taking birth control, certain medical conditions such as diabetes, or if there is a family history of gallstones.
Common signs that you may have a gallbladder problem include indigestion, nausea, vomiting, back pain, fever, clay-coloured stool, and pain underneath your right arm. If you suffer from gallbladder disease, then you also likely know how much of an impact the food can have on triggering gallbladder attacks, and it’s not uncommon to have bloating after eating or feelings of fullness.
The best way to prevent gallbladder attacks is to make nutritional changes. First, you should eliminate or entirely get rid of refined sugars from your diet. Refined sugar is commonly found in cereals, cakes, cookies, and even some fruits. When you reduce or eliminate refined sugars from your diet, your body will be able to digest fats better. You should also reduce things like hydrogenated fats and trans-fats. These are unnatural fats that are found hidden in many foods such as cakes, cookies, breakfast sandwiches, margarine, crackers, doughnuts, microwave popcorn, coffee creamers, and fried foods…just to name a few. Instead, you should try to consume foods that are low in fat and natural, such as fruits and vegetables, nuts and seeds. Whole grains, such as brown rice, quinoa, oats and barley are also high in fibre, which can help prevent gallstones from forming. If you’re going to drink milk, I recommend choosing ones that are lower in fat, such as skim milk or 1% milk, fortified soy beverages, as well as low-fat yogurt and cheese. The yogurt you consume should be labeled as 2% M.F. or less, while cheese should be 20% M.F. or less. When eating meat and poultry, make sure it is lean and skinless. If you’re not a fan of meat, some low-protein alternatives that are also great options and easy on the gallbladder include beans, lentils, and tofu. You should avoid creamy sauces (such as salad dressings and dips) as well as gravy, and avoid things such as high-fat desserts and chocolates, as they provide no nutritional value. Regardless of what you eat, some individuals may find that certain foods trigger more gallbladder attacks than others – even foods that are considered healthy. To serve as a reminder, try keeping a food diary to make note of the foods you find triggering and the ones you find non-triggering, as well as note down any symptoms you might experience. Furthermore, I also strongly recommend drinking water before meals, while avoiding things like soft drinks or diet beverages.