The number of people suffering from gallbladder diseases and gallstones is on the rise, so we should start making the needed changes in our lifestyles or diets in order to prevent these issues.
To speak in numbers, more than 20 million Americans have gallstones, and 85% of their gallstones are cholesterol stones. Every year, there are more than 700,000 cholecystectomies, or gallbladder removal surgeries, in America only.
The gallbladder is a small organ, located under the liver. Its role is to break down fats in the digestive system, by releasing bile into the small intestine.
When the hard deposits of substances in the bile accumulate in your gallbladder, they cause gallstones, whose size might range from the size of a grain to as big as a golf ball. The main symptoms include abdominal pain and infections that further on cause nausea, bloating, gas, and vomiting.
If this condition becomes chronic, it is a must to remove the gallbladder. These are the factors that contribute to the development of gallstones:
The following ones cannot be controlled:
- Family history
- Ethnicity (Indigenous Americans and Mexican Americans are at the highest risk)
The following risk factors are controllable:
- Type 2 Diabetes
- Dyslipidemia (low HDL-cholesterol and high serum triglyceride levels)
- Metabolic Syndrome (obesity, high cholesterol, and insulin resistance)
- Typical “Western” Diet
- Physical inactivity
- Non-Alcoholic fatty liver disease
If the gallstones are small, they do not cause pain and do not block the ducts, so a surgery is not necessary, but they need to be properly treated by:
- Medicines, like oral bile acid pills which thin the bile to support the dissolution of stones
- Shock wave lithotripsy
- Percutaneous cholecystostomy
- Contact dissolution therapy
Moreover, the following herbs can also be very helpful:
- Dandelion root
- Milk thistle seed
- Chicory root
- Dandelion leaf
- Yellow dock root
- Chanca piedra
- Peppermint leaf
Yet, if the gallbladder has been removed, the patient needs to incorporate certain changes in the lifestyle and diet. This is due to the fact that the liver continually leaks bile into the intestines, reducing the ability of the body to digest fats, while some bile ends up in the large intestine.
In this case, high fat amounts might lead to diarrhea, abdominal pain, and other intestinal problems, so you should focus on healthy fats only.
Moreover, you need to make the following dietary changes:
- Avoid greasy Foods
The digestive system won’t be able to digest greasy foods properly, so you should avoid fast foods, most cheeses, fatty cuts of meat, bacon, heavy sauces, and gravies.
- Avoid deep fried foods
Highly fatty, deep fried foods should also be avoided at any cost. These foods include:
- Fried fish
- Fried chicken of any kind
- French fries
- Onion rings
- Deep fried vegetables
Instead, choose home baked, low-fat, pan-seared foods.
- Large Meals
Heavy meals apply too much strain on the digestive system, and the digestive and intestinal muscles are forcefully contracted. This leads to diarrhea and pain. Therefore, you should eat smaller snacks before meals in order not to starve, and then consume smaller portions.
- Avoid convenience Foods
You should also stay away from most store bought, prepackaged foods, as they are rich in omega-6 fatty acids, due to the fact that they are made with soybean oil. These products include:
- Potato chips
- Cakes and cake mixes
- Tortilla chips
An either completely avoid these or learn to make your homemade, healthier versions.
- Vegetable Oils
Vegetable oils are rich in Omega-6 fatty acids, which leaves no room for the important Omega-3 Fatty acids, which protect the body from diseases and inflammation. Such oils include:
- Canola oil
- Safflower oil
- Sunflower oil
- Soybean oil
- Grapeseed oil
- Corn oil
Moreover, limit the use of ingredients like mayonnaise, cooking oils and sprays, and store bought salad dressings, as they are usually made with vegetable oils. Instead, turn to healthier oils like avocado oil, olive oil, or coconut oil.
- Water before and during meals
The consumption of water before or after the meal affects digestion, so avoid this habit, in order to reduce the discomfort and symptoms.
- Other Potential foods to avoid
Other foods might also trigger these symptoms, and the most common offenders include:
- Soy products
- Corn and corn products
- High FODMAP foods
- Excessive alcohol intake
- Excessive sugar consumption
In the end, if you have removed the gallbladder, it does not mean that you can no longer enjoy in tasty foods and desserts. All you have to do is to turn to healthier substitutes, healthy cooking methods, and other ingredients.