A Healthy Gallbladder Diet
Your gallbladder works quietly helping the body digest fat, but when it bumps into trouble it may cause you a lot of discomfort and pain. Filling up on foods like whole grains, leafy greens, sea veggies, oats, lentils, beans, nuts, flaxseeds, turmeric, and swapping regular cooking oils for olive oil can help lower your risk of developing gallbladder problems in the first place.
Gallbladder problems are not usually life threatening and are easily treated by surgical removal if required, but can cause you a lot of discomfort when symptoms become noticeable, or when there’s inflammation of a gallstone that blocks the bile duct. If you’d rather sidestep the need for surgery and use diet to look after gallbladder health, help is at hand.
The Gallbladder And Digestion
The tiny gallbladder tucked away below your liver helps your body digest food with the release of bile made by the liver. When it gets blocked it can create trouble for you, preventing the bile from flowing through the ducts from the liver to the small intestine. Hardened gallstones and in some instances cancer, are to blame, so it helps to be checked immediately and treated. Unlike other organs that are vital, you could survive without a gallbladder, which is why surgical removal is sometimes done. However, some foods can improve and others can worsen your situation and may even help you avoid surgery by nipping the problem in the bud.1
Foods Good For Your Gallbladder
Gallbladder health depends as much on what you eat as what you avoid (fatty foods/red meats/cholesterol-rich foods/alcohol). Here are some foods that will help nourish your gallbladder, keep your digestive system in good working order, and ward off deficiencies that gallbladder problems have been linked to.
If you’re overweight, you’re at risk of developing gallbladder stones, with obesity being one of the causes for cholesterol stones. Choose to eat better and you may see the pounds drop away and your overall health improve, including that of the gallbladder and liver. Consume lots of fresh fruit and vegetables which are cholesterol-free and nutrient-rich. This helps with slow and steady weight loss and opposed to fat diets that can help you lose weight fast but actually end up increasing your risk of gallbladder problems.2 The antioxidants in them also help improve overall immunity and gallbladder health. Stock up on tomatoes, bell peppers, squash, cherries, and blueberries.
Olive Oil, Flaxseed, And Canola Oil
Researchers suggest that eating monounsaturated fats in olive oil or canola oil, as well as omega-3 fatty acids found in flaxseed can help cut your risk of developing gallstones. While the mechanics of this need to be fully explored through more studies, swapping your regular cooking oils for olive oil or introducing some flaxseed to your diet may not be a bad idea.3
Research has found that fish oil can help those with high triglyceride levels and give the body anti-inflammatory omega-3 fatty acids. More importantly, it also improves the gallbladder emptying action allowing it to function better.4
Animal studies have found that iron deficiency is associated with increased risk of developing pigment gallstones.5 Get your iron through sources like whole grains, dark green leafy vegetables, and sea vegetables. That way you avoid the cholesterol that comes with red meats, a traditional source of iron, that may not be good for your gallbladder health.
High fiber foods and a fiber-rich diet are associated with reduced gallstone risk.6 The added fiber helps your digestive system overall and has been linked to lowered blood cholesterol levels.7
So start having more wholegrain foods, oats, lentils, beans, and fiber-rich vegetables like broccoli, brussels sprouts, and artichokes.
Eat lots of nuts to improve gallbladder health. Peanuts as well as tree nuts like almonds or walnuts are all good to have. You could also have nut butters and nut milks.8
Earthy yellow spice turmeric is known to help liver health and function, and its hepatoprotective and antioxidant effects make it a good addition to your diet. However, be careful if you are on blood thinning medication as turmeric itself has blood-thinning properties, so consuming too much could be dangerous. Normal dietary intake in small amounts should be fine, but check with your doctor to be sure.9
Also Read: Avoid These Foods For A Healthy Gallbladder
The Caffeine Controversy
There are mixed views when it comes to caffeine and gallstones. While some researchers feel that drinking caffeinated coffee can cut the risk of developing gallstones, others disagree. One study found that for women, caffeinated coffee intake helped prevent symptomatic gallstone disease.10 A separate study a year later in Japan found that caffeine intake was associated with increased likelihood of prevalence of gallstones in middle-aged men.11
For now, stick with a regular intake of a couple of cups a day and not more, keeping in mind the maximum recommended levels of 400mg caffeine a day. Taking in too much caffeine can create other problems for you like insomnia or anxiety, and might interact with medications you are taking as well.12
References [ + ]
|1.||↑||Gallbladder Diseases. U.S. National Library of Medicine.|
|2, 4.||↑||Gallstones and gallbladder disease. University of Maryland Medical Center.|
|3, 6, 8.||↑||Gallstones and gallbladder disease. Penn State Hershey Milton S Hershey Medical Center.|
|5.||↑||Roslyn, Joel J., Robert L. Conter, Elizabeth Julian, and Mohammed Z. Abedin. “The role of dietary iron in pigment gallstone formation.” Surgery 102, no. 2 (1987): 327-333.|
|7.||↑||Fibre in Food. Better Health Channel Victoria State Government.|
|9.||↑||Nasri, Hamid, Najmeh Shahinfard, Mortaza Rafieian, Samira Rafieian, Maryam Shirzad, and Mahmoud Rafieian. “Turmeric: A spice with multifunctional medicinal properties.” J HerbMed Pharmacol 3, no. 1 (2014): 5-8.|
|10.||↑||Leitzmann, Michael F., Meir J. Stampfer, Walter C. Willett, Donna Spiegelman, Graham A. Colditz, and Edward L. Giovannucci. “Coffee intake is associated with lower risk of symptomatic gallstone disease in women.” Gastroenterology 123, no. 6 (2002): 1823-1830.|
|11.||↑||Ishizuka, H., H. Eguchi, T. Oda, S. Ogawa, K. Nakagawa, S. Honjo, and S. Kono. “Relation of coffee, green tea, and caffeine intake to gallstone disease in middle-aged Japanese men.” European journal of epidemiology 18, no. 5 (2003): 401-405.|
|12.||↑||Guidelines on caffeine intake. The Institute for Scientific Information on Coffee.|