So, you most likely know that there’s an organ called gallbladder. But just in case you don’t, you’ve got you covered. The gallbladder is a small organ in the body. It’s pear-shaped and sacklike. Your gallbladder is located just below your liver. The main function of the gallbladder is the storage of bile. Just like every other organ in the body, there are health conditions associated with this organ. And one of them happens to be gallstones. We’ll be learning more about this disease condition. And also how diet can help out in this condition. That’s why we’ll be having a look at a diet for gallstones.
Gallstones is a condition wherein bile and bilirubin become solid particles. Bile is actually a fluid that the liver produces. And the main function of bile is for digestion of fats. Bile is made up of different components. And cholesterol and bilirubin happen to be part of it. So when you consume a food that’s very high in fats and cholesterol the bile is functional in the digestion process. Gallstones present with a lot of symptoms and one way to improve it is by a healthy diet for gallstones.
Overview of Gallstones
As you already know, gallstones are solid particles that form in the gallbladder. As a result of the solidification of bile cholesterol and bilirubin present in the gallbladder. There are actually two different types of gallstones. They are cholesterol and pigment stones.
Cholesterol stones are the most common. They make up about 80% of all gallstones. And they form when there’s too much cholesterol in the bile. On the other hand, pigment stones are as a result of too much bilirubin.
Gallstones vary in sizes. It could be as small as a pebble. And it could as big as a golf ball. Smaller sizes are more common though. For some, it could be a combination of sizes. The size of the gallstones as well would determine the severity of the symptoms.
The exact cause of gallstones though is not known. It could be as a result of some of these:
- Too much cholesterol in bile: Normally, your bile has the ability to dissolve just about the right amount of cholesterol. But when the cholesterol is too much, then it becomes difficult for bile to dissolve. And with this stones might form.
- Too much bilirubin in bile: Bilirubin is a product of the breakdown of red blood cells. But there are some other conditions that can lead to the production of too much bilirubin. And they include biliary tract infections, liver cirrhosis, and other blood disorders.
- Improper emptying of the gallbladder: If the gallbladder doesn’t empty as it should, it can cause a concentration of bile. And when this happens it can lead to the formation of gallstones.
Here are some of the signs and symptoms associated with gallstones:
- Pain in right upper portion of the abdomen
- Nausea and vomiting
- Intolerance to greasy foods
Diet for Gallstones: Foods to Eat and Avoid
Foods to eat
- High plant intake: Foods derived from plant sources have different nutrients. And these nutrients help with reducing the risk of having gallstones. You can eat more fruits and vegetables. They help keep the gallbladder healthy.
- Fiber: Fiber is one important food for the digestive system. It helps you feel full for a long period of time. At the same time, it feeds healthy bacteria in the gut. And this makes it a good option for gallbladder health.
- Lean protein: Fats are well-known to add more stress to the gallbladder. That’s why it’s important that you eat more lean proteins and fewer fats.
- Healthy fats: Just in case you want to opt for fats, opt for healthy fats. Healthy fats include olive oil, omega 3 fatty acids, and oils from fish. They help keep the gallbladder in good shape. And reduce the risks of having any gallbladder issues.
- Calcium: The gallbladder needs calcium to stay in good shape. And foods high in calcium include dark leafy vegetables such as kale and broccoli. Dairy products as well are rich in calcium but also rich in fats. So they aren’t the best option to opt for. You can opt for other plant milk like almond milk and flax milk. They are high in both calcium and healthy fats.
- Coffee: Consuming good coffee in the right amount has been proven to improve the health of the gallbladder.
- Vitamin C: Research shows that people that have enough vitamin C in their blood are less prone to problems of the gallbladder. That’s why it’s important to include foods rich in vitamin C in your diet for gallbladder. Fruits and vegetables have a high content of vitamin C. You can also opt for vitamin C supplements.
Foods to avoid
These foods increase the risk of a person developing gallstones. At the same time, it could worsen symptoms associated with gallstones. So you have to stay away from these foods.
- Refined carbohydrates: Refined carbs like flour, sugars, sweeteners, refined starches and grains are not good for the body. They contain a large amount of sugar that pose harm to the body. Which is why it’s not a good choice for gallbladder health. So watch out for refined carbs in chocolate, cakes, cookies, candy, and soft drinks. And stay away from them as much as you can.
- Excessive fats: Taking too much fat, especially bad fat is the major cause of gallstones. That’s because when you consume too much fat, the bile in your gallbladder would have to do so much work just to digest the fat. And when it can’t, gallstones would develop. So avoid processed foods that are high in hydrogenated oils and trans fats. Also, reduce the consumption of fried foods.
If you experience symptoms similar to the symptoms mentioned above you have to see a doctor. Gallstones can be treated with either surgery and medication. The treatment method depends on the size of the gallstones. Diet is not a definite treatment for gallstones. It just helps improve gallbladder health and reduce symptoms. So don’t rely solely on diet for gallstones.