When you have a problem with your gallbladder, such as gallstones, the doctor might recommend you to have surgery to remove your gallbladder. You may be at higher risk of gallstones depending on your age, gender and other factors. Let us read more about gallstones, what to eat and what food to avoid when you have gallstones.
A 33-year-old engineer had no symptoms of gallstones. With long working hours and a sedentary lifestyle, he had developed unhealthy food habits. He skipped meals and consumed a lot of junk. A constant unhealthy diet possibly resulted in the agony of him having gallstones in his early thirties. He ignored those gallbladder attacks and all this did not wean him off eating junk. He was completely unaware of what he was doing to himself.
One day the abdominal pain did not stop and he had to rush to a doctor. He was diagnosed with gallbladder stones after looking at the ultrasound reports. He tried Ayurveda treatment for gallstones removal and a lot of home remedies. Nothing worked! The doctor suggested laparoscopic surgery (cholecystectomy) to remove the gallstones. For a healthy and better life, he thought of it as the right option. Therefore, it is clear that food habits and diet play and important role when you have gallstones. Consult a doctor, especially if you know you are not leading a healthy lifestyle and you notice such abdominal pain.
Now what is a gallbladder and what are gallstones?
Gallbladder is the organ that contains bile. Bile, which is composed of water, cholesterol, fat protein and fat salts, helps you digest fat. Gallstones are hardened deposits of digestive fluid that form in your gallbladder. Gallstone sizes vary with some as the size of sand and other as large as a golf ball. A diet with a lot of fats can lead to gallstones made of cholesterol and bile salts. They may get bigger with time.
You are more likely to get gallstones if you are obese, trying to lose weight fast or have been on high-fat diet and low in fiber. Complications of gallstones include:
- inflammation of the gallbladder
- infection to the gallbladder, bile duct or liver
- inflammation of the pancreas due to gallstones blockage
5 Types of Food that aggravate your gallstones
To prevent the pain associated with gallstones, doctors and experts advise a change in the diet. Knowing which food to avoid will lessen the discomfort and could prevent new gallstones from forming. Consider elimination high-risk food that might aggravate your gallstone condition.
- Fried food like French fries, potato chips:
Eliminate deep-fried food completely. Frying food with saturated fats or hydrogenated fats will aggravate gallstone pain and discomfort. Use olive or canola oil.
- High-fat meats such as bacon, sausage, ground beef and ribs:
It is advised to substitute fatty meats with lean meat protein such as chicken and turkey, cold-water fish. Always remove the skin and fat to avoid gallstone irritation when preparing for poultry.
- High-fat dairy products like eggs, butter, cheese, ice cream, whole milk and sour cream:
Eggs are high allergen food and high in cholesterol. Milk, cheese, yogurt, butter and heavy cream all contain high levels of animal fat. This increases the complications in the gallbladder. Try to reduce the amount of dairy content or you may purchase low fat and skim substitutes which provide necessary calcium required by the body.
- Preserved food such as crackers, cookies, doughnuts:
Trans fatty acids typically present in packaged food, tend to induce gallstone symptoms. Many manufacturers have reduced or eliminated trans-fat from their products but still check nutritional labels to make sure. If in doubt, avoid them.
- Refined food that includes white rice, refined sugar, white bread and refined flour pasta
Patients with gallstones must refrain from eating food containing refined ingredients. It increases the cholesterol level in the bile. Refined food are low in fiber which is the primary cause of gallstone. Stick to brown rice, whole wheat bread and whole wheat pasta. Dietary changes might prevent you from the need for surgery.
Food good for gallbladder
Some food tend to prevent gallbladder problems or reduce symptoms. Eating a healthy and well-balanced diet is the best way to improve digestion and prevent gallstones. The diet must include:
- Fresh fruits and vegetables
- Lean meat poultry and fish
- Low-fat dairy
Gallbladder problems can be painful and in some cases, dangerous. Therefore, eating the right food and avoiding fatty food can help improve the health of your gallbladder. Although it is common to have food-related issues after gallstone surgery, it is important to contact your surgeon if you experience any of the following symptoms:
- Abdominal pain, especially if it worsens
- Severe nausea or vomiting
- Lack of bowel movements for more than 3 days
- Frequent diarrhea that lasts more than 3 days
Frequently Asked Questions
- How long does a gallbladder attack last?
In acute cholecystitis, pain starts suddenly and may last for 5-6 hours. In 95% of the cases, this situation arises because of gallstones.
- How can I prevent gallbladder attacks?
Do not skip meals, avoid fatty food, choose high-fiber food and exercise. Consult a doctor to get rid of the problem before it aggravates.
- Can I die of gallstones?
Gallstones within the gallbladder often show no symptoms. Blockage of a bile duct traps bile or digestive enzymes in the duct. It may cause inflammation and ultimately severe pain, infection, and organ damage. If these conditions go untreated, they can even be fatal.
- How do I check for gallstones?
Consult a doctor or go for diagnosis to get – abdominal ultrasound, blood test, endoscopic ultrasound (EUS) and other imaging tests.
- Can I treat gallstones without surgery?
With home remedies and natural ways, you can get relief from the gallbladder pain. Homeopathy medicines may also take longer than you think. These remedies may not help you get rid of gallstones permanently.