A Healthy Gall Bladder Diet
Eating a healthy gallbladder diet can have the largest impact on getting well if you have gallbladder disease, gallstones, or even if you’ve had your gallbladder removed. Generally, your new diet will match up with a “regular” healthy one: lots of fruits and vegetables; minimal animal fats such as dairy, meat, and eggs; minimal fried foods; and avoiding “white” and processed foods. In addition, there are certain foods you should eat, certain ones you should avoid, and various supplements that can help with your gallbladder issues.
What are the basics of a diet that are good for my gallbladder?
- Fresh: The more fresh the food the better.
- Organic: Foods without chemicals reduce the burden on your liver, and consequently, on your gallbladder.
- Fiber: Eat as much water soluble fiber as you can – vegetables and fruits. It helps your digestive tract work efficiently. This can include dried fruits in addition to fresh, organic fruits.
- Dairy: Minimize dairy as much as possible substituting for low fat cottage cheese and low fax milk. Even better switch to soy or rice milk (just make sure it’s not the sugared up kind.)
- Grains: Make them whole grains. Avoid grains that say they are “enriched.” This is a code word for processed.
- Meals: Eat smaller meals and eat a few hours before bed.
- Water: The secret for nearly every diet – drink lots of water
- Test: Each person is different. Each gall bladder problem and severity is different. What works for one person may not work for someone else. Pay close attention to what works for you. As examples, onions, beans, and oatmeal can all be wonderful for a healthy gallbladder diet (as onions help clean the liver, beans are high in protein without the fat, and oatmeal can help cleanse your blood while giving plenty of energy), but each of these ingredients don’t work for some people’s gallbladders.
Specifically, what are the best foods to eat?
- Apples: As the saying goes, “An apple a day, keeps the doctor away.” This certainly applies to your gallbladder health. Apples contain malic and tartaric acids which break down cholesterol. As 80% of gallstones are made primarily of cholesterol, apples can soften or help to dissolve gallstones. This is why most liver and gallstone flushes advise eating apples or drinking organic, unfiltered apple juice for days before your flush.
- Artichokes: The artichoke is wonderful for your gallbladder. It encourages more bile production. This, in turn, can thin down the proportion of cholesterol in your gallbladder which can help dissolve gallstones. Artichokes simultaneously reduce cholesterol production by your liver. While fun to eat the artichoke “meat” from the leaves, it’s often very slow. Artichoke hearts, of course, are much easier to eat. The easiest of all, though, is taking artichoke extract or supplements.
- Radishes: There are several kinds of radishes in the world. In North America, we often think of the Cherry Belle variety that is red on the outside and white in the inside and is about an inch in diameter; but, there are many other kinds: the Daikon (originally from Japan), the Black Radish (excellent for your gallbladder), and the Red King, to name a few.Like the artichoke, radishes stimulate bile production and help break down fats — both of which are helpful if you have gallstone pain.
- Turmeric: This spice is often used in curry dishes, giving it a vibrant orangish-yellow color. Curcumin is turmeric’s beneficial component that decreases inflammation, destroys liver cancer cells, and most importantly for the gallbladder, dissolves gallstones. Note that the body can best utilize turmeric when it is consumed along with black pepper.
- Beets: Beets are so good at improving the health of your gallbladder. They help thin your bile to break down sludge, small gallstones, and to clean out your liver, gallbladder, and bile ducts. Beets have a number of beneficial ingredients including soluble fiber, betaine, and high quality iron.
- Leafy Greens: Mothers around the world hound their children to eat their spinach, and for good reason. The health benefits of leafy greens like spinach go way beyond benefitting just your liver and gallbladder. Other greens such as mustard greens, collard greens, and kale are equally as effective. Greens contain chlorophyll, which helps make the body more alkaline. Foods that are acidic in nature (meat, dairy products, sugar, grains, alcohol), leave an acidic ash in your body that the liver must dispose. Eating greens reduces this residue, lessening the burden on the liver and, consequently, the gallbladder.
Are there helpful supplements for gallbladder problems?
Supplements: Please see our section on supplements. In summary, the following supplements can help you if you have a bad gallbladder:
- Turmeric:This spice is a widely noted spice or supplement that helps with gallbladder and gallstone symptoms. The turmeric spice is often used in curry dishes and mustards, giving it a vibrant orangish-yellow color. Curcumin is the beneficial component in turmeric that decreases inflammation, destroys liver cancer cells, and most importantly for the gallbladder, dissolves gallstones. Your body can best use turmeric when it is eaten along with black pepper. You can also take a daily turmeric supplement. If you have gallstones, it is wise to start very slowly with turmeric and gradually increase the amount you take or eat each day or week.
- Fish oil: Fish oil is high in Omega-3 fats which are the “good” fats that your body needs. See more about fats below.
- Flax seed oil: Ground flax seeds or high-quality, organic flax seed oils are one of the best foods for your gallbladder (or if you’ve had yours removed). Squirt flax seed oil on your salads, soups, sandwiches…everything! Like fish oil, flax seed oil is described more in depth lower on this page in our section of types of fats.
- Ginger: Ginger is known to thin bile, reduce gallbladder sludge, and dissolves gallstones. The main active ingredients in ginger, shogaols and gingerols, help neutralize the acids in your stomach, so ginger is wonderful for nausea or an upset stomach. Slicing ginger and letting it steep in hot water makes a great ginger “tea.”
What foods should I avoid?
Here’s a list of foods to avoid that often trigger gallstone attacks and can lead to gallstones forming:
- Fats: Many types of fats can cause you pain. Avoid “trans fats” most of all. Check out this Mayo clinic page for more details on the best and worst types of fat.
- A few vegetables are on the list: onion, cabbage, cauliflower, and corn
- A few fruits are on the list too: grapefruit and oranges
- Meat, especially pork and poultry
- Dairy and eggs: Ice cream, high-fat milk, eggs
- Drinks: Alcohol, black tea, sodas, coffee
If this page was helpful, be sure to “like” us on Facebook below or leave us a comment, then check out our awesome gallbladder recipes or take a look at our gallbladder cookbook by clicking the image below. Thank you!