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Gall Bladder Diet

The Gall Bladder diet


     Ever get a pain in the right lower quadrant of your torso? It may be your gall bladder. It is a small sac located just below your liver that is responsible for storing and secreting the bile that is produced in the liver. The purpose of the bile is to emulsify the fat, the same way soap emulsifies grease. This allows the enzyme lipase to break down the fat and allow it to be absorbed into the tissues of your body.

When the bile is released, it travels down the bile duct and this is the area where gallstones form. When the stones block the bile from passing through the duct you feel a spasm and pain in that area.

As many as 20 per cent of Canadian women and 10 per cent of men have gallstones by the age of 60, small pebble-like substances that not only trigger abdominal pain but also bloating, nausea and vomiting.

Although diet does not directly cause gallstones, certain foods and eating patterns can increase your risk. Eating too much animal fat, too many refined carbohydrates like sugars, not enough fibre and excess fat around the midsection can contribute to the formation of gallstones. Yo-yo dieting and losing weight too quickly as well as the Atkins diet can also contribute to the cause of gallstones.

Gallstones form when substances in the bile start to lump together to form crystals. In some cases they become so large they actually block the bile duct and cause severe pain when the bile tries to get through to help digest the fat from the most recent meal. If the stones are very small, a person could have no symptoms at all and would only show up on an ultra sound. In this case no operation is needed and the person just has to minimize their ingestion of fats from animals and dairy. One in five will experience all the symptoms and will require surgery.

People with a family history of gallstones as well as those that are obese and overweight are at greater risk. Women between the ages of 20 to 60 are three times more likely to develop gallstones than men. This happens because the female hormone estrogen stimulates the liver to remove more cholesterol from the blood and it then accumulates in the gallbladder eventually forming gallstones. Cholesterol-lowering drugs also reduce the amount of cholesterol produced by the liver and just like estrogen can cause the patient to develop gallstones. In some cases changing your diet can help you live with the condition but once the stones are there, they will always be there.

Dietary modifications can also reduce the risk that silent stones become symptomatic and help prevent them from forming in the first place.

Reduce Fat

Cutting back on saturated (animal fat) can change the composition of bile, making stone formation less likely. Choose lean cuts of meat, poultry breasts (no skin) and very low-fat dairy products or no dairy at all. Use monounsaturated fats such as peanut oil, avocado, almonds, pistachios, hazelnuts and peanuts.


Fibre in the diet helps guard against gallstones by binding to food cholesterol and bile in the gut, causing their removal from the body. Insoluble fibre found in wheat bran, whole wheat bread or pasta, fruit, vegetables, nuts and seeds is thought to be the most protective.

Other fibre rich foods linked to a lower risk of gallstones include lentils and dried beans (kidney beans, navy beans, black beans, chickpeas.)

Processed Carbs

A steady intake of added sugars and refined (white) starchy foods can increase the risk of gallstones by increasing the secretion of insulin, the hormone that clears sugar from the blood. Elevated insulin can increase the concentration of cholesterol in the bile causing it to form stones.

Limit added sugars to 5 per cent of daily calories which is 5 teaspoons a day for women and 9 teaspoons a day for men. Each teaspoon of sugar is 4 gm.

Replace soft drinks, fruit punch and iced tea with water, vegetable juice or black tea or coffee or even a glass of wine. Choose breakfast cereals that have no more than 6gm of sugar per serving.

Choose whole grain starchy foods such as brown rice, whole wheat pasta, quinoa, steel-cut and large flake oats and 100 per cent pumpernickel bread. These high fibre foods will stimulate less insulin release.

Healthy Weight

Excess weight around the abdomen causes hormonal changes that may cause gallstones. Aerobic exercise is the best and avoid crash diets. When dieting lose weight slowly and sensibly. I recommend 2 or 3 pounds a month and eat small amounts of food more often, up to six times a day. If you fast for long periods of time this will decrease gallbladder contractions and prevent it from emptying completely thus leaving substances in there that could form stones.

Vitamin C

A low intake of Vitamin C is associated with a greater risk of gallstones. Vitamin C is needed to properly synthesize bile and without it your bile becomes cholesterol rich and stones may form. Vitamin C rich foods include oranges, grapefruit, kiwi, cantaloupe, strawberries, broccoli, Brussels sprouts, cauliflower, red peppers and tomatoes.

Calcium and Magnesium

Like fibre these two minerals bind to bile acids in the gut eliminating them from the body. Calcium-rich foods include milk (must be very-low fat or even almond or rice milk),yogurt, cheese, fortified plant beverages and juice, baked beans, black beans, soybeans, firm tofu, canned salmon and sardines, bok choy, broccoli, collard greens, kale Swiss chard, dried figs and almonds.

Good sources of magnesium include black beans, chickpeas, kidney beans, navy beans, soya beans, firm tofu, spinach, Swiss chard, halibut, almonds, cashews, sunflower seeds and wheat germ.

The good thing about eating healthy food is that not only does it keep you slim and fit but it helps you avoid many physical ailments such as this one.