Gallbladder trouble is quite common in developed nations and affects anywhere from 10 to 15 percent of the adult population. If you have gallstones, they often go undetected. It’s when there’s an inflammation that you might experience pain in the upper right abdomen, vomiting, nausea, bloating, fever, and chills, and realize something is up. If you have a dysfunctional gallbladder then you may feel like there’s excessive gas buildup up and abdominal discomfort after meals, and might have chronic diarrhea.1 But how do you prevent this problem from cropping up in the first place? And how can diet help keep it in check?
Why Does Diet Matter?
There are two kinds of gallbladder stones, those formed from cholesterol and those formed from bilirubin (specifically the brown and black pigment polymers). While the latter tend to be linked to ethnicity, with Asians prone to developing these, the former are closely linked to diet and lifestyle and may be preventable and manageable through diet.2
Avoid These Foods For A Healthy Gallbladder
Just as it’s important to eat things that are good for your gallbladder, there are foods that can undo all the good if you eat. Pass up on these or have them in very controlled and small quantities if you are trying to avoid a gallbladder problem or have had gallstones in the past.
1. Fried Foods
Fried foods should top your list of things to avoid. That’s because as many as 70 percent of all gallstones formed in adults in the United States are created from cholesterol.3 So skip the fried chicken with a side of fries, or deep fried chicken and greasy biscuits, and have some good homemade lean grilled or poached chicken with a delicious salad dressed with a citrus and olive oil dressing instead.
2. Processed Foods
Cholesterol itself is just 5 percent of the composition of bile, but due to high levels of fatty food consumption, most stones found in patients in America are cholesterol based. This is possibly due to the high consumption of processed foods which have hidden fats and sugars which can contribute to obesity as well as overload your liver with cholesterol that needs digesting. The trans fatty acids in processed foods are particularly bad. And you may find them in everyday favorites like donuts, fries, cakes, cookies, even your favorite crackers.4
3. Fatty Red Meat
Nonalcoholic fatty liver disease is also associated with gallbladder stones, so controlled cholesterol intake can also prevent pigment stones formed due to liver damage.5 Which means you should probably have more of that lean white meat and healthy seafood like tuna or salmon, instead of fatty pork or beef.
4. Full-Fat Dairy Products
Low fat and skimmed milk variants of dairy products like milk and yogurt can help you cut down on the amount of cholesterol your body takes in, without compromising on the food you love to eat. You should also however, cut down on the amount of cheese, cream, ice cream, and even sour cream that you have.6 Have less, or switch to things like a fresh vegetable salsa for some tang with your Mexican meal, instead of sour cream; or have a low fat sorbet or yogurt when you want something cool and sweet to eat instead of ice cream. A simple switch that can go a long way.
5. Sugar And Sugary Foods, High Refined Carb Intake
A diet that’s high on sugar and sugary foods has been connected to greater risk of a gallstone problem. Besides this, refined carbs like white bread and pasta too present a problem because they are quickly converted from carbohydrates into sugar by your body.7 In addition, those with diabetes are already at higher risk of developing gallstones. Keeping sugar levels in check by eating healthy and staying off refined carbs and sugary foods can help keep type 2 diabetes in check, and may prove beneficial for your gallbladder too.8
Also Read: Foods Good For Your Gallbladder
6. Excessive Alcohol
Avoid developing cirrhosis or a scarred liver, another cause for gallbladder stone development. One study found that a third of all patients with liver cirrhosis developed gallbladder stones. In this cohort, cholesterol stones only account for 15 percent of all gallstones with pigment stones making up the bulk. This problem may be avoidable if you take good care of your liver. Excessive alcohol consumption is one of the main causes of cirrhosis, so you’ll need to avoid drinking to take care that your liver stays in good condition.9
7. Food Allergens
Food allergens including common triggers like wheat or gluten, soy, dairy and dairy products, corn, eggs, as well as chemicals/preservatives/food additives may need to be avoided as they could irritate your gallbladder. In case you’re unsure what foods you’re allergic to, have yourself tested by your doctor.10
|↑1, ↑3, ↑4||Gallstones and gallbladder disease. University of Maryland Medical Center.|
|↑2||Bouchier, Ian AD. “The formation of gallstones.” The Keio journal of medicine 41, no. 1 (1992): 1-5.|
|↑5, ↑9||Acalovschi, Monica. “Gallstones in patients with liver cirrhosis: incidence, etiology, clinical and therapeutical aspects.” World journal of gastroenterology: WJG 20, no. 23 (2014): 7277.|
|↑6, ↑7||Gallstones and gallbladder disease. Penn State Hershey Milton S Hershey Medical Center.|
|↑8||Aune, Dagfinn, and Lars J. Vatten. “Diabetes mellitus and the risk of gallbladder disease: A systematic review and meta-analysis of prospective studies.” Journal of diabetes and its complications 30, no. 2 (2016): 368-373.|
|↑10||Gallbladder disease. University of Maryland Medical Center.|