Gallbladder Diet Plan

August 12, 2021

Gallbladder Diet Plan

Dr. Nicole Sundene, NMD

Scottsdale Naturopathic Doctor

Gallstones and gallbladder disease are very common women's health conditions best served by a Naturopathic Doctor unless surgery is required. Whether you are working to avoid having your gallbladder removed, or you have already had your gallbladder removed you will need to follow this gallbladder diet.

Patients with emergency clogged bile ducts must have their gallbladders removed as it is a true medical emergency. Whereas patients with gallstones their doctor is keeping an eye on are good candidates for this diet. When patients have their gallbladders removed they generally have chronic diarrhea without a pouch to collect their bile, and instead have bile constantly dripping into their intestines which triggers chronic diarrhea.

Signs of gallstones causing an emergency are sharp pain in the right lower rib cage, sharp pain in the right shoulder blader, fever, chills, and/or yellowing of the eyes or jaundice. Patients do not need to have all of these symptoms to need to go to the emergency room for surgery.

Your gallbladder is a “pouch” below the liver that stores a fat emulsifying liquid (bile) produced by the liver.

While a small amount of cholesterol in the bile is normal, bile acids and lecithin are necessary to keep the cholesterol soluble. When there is more cholesterol than the bile salts and lecithin can dissolve, gallstones begin to form. Gallstones can be a medical emergency requiring immediate removal of the gallbladder located within the liver, or they may be under "watchful waiting" with instructions to go to the ER for emergency surgery should they develop sudden sharp pain in their upper right shoulder blade, or pain under their right rib cage where the liver is located.

This type of gallstone, made primarily of cholesterol, occurs most frequently. There are also many types known as “mixed” because they contain varying amounts of calcium and bilirubin along with cholesterol.

Gallstones (cholelithiasis) and inflammation of the gallbladder (cholecystitis) are the two most common forms of gallbladder disease. Gallstones are usually present when there is an inflammatory process going on within the gallbladder, and there is a controversy as to which of these disorders occurs first.

What follows are dietary guidelines to decrease both the cholesterol saturation of the bile and the irritation and inflammation of the gallbladder. Since the two conditions are so closely related, the same dietary guidelines apply. If you feel any of them need to be modified for your unique situation, please ask your doctor.

  • If applicable, reduce your total caloric intake. Being overweight is associated with an increased incidence/risk of gallstones.
  • Avoid fats, particularly if you are experiencing any symptoms, as fats stimulate contractions of the gallbladder. Too much fat in the diet along with hormone imbalance is the primary root cause of gallbladder disease. This means avoiding all dairy products, fried foods, meats, chocolate, nuts, olives, avocados, gravy, creamy sauces, etc. Even if you are not currently symptomatic, these foods are to be avoided and high quality fats are encouraged in moderation for overall health and to help keep the bile flowing. These “good fats” are available in foods such as fish (baked, broiled, poached, or grilled, not deep fried), soy beans and soy-derived products, olive oil, cold-pressed vegetable oils and flaxseed oil.
  • Avoid all refined and processed foods. They are generally high in fat and sugar, and low in fiber. All three of these factors, together or independently, tend to increase gallstone formation.
  • A high fiber diet is also recommended for overall health benefits, but specifically in this case as fiber prevents constipation and binds fats to encourage their excretion. High fiber foods include grains, vegetables, fruits and legumes (beans).
  • Eat primarily a vegetarian diet. Vegetarianism is associated with reduced risk/incidence of gallbladder disease. This may be due to the fact that vegetarian diets generally consist of fewer calories, less fat and more fiber than non-vegetarian.
  • Avoid all foods that you have a known sensitivity to (wheat, dairy, etc.). They do not cause gallstones, but can trigger attacks.
  • Eliminate eggs, onions and pork from your diet and make note of any changes in your symptoms. These foods are particularly irritating to the gallbladder in many individuals.
  • The following foods may also cause gastric distress, and should be omitted from your diet if they are not tolerated well: broccoli, cauliflower, corn, cucumbers, green peppers, radishes, turnips, dried peas, and various beans.
  • Certain spices can cause distention of the intestinal tract and increased intestinal movement (peristalsis), which may be irritating to the gallbladder. Avoid any spices that cause you discomfort.
  • Drink at least 8-10 eight-ounce glasses of water a day to keep your system properly hydrated. Additionally, drink juices and teas freely, but avoid coffee and alcohol as they put extra stress on your liver. When drinking juices, dilute them with water (mix half water, half juice), as they have a high natural sugar content.
  • Incorporate beets and artichokes into your diet liberally. These foods help to nourish and strengthen your liver, the primary organ responsible for processing cholesterol.
  • Read food container labels to avoid “hidden” fats, sugars, and chemicals.
  • Work with your Naturopathic Doctor when using herbal medicine and nutrition therapy.

Gallstones can be a medical emergency requiring immediate removal of the gallbladder located within the liver, or they may be under "watchful waiting" with instructions to go to the ER for emergency surgery should they develop sudden sharp pain in their upper right shoulder blade, or pain under their right rib cage where the liver is located.

Dr. Nicole Sundene

(480) 837-0900

Dr. Sundene is a Naturopathic Doctor in Scottsdale, Arizona, and is a Female Hormone Expert in Women's Health and Bioidentical Hormones. She specializes in Holistic Women's Health for Menopause,  Thyroid,  Hashimotos,  PMS, PerimenopauseAutoimmunePostpartumChronic Fatigue, DepressionAnxiety, Food Allergies,  DigestionDermatology, AcnePsoriasis Eczema, and Adrenal Hormonal Conditions. In 1999 she began working for a Hormone Doctor prior to starting Naturopathic Medical School. With over 23 years of experience in both Prescription and Natural women's health and hormones, she presents to women the best-integrated health solutions for their Chronic Disease. 

She has been an Herbalist for over 28 years and enjoys teaching women how to use herbs to balance their hormones, nutrition and optimize their health. Dr. Sundene relies on blood testing for her hormone metrics. The hormone testing is covered per the patient's insurance plan (not Medicaid) and conducted at certain points in the woman's menstrual cycle. To learn more about Hormone Testing for Women Visit: Bioidentical Hormones. Follow Dr. Sundene on InstagramTwitter, and Facebook for more tips on Women's Health, Female Hormones, and Naturopathy!

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