The gallbladder is one of those more overlooked organs, since you can technically live without them. Similar to the appendix, spleen and others, the gallbladder won’t hurt your quality of life if you have to go without. So what exactly does the gallbladder do besides create occasional pain and gallstones? This organ stores bile that is then released into your small intestine, which does make it helpful in the digestion process.
If you find yourself in a situation where your gallbladder might be causing you problems, changing your diet can be much more beneficial than having surgery to remove the gallbladder. What exactly should you eat and avoid on a gallbladder diet? Here is a general guideline that will help you reduce pain and potential gallstones.
DO Eat: Citrus Fruits
Citrus fruits are some of the most beneficial for your overall health, so it shouldn’t be too surprising that they’re a good part of a gallbladder diet. Between oranges, grapefruit, lemons, limes and more, citrus fruits are good at preventing gallbladder problems due to the high concentration of vitamin C. Many fruits are great for your gallbladder, but citrus fruits really stand out. They’ll help to break down cholesterol so that your gallbladder isn’t working as hard, relieving a lot of pain.
DON’T Eat: Red Meat
Red meats (such as high-fat ground beef) are perhaps the worst foods that you can eat for your gallbladder. While other foods like nuts are also high in fat, they aren’t going to be as nearly as bad for your because of the types of fat. Red meat contains saturated fats, refined carbohydrates and high amounts of cholesterol. These will block the gallbladder’s efforts, creating pain and the possible gallstone.
DO Eat: Leafy Greens
Just like all fruits are good for your gallbladder but citrus stands out, all vegetables are good for your gallbladder while leafy greens stand out as the best. These greens are higher in iron and B-vitamins, as well as antioxidants. These will all combine to not only prevent gallbladder disease, but fight off the free radicals that could affect other organs in the body.
DON’T Eat: Pasteurized Dairy
Many dairy products are similar to red meat in the fact that they’re high in saturated fats and cholesterol, which aren’t good for a healthy gallbladder diet. Some people might mistake being lactose intolerant for having a gallbladder issue, so make sure to speak with a doctor if you’re experiencing constant abdominal pain after eating dairy to find out. You can take supplements to get enough vitamin D and calcium if dairy is your main source for these nutrients, as well.
DO Eat: Whole Grains
Getting whole grains is great for your digestive system overall because of the high amount of fiber found in each serving. Some of the whole grains that you should aim on eating include brown rice, oatmeal, barley and bran. Like lactose intolerance, you might actually be gluten-intolerant if you find that eating whole grains causes you abdominal pain. For everyone else, though, eating more whole grains boosts gallbladder productivity and will provide an energy boost, too.
DON’T Eat: Fried Foods
Even if it’s something healthy like vegetables, eating anything that was fried is going to be a hindrance on your gallbladder. Frying foods adds a lot of saturated fat that can clog up the system, so you’ll have to cut out fried meats, potatoes and much more. The grease that results from frying these foods also hurt the gallbladder. If you feel sluggish after eating a meal that’s high in fried foods, just imagine how much worse it would be if you have gallbladder problems already.
DO Eat: Lean Meat
Not all meat is off the menu when you’re on a gallbladder diet, thankfully. Doctors suggest that to get your servings of meat while taking care of your gallbladder to try and focus on fish. Salmon is one of those lean meats that has no saturated fat, and is low overall in fight while also being high in protein. Lean beef is also acceptable in smaller amounts, but try to make sure that it’s the extremely low-fat percentage meat. As for poultry, turkey is typically a safe option if you can’t find boneless and skinless chicken.
DON’T Eat: Desserts
Most of the desserts that people enjoy are usually processed more than you could possibly imagine. Not only is ice cream out of the picture (which we touched on in the dairy department), but other processed desserts such as donuts, cookies and other baked goods should be avoided. Anything that’s processed in general isn’t safe for the gallbladder, which includes popular snack foods such as potato chips. Giving up all of your favorite foods can be rather difficult, but you’ll thank yourself when you don’t have gallbladder pain.
DO Eat: Low-Fat Dairy
We told you that avoiding most dairy products is a good idea on your gallbladder diet, but there are certain dairy products that are still relatively safe to eat. If you feel the need to include dairy, opt for the products that are fat-free such as certain types of yogurt, sour cream and cream cheese. Even certain low-fat types of cheese and milk can be had in small amounts for people that want to take care of their gallbladders. For those that don’t want to completely ditch dessert, there are certain types of ice creams, sherberts, sorbets and more that you can still enjoy!
DON’T Eat: Eggs
One type of animal product that you have to avoid altogether, though, is the egg. Research has shown that eggs can cause biliary congestion and gallstones, prompting inflammation and pain. Eggs are high in fat and cholesterol, even if studies have found that these might help other organs such as the heart, they aren’t good for the gallbladder. Doctors will tell you that it’s one of the first foods to cross off the list if you’ve had your gallbladder removed.
Things to Consider
On top of sticking to the foods on this gallbladder diet and avoiding ones that could be potentially harmful, there are a few other things that you can do to help. Being overweight can also cause harm to your gallbladder, so regular exercise and getting down to a healthy weight will help relieve symptoms of gallbladder pain. Just make sure not to lose weight too fast, as crash dieting can also create gallbladder problems. Certain herbs such as turmeric and rosemary oil are also helpful for your gallbladder. Just be mindful and think of the long-term effects of foods before you eat, and just use the reminder of the pain of your gallbladder to help you stick to the right path!