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There seems to be a common trend that ‘if you suffer from gallstones then the solution is to remove your gallbladder.’ Why?

Every organ within our body has its own function and is vital for your body to perform optimally. If the organ wasn’t serving a purpose, why would we be born with it?

The gallbladder certainly is worthwhile nurturing and keeping if you can. The gallbladder is a small pear-shaped organ that stores bile and is located just beneath the right lobe of the liver. The role of the gallbladder is to reserve bile when it is not being used for the digestion of fats. When food is ingested and enters the small intestine, a hormone known as cholecystokinin signals the gallbladder to contract and secrete bile to begin the breakdown of fats.

One of the most common surgeries to be performed is gallbladder removal, which is known as a cholecystectomy. This is usually carried out to remove gallstones. To me, the removal of the gallbladder is just another ‘Band-Aid’ solution, as we haven’t discovered WHY gallstones formed in the first place. Instead we’ve just masked the problem by removing the complete gallbladder. The original cause of the problem will still be there, it just won’t eventuate into gallstones anymore, instead it will manifest as something else in the future.

Foods to avoid if you have gallstones:

  • Gluten – including wheat, rye, spelt, oats and barley
  • Soy – particularly if it has not been fermented. Organic tamari may be well tolerated
  • Corn – particularly if it is not organic
  • Refined vegetable oils, though cold pressed and organic oils are fine such as olive oil and coconut oil
  • Foreign additives such as preservatives, flavours and colours and so on. Avoid anything you do not recognise the name of
  • Unactivated nuts and seeds

Foods to eat if you have gallstones:

  • Fermented foods – provides beneficial bacteria to aid digestion and aid in eliminating toxins
  • Turmeric – reduces inflammation, pain and aids in liver health
  • Dandelion root – aids in liver and gallbladder function
  • Milk thistle – aids in liver health
  • Activated charcoal – to aid in the elimination of toxins
  • Plenty of green vegetables and fresh herbs such as coriander, thyme, oregano and basil
  • Pastured, free range meats
  • Wild caught fish
  • Activated nuts and seeds
  • Soaked and/or fermented organic grains like rice, quinoa and buckwheat if tolerated
  • Apple cider vinegar to aid digestion through increasing the stomachs acidity and enzyme production. It has been known to reduce the severity of the gallstones and their pain. Mix 1-2 tbsp. of raw and organic apple cider vinegar into water and drink this daily.
  • Quality fats such as grass fed butter or ghee and cold pressed coconut oil, olive oil and Inca Inchi oil

What to eat if you’ve had your gallbladder removed?

If you have had to have your gallbladder removed, it is important to not return back to the diet and lifestyle you had that caused your gallstones to form. It is important to consider WHY they occurred, and discover what you can do differently.

The common bile duct still remains after the gallbladder is removed, which allows an individual to ‘survive well’ without it. There is in fact very little evidence showing that a low fat diet improves the symptoms in individuals that have just had their gallbladder removed.

  • Do not go on a low fat diet. In short, fats are crucial for your health to:
    • Absorb fat soluble vitamins like vitamin A, D, E and K.
    • Hormone production
    • Cell to cell communication
    • Brain health
    • For their antimicrobial properties for your immune system

Recommendations

  • Ox bile – I recommend this to everyone who has had their gallbladder removed as it just seems to help. It is simply the ‘replacement method’. It gives you the ability to break down fats more efficiently if your liver is not producing the amount of bile needed to digest the fat that you are eating.
  • Consume fermented foods. These are pre-digested by bacteria and therefore make these foods easier to digest. Nutrients are also enhanced when the food is fermented, and they are incredibly rich in enzymes that will assist in the digestion of your food, as well as provide essential beneficial bacteria that may be altered during your surgery.
  • Coconut oil is a great fat for those with no gallbladder as it doesn’t need bile acids for absorption, so it is absorbed in the small intestine.
  • Look after your liver. If you had your gallbladder out, then there is a high chance it began with liver problems, so consider seeking advice to support your liver.
  • Dandelion root is fabulous to support the common bile duct to aid in the digestion of fats. It helps with bile synthesis. Dandelion root is also fabulous for liver health.
  • Ginger can also help breakdown fat, and calm down any nausea you may experience.
  • Avoid canola oil, soybean oil, corn oil, and all hydrogenated vegetable oils including margarine, vegetable fat and so on.
  • Avoid foods that are difficult to digest such as processed, refined foods. This will ensure you are getting the most out of your food.

If you have had your gallbladder removed, there is no reason to stress! Of course it is best to keep your gallbladder where it belongs, although you now have the tools, tips and tricks to ensure you continue living a long, happy life with a diet that is smothered in good fats with no problems.

Sheridan Williamson
Changing Habits Nutritionist

Sheridan Williamson

I am a qualified holistic Nutritionist and a certified Gut and Psychology Syndrome (GAPS) practitioner. I’ve been working with Cyndi since 2012 and consulting for Changing Habits since late 2014. I have an overwhelming passion to help, inspire, research and do everything possible to assist in providing a better life to those that need it, and particularly for those people that have been told there is nothing they can do about their debilitating symptoms. It is my honour to encourage individuals to believe that they can live their best life possible, and to continue creating the best version of themselves.

Years ago I was addicted to sugar, processed foods, was taking antihistamines like lollies and antibiotics were always a part of my life. I had ongoing gut pain, reoccurring sinus and chest infections, rashes, extreme fatigue, a foggy brain and the list continues. While suffering from these symptoms for almost all my life, not one person told me that there was something I could do to resolve them. After studying and doing my own extensive research, I became fanatical about nutrition and the power of food, and my health is the best it has ever been and will only continue to improve. I am constantly learning and relaying the latest research to my clients. I have a specific interest in gut health and its ability to impact our overall health, and it is with great pleasure that I assist you in becoming the best version of you with real, delicious and nourishing food, love and happiness.
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