A gallstone diet is a low fat diet, rich in natural fibres, oily fish and devoid of animal fat.
It is a diet that helps prevent or reduce the development of gallstones and that can also help clear existing gallstones in your gallbladder and thus avoid gallbladder surgery in some patients.
A diet for gallstone sufferers is not helpful after the removal of the gallbladder, though it could be useful in achieve weight loss.
Here are the best diets for
gallstone sufferers and how to overcome gallbladder stones by paying attention
to what goes into your stomach.
Millions of people worldwide suffer with gallstones - small pebbles formed from the bile that is stored inside our gallbladder.
The gallbladder is a small pear-shaped sac found under the liver, located in the right upper abdomen, just below the lower border of the right rib cage about a hand's breadth below the right breast.
In fact, it is estimated that 1 in 4 of us have gallstones, though only about 15% develope symptoms.
Research shows a strong association between the consumption of high-fat diet, low-fibre foods like white rice, white bread and sugar rich meals, obesity, rapid weight loss more than 3 lbs a week, presence of diabetes mellitus, high cholesterol (inherited or diet induced), pregnancy, the female sex with the development of troublesome gallbladder stones.
Those who suffer with biliary colic are well familiar with the agonizing dull upper abdominal pain that comes on within 20 to 60 minutes after a meal.
The pain typically is located just under the right breast, severe, and could spread to the back, under the right scapular. There is usually an associated nausea, retching and sometimes vomiting with cold sweats. The sufferer tend to pace around, seeking a position of comfort. The pain would last a few minutes up to 72 hours, with periods of increased severity or exacerbation intermittently.
Gallstone pain tends to be more severe after the consumption of fried and fatty foods.
There is enough body of evidence to suggest that changing to a low fat diet, or what some has referred to as gallstone diet, may help to reduce the pain caused by gallstones.
Our gallbladder stores bile - that green bitter liquid, produced by the liver that helps in emulsifying the fat in our meal.
Bile is very important for our digestion. It helps make the fat in our food easily digestible by the fat-digesting enzymes in the gut called lipase.
Every time we eat, once the meal gets to our stomach, if it contains fat, this sends a signal to our brain to release a hormone called cholecystokinin (CCK).
Among other things, CCK causes powerful rhythmic contraction of the muscle of the gallbladder to release bile.
The more fat in the meal, the more the need for more bile to be produced from the liver and fill up the gallbladder and the stronger the contraction of the gallbladder. No wonder a very fatty meal tends to bring on gallbladder pain than a low-fat diet.
Another way a low-fat diet benefits those suffering from gallbladder disease is that food high in fat tends to lead to high blood fat levels (hyperlipidemia), which is a recognized risk factor for gallstone production.
When the gallbladder is filled up with gallstones, one is more likely to suffer from gallstone problems. A low-fat diet, on the other hand, helps reduce the formation of gallstones, no wonder they are called gallstone diet.
A low-fat diet is defined as a diet containing and supplying no more than 30 to 40grams of fat per day. A diet containing 50 - 60g per day is a moderate fat diet, and greater than this is a high fat diet.
A low fat diet should not be confused with fat-free diet. You need to have some fat in your meal to be healthy.
Fat is needed for proper absorption of essential fat soluble vitamins like vitamins A, E, K and some B-complex vitamins. Fat is also required for the provision of molecules that are required for the proper functioning of numerous body enzymes.
It is also important that when on a low-fat diet or gallstone diet, you continue to enjoy a varied and healthy meal, consisting of fresh fruits and vegetables, carbohydrate rich foods with low glycaemic index. Specifically, a typical healthy low-fat diet would be made up of any of these or a combination:
Before starting on a low fat diet for gallbladder problems, it is important to be aware of the following:
Do you suffer with gallstones? What types of foods seem to cause you more symptoms?
Are you on a dietitian recommended gallstone diet? What does it include?
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