Are you at risk of developing gallstones? Or do you already have them? A gallstone diet may just be what you need. Here’s the lowdown on gallstones.
It all starts with the bile
Bile is a dark alkaline fluid produced by the liver. It is made up of acids, salts, water, cholesterol, and pigments. It breaks down fats, aids digestion, and gets rid of waste products. The gallbladder stores and concentrates it for later use. The food you eat stimulates its release.
Gallstones can sometimes form
Bile salts and acids keep bile cholesterol in dissolved state. Crystals form when there’s more cholesterol than the acids can dissolve.
When crystals clump together, that’s when you have gallstones.
High levels of bilirubin and fatty acids also cause gallstones. These bile components may become too concentrated. They then solidify and become what we call pigment gallstones.
There’s yet another reason why gallstones occur. The gallbladder sometimes fails to efficiently squeeze out bile. This results to stagnant bile. If this happens always, the bile thickens. Over time, it develops into gallstones.
A gallstone diet plays an important part in resolving gallstones
Diet alone will not prevent gallstones from forming. It will also not get rid of existing gallstones. However, a purposely designed diet may make it easier for you to do these things.
Here are 7 reasons why you should plan out a diet for your condition:
- A gallstone diet is designed to improve liver health and bile production. An unhealthy liver cannot produce sufficient amounts of bile. Bile that’s in short supply will not be efficient in its functions.
The liver benefits from foods that are rich in antioxidants, fiber, and phytochemicals. This diet may include artichokes, arugula, blueberries, celery, cranberries, cumin, dandelion, fennel, ginger, leeks, lemon, parsley, radish, and watercress.
Moderate intake of coffee and tea helps to prevent oxidative stress. In addition to that, coffee has anti-inflammatory properties. It also stimulates the production of glutathione which detoxifies the liver.
Avocado, garlic, grapefruit, and turmeric also help to detoxify the liver.
- This special diet includes foods that regulate estrogen levels. The female hormone estrogen increases bile cholesterol. This creates an imbalance between bile acids and cholesterol which results to thick, slow-moving bile.
Carrots, broccoli, soybeans, and whole grains are just some of the foods that help lower estrogen levels.
- This diet corrects eating patterns that may add to the risk for gallstones. It is important to maintain a healthy weight when you are at risk for gallstones. Obese bodies tend to increase estrogen levels, which in turn increase cholesterol in the bile.
Losing weight, however, must be done gradually.
Crash diets and very low calorie intake decrease bile production.
Low bile production causes cholesterol to crystalize, and we don’t want that happening.
Meals must be well balanced and rich in fiber. This reduces the risk for gallstones and boosts the immune system and overall health.
- Foods rich in healthy fats stimulate proper emptying of the gallbladder. When the body detects fats in the eaten food, it sends a signal to the gallbladder that it’s time to release bile. Without this stimulus, bile stays in the gallbladder or may not empty completely. Retained bile hardens and turns to gallstones.
This is not the same as diets that are high in fat and calories, which you must avoid. Fats in this regimen are unprocessed fats.
These are sourced from avocado, avocado oil, olive oil, whole nuts, chia seeds, and flaxseeds. You may also include eggs, butter, ghee, and meat as long as these are produced from grass-fed animals.
It must be noted that if you already suffer from gallstone attacks, you must consume very low levels of fats, including healthy fats.
- This diet helps to prevent swelling of the gallbladder and bile ducts. Swollen gallbladder and bile ducts interrupt bile flow. Anti-inflammatory foods are a big help for these organs.
Some of these foods are turmeric, ginger, blueberries, pineapple, and green leafy vegetables. The curcumin in turmeric does a great job in reducing swelling. It also helps the gallbladder to contract and empty bile efficiently.
- It works well for people with other health conditions. Since this gallstone diet excludes foods that cause inflammation, it works well for people with diabetes, hypertension, and other illnesses.
Unlike gallbladder cleansing diets, this is safe even for diabetics.
If you’re into natural and wholesome food, then you’d love this diet. It uses little to no sugar or salt. It excludes refined grains, trans fats, saturated fats, dairy and meat from grain-fed animals, and ingredients that are highly processed.
- The foods in this diet are easy to digest. This diet also helps to reduce the pain and other symptoms related to gallstones. Some patients found this very helpful and gallbladder removal was not necessary for them anymore.
Summing up, a gallstone diet consists of wholesome foods that benefit the liver and the gallbladder. These foods have low fat, average calorie, and high fiber levels. The diet is safe, nutritious, and easy to implement.