Gall Bladder Diet

You may have heard it said that humans can live without their gallbladder. After all, it is just a storage tank.  Bile, which is the reason why the gallbladder is there in the first place, can always find its way down the small intestine. So technically, the entero-hepatic (Latin for “gut-liver”) circulation cannot be derailed with its absence.

Not too long ago, conventional wisdom has it that humans can also live minus their appendix (as the name implies).  But then again, medical science corrects itself:  Appendix has been found to host gut-friendly bacteria that promote over-all digestive health.  Perhaps after all, gallbladder may not be that too dispensable.  Time will tell.

Nevertheless, the thought of lying down on a cold operating table leaves a bad taste.  Not to mention the attendant discomforts that one has to endure due to a blocked gallbladder.  So while you can keep your gallbladder where it is (below the liver), keep one thing in mind:  fiber.

Yes.  The same plant-based food that cures diverticular disease (disease of abnormal pouches in the colon walls) also prevents formation of gallstones and allied problems.

To understand why fiber is so important (yet little-known) in gallbladder diet, consider the entero-hepatic circulation:

  • Bile, the bitter, yellow fluid made by the liver, acts as a strong dish soap in dishwater – it helps digest fats and transport toxic metals out of the body;
  • The fluid is then carried down the two biliary ducts – one directly down the first part of the small intestine (duodenum) – where a dilute solution of bile is constantly secreted –and the other one to the gallbladder – where bile is stored and concentrated;
  • When food makes its way to the duodenum, the gallbladder squirts full-strength bile to start the process of digestion, especially of fats;
  • When fiber is consumed, the soluble kind binds with a mixture made of bile, toxins, insoluble fiber and other undigested materials.  Then that waste product is eliminated through bowel movement;
  • When fiber is not consumed, bile has nobody to bind with.  So it is reabsorbed into the bloodstream, and makes a return trip to the liver for filtering.

Thus, bile is recycled to be re-secreted to the small intestine.  It brings with it suspended toxins that have not been evacuated through the excretory process.  Since the liver does not need to produce a fresh batch, the reabsorbed bile becomes sludgy, and can turn into biliary obstacles that we call gallstones.   If it blocks the neck of the gallbladder, it may become distended and inflamed, a condition known as cholecystitis.  If it blocks the common bile duct (the duct that connects the duodenum to the gallbladder and the liver) bile could “reflux” or back up into the liver that may result to obstructive jaundice, or into the pancreas that may cause acute pancreatitis.

An excellent remedy to thin out thick and sludgy bile is beet.  To encourage the gallbladder to work frequently, unsaturated fat in the diet, like avocado and olive oil, is also important; otherwise, the bile in the gallbladder thickens and hardens because it has no fat to break up.  More important, lack of essential fatty acids means that fat-soluble vitamins like A, D, E and K, may not be properly broken down and absorbed by the body.

But to ensure that all used bile gets out of the system, nothing beats the sweeping powers of soluble fiber.  Soluble fiber is the soft core of plant-based foods, and the insoluble kind is the rougher outer part (excellent for colon health).  The following are foods that are friendly to the gallbladder:

  • Beets;
  • Cucumbers;
  • Swiss chard;
  • Dandelion and beet greens;
  • Celery;
  • Carrots;
  • Shallots;
  • Ripe tomatoes
  • Grapes and berries;
  • Apples and pears;
  • Papaya

All types of vinegar also promote gallbladder health. So are salmon and trout.  The cabbage family may be indispensable in salads, but they are better avoided.

A healthy gallbladder sits below a healthy liver, so liver-flush once in a while.  Lemon juice with hot water, garlic, and onion help cleanse the liver so it produces sludge-free bile.