Gallbladder Diet

by in Gall Bladder Disease, Liver Support January 16, 2008

PhotobucketYour gallbladder is a “pouch” below the liver that stores a fat emulsifying liquid (bile) produced by the liver.
While a small amount of cholesterol in the bile is normal, bile acids and lecithin are necessary to keep the cholesterol soluble. When there is more cholesterol than the bile salts and lecithin can dissolve, gallstones begin to form.
This type of gallstone, made primarily of cholesterol, occurs most frequently. There are also many types known as “mixed” because they contain varying amounts of calcium and bilirubin along with cholesterol.
Gallstones (cholelithiasis) and inflammation of the gallbladder (cholecystitis) are the two most common forms of gallbladder disease. Gallstones are usually present when there is an inflammatory process going on within the gallbladder, and there is a controversy as to which of these disorders occurs first.
What follows are dietary guidelines to decrease both the cholesterol saturation of the bile and the irritation and inflammation of the gallbladder. Since the two conditions are so closely related, the same dietary guidelines apply. If you feel any of them need to be modified for your unique situation, please ask your doctor.

  • If applicable, reduce your total caloric intake. Being overweight is associated with an increased incidence/risk of gallstones.
  • Avoid fats, particularly if you are experiencing any symptoms, as fats stimulate contractions of the gallbladder. This means avoiding all dairy products, fried foods, meats, chocolate, nuts, olives, avocados, gravy, creamy sauces, etc. Even if you are not currently symptomatic, these foods are to be avoided and high quality fats are encouraged in moderation for overall health and to help keep the bile flowing. These “good fats” are available in foods such as fish (baked, broiled, poached, or grilled, not deep fried), soy beans and soy-derived products, olive oil, cold-pressed vegetable oils and flaxseed oil.
  • Avoid all refined and processed foods. They are generally high in fat and sugar, and low in fiber. All three of these factors, together or independently, tend to increase gallstone formation.
  • A high fiber diet is also recommended for overall health benefits, but specifically in this case as fiber prevents constipation and binds fats to encourage their excretion. High fiber foods include grains, vegetables, fruits and legumes (beans).
  • Eat primarily a vegetarian diet. Vegetarianism is associated with reduced risk/incidence of gallbladder disease. This may be due to the fact that vegetarian diets generally consist of fewer calories, less fat and more fiber than non-vegetarian.
  • Avoid all foods that you have a known sensitivity to (wheat, dairy, etc.). They do not cause gallstones, but can trigger attacks.
  • Eliminate eggs, onions and pork from your diet and make note of any changes in your symptoms. These foods are particularly irritating to the gallbladder in many individuals.
  • The following foods may also cause gastric distress, and should be omitted from your diet if they are not tolerated well: broccoli, cauliflower, corn, cucumbers, green peppers, radishes, turnips, dried peas, and various beans.
  • Certain spices can cause distention of the intestinal tract and increased intestinal movement (peristalsis), which may be irritating to the gallbladder. Avoid any spices that cause you discomfort.
  • Drink at least 8-10 eight ounce glasses of water a day to keep your system properly hydrated. Additionally, drink juices and teas freely, but avoid coffee and alcohol as they put extra stress on your liver. When drinking juices, dilute them with water (mix half water, half juice), as they have a high natural sugar content.
  • Incorporate beets and artichokes into your diet liberally. These foods help to nourish and strengthen your liver, the primary organ responsible for processing cholesterol.
  • Read food container labels to avoid “hidden” fats, sugars, and chemicals.
  1. I’m confused. Another site says cucumber is very good as part of a gallbladder diet! I think i have gallbladder problems and cucumber seems to help my symptoms – even before i read that it was good i was instinctively eating it as it just ‘felt’ right.

  2. My chiropractor whom I rely on for most all problems says eat cucumbers and I agree – it makes my symptoms go away

  3. I like the picture showing the balance with the fruit and the burger.
    .-= gallbladder symptoms´s last blog ..Gallbladder Information =-.

  4. Has gall stones and going for surgery! October 12, 2009 at 6:06 am Reply

    I am also confused, another site said no grains or beans and yes to cucumers. I know that there can be some small diferences but this seems to be alot!

  5. diag. with gallstones last week in the ER.. went for consult with gen surgeon yesterday, will be scheduling surgery soon.. finding the list of what you can and can not eat confusing.. may websites seem to conflict with each other..

    • Thanks for your comment, this is a great topic for a full article, but briefly let me just say that these lists are guidelines to point you in the direction of the foods that are causing the sphincter and biliary ducts to spasm and thus create “attacks” or form cholesterol or oxalate stones. For those that have had their gallbladder removed they should pay attention to eating a low fat diet as bile is pushed out when the fat signal arrives…..and eat regular frequent meals since bile is constantly dripping in to the small bowel and causing upper GI inflammation. Demulcent herbs like Marshmallow and Slippery Elm can be helpful for this inflammation as is L-glutamine the amino acid that helps the enterocytes…or cells lining the gut to replicate. More on this later, if I forget remind me, it is an important topic that can be easily fixed and I really want to share more when I have the time.
      *ALWAYS check with YOUR doctor before implementing any new herbs or neutraceuticals esp if you are currently on medications. Demulcent herbs should typically be taken separate from medications as they speed the medications through the ailimentary canal.

  6. Why are legumes listed as a food to be avoided? Do they mean fresh green beans, peas and limas? Should I equally avoid dried beans such as navy beans?


  8. I have to agree with the cucumber. My mom was in so much pain, when I came across something that said to eat a raw cucumber. She was able to walk less than an hour later.
    So now we’re experimenting. Slowly bringing in grains. From what I observe, anything overly processed brings an immediate attack. WHOLE grains seem to be better tolerated than white. Nuts are completely off limits for her.
    Flax is immediate relief (flax oil mixed with lemon juice.)

  9. My mom has been having gallbladder issues for a long time. She’s been to the doctor a few times to see if there are stones, but none have been identified. She’s changed her diet to softer foods, higher fiber foods, and she already doesn’t eat a lot of meat. Being hungry sometimes triggers an attack, but she has had relief from this if she eats peanut butter and crackers (go figure??). We’ve looked up cleanses and home/natural remedies for this and beets was listed every-time as a huge gallbladder helper.
    My question with avoiding the bad foods, as listed above is, what the heck are you suppose to eat then?!?! So many of the items that are listed we’re told to eat because they’re good for you. Dairy products have probiotics. Vegetables are suppose to be eaten, but then a whole bunch of them are listed as irritating to the system; they may cause “gastric distress”. Eggs shouldn’t be eaten, according to the information above. So then what do you eat for breakfast to get protein? What in general are you suppose to eat to get a good amount of protein if you’re not suppose to eat nuts, dairy products, eggs, or meat?
    I’m not saying the information is wrong, but it just seems like there’s hardly any foods you can actually eat, if you use these guidelines, that will give you a balanced diet. Vegetarianism, from my studying, needs to be supplemented with other vitamins and minerals that are not found in that diet. So then are you suppose to be taking a handful of supplements a couple times a day to achieve a balanced intake of the essential nutrients?
    I’m no doctor, but I’ve taken college courses dealing with nutrition, and I’ve read tons of articles, and it all seems to be conflicting information.
    Thank you for your post, and for all of you that have said cucumber helps THANK YOU; I’m going to tell my mom and see if that will help her too.

  10. I’m scared after reading about post surgery symptoms. My surgery is scheduled for July 1, 2011. The diet “don’ts” is everything I like to eat in the vegetable category. The breads, pasta, bakery items I can live without, but cheese, all vegetables, fruits and meats is all I ever eat. I don’t eat chips, crackers or any snack items except for nuts and dried fruit. I like an occasional ice-cream or cookie. I eat rice and beans also. I feel like I’m going to starve if I can’t even eat the healthy foods that I like! I love my 2 cups of coffee in the morning and an occasional coke. I really do eat healthy with small portion sizes. I eat low calorie and watch how I cook my meats, I love eggs too. What the heck do I eat now? Well, however I still need surgery unless there is a miracle out there.

  11. So basically, i cant eat anything good anymore?..Not even my favorite healthy choices..Fantastic! Looks like baked fish and beets for me.

  12. I am also confused… the list is long of not to eats and you listed certain beans not to eat leaving us with short list of fish,beets and soybeans. Beans cause gas as do some other vegs. With gallblatter issues we have enough bloating, belching and gas. With gallbladder issues we already have digestive issues and fruits and vegs going straight thru. So our basic diet is beets and fish alone with water and tea.

  13. Just had my gall bladder taken out yesterday. Many sites give conflicting information; cucumbers, avocados, etc. Keep in mind that the best advice is moderation in eating high fat foods, processed foods, etc. What you eat when you have an attack is not necessarily what you eat long term. Eating good amount of fruits and vege’s is important. But most importantly is what works for you works for you, not what works for everyone. Good luck.

  14. dsklkhlkh'lrj;l'lku February 24, 2012 at 4:32 am Reply

    My mother recently attacked by gallbladder problem. can please tell me the food recipie for her. Her age is 62.

  15. dsklkhlkh'lrj;l'lku February 24, 2012 at 4:38 am Reply

    I am completely vegetarian in house. But outside I take sometimes fish but no meat. Most of the time I drink lots of milk. Does it make any problem for future gallbladder attack.

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