gallbladder diet: Food and Gallstones

gallbladder diet

gallbladder diet: Food and Gallstones

Gallstones are often the cause of abdominal pain, which is only addressed during a real attack. These calculations are a sign of cholesterol and poor waste elimination by the body.

How to eat to eliminate this cholesterol, which foods to avoid to eliminate these abdominal pains, which foods to favor to avoid these crises? Here are the questions that we will answer after having defined gallstones more precisely as well as the function of the gallbladder.

Food and Gallstones

What are gallbladder and gallstones?

The gallbladder is a piriform organ located in the abdomen near the liver. It is part of the digestive system, in the form of a pocket in which the body stores bile, a liquid responsible for digesting fat. In the latter, there are small particles of cholesterol, other fats, and proteins. The ideal combination to facilitate digestion, bile acts as soap to dissolve fat.

Gallstones appear when there is an overload of fatty particles in the bile and they stick together and harden, creating crystals and then real stones. When the stones are small, they escape from the gallbladder and will be eliminated during digestion without even being aware of it. This is the case for 10% of us who host calculations without knowing it. On the other hand, when the stones are too large, they cannot leave the gallbladder and block the common bile duct which connects the gallbladder to the small intestine and the liver. This leads to inflammation of the gallbladder which swells which creates pain in the abdomen and in the rib cage. The gallbladder is therefore full of bile that does not flow, the body does not digest fat which causes nausea.

In 80% of cases, the stones do not cause any pain, sometimes just a more or less intense digestive discomfort. Others on the other hand really hurt up to the shoulder see the back, the pain may be temporary or very long. If these attacks are accompanied by more worrying symptoms such as vomiting, fever or jaundice, you should consult without delay.

gallbladder diet
gallbladder diet: Food and Gallstones

Food and Gallstones

Dietary rules

The following rules are preventive and intended for people with lithiasis, to space out attacks. Regarding stones, they must be treated with your doctor.

To avoid crises, it is advisable:

To make 3 meals a day: breakfast, lunch, dinner. In case of frequent and repeated attacks, you can make 4 to 5 meals a day to increase the number of contractions of the gallbladder and thus facilitate its work.

  • – Avoid snacking (cold meats, cheese, sweets, sweets, chocolate
  • – Eat regularly and if possible calmly.
  • – Not to smoke on an empty stomach.
  • – To follow your diet regularly, and to refuse any prolonged deviation which would destroy the results already obtained.
  • – To remove fried foods and dishes in sauce.
  • – To cook without fat: butter, margarine, the oil will be put raw on the food at the time of consuming it.

In the case of occasional disturbances or infrequent crises, certain foods should be given priority and others should be omitted. Here are some examples:

Foods to favor in gallbladder diet:

  • – Oily fish: mackerel, sardines, salmon … will help you control your cholesterol.
  • – Olive oil, nuts, almonds, avocados. Give you priority mono- and polyceratid fatty acids.
  • – Fruits, vegetables, whole grains, legumes (dried beans, lentils, etc.
  • – Bitter vegetables: artichoke, endive, dandelion … will help you stimulate the production of bile to dilute the waste there.
  • – Chicory. Same virtues as bitter vegetables, think about it for your breakfast.
  • – Turmeric (except during a crisis). Anti-cholesterol and anti-gallstone spice, it promotes contraction of the gallbladder.
  • – Water in large quantities, to eliminate well.
  • – Rosemary. Its bitterness will stimulate the production of bile. You can even consume it in infusion for example after the meal to replace your coffee!
  • – Mint (fresh or frozen leaves, the essential oil in cooking). Whose menthol has anti gallstone properties?
  • – Alcohol in small quantities. Alcohol seems to help eliminate and prevent gallstones. A glass of red wine or beer occasionally would have a protective effect, more than abstaining entirely from alcohol.

Foods and behaviors to avoid:

  • – Large meals especially if they are very fatty and/or very watered.
  • – Coffee, even decaffeinated.
  • – Sugar in general, foods with a high glycemic index.
  • – Skip breakfast.
  • – The young.
  • – Careless cures (lemon cure, olive oil cure.
  • – Any cooked animal fat (butter, lard) as well as fried foods and hidden fats in sauces, cold cuts, cakes…
  • – fatty meats (mutton in particular), cold meats, organ meats, game.
  • – Chocolate.
  • – Commercial pastries (whose ingredients and quantities of fat you do not control.
  • – Dried fruits (almonds, hazelnuts, nuts).

It is allowed to put a little oil (sunflower, corn, soy) in the salad, a little fresh butter on the grill is also allowed. Are recommended:

  • – lean meats (rabbit, horse(.
  • – skinless poultry,
  • – boiled fish,
  • – all vegetables cooked in water (even starchy foods(.
  • – all raw or stewed fruit,
  • – skimmed milk, cottage cheese, yogurts,
  • – fruit juice,
  • – tea and light coffee.
gallbladder diet
gallbladder diet: Food and Gallstones

If the troubles persist, or in the case of frequent crises, you can start a more “drastic” diet by avoiding the following foods:

Meat and poultry:

  •     Lamb: chops, shoulder, Navarino.
  •     Beef: sirloin, tongue, corned beef.
  •     Sheep: shoulder, ribs, Navarino.
  •     Veal: shank, Osso Bucco.
  •     Poultry and game: duck, goose, hen, deer …
  •     Delicatessen (except defatted white ham )
  •     Pork: bacon, loin.
  •     Offal.


  •     In frying, canned in oil or in the sauce …
  •     Eel, skate, and other fish whose preparation requires a sauce.
  •     Fish eggs.

Snails, crustaceans, shellfish, oysters if their preparation requires fat.

Cheeses and dairy products: all cheeses containing more than 45% fat (on dry extract) will be removed:

  •     Cheeses containing more than 45% fat.
  •     Roquefort, Bleu, Mont d’or, Bursal, Caprice des adieux …
  •     Cream enriched cheeses: Samos, karri …
  •     Yogurt cream, Greek yogurt …
  •     Prefer semi-skimmed milk, dairy products with 20% fat (on dry extract) and plain yogurts.

Fruits and vegetables:


    Oilseeds (nuts, hazelnuts, almonds, olives, coconuts )


    Cooked (sauces, frying, stew), crème Fraiche, goose fat, duck fat, lard.

    Mayonnaise, aioli

    Floods: If your doctor has prohibited them.


    Viennoiseries and pastries are rich in cream.

    Industrial preparations: ready meals, pastries, pastries, family preparations.

What you must remember

In summary, there are 5 essential rules to keep in mind:

    Limit fatty foods, especially high in cholesterol. However, do not remove all sources of fat, which remain essential for the proper functioning of your body.

  •     Promote good fats: fatty fish, olive oil and almonds.
  •     Make more small meals. Eat more often (no more!) In small amounts to promote contraction of the gallbladder which will better eliminate waste.
  •     Lose weight without dieting too restrictive. Lose slowly so as not to increase the cholesterol level in your gallbladder.
  •     Favor whole fruits and vegetables and starchy foods. Their vegetable fibers and proteins facilitate the dissolution of stones.

gallbladder diet: What are the main causes of stone formation in the gallbladder?

Gallstones are made up of a variable percentage of cholesterol, bilirubin, and calcium.

The stones that are formed from cholesterol are generally white or yellow and represent around 80% of gallstones, it is cholesterol stones which are the most frequent.

They can also appear brown or black, so having a high concentration of bile pigments (bile pigments are produced by the breakdown of hemoglobin) are the rarer pigment stones present in 20% of cases.

Both types of gallstones can also fix calcium salts around the periphery. When the proportion of calcium exceeds 4% of the weight of the calculation, it becomes opaque to X-rays and therefore spontaneously visible on the radiography of the abdomen without preparation (ASP) and during computed tomography (Scanner ).

Calcification is more common with pigment stones (about 50 percent) than with cholesterol stones (about 10 to 20 percent )

 Cholesterol stones

Cholesterol stones are favored physiologically by the factors which will lead to an increase in the bile concentration in cholesterol and therefore in the supersaturation in cholesterol and thus in the lithiasis precipitation.

The factors are going to be an excess of bile secretion of cholesterol (ethnic or genetic origin, pregnancy) and/or a defect of bile secretion of the factors solubilizing cholesterol [phospholipids (mutations MDR3) or bile salts (ileal resection or ileal disease)] and/or vesicular retention or hypo motricity (pregnancy, obesity, fasting, age).

– Age: Gallstones are rare before the age of 10. The prevalence and incidence increase regularly with age. The prevalence reaches a maximum of around 60 to 70 years.

– The female sex: At all ages, the prevalence is the same age, about twice as high in women than in men. This difference, however, diminishes after 70 years. Between the ages of 50 and 60, the prevalence is around 10%. 100 in humans and 20 p. 100 in women.

– Overweight and significant variations in weight: In people whose weight exceeds the theoretical ideal weight by 20%, the prevalence of lithiasis is doubled. This is due to an increase in the synthesis and bile secretion of cholesterol. This increase can be exaggerated temporarily during a diet until the weight returns to normal.

– prolonged fasting: 100% of patients on total parenteral nutrition have vesicular lithiasis after one month

– The diet: A high-calorie diet promotes the formation of stones. The same is true of diets rich in polyunsaturated fatty acids.

Multiple pregnancies (multiparity): promotes the formation of stones

– Ethnic factors: The prevalence of cholesterol stones is very high in certain ethnic groups, especially among North American Indians and in certain countries, such as the Scandinavian countries or Chile.

– Genetic factors: the history of lithiasis is more frequent in families of lithiasis patients than in those of controls and an abnormality of the mdr3 gene, the canalicular transporter of phospholipids, is a risk factor for cholesterol lithiasis in adults.

– Hypertriglyceridemia: A high-calorie diet rich in polyunsaturated fatty acids promotes the formation of stones.

– Certain drugs: An increase in the prevalence of lithiasis (which is approximately doubled) has been observed with certain cholesterol-lowering drugs, in particular clofibrate, with estrogens, and with ciclosporin. These drugs increase the saturation of bile with cholesterol. Their effect on the saturation of the bile is rapid and transient. Octreotide (used to treat acromegaly) and medroxyprogesterone, which cause gallbladder stasis, also increase the prevalence of stones.

– Intestinal diseases: Lithiasis is multiplied by two to three during intestinal diseases (especially Crohn’s disease), after surgical resection of the terminal ileum or after the realization of a jejune-ileal short circuit for obesity. Under these circumstances, there is intestinal malabsorption of bile acids, which results in a decrease in their bile secretion and an oversaturation of bile to cholesterol. Pigment stones can also build up during Crohn’s disease, possibly due to increased absorption of bilirubin from the small intestine or colon.

gallbladder diet
gallbladder diet: Food and Gallstones

– Less demonstrated associations:

  • – Hyperlipoproteinemia’s (types IIb and IV)
  • – Cerebrotendinous xanthomatotic
  • – Saint Triad: association of vesicular lithiasis, hiatal hernia, and diverticulosis.
  • – Lithiasis association with type 2 diabetes, hyperinsulinemia, and physical inactivity.

Pigmentary stones

Pigment lithiasis is due to a deconjugation of bilirubin which is soluble in conjugated form and insoluble in deconjugated form. Bacterial infections and, in particular, biliary bacterial colonization promote deconjugation and therefore the precipitation of pigmentary lithiasis.

The risk factors for pigmentary lithiasis are:

  • – Increased production of bilirubin (hemolytic diseases)
  • – Biliary infections and biliary obstacles (benign or malignant stenosis of the main bile duct)
  • – Certain geographic origins such as Southeast Asia (parasitic infections and little known factors).

gallbladder diet: What you should know about gallstones?

 Did you know? Your risk of having gallstones depends on your age, gender, and other factors. Read on to learn more about gallstones, what to eat to avoid them, and what to eat if you need to have your gallbladder removed.

What is the gallbladder and what are gallstones?

The gallbladder is an organ that accumulates bile. Bile helps you digest fat. Gallstones are small, hard stones that can form in the gallbladder when the bile hardens.

Am I at risk of having gallstones?

You may be at an increased risk of having gallstones if you:

  •     Are a woman;
  •     Are over 60;
  •     Take medication to lower cholesterol levels;
  •     Are pregnant;
  •     Follow hormone replacement therapy;
  •     Take birth control pills;
  •     Are overweight, especially if you are a woman;
  •     Have diabetes;
  •     Have lost weight very quickly;
  •     Fast (spend long periods without eating (
  •     Are aboriginal.

What are the symptoms of gallstones?

Many people who have gallstones have no symptoms. These “silent” gallstones have no effect on the functioning of the gallbladder. However, if gallstones block the passage of bile into the gallbladder, the increased pressure will cause pain and discomfort in the abdomen area.

How are gallstones treated?

Gallstones are usually not treated in people who have gallstones but no pain. However, if you have pain, you will need treatment. The most common treatment for gallstones is surgery to remove the gallbladder. Since the gallbladder is not an essential organ, a person can live normally without it.

How can I help prevent gallstones?

  •     Choose foods high in fiber such as whole grains, vegetables, fruits and legumes (beans, peas, and lentils).
  •     Eat two or three servings of reduced-fat dairy products each day. Good choices include skim milk or 1%, yogurt (2% fat or less) and cheese (20% fat or less). Get to know the portion sizes here.
  •     Include two to three servings of meat and alternatives in your diet each day. Choose lean meats. Remove the skin from the poultry. Try plant-based substitutes like beans, tofu, and lentils. Get to know the portion sizes here.
  •     Include 30 to 45 ml (2 or 3 tablespoons) of healthy fats in your diet each day. Healthy fats include non-hydrogenated margarine and canola, olive and soybean oils. Avoiding fats does not reduce the risk of gallstones.
  •     Eat less sugar. Limit your intake of foods high in sugar such as sugary drinks, desserts, chocolate, and candy.
  •     Eat unsalted nuts a few times a week.

Maintain a healthy weight.

  •     Consume caffeine in moderation, about three cups of brewed coffee a day.
  •     If you drink, drink alcohol in moderation (no more than one drink per day).

gallbladder diet: What should I eat if I need to have my gallbladder removed?

Before surgery, follow a healthy diet by following Canada’s Food Guide recommendations unless your doctor tells you otherwise.

  •     Choose foods high in fiber such as whole grains, vegetables, fruits and legumes (beans, peas, and lentils).
  •     Eat two or three servings of reduced-fat dairy products each day. Good choices include skim milk or 1%, yogurt (2% fat or less) and cheese (20% fat or less). Get to know the portion sizes here.
  •     Include two to three servings of meat and alternatives in your diet each day. Choose lean meats. Remove the skin from the poultry. Try plant-based substitutes like beans, tofu, and lentils. Get to know the portion sizes here.
  •     Do not eliminate all fats from your diet. Limit the amount of fat you use at the table and in cooking. Use only 30 to 45 ml (2 or 3 tablespoons) each day. Healthy added fats include non-hydrogenated margarine and canola, olive and soybean oils.
  •     Limit your intake of high-fat desserts and snacks such as cookies, store-bought baked goods, and chocolate.

Return to your regular diet after surgery unless your doctor tells you otherwise. Eat a moderate amount of fat.

gallbladder diet: Food and Gallstones

When should I see my health care provider?

If you have gallstones, it is important to consult your health care provider if you have:

  •     Abdominal pain that lasts more than five hours;
  •     Nausea and vomiting;
  •     Fever or chills;
  •     Yellowish skin or whites of the eyes (jaundice);
  •     Dark urine or light-colored stools.

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