Gallbladder & Gallstones Diet, gallbladder cleanse.

Gallbladder & Gallstones Diet, gallbladder cleanse.

Gallbladder & Gallstones Diet, gallbladder cleanse.

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Gallbladder and Diet

When you have a problem with your gallbladder. like gallstones. your doctor may recommend that you have gallbladder surgery to remove your gallbladder.

Your gallbladder is an organ that you can live without, but some people need to avoid certain foods after gallbladder removal.

The Gallbladder and Digestion

The gallbladder is a small organ that sits under your liver.

It stores, concentrates, and helps secrete bile, a liquid made by your liver that helps digest fatty foods.

If you need to have surgery to remove your gallbladder, your liver still makes enough bile for normal digestion.

Even so, it is not unusual for people to have some difficulty digesting certain foods in the days and weeks following gallbladder surgery .

Dietary Adjustments

It’s important to carefully follow your doctor’s instructions about your diet after gallbladder surgery.

If you’re hospitalized, your medical team will help you transition from a liquid to a solid diet almost immediately after your gallbladder surgery.

If you’re recovering at home, you’ll need to introduce foods slowly, and consume mainly clear liquids, like broth and gelatin, at first.

If you feel ready and are not nauseated, you can slowly begin introducing solid foods back into your diet as you start feeling better.

But you may need to avoid certain types of foods for a while.

More than half of people who have recently had gallbladder surgery report problems with digesting fats following their surgery.

This is because your gallbladder is no longer there to control the release of bile into your intestines after eating a meal.

Instead, a small amount of bile is now directly "leaked" from your liver into your small intestine at a slow, constant rate.

It can take a few weeks for your body to get used to this change, and you may experience bloating, diarrhea, and gas after eating fatty foods during this time.

But most people can return to a normal diet within a month after having gallbladder surgery.

Foods to Avoid

While your body adjusts, it’s a good idea to avoid high-fat foods for a few weeks after having gallbladder surgery.

High-fat foods include:

  • Foods that are fried, like French fries and potato chips
  • High-fat meats, such as bacon, bologna, sausage, ground beef, and ribs
  • High-fat dairy products, such as cheese, ice cream, cream, whole milk, and sour cream
  • Pizza
  • Foods made with lard or butter
  • Creamy soups or sauces
  • Meat gravies
  • Chocolate
  • Oils, such as palm and coconut oil
  • Skin of chicken or turkey

High-fiber and gas-producing foods can also cause some people discomfort after gallbladder surgery, so you may want to introduce them slowly back into your diet.

Spicy foods may also cause some gastrointestinal symptoms for a short time after gallbladder removal.

If you need help devising a diet plan after your surgery, ask your doctor to refer you to a registered dietitian.

Will a Gallbladder Cleanse Help?

Sometimes news of an alternative remedy will spread rapidly through Web sites and other media.

But just because you are reading about it everywhere does not mean that a remedy is effective or even safe.

One such alternative gallbladder treatment is the so-called gallbladder cleanse.

There are many different recipes for this so-called "cleanse," but most involve drinking large amounts of citrus juices, Epsom salts, and olive oil.

The advertised promises sound enticing, especially if you’re facing the cost and hassle of a cholecystectomy, a surgery to remove your gallbladder.

But there are no gallbladder flushes or cleanses that have been proven to break up or eliminate gallstones, says Sanjay Jagannath, MD, a gastroenterologist at Mercy Medical Center in Baltimore.

"There’s not any good evidence out there to suggest there’s anything out there to reliably do that," Dr. Jagannath says.

One popular homemade gallbladder cleanse recipe prescribes a combination of apple juice, lemon juice, and olive oil to eliminate gallstones.

Others suggest using a Chinese herb called gold coin grass.

Jagannath says people who ingest these remedies often have subsequent bowel movements that include small round objects thought to be gallstones.

However, he adds, the objects are actually the result of the olive oil mixing with bile, the fluid in the gallbladder that digests fat.

"Bile mixes with olive oil to form a yellowish-colored soap," Jagannath says. "There are no real stones actually pushed out by the gallbladder in most cases."

Jagannath adds that these objects usually float in the toilet, while real gallstones are hard — like pebbles — and sink to the bottom.

"The problem with all herbal treatments is there’s no regulation by the FDA," Jagannath warns.

"If you go to [a natural-remedies store] and get a product, there’s no one breaking down the percentages of the products and stating the percentages of active ingredients."

It’s always advisable to check with your doctor before beginning any kind of over-the-counter treatment for gallbladder problems, Jagannath adds.

When to Call Your Doctor

Although it’s common to have some food-related symptoms after surgery, it is important to contact your surgeon if you experience the following symptoms, since they may be symptoms of a serious complication:

  • Persistent, worsening, or severe abdominal pain
  • Severe nausea or vomiting
  • Yellowing of your skin, called jaundice
  • No bowel movement for more than three days after surgery
  • Inability to pass gas for more than three days after surgery
  • Frequent diarrhea that lasts for more than three days after surgery

Last Updated: 3/26/2015

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