Gallbladder diet: what to eat and drink in case of stones?


Gallstones, also known as cholelithiasis, refer to kinds of “small stones” found in the gallbladder. Although they are generally benign, they can also grow to reach the size of a golf ball… and then cause serious complications. Can diet help dissolve them or prevent their appearance ? Response from Marie Behar, dietitian nutritionist specializing in gastric disorders and doctor of Public Health.

Causes: where do gallstones come from?

As a reminder, gallstones form in the gallbladder following an imbalance of chemicals present in bile. Produced by the liver, the latter is stored in the gallbladder to help digest fats.

As Marie Behar explains to us, gallstones are mainly formed when the bile contains too much cholesterol : the latter accumulates and forms more or less large crystals likely to obstruct the gallbladder. Please note: hypercholesterolemia does not predispose to gallstones!

The excess bilirubin (a pigment produced during the breakdown of red blood cells), or the fact that the gallbladder does not empty properlycan also promote the formation of crystals and trigger symptoms such as severe pain on the right side of the stomach, nausea, vomiting or dark urine.

Good to know: several factors can increase the risk of developing gallstones, such as a diet high in fats and sugars, obesity, pregnancy, a hormonal, metabolic or liver disorder, not to mention a family history of gallstones.

Are they dangerous?

As noted above, gallstones can cause complications. In many cases, gallstones remain asymptomatic and do not require treatment. However, if they block the cystic duct or common bile duct, they can cause serious symptoms such as severe abdominal pain, nausea, vomiting, and complications such as infection of the gallbladder (cholecystitis) or inflammation of the pancreas (pancreatitis). In such cases, medical or surgical treatment may be necessary.

What foods to relieve pain?

If you feel pain, it is probably because the stones are starting to cause damage… “Medicines can then be prescribed to dissolve them. And if necessary, surgical intervention can be considered to remove them,” indicates the nutritionist-dietician. And to specify:

No food can dissolve a stone that is already well formed. Dietary recommendations are aimed rather at preventing the formation of stones. Marie Behar, dietitian nutritionist.

In other words, if you experience pain, do not hesitate to quickly consult a healthcare professional who can help you determine the best treatment plan!

What foods should you choose to prevent these stones?

To avoid the formation of gallstones, you must take care of your liver, specifies Marie Behar. For this, choose a healthy and balanced diet rich in fresh fruits and vegetables:

  • Consume foods rich in dietary fiber such as fruits (prunes, figs, raspberries, etc.), fresh green vegetables (artichokes, cabbage, eggplants, parsnips, etc.), legumes (lentils, chickpeas, kidney beans, etc.) and whole grains (oats, quinoa, barley, etc.) which promote healthy digestion and help reduce cholesterol levels in the bile.
  • Opt instead for lean protein sources such as skinless chicken, fish, low-fat dairy products and plant sources of protein.
  • Prefer healthy fats that we find in avocados, oilseeds, seeds, fatty fish (herring, mackerel, sardines, etc.), and vegetable oils (such as olive oil and rapeseed oil).
  • Feel free to add herbs or spices such as basil, tarragon, chives, fennel, rosemary, thyme, curry, turmeric, cardamom, or even cumin.
  • Finally, according to some studies, magnesium could prevent the risk of gallstones in the long term. Choose green leafy vegetables, pumpkin and sunflower seeds, almonds, cashews, bananas, etc.

Prohibited foods: what foods to avoid to prevent gallstones?

As you will have understood, to prevent gallstones in the long term, it is better to avoid certain foods that risk increasing the concentration of cholesterol in the bile, promoting the formation of gallstones…

  • THE foods high in saturated fat are found in fatty meats, high-fat dairy products (including cheeses), and fried foods.
  • THE foods high in added sugars such as sweetened drinks, desserts, confectionery and baked goods.
  • THE processed or ultra-processed foods, such as industrial snacks or prepared meals are often rich in saturated fats, added sugars, and additives.
  • THE foods rich in which may lead to fluid retention and increase the risk of gallstone formation.
  • THE refined grain products (such as white bread, white pasta, white rice, etc.), can cause rapid fluctuations in blood sugar and contribute to metabolic problems.
  • THE spicy foods, hot sauces et les condiments forts which may irritate the gallbladder and worsen symptoms.

Good to know: there is no need to completely avoid foods high in cholesterol (such as eggs, organ meats, shellfish and fatty meats). “When we have too much cholesterol, it is not because we eat too much, it is because our liver produces too much of it, insists Marie Behar. By opting instead for a diet rich in fruits, vegetables, in whole grains, lean proteins and healthy fats, you put all the chances on your side to limit its production and the formation of gallstones,” she assures. avoid heavy meals and favor light, fragmented meals.”

Gallstones: which drinks should you choose to avoid them as much as possible?

Good hydration is essential to facilitate the evacuation of possible small stones. Consider drinking at least 1.5 liters of plain water per day throughout the day. In addition, fresh fruit juices rich in fiber and antioxidants helps prevent the formation of stones. Certain herbal infusions can also have beneficial properties and relieve the gallbladder, particularly infusions of chamomile, rosemary, milk thistle.

On the contrary, which drinks should be avoided at all costs?

Consumed in excess, certain drinks can indeed complicate the work of the gallbladder! There excessive consumption of alcohol can irritate the gallbladder and increase the risk of gallstone formation. Not to mention, alcohol can impair liver function, which can also affect bile production and flow.

The caffeine consumed in large quantities can also stimulate bile production and increase the risk of gallstone formation. THE sugary drinks, especially those with added fructose, can also contribute to the formation of crystals in the gallbladder. THE energy drinks, often high in caffeine and sugar, should also be limited for the sake of your gallbladder and overall health. Just like the sodas especially those that contain added sugars or artificial sweeteners.

What diet after gallbladder removal?

In case of attacks of biliary colic, total removal of the gallbladder (cholecystectomy) is sometimes necessary… The procedure is performed by laparoscopy under general anesthesia and generally lasts around thirty minutes. Concretely, the surgeon makes several small incisions in the abdomen to insert a tiny camera and long microscopic instruments. So, we limit scars we reduce postoperative pain and promote a rapid return to daily life!

What to eat after an operation? What are good foods and foods to avoid when you have an enlarged gallbladder?

Unless otherwise indicated by the doctor, it is possible to eat normally the same evening as the procedure! No diet is recommended after a cholecystectomy and no dietary restrictions are recommended. That said, it’s best to follow the tips mentioned above. And in case of pain or unusual symptoms, do not hesitate to seek advice from your doctor.

In conclusion, remember that a balanced and varied diet plays a crucial role in preventing gallstones. By prioritizing foods high in fiber, limiting saturated and trans fats, maintaining a healthy weight, consuming healthy fats and hydrating yourself properly, you will significantly reduce your risk of getting gallstones!

Leave A Reply

Your email address will not be published.