The gallbladder is a sac that is located under the liver. It stores and concentrates bile produced in the liver. This bile aids in the digestion of fat and is released from the gallbladder into the upper small intestine in response to food, especially fats. An estimated 20 million people in America currently have gallbladder disease. Factors that contribute to the disease include heredity, age, gender, diet and obesity. There are many types of gallbladder disease and can include inflammation, infection, stones or blockage of the gallbladder.
Symptoms of gallbladder disease can include:
- steady, severe pain in the upper abdomen that increases quickly and can last for several hours
- pain in the area of the back between the shoulder blades or under the right shoulder
- abdominal bloating
- gas, belching and indigestion
- recurring intolerance of fatty foods.
Those with gallbladder disease should eat a diet that is low in fat, cholesterol, and sugar and is high in fiber. The following is a list of foods that should be avoided by those with gallbladder disease:
1. Fried Food
Fried foods should be particularly avoided by those suffering from gallbladder disease. Also, avoid fast food. Fast food tends to be fried and high in fat content. Many pack in hidden, unwanted saturated fats.
2. Fatty Meats
Avoid fatty meats such as red meat. Instead, chose a leaner meat such as chicken, turkey or even fish. Be sure to remove fat before cooking.
3. High-Fat Dairy
Avoid fatty dairy products such as ice cream, butter, whole milk, eggs, and rich cheeses. Choose skim or low-fat milk, reduced fat cheeses, and low-fat yogurt.
4. Highly Processed Foods
Highly processed foods should be avoided by those with gallbladder disease. This includes many sweet snacks such as doughnuts, cookies, cakes and pies.
5. Hydrogenated and Partially-Hydrogenated Oils
Animal fats, Crisco, margarine, and mayonnaise should all be avoided by people with gallbladder disease.
Replace these foods that should be avoided with fresh fruits and vegetables, but do try to avoid beans. Eat a diet high in fiber by including plenty of grains. Add ginger and turmeric to your diet. Turmeric enhances the flow of bile while ginger aids in the digestion of fat. Choose oil and vinegar instead of salad dressings that tend to be high in fats and unhealthy oils. Take fish oil capsules. They contain omega 3 oils which are known to block cholesterol formation in bile. People with a tendency toward gallstones may take a higher dose, four to six 1000 mg capsules of fish oil daily. Also, alcohol and caffeine should be consumed in moderate proportions.
If trying to lose weight, since being overweight is a contributing factor to gallbladder disease, do so gradually. Avoid very low-calorie diets. Aim for a gradual weight loss of 1 to 2 pounds per week. There is a link between quick weight loss and gallstone formation. Crash or "yo-yo" dieting can cause the liver to release more cholesterol into the bile. This consequently disrupts the normal balance of cholesterol and bile salts. The extra cholesterol can then form into crystals, or gallstones. Stick to a healthy, well-balanced diet and a regular exercise program. Remember to always diet under a doctor's supervision.