The formation of a gallstone is the most common reason for gallbladder surgery. Essentially, the main function of the gallbladder is to release stored bile and aid in the digestive function of the liver. After food is ingested and deposited into the small intestine, the bile from the gallbladder is released, which helps to break down toxins in the food and excrete them from the body.
Once the gallbladder has been removed, however, there will no longer be a release of bile for digestive purposes. The only organ left to assist in the removal of food-ingested toxins is the liver, which makes it more susceptible to the development of stones. So, even though the gallbladder has been surgically removed, it is still important for patients to follow a suitable diet that will not hinder the function of the liver.
A Liquid Diet
Most patients who are recuperating in the hospital will be restricted to a liquid-only diet. Naturally, there are no high levels of fatty acids in liquids, and liquids can move quite freely throughout the digestive tract. By staying on a liquid-only diet immediately after gallbladder surgery, intense stomach upset and interference with the digestive process can be avoided.
Drinking plenty of liquids is also a good dietary measure to continue with, even after release from the hospital. Maintaining a sufficient amount of liquids throughout the body will help the liver to eliminate cholesterol and toxins from the body. In addition, liquids also help alleviate one of the most common side-effects of gallbladder surgery: constipation.
Low Fat Diet
The importance of maintaining a low fat diet after gallbladder surgery cannot be underestimated or understated; this is perhaps the most crucial dietary rule that all gallbladder patients should be aware of. Again, bile is a powerful substance that helps eliminate toxins and cholesterol from the body. In the absence of the gallbladder, the digestive system becomes much more sensitive to highly saturated, fatty foods.
What this means is that you will want to avoid foods that are high in fat and cholesterol at all costs. Keeping in mind that any type of food which is high in fat is going to place unnecessary burden on the liver, try to avoid the following foods:
- Red meat (high in cholesterol, high in fat)
- Full-fat dairy products
- Full-fat salad dressings (replace with olive oil or vinegar)
Omega-6 and Omega-3
One of the best things that a patient can do after gallbladder surgery is to consume a healthy amount of omega-6 and omega-3 fatty acids. While the phrase “fatty acids” may have many confused, the bottom line is that these types of fatty acids are extremely valuable to the digestive process. What these nutrients do is help to block the amount of cholesterol retained by the body, as well as to eliminate it through proper digestion. Many oils, like canola oil, olive oil, and flax seed oil, are extremely high in omega-6 and omega-3s. Foods containing these essentials are foods that you would want to retain as part of your daily diet. Remember, the liver is no longer receiving help from the gallbladder, and excessive amounts of cholesterol will lead to the development of stones in the liver.