Over 1/2 million gallbladders are removed annually. Gallbladder disease is a serious condition. If you suspect that you are having a gallbladder attack and are in severe gallbladder pain, especially if you also have a fever, consult your doctor immediately or go straight to the emergency room. This post may serve to help you know the symptoms in advance and take precautions so a gallbladder attack might be avoided.
Related: Was That a Gallbladder Attack?
It is important to seek medical help right away and obtain a proper diagnosis at the first sign of gallbladder disease. In this post, you will find the foods to avoid as well as the foods that have been found to be helpful in the treatment and prevention of gallbladder disease.
I would like to thank the very knowledgeable people at GallbladderAttack.com for the amazing insights offered at their website, and on this site under “about us” you will meet the person responsible for this wealth of information, Deborah Graefer, L.Ac. M.T.O.M. Debbie is a consultant and Licensed Acupuncturist, with a Masters degree in Traditional Oriental Medicine. Her credentials include graduating magna cum laude from Pacific College of Oriental Medicine in San Diego, California in 1994, having obtained a Masters in Traditional Oriental Medicine. Debbie was licensed by the State of California in September of that same year. Her practice is now devoted exclusively to gallbladder and related diseases and the underlying causes including hypothyroidism, Hashimoto’s thyroiditis, food intolerances, leaky gut and dietary and supplemental recommendations. She helps people with weight loss assessing the metabolic problems on an individual basis. Although weight loss kits are available on the site, her preference is to work one-on-one to find problems with metabolism, from lack of fat digestion, slow bile flow, stress and medications reducing hydrochloric acid, and undetected thyroid problems such as Hashimoto’s thyroiditis or a thyroid that’s being influenced by too much cortisol. She uses natural products from several reputable companies and manufactures a few of her own formulations specifically for gallbladder health.
Remember no one, neither an MD nor a holistic practitioner, ever cures us of anything. Natural therapies simply provide the building blocks to help the body heal itself. Western medicine is great for emergencies, however, it falls short when it comes to chronic disease as it does not offer a forensic look at what led to the disease state in the first place, such as improper diet and nutritional deficiencies, unhealthy choices, such as smoking and abuse of pharmaceutical drugs and a stressful life style.
What we find in western medicine is a one size fits all model and its goal is to make symptoms go away. This is kind of like pulling the fuse when the engine warning light goes off. We donít really want to just make symptoms go away, we want to get to the root or underlying cause of our dis-ease state. With gallbladder disease both western medicine and holistic alternatives can come together, and provide the tools for actual healing! If a gallbladder removal surgery can be avoided by making some changes, for example in your diet, wouldnít that be the best possible outcome? Or what if symptoms persist after gallbladder removal, which often happens? This is a clear sign that the underlying cause of problem has not been resolved.
The diagnostic tool of choice for gallbladder disease is usually an ultrasound scan. Ask your doctor for a copy of the scan results so you can either get a second opinion and/or work with the practitioners at GallbladderAttack.com. Explain to your doctor that you wish to use nutrition and nutritional supplementation as adjunct therapy and you would like your progress monitored carefully. He or she might welcome learning about this! One of my own MDís was so impressed with Oriental Medicine and acupuncture that he took two years off from his own practice to become trained in it and now incorporates it into his practice. His entire paradigm shifted as a result of this exploration.
With your medical diagnosis in hand and blessing from your doctor, the first and perhaps most important rule to follow from now on is to eat a variety of fresh organic, raw and lightly steamed green vegetables, good fats (like avocados) and exclude sugars, and all processed and refined foods. It was most likely food choices that caused the gallbladder dis-ease in the first place. Here are the food culprits to avoid!
Foods to avoid for general gallbladder disease:
Eggs (Research showed that eggs have caused symptoms in up to 95 percent of patients. We donít know however if the eggs used in this research were factory-farmed or the better choice of free range and organic but this is always the problem with clinical trials and tests. For right now try substituting flax seed gel in recipes that require eggs for the ďglueĒ that holds things together. For example 1 TBSP ground flax seed to 3 TBSP hot water will congeal into a nice gel. Let cool and add to your recipe.)
Fowl (turkey, chicken and again we assume the culprits are factory farmed but again let’s err on the side of caution and avoid these foods for now)
Dairy (pasteurized) milk, cheese, and cream. (I personally have found raw dairy to not be a problem but again we are all different and have different philosophies, so proceed with caution)
Gluten and grains in general such as wheat, barley, rye, spelt, kamut, etc.
Coffee, regular or decaf
Trans fats, Hydrogenated, partially-hydrogenated oils, vegetable oils
Saturated fats (itís best to even avoid my favorite fat for just about everything, coconut oil until feeling better)
Alcohol, beer, wine, liqueur
Colas and all sodas
Oats (for some people)
Avoid all artificial sweeteners, sugar, preservatives, refined and bleached foods (like white flour)
Avoid smoking as it can exacerbate the symptoms
Avoid all possible food allergens
Are there foods good for our gallbladder? GallbladderAttack.com tell us that these dietary suggestions are not the food bible because we are all so different but are just some sound guidelines as to what many people have found to be beneficial. You can try the foods on the next list, one a time, to determine what you can tolerate. Then take a look at the list above and experiment cautiously with what you may be able to introduce again without having a relapse.
What foods are thought to be good for gallbladder disease?
Organic and locally grown foods from the list below are wonderful raw or lightly steamed, especially the green vegetables. Donít forget, we must include good fats (like avocados) too.
Green beans – not the same as dried beans
Sweet potatoes (not yams – these are the ones that are gold inside not reddish orange; they have a lighter peel)
Avocados – a good way to get needed fats directly from food
Vinegars – all types
Garlic and onions help with liver cleansing but not processed types like flakes or powder. But some people have trouble digesting them so pay attention to what your own body tells you!
Tomatoes – ripe
Cold water fish – salmon, trout
Lemons (lemon juice in the morning with hot water helps to clean the liver)
Grapes and fresh organic grape juice
Apples, berries, papaya, pears
Oils like flax or hemp should be used for salad dressing with fresh lemon juice or vinegar.
Do not ever cook flax oil. Always keep it refrigerated. You may cook in vegetable broth.
Vegetable juices – beet and cucumber are especially helpful to gallbladder. You can add other green vegetables like swiss chard, dandelion greens, beet greens, celery, carrots, (avoid the cabbage family)
Avoid all fruit juices except organic grape juice and organic apple (self-juiced is best but most health food stores have some good options, just read the labels carefully).
All the vegetables listed above for juicing are good.
Use baby mixed organic greens for salads just avoid the bitter greens for now. Add the baby greens slowly to grated raw beet recipe provided in Part 1.
Soluble and insoluble fiber found in fruits, vegetables and guar gum are also beneficial.
It is very important to never over eat anything, less is best and do not eat late and do not eat when stressed.
When gallbladder disease is suspected or has been confirmed, again it is critical to avoid fried foods, fatty foods and particular types of fats like trans fats, hydrogenated fats, partially-hydrogenated fats (read your labels) and saturated fats. Gallbladderattack.com also has a newsletter (they are all archived so you can peruse them all; you may be interested in one entitled “Good Fats vs. Bad Fats”) and these newsletters serve to keep us all updated on their latest findings. Their clients also share information and comments on what has worked for them which is passed on to their readers. We all have so much to offer each other and I think instead of survival of the fittest or that old notion of only the strong survive, I believe that we truly survive through a cooperative society of people helping other people and that is what drives me to write this blog and share what I have found, thus far and yes even using the brand names of what works for my clients and me and how to get them as I am always on the hunt for new products to explore.
Nutritionally I recommend to my clients that they begin to slowly add back some beneficial foods to the recipes I provided in Part 1 of this post, which included the green soup and the beet recipe. To the beet recipe we can slowly incorporate baby greens and avocado, if the recipe is tolerated. You can also try adding freshly diced avocado to the green soup and add a dash of Himalayan pink salt. Experiment slowly with each additional food being added one at a time.
Remember, if you are in severe gallbladder pain, and especially if you also have a fever, consult your doctor immediately or go straight to the emergency room.