What is a gallbladder?
The gallbladder is a small pear-shaped sac situated under the liver which we cannot feel. Most of us do not know its importance. The bile produced by the liver is stored in the gallbladder. The gallbladder receives bile from the liver, stores and concentrates it, and delivers it to the intestine as required. It is a slate-blue sac, partly sunken in a groove on the under surface of the right lobe of the liver. It is 7-10 cm long, 3 cm in maximum breadth. Under usual circumstances, it has a 30-50 ml capacity. Bile acids and other constituents of bile produced in the liver are carried to the gallbladder via the hepatic and cystic ducts. When fatty food passes from the stomach into the intestine, the gallbladder is stimulated to contract by cholecystokinin, a hormone released from the lining of the intestine. Concentrated bile is then released into the intestine via the cystic and common bile ducts. It helps in the emulsification of fats. The efficiency of this system is enhanced by the reabsorption of bile acids from the intestine, minimizing the quantity lost in the faeces. Reabsorbed bile acids are then carried by the bloodstream back to the liver, where they are available for further recycling into the bile. If the gall bladder has to be removed, unconcentrated bile drains directly into the intestine from the liver, but in most people digestion of fatty food can still occur quite adequately.
What does the gallbladder do?
The gallbladder is very small, but it gets stimulated every time we eat and releases bile into the intestine. Bile is necessary for the proper digestion of food. If there is no bile or if it is present in less than the required amount, food digestion will be impaired and we have to suffer from a host of troubles like nausea, vomiting, heart-burn, diarrhea, constipation, and abdominal pain. Long term problems with food digestion can lead to some very serious health issues. When the gallbladder is diseased or has some other kind of malfunctioning, bile production will be affected in an adverse way. Apart from disease, weight concerns are also responsible for gallbladder health problems.
III. What types of foods should you eat ?
Recommended diet for gallbladder disease
- Number one: If you are overweight, try to lose weight.
- Avoid fatty or fried foods and red meat. Substitute your salad dressings with vinegar and olive oil.
- Avoid large meals especially during bed time.
- Avoid carbonated drinks as they can trigger the movement of the stone causing more pain.
- Do not go in for binge or purge diets. Slow, steady weight loss is the key to a healthy body.
- Use low fat diary products such as skim or low fat milk, reduce fat cheeses and fat yogurt.
- Partake of leaner meats and make sure to remove fat before cooking.
- Take fish oil capsules – It contains omega 3 oils which are known to block cholesterol formation in bile.
- If you are cooking at home, add ginger and turmeric to the gallbladder diet. Turmeric enhances the flow of bile while ginger aids in the digestion of fat.
- Eat more vegetables, fruits and grains as they contain lots of fiber. Here are a few more gallstones and gallbladder disease prevention tips.
- Recent research suggests drinking alcohol in moderation can help reduce the risk of developing gallstones.
Increase your fruits and vegetables in your diet: Includes foods such as: sweet potato, Apples, Apricots ,Lemons, Figs, Guavas, Pears, Grapes ,Currants ,Prunes, Papaya, Melons Coconuts, Berries.
Lose excess weight: Lose excess weight, but don’t crash diet. Rapid weight loss contributes to the formation of gallstones.
Eat a healthy diet: A diet that is low in fat, low in cholesterol, low in sugar, and high in fiber will help prevent gallbladder disease. Fat, cholesterol, and sugar all contribute to gallbladder disease. Slow intestinal transit can be prevented by increasing fiber in the diet. And eat more vegetables.
Avoid food triggers: There is a correlation between gallbladder attack symptoms and certain foods in people who are sensitive to them. Be on the lookout for food triggers.
Take fish oil and nutrients: Omega-3 oil, found in fish, may block cholesterol formation in bile. People with a tendency toward gallstones can take a higher dose than normal: four to six 1000-milligram capsules of fish oil a day. Lecithin has an emulsifying effect on bile, and taurine, an amino acid, binds to bile salts and accelerates their elimination.
Sample Meal Plan
The patient should eat frequent small meals rather than three large meals. The purpose of this sample meal plan is to reduce overall fat by decreasing the total caloric intake and increasing vegetables and fruit to help cleanse the body. The following is the suggested menu for those suffering from gall-bladder disorders:
A glass of lukewarm water mixed with lemon.
Fresh fruit and vegetables, steel cut oats with two egg whites mixed in (and then cook) and a big glass of water.
Fresh vegetable juice with fat-free yogurt.
Vegetable soup, a large salad consisting of vegetables in season with dressing of lemon or canola oil. Fresh fruit for dessert, if desired.
Fresh wild pacific salmon, one or two lightly cooked vegetables, baked yam or brown long grain rice or whole-wheat wheat tortilla and a glass of red wine (see above for the research study on alcohol and gallstone prevention).
Other foods to avoid
All meats, egg yolk, animal fats, sugar, white flour, all products made from them processed and denatured foods, fried and greasy foods, refined carbohydrates, alcohol, tea, spices, condiments, pickles and smoking.