The heart, liver and kidneys perform essential functions that work towards the smooth functioning of the body. But, another organ that goes unnoticed is gallbladder, until and unless you suffer from gallstones. In this article, we will be talking about the diet for gallbladder.
What Is The Function Of The Gallbladder?
It is a small, pear-shaped organ that is located just under the liver and on the right side of the abdomen. It collects and stores bile. Bile is required by the body to digest fatty foods. The gallbladder after collecting and storing the bile, adds the bile to the food as it enters the small intestine. This then breaks down the fats.
So, it's essential to keep the gallbladder healthy to maintain proper digestion and prevent conditions like cancer and gallstones with the help of a proper diet.
What Is The Gallbladder Diet And How Does It Affect The Health Of The Gallbladder?
A gallbladder diet prescribes a set of dietary guidelines like the foods to eat and not to eat, to keep your gallbladder healthy and fully functioning. Foods low in fat and cholesterol, low-calorie foods and high fibrous foods are required to maintain the health of the gallbladder.
Here are the foods to eat and avoid while you are on a gallbladder diet, whether or not you are at a risk for gallstones.
Foods To Eat For A Healthy Gallbladder
1. Plant-based proteins
Plant-based proteins like beans, lentils and tofu are known to reduce the risk of developing gallstones. It's because of the healthy dietary fibre present in beans, lentils and tofu that removes fat and cholesterol. The fibre works by absorbing the bile secretions along with the fat and cholesterol and carries them through the intestines out of the body.
2. Bitter foods
Foods that are slight bitter such as broccoli, bitter artichoke, bitter gourd, leeks, kale, parsley, pickled ginger, etc., will stimulate bile production before you consume fatty foods. Consumption of bitter foods will enhance the digestive juices and healthy bile production, thus promoting the function of the gallbladder and preventing gallstones.
Oranges have a high vitamin C content which makes it a great food to eat for a healthy gallbladder. Studies have shown that vitamin C, a water-soluble antioxidant may prevent gallstones from occurring in the first place.
The reason is vitamin C boosts the body's ability to digest dietary fat. High levels of fat cause bile acid to become oversaturated with cholesterol. Eventually, the stored cholesterol forms into gallstones and vitamin C prevents that.
Flaxseeds are packed with fibre which keeps the digestive system moving by eliminating toxins and old bile out of the body. But, when the body doesn't receive enough amount of fibre, the unwanted toxins and bile build up. This results in a sluggish bile flow leading to bloating and constipation.
Researchers have also found that the presence of omega-3 fatty acids, monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fatty acids can help prevent the formation of gallstones.
Avocado is considered a superfood for the gallbladder because it's rich in healthy fats and high in potassium. Potassium is an important mineral required for fluid and electrolyte balance that helps in keeping your body hydrated. Dehydration causes gallstones, as the bile becomes too thick, so hydration aids in keeping the bile in the right consistency thus preventing gallstones.
6. Dark green leafy vegetables
Dark leafy greens like spinach, kale, and broccoli are loaded with magnesium which has a major role to play in a gallbladder diet. Magnesium helps in clearing the calcium salts that are a major constituent of gallstones, thus preventing their formation.
Beetroot is one of the superfoods that you can eat for maintaining a healthy gallbladder. Beetroot is known to contain a substance called betaine that helps protect the liver and stimulates the bile flow to break down fat. So, this is why it should be a staple food in your gallbladder diet.
Foods To Avoid For A Healthy Gallbladder
1. Fried foods
Eliminate deep-fried foods from your diet as they are high in saturated fats. Saturated fats are also present in solid vegetable shortening, margarine and animal fat. Processed foods like potato chips, samosas, pakodas, etc., are high in hydrogenated oils, trans fats and saturated fats which make the gallbladder overwork.
2. Fatty meats
Meats which are high in fat are red meat, pork, beef, and sausages which can interrupt the functioning of the gallbladder. The Department of Nutrition and Dietetics recommends avoiding meats which are high in fat and substituting it with lean protein.
3. Refined carbohydrates
Refined carbohydrates such as white bread, white rice, refined flour pasta and refined sugar converts to stored fat which increases the amount of cholesterol in the body eventually leading to gallstone formation. This, in turn, may increase the risk of gallbladder disorders. Swap refined carbohydrates to unrefined foods like whole wheat pasta, whole grain breads and brown rice.
The University of Maryland Medical Center says that eggs are allergic and high in cholesterol as well. Both these may cause gallbladder irritation and gallstones for people dealing with gallbladder conditions. You can eat poached eggs instead of the fried ones to lower the consumption of fat content.