You probably don’t think about your gallbladder much, unless it acts up on you. This smallish, pear-shaped organ is located near your liver. It stores bile and releases it into the intestines to help them digest down food, especially fats. When you eat fatty or fried foods, your gallbladder releases bile into your small intestine to help with digestion.
What Happens during a Gallbladder Attack?
Gallstones are crystal-like deposits that develop in your gallbladder. They can be as small as a grain of sand or as large as a golf ball. They can be hard, soft, smooth, or jagged. Most of the time, these gallstones are not harmful, and you may not even know you have them.
However, sometimes the stones move into the duct that carries bile to the liver, causing a gallbladder attack. The main symptom is abdominal pain, which can be accompanied by indigestion, nausea, or fever. The pain caused by the gallbladder trying to push the stone through usually happens within an hour of eating a large meal or in the middle of the night.
Stones can clog the bile duct, which leads to the small intestine, or the hepatic duct, which leads to the liver. When they obstruct the ducts, they can cause inflammation and even infections. Surgery is then needed, and the gall bladder is removed. These days, this is generally done by laparoscopic surgery through your belly button. It may be done with open surgery, depending on the specifics of your case.
What Causes Gallstones?
Gallstones are made mainly of bile and cholesterol. Usually, the bile acids in your gallbladder are strong enough to break down the cholesterol and keep it in liquid form. However, a diet high in fatty foods upset the balance and cause the liver to produce more cholesterol than the gall bladder can handle.
However, gallstones can also form in people who eat a diet low in fat. With little fatty food to digest, the gallbladder produces less bile, so the cholesterol has a chance to solidify. Other factors that reduce gallbladder activity include cirrhosis, hormone replacement therapy, birth control pills, and pregnancy. Diabetes, cholesterol drugs, sudden weight loss, and family history can also increase the risk of gallstones.
Gallbladder Removal Side Effects
Even after gallbladder surgery, your body still gets bile from your liver. But, bile production is lower, so it is recommended that you avoid eating fatty foods as much as possible. When you eat a large meal of protein and fats, you may experience bloating, nausea, indigestion, and abdominal pain.
In the days after surgery, you will probably be moved to a bland diet of food that is easily digested. This helps your body heal and adjust to the difference in bile production. Since the gallbladder’s main role is to assist in digesting fat, small, frequent, low-fat meals with enough soluble fiber are recommended. The fiber found in fruit, vegetables, oats, flax seeds, and pulses helps rid your body of bile sterols.
Skip saturated fats such as red meat, poultry skin, egg yolks, and full-fat dairy. You will also need to say no to fatty, fried, and spicy foods, pickles, thick soups, and heavy gravies as well as the trans fat from processed foods. You will need to consume a small amount of unsaturated fats, whole grains, chicken, low-fat milk, pulses, and plenty of fruit and vegetables. And, of course, drink plenty of water to stay hydrated.
Foods to uptake after gallbladder removal surgery:
1. Steamed Vegetables
When it comes to your diet after gallbladder removal surgery, there is one main rule you should follow: less protein, low fat, and more fiber. Loading up on plenty of vegetables is an excellent way to do this. The preferred method of preparing vegetables on the post-surgery diet is steaming. Steaming makes it easier for them to bind the bile acid. This lowers the risk of digestive issues after eating. Vegetables to choose include cabbage, broccoli, green bell peppers, and kale.
2. Soluble Fiber
Eating plenty of soluble fiber is also a great way to lower the risk of digestive distress. Soluble fiber binds well with bile acid and reduces their risk of disrupting gut function. This helps prevent unwanted symptoms. Foods to include are fruits, legumes, and grains, such as:
3. Lean Protein
You don’t need your gallbladder to digest protein, but fatty cuts of meat can cause problems. Lean proteins do not cause disruptions. So, avoid the fatty, marble-looking cuts of beef and remember to trim the fat off pork chops. In addition, choose these types of protein:
- Lean cuts of beef and pork
- White meat chicken and turkey
- Fish such as halibut, cod, and flounder
4. Healthy Fats
Although your gallbladder helps digest fats, and you will have a reduced ability to do so after a gallbladder removal surgery, that doesn’t mean you can’t eat any fats at all. Your pancreas will keep on producing the enzymes to digest fats. However, you need to be careful about the fats you choose. Select healthy fats such as:
- Anchovies, salmon, and sardines
- Chia seeds
- Coconut oil
- Olive oil
Eating Smaller Meals
Once you’ve had gallbladder removal surgery, you will notice that you cannot digest too much food at once. This means you need to eat smaller amounts at each meal. So, instead of three large meals, stick to 4-6 smaller meals.
A Note from GR8NESS
This content provides general information only, it is not intended to diagnose or treat any condition. It is not a substitute for a qualified medical opinion from your healthcare provider. If you have severe and consistent bloating, gas, constipation, indigestion, or abdominal pain after gallbladder removal surgery, consult your doctor or a specialist for more information.