By storing and secreting bile, a digestive fluid, from the liver, the gallbladder helps the body break down and digest fats. It's when the bile contains an overload of toxins and saturated fats that problems arise. The bile inflames the gallbladder and creates gallstones, which are cholesterol deposits, resulting in painful gallbladder attacks. Gallbladder attacks can be extremely uncomfortable--pain in the right quadrant of the abdomen, right shoulder, between the shoulder blades and below the breastbone, nausea and vomiting--but can be managed with the right diet and lifestyle changes.
Eliminate fried, fatty foods, which can bring on a gallbladder attack with a vengeance. Also cut out margarine, saturated fats and trans fats/partially hydrogenated oils, which are found in most packaged foods to elongate the life of the product. Incorporate healthy essential fatty acids such as flaxseed oil into your diet.
Cut back or eliminate cholesterol-rich animal food sources, including red meat, poultry, pork and dairy products.
Eat organic fruits and vegetables; the pesticides in non-organic produce can increase the liver's work and therefore irritate the gallbladder. Most vegetables other than cabbage and cauliflower are gallbladder-healthy. Incorporate beets, cucumbers, green beans, sweet potatoes, tomatoes, avocados and baby greens into a gallbladder diet, and use garlic, which is a liver cleanser.
Avoid sugar, artificial sweeteners, ice cream, chocolate, beans and legumes. Instead of drinking sodas, fruit juices, alcoholic beverages or coffee, try water with fresh lemon (excellent as a liver cleanser) .
Consider herbs such as barberry bark, wild yarn root, cramp bark, fennel seed, ginger root, catnip herb and peppermint leaf. See resources, below, for descriptions. Always check with a doctor before incorporating new herbs into a daily regime.
Stop smoking. Smoking taxes every part and function of the body, and can worsen gallbladder attack symptoms.
Tips & Warnings
- Consult a physician if you are in severe pain and/or have a fever with a gallbladder attack.