What to eat if you have no gall­blad­der

Ask Dr Libby

Northern News - - OUT & ABOUT -

Q: I had my gall­blad­der taken out a num­ber of years ago. Can you please ex­plain whether there’s a par­tic­u­lar diet I should be fol­low­ing?

A: The role of the gall­blad­der is to con­cen­trate and store bile that the liver pro­duces, un­til it is needed. Bile is crit­i­cal for the di­ges­tion and ab­sorp­tion of di­etary fats and fat-sol­u­ble vi­ta­mins (vi­ta­mins A, D, E and K). Ad­di­tion­ally, many sub­stances that are prob­lem­atic to the body if they were to ac­cu­mu­late are fat-sol­u­ble, and bile is es­sen­tial for them to be metabolised, al­tered and elim­i­nated. Sub­stances the body makes it­self like es­tro­gen and testos­terone are fat-sol­u­ble and also re­quire bile for their me­tab­o­lism.

For those who have had their gall­blad­der re­moved, the liver con­tin­ues to make the bile how­ever the gall­blad­der is no longer avail­able to store it. Pro­duc­ing bile is not the liver’s only job, plus it can­not make as much bile with­out the gall­blad­der as there is nowhere to store it. Email your ques­tions for Dr Libby to ask.dr­libby@fair­fax­me­dia.co.nz. Please note, only a se­lec­tion of ques­tions can be an­swered.

This means that those who have had their gall­blad­der re­moved need to take ex­tra good care of their liver, so that it can be highly re­spon­sive to the need for bile.

You can take care of your liver by min­imis­ing your in­take of al­co­hol, re­fined sug­ars and trans fats, and amp­ing up your in­take of veg­eta­bles. The liver es­pe­cially loves the Bras­sica fam­ily of veg­eta­bles, such as broc­coli, cauliflower, cab­bage, kale and brus­sels sprouts. The func­tion of the liver is also sup­ported by amino acids found in pro­tein­based foods, as well as sul­phur which is in gar­lic, onions and shal­lots, eggs, as well as the Bras­sica veg­eta­bles.

Bile is also needed to stim­u­late in­testi­nal peri­stal­sis, nec­es­sary for ef­fi­cient bowel mo­tions and for waste to leave the body ef­fi­ciently. Some peo­ple ex­pe­ri­ence con­sti­pa­tion af­ter their gall­blad­der has been re­moved. En­sur­ing ad­e­quate hy­dra­tion, move­ment and a diet rich in fi­bre can as­sist with this. Sol­u­ble fi­bre can be par­tic­u­larly help­ful. Good food sources in­clude berries, legumes and oats.

Given that your gall­blad­der was re­moved some time ago, there is no special diet you need to fol­low so I en­cour­age you to be guided by your symp­toms (if you ex­pe­ri­ence any) and what feels right for your body. Fo­cus on eat­ing plenty of whole, real foods, in­clud­ing plenty of veg­eta­bles. Di­etary fat tol­er­ance is highly in­di­vid­u­alised so no­tice your tol­er­ance for these as well as the types that suit you or those that might be a prob­lem. If you have is­sues di­gest­ing fats, MCTs (a shorter length of the fat struc­ture than most other di­etary fats) may be easier to di­gest. These are in co­conut. Or you may find these don’t sit well and av­o­cado and olives suit bet­ter, for ex­am­ple.

Bit­ter foods and herbs can help to stim­u­late bile pro­duc­tion, so these can be highly ben­e­fi­cial. How­ever, bit­ter­ness is not a flavour many peo­ple seek out. Some ex­am­ples in­clude green leafy veg­eta­bles and roasted dan­de­lion root tea. Globe ar­ti­choke and St Mary’s this­tle are two medic­i­nal herbs that can be highly ben­e­fi­cial to ef­fi­cient bile pro­duc­tion, and a med­i­cal herbal­ist can ad­vise you whether these would be suit­able for you per­son­ally if this ap­peals.

❚ Dr Libby is a nutri­tional bio­chemist, best-sell­ing au­thor and speaker. The ad­vice con­tained in this col­umn is not in­tended to be a sub­sti­tute for di­rect, per­son­alised ad­vice from a health pro­fes­sional.

❚ Today’s ar­ti­cle will be my last col­umn. It has been a joy to share in­for­ma­tion about the role of food and stress in your body and on your health over the last two years, and I hope you have found the in­for­ma­tion use­ful. I wish you much health and hap­pi­ness for the fu­ture. -

123RF

Take care of your liver by amp­ing up your in­take of veg­eta­bles.

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