What to eat if you have no gallbladder
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 firstname.lastname@example.org. 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.
Take care of your liver by amping up your intake of vegetables.