Gall bladder stone formation is a serious condition that most of us are usually unaware of because of its lack of symptoms in the early stages. Most of us realise that a gall bladder stone exists only when there are symptoms like severe abdominal colic, nausea, vomiting, etc. The function of the gallbladder is to store bile for the digestion of fats. Gallstones develop when this function of the gall bladder is hampered. Formation of gallstones can trigger symptoms such as nausea, vomiting, abdominal pain, and bloating that are typically worse after a fatty meal. Recurrent symptoms can require a gall bladder removal surgery.
Role of diet in gallstone formation
Foods high in fat and low in fibre play a crucial role in gallstone formation. Other risk factors are age, weight, and gender. If you are overweight, try shedding a few pounds gradually, as quick or crash diets cause an increased release of cholesterol by the liver thereby triggering of gall stones. On the other hand, losing weight is important, as obesity is a leading risk factor associated with gallstone formation.
Although a healthy diet does not cure gallstones, it can prevent their formation as well as the discomfort associated with the condition. Here is a list of healthy natural foods for preventing gallstones:
Fresh fruits and vegetables
The liver and gallbladder work together to digest food, regulate the breakdown and absorption of fats from our meals. Fresh fruits and veggies are meagre in fats, high in fibre as well as water and mineral content. Their high fibre content keeps you fuller for longer. This way you do not overeat, or snack unnecessary between meals.
Additionally, these foods are not calorie dense, so they break down slowly in the body, avoiding undue exertion by the gall bladder or inadequate breakdown of fats that can lead to fat deposition around the belly.
Raw, unfiltered pure apple juice is rich in a substance called pectin useful for softening gallstones and preventing the formation of new ones.
Other healthy options are as follows:
o Lemon: lemon juice in the warm water early in the morning helps to detoxify the liver and gall bladder.
o Celery: it has ‘negative calories’! You burn more calories eating and digesting celery leaves than by consuming it!
o Green beans
o Sweet potatoes
o Apples, papaya, berries, and pear.
o Soluble and insoluble fibre found in fruits and vegetables are useful.
Most people will advice gall bladder patients to stay away from all sorts of fats; however, eating the right kind of fats can help avoid the formation of gallstones.
Olive oil, for example, is an important part of all detoxification programs, especially of the gall bladder. Other healthy oils include healthy saturated fats from coconut oil and vegetable oils like safflower oil, sunflower oil. These healthy fats help in maintaining a healthy gall bladder.
Avoid deep-fried foods, foods containing trans fats, hydrogenated fats, partially hydrogenated fats and saturated fats. Typically, packaged and preserved foods, processed foods like sausages, processed meats, ready-to-eat meals, biscuits, chips, etc. contain high amounts of trans fats and hydrogenated fats to ramp up their palatability.
Apple cider vinegar
Apple cider vinegar is an excellent source of malic acid, which is useful for flushing out toxins and maintaining gall bladder health. You can mix 2 tbsp of apple cider vinegar with a glass of apple juice and have it daily as a tonic for averting gallstone formation.
Turmeric is rich in curcumin, which has high antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties. Turmeric in addition to this also improves solubility of bile and breaks down its components, thereby preventing gallstone formation.
Some more practical ways to avoid formation of gallstones
· Maintain a healthy weight by eating right and exercising regularly. If you are overweight, lose weight but slowly, not over half kg/week.
· Always keep your cholesterol levels in check. Get a lipid profile done each week.
· Avoid crash diets or rapid loss of weight.
· Avoid dairy products, coffee, and tea in excess. Opt for low-fat dairy products like skimmed and toned milk, low-fat, unsweetened yoghurt, sugar-free tea/coffee, etc.
· Quit smoking
· Include Plenty of starchy carbohydrates such as rice, pasta, potatoes, and bread. Choose whole-grain varieties whenever possible.
· Ensure that your diet is rich in fibre. This can include fruits, vegetables, beans, whole grains, and oats.
· Drink plenty of fluid, i.e., nearly two to three litres a day. This can also include various herbal teas.