Why is the diet so important in cholelithiasis treatment and prevention? Because what we eat directly affects the composition and quality of bile. Bile consists of three basic ingredients: cholesterol, bile acids and lecithin. When the proper ratio of mentioned components is maintained, cholesterol dissolves correctly and the bile flows into the duodenum through the bile ducts. If the bile composition is somehow impaired, cholesterol crystals start to combine with calcium salts and then, the deposits, known as the infamous gallstones, start forming in the gallbladder and in bile ducts. So cholelithiasis is a condition resulting directly from bile stasis in the bile ducts.
There are several factors that increase the risk of cholelithiasis occurrence. As you will see, these factors are closely related to our diet, or to be more precise, to common dietary mistakes. They should not be overseen, as they can easily lead to serious health complications.
- Diabetes (diabetic neuropathy affects negatively gallbladder contraction so the bile tends to accumulate and form deposits)
- Hypertriglyceridaemia (leading to impaired bile composition)
- Nutritional errors such as excessive intake of sweets and cholesterol and not providing enough unsaturated fatty acids and fiber
- Irregular meals (which means irregular and inefficient gallbladder contractions).
Diet for Cholelithiasis
Mild Symptoms? Eat your greens.
For patients with no severe symptoms, a common sense in dietary choices is reasonable advice. That means, in simple words, limited sugar and fats, and the proper amount of fiber. The latter is especially important as it vastly improves the intestinal passage. In addition, it promotes the production of chenodeoxycholic acid, a bile component that plays a major role in the dissolution of cholesterol deposits.
The common-sense concept also includes the hygiene of consumed meals, and by that, we simply mean avoiding food infections and diarrhea. Such ailments can cause the major loss of bile salts and, as we already know, their deficiency in the bile will promote the formation of gallbladder stones. So wash your food, heat it properly and stay away from long-stored or repeatedly defrosted meals.
Severe Symptoms? Stick to the rules.
Although gallbladder disease symptoms can be really unpleasant, there is good news to the miserable sufferers out there. With proper diet choices, you can significantly improve your gallbladder’s health. It is proven that a proper diet for cholelithiasis can be an excellent supportive factor for pharmacological methods. It may accelerate treatment and relieve unpleasant symptoms.
To see the improvement, one will have to stick to the dietary guidelines. There are certain foods that should be avoided, and frankly, if you are serious about getting better, you should just forget they exist.
Cholelithiasis: foods to avoid.
The main goal for the elimination of certain products in the diet for cholelithiasis is to alleviate and normalize gallbladder functions. Having that in mind, you should avoid foods that cause strong gallbladder contractions, such as heated fats, greasy meats, egg yolks. Also, stay away from products containing oxalic acid such as sorrel, spinach, rhubarb. Additionally, it is very important to use appropriate cooking techniques, and this basically means: no frying. Instead, prepare your meals by cooking, stewing or baking in a sleeve or aluminum foil. Get familiar with the products listed below and try to avoid them in your menu.
- Bread and Pastry: any fresh bread, wholemeal bread, multigrain bread, confectionery, puff pastry, donuts, pancakes, macaroons, crackers, shortbread biscuits, butter rolls, cream puffs, cheesecake, crumble
- Sweets: candies, chocolate, pralines
- Meats: Greasy sausages, canned food, pâtés, brawn, lard, pork, mutton, geese, ducks, venison, offals
- Fatty fish: eel, mackerel, halibut, catfish, sprat
- Diary: fatty cheese, cream cheese, full-fat milk and yogurts
- Eggs: egg yolks, Hard-boiled, scrambled eggs
- Drinks: Strong tea and coffee, cocoa, soda, alcohol beverages
- Soups: Broths, cabbage soup, pea soup, bean soup, sour mushroom soups, any soup with a roux
- Carbs: Pasta, noodles, buckwheat groats, millet
- Fruits: plums, gooseberries, currants, unpeeled apples and pears, avocado,
- Veggies: rhubarb, sorrel, spinach, onion, garlic, cabbage, peas, beans, soybeans,
- Seasoning: spicy mustard, pepper, mayonnaise,
Cholelithiasis: foods to include.
Lowering fat intake is one of the golden rules in the diet for cholelithiasis. Although it has two important consequences that should not be overseen. First downside of low fat intake is that the reduced amount of fat in the diet limits the absorption of fat-soluble vitamins. Secondly, the excess reduction of fats in the diet will prompt our bodies to produce it itself. This is why the cholesterol levels should remain on a moderate level.
That is why it is important to remember that while on cholelithiasis diet, you should either include foods rich in vitamins and omega-3 fatty acids or consider providing those with proper dietary supplements.
This is what you can eat:
- Dairy: low-fat milk, skim milk, buttermilk (maximum 0.5 l per day), sour milk products, skimmed yogurt, skimmed cottage cheese (up to to 3% fat), 10% sour cream, 5% condensed milk
- Carbs: potato flour, oat and wheat flakes, rice pudding, cornflakes, soybean sprouts, lentil sprouts, corn
- Bread: croutons, rusks, crispbread, graham, yeast dough, sponge cake, fruit cake, gingerbread, corn flakes
- Sugar: fructose, glucose, bee honey, jelly, marmalade, sweeteners,
- Fruits: Peeled apples and pears, bananas, oranges, mandarins, grapefruits, strawberries, raspberries, blackberries, melons, kiwi, peaches, apricots, compotes from the above-mentioned fruits,
- Seasoning: cumin, anise, fennel, cloves, cinnamon, nutmeg, bay leaves, juniper, allspice, tomato puree, ketchup. For some people, curry, chilies, garlic, onions, and sweet peppers will remain neutral and can be consumed in moderate amounts.
- Drinks: Diluted tea and coffee, fruit and vegetable juices, milkshakes, cocoa skimmed milk, herbal teas, still mineral water
- Meats: veal, lean beef, sirloin, lamb, chicken, turkey, pheasant, wild duck, rabbit, hare, roe deer, deer, wild boar, cold roast, poultry in aspic, poultry sausages
- Soups: vegetable soups, low-fat and lightly seasoned
- Fish: perch, cod, flounder, sole, trout, pike, tench, crabs, crayfish, fish in aspic, fresh tuna, zander, hake, pollock, flatfish
- Veggies: potatoes, mashed potatoes, young carrots, young kohlrabi, asparagus, cauliflower, sauerkraut, radish, beetroot, celery, tomatoes and cucumbers without skin, mushrooms, green lettuce, all salads spiced with vinegar or lemon juice, eggplant, zucchini, fennel, broccoli
- Eggs: egg whites, soft-boiled eggs, foam omelet
Vitamins in the cholelithiasis diet.
As was mentioned before, a reduced amount of fat in the diet impacts negatively the absorption of fat-soluble vitamins. These vitamins should be included in your everyday diet, whether in properly planned meals or in the form of supplements. Check the links to see details of these vitamin supplements on Amazon.
- Karoten : can be found in pumpkin, chard, broccoli, chicory, carrots, peppers, green lettuce, chives, spinach, apricots, peaches, plums, cherries
- Vitamin D: about 80% of this vitamin is being derived from skin synthesis, a good source of this vitamin is also fatty sea fish: salmon, mackerel, sardine, herring, sprat
- Vitamin E comes from green parsley, spinach, lettuce, asparagus, blueberries, nectarines, wheat bran, vegetable oils such as sunflower, rapeseed, soybean, wheat germ
- Vitamin C is in parsley, red pepper, green pepper, Brussels sprouts, broccoli, cauliflower, spinach, black currants, strawberries, kiwi, lemon, grapefruit, oranges
- Vitamin K can be found in spinach, green lettuce, Brussels sprouts, green tea, cabbage, cauliflower
Cholelithiasis Support. The best of Gallbladder Supplements
With the right supplementation, you can enrich your cholelithiasis diet and support gallbladder functioning and regeneration. Check out these products on Amazon by clicking the link or images.
Artichoke (Cynara Scolymus) has proved to have strong cholagogic and choleretic effects. This mean that it can help to increase bile production and improve its flow. It is commonly used in gallbladder and biliary tract disorders.
Silymarin in milk thistle is a substance that increases the ability of bile dissolution and supports the reduction of cholesterol concentration in the bile. Not only it is recommended in the prevention and treatment of gallstones but additionally, it protects liver cells from toxic substances and has proven anti-inflammatory effects.
Turmeric is a powerful antibacterial, antioxidant and antiseptic substance. It increases the solubility of bile, which makes it supportive in dissolving gallstones. Additionally, it may improve digestion and promote body cleanse.
Extracts of this plant should help to increase bile secretion in the liver, facilitate its flow and act against stagnation by increasing bile ductile contractility. With such positive impact on the gallbladder, dandelion is commonly used to treat and prevent the formation of gallstones.
Lecithin supplements are used to support digestion by breaking down the fat and keeping cholesterol moving through the bloodstream.
An excellent source of fiber that helps to reduce the accumulation of cholesterol in the gallbladder. It stimulates the elimination of undigested debris and acts as a delicate “broom” in the digestive tract.
Handy Cooking Techniques for your Cholelithiasis Menu
And last but not least, the cooking tips and tricks. It turns out that in a subject of diet for cholelithiasis, the subject of how we prepare the food might be as important as what we eat. Therefore try to stick to following rules, while preparing your meals:
- Try to eat your meals at the same time every day, in small portions, 4-5 times a day.
- Meals should not be too cold or too hot.
- If you eat eggs, skip the yolks. Eat only egg whites and preferably in the form of whipped foam.
- Avoid raw fruits and vegetables. Serve them boiled and blended, in the form of juices and purees.
- Avoid meat broths, only vegetable-based soups are ok
- Avoid roux and heavy cream. If needed, thicken your soups/sauces with flour and milk
- A small amount of cold butter/oil is allowed or even recommended.
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