Gallstones are caused by hardening of cholesterol or salt deposits in the bile. They can be extremely painful if they block the bile duct or cause inflammation and may result in the gallbladder needing to be removed. The common risk factors for gallstones include being obese, age, pregnancy, taking hormones, and a poor diet, high in fat and low in fiber. This high fat low fiber diet is one of the easiest risk factors to control and by avoiding a number of foods the problems caused by gallstones can be improved and new gallstones can be prevented from forming.
These reduce the ability of the liver to absorb bile acids which can lead to the formation of gallstones. It is a good idea to avoid all dairy products, especially full fat ones made with whole milk, as well as saturated fats, hydrogenated and partially hydrogenated fats and fried foods. It is necessary to still have some fats in the diet however, as essential fatty acids are important. Flax oil is a good, and gallstone friendly, source of these.
Meat and Eggs
These contain cholesterol which can harden to form gallstones. Meat can also be fatty which contributes to gallstone formation. A vegetarian diet, replacing meat with soy products such as tofu provides protein without the animal fats and cholesterol that can trigger attacks This diet is also lower in calories which is beneficial as obesity is a risk factor. If you do not wish to cut out meat completely, turkey and chicken contain less cholesterol than red meat and make an good alternative.
Keeping the body alkaline can help prevent gallstone attacks. It therefore can help to avoid acidic foods, in particular fruits such as oranges and grapefruit, and fruit juices.
Refined white flour is found in many foods such as pasta, bread, cakes, biscuits and pastries. Instead, unrefined carbohydrates in the form of wholewheat bread and pasta should be consumed. Refined sugar should also be avoided.
Coffee and black tea can stimulate gallbladder contraction which can lead to gallstone attacks. These should be avoided. Green or herbal teas make a good substitute hot drink. Carbonated sodas are also best avoided. These contain refined sugar, artificial sweeteners and sometimes caffeine, all of which worsen gallstones. Alcohol is another culprit when it comes to irritating the gallbladder and causing gallstone problems so should be avoided.
It is also advisable to avoid beans, cabbage and cauliflower as these can trigger gallstone problems.
By avoiding the above foods, the problems caused by gallstones can be minimised. Instead of consuming these foods, a healthy diet that is low in fat and high in fiber should be followed.