Gallbladder Diet: Foods for Gallbladder Problems (2024)

Most people never give a thought to the health of their gallbladder. The pear-shaped organ does have an important job, collecting and storing bile -- the fluid that helps the body digest fats. But unlike the heart, liver, and kidneys, the gallbladder isn't necessary to keep the body healthy and functioning. Even when it isn't working as well as it should and gallstones develop, most people are unaware that there is a problem.

Yet in a small percentage of people, gallstones can trigger a variety of symptoms, such as abdominal pain, bloating, nausea, and vomiting. When gallstone symptoms are frequent, recurrent, and especially uncomfortable, the typical treatment is surgery to remove the gallbladder.

"The majority of people with gallstones never develop symptoms their whole lives," says John Martin, MD, associate professor of medicine and surgery, and director of endoscopy at the Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine. "Once you start to develop symptoms, you're going to need to have the gallbladder taken out."

Although diet doesn't directly cause gallbladder problems -- and it won't cure them -- watching what you eat and keeping a healthy weight might help you prevent gallstones from forming and avoid some discomfort if you do develop gallstones.

Diet and Gallstone Risk

A number of risk factors contribute to the formation of gallstones, including a family history of gallstones and gender. Women are twice as likely as men to develop them. Body weight is also a factor; the risk of gallstones is higher in people who are overweight and obese.

Diets that are high in fat and cholesterol and low in fiber appear to play a role. "There's a lot of things you can't change in that list, but you can certainly influence your diet," says F. Taylor Wootton III, MD, clinical counselor, associate professor of internal medicine at Eastern Virginia Medical School, and a member of the American Gastroenterological Association governing board.

If you're overweight, try to lose the extra weight; but do it gradually. There is a link between quick weight loss and gallstone formation. Crash or "yo-yo" diets can cause the liver to release more cholesterol into the bile, disrupting the normal balance of cholesterol and bile salts. That extra cholesterol can form into crystals, leading to gallstones, Wootton says.

Healthy Foods for the Gallbladder

Whether or not you are at risk for gallstones, it's always a good idea to keep your body at a healthy weight and eat a diet that is low in fat and cholesterol, moderate in calories, and high in fiber.

All of the following are healthy foods for your gallbladder, as well as the rest of your body:

  • Fresh fruits and vegetables
  • Whole grains (whole-wheat bread, brown rice, oats, bran cereal)
  • Lean meat, poultry, and fish
  • Low-fat dairy products

Certain foods have been studied for their potential to prevent gallbladder problems or reduce symptoms. For example, some research has indicated that drinking caffeinated coffee lowers the risk of gallstones in both men and women. Drinking moderate amounts of alcohol has also been linked to a reduced incidence of gallstones. In one study, women who ate at least one serving of peanuts a day had a 20% lower chance of having their gallbladder removed compared to women who rarely ate peanuts or peanut butter. But the evidence is still far too preliminaryto recommend any of these foods solely for the purpose of preventing gallbladder problems.

Foods to Avoid With Gallbladder Problems

Researchers say many gallbladder symptoms stem from the modern Western diet, which is high in refined carbohydrates and saturated fats. "If you're having symptoms from gallstones, it's because as your gallbladder tries to squeeze, some of the gallstone is blocking the outflow of bile that is stored in your gallbladder," Martin says. "You're squeezing against a closed door, and that's why it hurts. If you eat fatty foods, that makes it squeeze more."

Changing your diet won't get rid of gallstones that are already there, but eating a healthy, balanced variety of nutrients and limiting the amount of saturated fats and cholesterol-heavy foods you eat may help ease your symptoms.

Try to avoid or limit these high-fat foods in your diet:

  • Fried foods
  • Highly processed foods (doughnuts, pie, cookies)
  • Whole-milk dairy products (cheese, ice cream, butter)
  • Fatty red meat

Also steer clear of very low-calorie diets. If you are overweight, aim for a gradual weight loss of 1 to 2 pounds a week by sticking to a healthy, well-balanced diet and getting regular exercise. Always diet under your doctor's supervision.

If you continue to have symptoms, see your doctor. You may need surgery to have your gallbladder removed.

Many other things also affect your odds of developing gallstones, including:

  • Age
  • Gender (Gallstones are more common in women than in men.)
  • Family history of gallstones
  • Pregnancy
  • Fasting often
  • Not being physically active
  • Conditions such as cirrhosis, diabetes, or sickle cell disease.

Certain medications can also make you more likely to develop gallstones.

Gallbladder Diet: Foods for Gallbladder Problems (2024)


How to calm down a gall gallbladder attack? ›

For gallbladder pain relief, you can try applying a warm compress to the affected area. You may be able to drink peppermint tea to soothe the pain or take a magnesium supplement to help empty your gallbladder. But there's not much else you can do to relieve the pain at home.

What is a good breakfast for gallbladder problems? ›

  • Breakfast. Fruit: All but Avocado. Cereal: Any. ...
  • Lunch. Soup: No creamy or fatty soups. Vegetable: Cooked vegetables only, such as carrots, string beans, peas, beets, spinach. ...
  • Dinner. Meat: 1 serving of any lean meat, chicken, or turkey. No fried or fatty meats allowed. ...

What not to drink with gallbladder problems? ›

Yes, research shows people who drink a lot of soda and other sugar-sweetened drinks also tend to have more gallbladder problems, including gallbladder cancer. Cutting sweet drinks could reduce symptoms as well as lower your risk for these problems.

What is good to flush out gallstones? ›

It's important to know that there are no reliable at-home cleanses that are proven to get rid of gallstones or improve your symptoms. If you see a gallbladder cleanse promoted, it most likely encourages you to eat or drink olive oil in combination with a particular fruit juice over a certain period of time.

Does lying down help gallbladder pain? ›

Takeaway. Gallbladder pain is relatively common and is usually caused by gallstones that block your bile duct. Resting or sleeping on your left side can help manage pain caused by gallstones if you have a clogged bile duct. You may also want to try other home remedies for pain relief.

Does walking help a gallbladder attack? ›

Most people are wary of performing surgery to remove gallstones and look for alternatives to manage the effects. Studies have found that exercise can help reduce the risk of gallbladder problems. However, no scientific evidence shows that exercise can help remove gallstones, but it may help you manage the pain.

Are scrambled eggs OK for gallbladder? ›

Are eggs bad for gallstones? No, eggs are not bad for gallstones as they are high in protein but low in fat. What fruit is good for gallstones? Eating a range of fruits as part of a healthy, balanced diet is good for gallstones, particularly fruits rich in vitamin C, such as citrus fruits.

What foods soothe an inflamed gallbladder? ›

Healthy Foods for the Gallbladder
  • Fresh fruits and vegetables.
  • Whole grains (whole-wheat bread, brown rice, oats, bran cereal)
  • Lean meat, poultry, and fish.
  • Low-fat dairy products.
Dec 19, 2023

Is peanut butter ok for the gallbladder? ›

Nuts, peanuts and peanut butter are a good source of magnesium, which may play a role in improving insulin sensitivity and hence may reduce the development of gallstones.

What's the worst thing for your gallbladder? ›

High intake of saturated fats, sugar, sodium, refined carbs, red meat, fried foods, and full-fat dairy products may lead to or worsen gallbladder problems.

Are bananas good for the gallbladder? ›

The Best Dietary Choices for Managing Gallbladder Attacks: Eating foods such as apples, bananas, oats, plant-based proteins, among others can aid with managing gallbladder attacks.

Can you eat salad with gallbladder problems? ›

Low fat (good choices) Most varieties of fresh, frozen or tinned fruit. Higher fat (should be avoided) Avocado, olives. Low fat (good choices) All vegetables and salads. Higher fat (should be avoided) Salad cream, mayonnaise, salad dressings, white sauce, cheese sauce, creamy sauces, gravy made with fat or meat juices.

What does passing a gallstone feel like? ›

Sudden and rapidly intensifying pain in the upper right portion of your abdomen. Sudden and rapidly intensifying pain in the center of your abdomen, just below your breastbone. Back pain between your shoulder blades. Pain in your right shoulder.

How can I clean my gallbladder naturally? ›

In most cases, a gallbladder cleanse involves eating or drinking a combination of olive oil, herbs and some type of fruit juice over several hours. Proponents claim that gallbladder cleansing helps break up gallstones and stimulates the gallbladder to release them in stool.

What is the fastest way to dissolve gallstones? ›

If you can't or don't want to undergo surgery and your gallstones are small, one option is to take ursodiol (Actigall, Urso), a naturally occurring bile acid that helps dissolve cholesterol stones when taken by mouth two to four times a day.

How to stop gallbladder pain quickly? ›

For gallbladder health, a heated compress can calm spasms and relieve pressure from bile buildup. To relieve gallbladder pain, wet a towel with warm water and apply it to the affected area for 15-20 minutes. You can also use a heating pad or hot water bottle for the same effect.

When to go to the ER for gallbladder? ›

See your doctor if you have abdominal pain, fever, nausea and vomiting. If the pain is so bad that you can't sit still or get comfortable, go straight to your nearest hospital emergency department.

How do you know if your gallbladder is about to burst? ›

Severe inflammation, infection or blunt injury from something like a car accident can lead to a rupture. If you're experiencing symptoms of a gallbladder rupture, such as vomiting, sharp pain in the abdomen, fever or yellowing of the skin and eyes, you should seek medical attention immediately.

What flares up a gallbladder attack? ›

Pain can last between twenty minutes to a few hours. Usually, these attacks occur after eating foods high in fat or cholesterol. After a fatty meal, the body attempts to release bile from the gallbladder for digestion, but cannot because of a gallstone blockage.

Top Articles
Latest Posts
Article information

Author: Terence Hammes MD

Last Updated:

Views: 6503

Rating: 4.9 / 5 (69 voted)

Reviews: 84% of readers found this page helpful

Author information

Name: Terence Hammes MD

Birthday: 1992-04-11

Address: Suite 408 9446 Mercy Mews, West Roxie, CT 04904

Phone: +50312511349175

Job: Product Consulting Liaison

Hobby: Jogging, Motor sports, Nordic skating, Jigsaw puzzles, Bird watching, Nordic skating, Sculpting

Introduction: My name is Terence Hammes MD, I am a inexpensive, energetic, jolly, faithful, cheerful, proud, rich person who loves writing and wants to share my knowledge and understanding with you.