Gallbladder Diet (2024)

A diet rich in nutrient-dense foods like vegetables and fruit may help prevent gallstones. Other foods, including those high in refined sugar and saturated fat, may increase your risk.

The gallbladder stores bile produced by the liver and releases it into the small intestine to help digest food.

Eating a diet rich in fried and fatty foods may increase your risk of developing gallstones, which can increase your risk of gallbladder disease, such as porcelain gallbladder and cancer.

Eating a nutritious diet can help you maintain good health and prevent disease, including gallbladder disease.

Eating a health-promoting diet may help reduce your risk of gallstones and gallbladder disease, in addition to providing other benefits and supporting your overall health.

Mediterranean and DASH diets

Certain diets may lower your risk of developing symptomatic gallstone disease, according to a large 2018 study that included males only.

The researchers found that people who followed a modified Mediterranean diet, the DASH diet, or a diet based on a previous version of the USDA Dietary Guidelines for Americans had a lower risk of gallstone disease.

Both eating plans focus on lean protein and whole foods, including fruits and vegetables, and limiting added sugars. The Mediterranean diet includes whole foods and healthy fats and limits processed foods and refined grains. The DASH diet also focuses on whole foods but specifically limits sodium, fatty meats, and fat.

Vegetables, fruits, and whole grains

Eating a healthy, well-balanced diet full of fruits, vegetables, and whole grains is a great way to improve and protect your gallbladder’s health.

Fruits, vegetables, and whole grains contain beneficial nutrients and fiber. A study on vegetarian diets and gallstone risk noted fiber helps support digestion by shortening the time food spends in your intestines, which may reduce your risk of gallstone disease.

Eating a diet rich in the following foods may help support gallbladder health and your overall health:

Healthy fats

Research suggests that choosing foods rich in healthy fats over unhealthy fats may help promote gallbladder health. This protective effect may be related to:

  • lowering your triglyceride levels
  • improving the quality of bile
  • regulating gallbladder contractions, which helps your gallbladder empty regularly

Foods to consider include:

Plant-based protein

Eating a more plant-based diet may also help prevent gallbladder conditions.

To build a balanced plant-based diet, you may need to plan to ensure you’re getting enough macronutrients, including protein.

Plant-based sources of protein include:


Regular coffee consumption may protect against symptomatic gallstones, according to a 2019 study.

The researchers determined that people who drank more than 6 cups (48 ounces) of coffee daily had a 23% lower risk of gallstones. But even one cup of coffee per day may help reduce the risk.

If you drink alcohol, drink in moderation

Alcohol intake may decrease the risk of gallstones, according to 2019 research.

More research is needed on this topic. What is known for sure is that long-term, heavy alcohol use may increase your risk of health problems, such as cancer.

Regular and frequent mealtimes

Eat meals on a regular schedule as much as possible and avoid long gaps between meals.

You can also try eating frequent smaller meals throughout the day.

Eating a meal causes your gallbladder to empty, and when this happens regularly, you may be less likely to develop gallstones.

Regular fasting for more than 16 to 18 hours per day may increase your risk of gallstones.

While certain foods do not specifically cause gallbladder problems, a diet lacking in essential nutrients like fiber and vitamin C but high in sugars and unhealthy fats may negatively affect gallbladder health.

This can include a diet that’s high in:

Trans fats may interfere with your gallbladder’s regular functions by raising the level of triglycerides in your blood. They may also affect your gallbladder function.

If you have gallstones, eating high fat foods can increase your risk for painful complications caused by biliary colic. Biliary colic occurs when a gallstone blocks a bile duct and can cause extreme pain.

Dietary fat may trigger your gallbladder to contract and empty, which can be irritating if you have gallstones. However, more research is needed on whether modifying the amount of fat-containing foods you eat is beneficial or not for people with gallstones.

It’s important to follow your surgeon’s diet recommendations when recovering after gallbladder surgery. Recommendations can depend on the type of surgery.

Your surgeon may recommend returning to a regular, balanced diet as soon as possible.

If you have your gallbladder removed, you may experience diarrhea, bloating, and farting in the first few weeks after surgery. Some people may need to change their diet following surgery.

A doctor may recommend increasing your fiber intake after surgery. This can reduce digestive side effects while your body adjusts after surgery.

High fiber foods can include:

  • whole fruits
  • vegetables
  • whole grain breads
  • brown rice

Other than gallstones, gallbladder problems include cholecystitis (inflammation of the gallbladder) and cholangitis (inflammation of the bile ducts).

Some people with gallstones don’t experience any symptoms. In those that do, symptoms of gallbladder problems can include:

  • pain on the upper right side of the abdomen, especially following meals and eating fatty foods
  • indigestion
  • gas
  • bloating
  • nausea
  • vomiting
  • jaundice, if the gallbladder ducts are blocked
  • fever
  • tea-colored urine
  • light-colored stools

Gallstones can be painful. If large enough, they can also block the bile duct and cause infection, or pancreatic duct and cause pancreatitis. Gallstones can also increase the risk of gallbladder inflammation and gallbladder cancer.

Over time, some of these complications can become life threatening.

In these cases, removal of the gallbladder is often necessary.

Females are more likely to develop gallstones than males. Pregnant people, females using hormonal birth control containing estrogen, and people who use estrogen-containing hormone replacement therapy for symptoms of menopause are at increased risk for gallstones. Other risk factors include:

  • obesity
  • rapid weight loss
  • diabetes
  • eating a diet high in refined carbohydrates and calories but low in fiber

What foods are good for gallbladder problems?

If you have gallstones, you may want to focus your eating plan on whole foods that are rich in essential nutrients, like fiber. This can include vegetables, fruits, beans, whole grains, and lean protein sources.

What foods do you avoid when you don’t have a gallbladder?

After surgery to remove the gallbladder, many people can follow a typical diet. Some doctors may recommend eating more fiber at first to reduce diarrhea, bloating, and farting.

Gallbladder problems can be painful and, in some cases, dangerous. Eating the right foods — and avoiding too many foods that are high in fat — may help improve and protect the health of your gallbladder.

A diet for a healthy gallbladder will also likely benefit your overall health.

Gallbladder Diet (2024)
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