Cholecystitis Diet

What is cholecystitis diet?

Cholecystitis diet is a special diet used for patients with Gallstones or those who have undergone gallbladder removal surgery. This diet does not treat the symptoms of Gallstones, but it can help lower the risk of developing them [1].

cholecystitis diet

Image showing Liver (brown color), gall bladder (black circle)

Gallbladder physiology

Gallbladder is a part of the human biliary system, which is responsible for producing, transporting and storing bile. Bile is a fluid, produced by the liver and it takes part in digesting fatty foods in the small intestine. Gallbladder is a small pouch, localized under the liver. Its main function is to store bile. After a meal, gallbladder is signalized to release bile into series of small ducts that reach the small intestine. If gallbladder is removed, the bile can reach small intestine in other ways too [2,3].

Conditions of the Gallbladder

Cholelithiasis

Cholelithiasis, also known as gallstone disease, is a common condition. The exact reason why gallstones form is not known. Substances in the bile can crystalize, forming stones of different sizes. In most cases, gallstones do not cause any symptoms, but they can cause pain, nausea, vomiting and inflammation of the gallbladder. There are two types of gallstones:

  • Cholesterol stones- formed from cholesterol with yellowish-green color. These stones are the most common type, seen in 80% of cases
  • Pigment stones- small and dark stones, formed from bilirubin-one of the compounds of bile.

Risk factors for developing gallstones include:

  • Increased weight and sudden weight loss
  • Diet
  • Genetic predisposition
  • Birth control pill use
  • Diabetes
  • Medication for lowering cholesterol in blood

If gallstones are asymptomatic, treatment is usually not necessary, but some lifestyle changes should be made in order to prevent further development of stones [2].

gallstones

Human gallstones
Image source: Wikipedia.org

Cholecystitis

Cholecystitis is an inflammation of the gallbladder. Gallstones are the most common cause of cholecystitis. Stones and buildup of bile can obstruct the bile ducts, causing an inflammation. The symptoms of acute cholecystitis are:

  • Abdominal pain in the middle or right upper quadrant of the abdomen
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Fever
  • Clay-colored stool
  • Jaundice- yellow color of skin and the whites of eyes
  • Abdominal bloating
  • Pain usually gets worse after a meal
  • In case of recent stomach surgery, Afferent loop syndrome should be considered

Cholecystitis is usually treated with pain medication and antibiotics, but if it keeps recurring, surgery to remove gallbladder can be performed [3]. Removal is also indicated due to increased risk of Gallbladder cancer.

cholecystitis diet

Simplified pathogenesis of cholecystitis.
Image source: basilwellness.basilcorporatewellness.com

Diet for a healthy gallbladder

In order to maintain healthy bile structure and avoid the formation of gallbladders which can cause cholecystitis, there are several foods that should be used.

Fruits and vegetables

Fruits and vegetables, especially when they are fresh, have a positive effect on general health, as well as the gallbladder. Fruits and vegetables rich in fiber and vitamins should be used. Lack of vitamin C can contribute to forming of gallstones. Best fruits and vegetables to use in diet are:

  • Avocados-contain healthy oils and vitamins
  • Berries- cranberries, grapes, strawberries (rich in pectin)
  • Lemons and lemon juice- help to break down fatty acids in the bile. Vinegar also has similar action.
  • Broccoli
  • Cucumbers
  • Beetroots, especially juice- helps to cleanse the body. Using 200ml of juice daily has a positive effect.
  • Bell peppers
  • Apples
  • Radishes- increase bile flow, but shouldn’t be used if a person already has gallstones[4,5]
  • Also read about Cancer fighting foods

Oils

Olive oil is considered to be very effective in preventing and treating cholecystitis. Olive oil generally lowers the low density cholesterol and triglyceride levels in blood. It also helps to reduce risk of diabetes and obesity.

Another oil to choose is black seed oil. Black seed oil contains a lot of phytochemicals that help to reduce inflammation. It also helps to improve liver function and regeneration, decrease risk of diabetes and help in weight loss [4,5].

Meat, fish and poultry products

To avoid forming of gallstones, foods rich in saturated fats should be avoided. However, fats are needed for proper functioning of the body therefore they should not be completely excluded from diet. It is best to choose lean meat in diet. Vegetarian diet also has been proven to prevent development of gallstones. Any type of fish is good for your body, since it is rich in unsaturated fats. Skinless chicken, lamb, pork are also good products to choose [4].

Grains

Whole grain products are rich in fiber. These include:

  • Oats
  • Bran cereal
  • Brown rice[4]

Drinks

Some studies have shown that alcohol and caffeine in small amounts can reduce the risk of developing gallstones. If the amount doesn’t exceed two drinks per day. When it comes to caffeine, only caffeine found in coffee has shown a positive effect. Other sources of caffeine like tea or soda has not shown beneficial effect [4].

Other positive diet choices

There are other products that have shown to prevent gallstones, like:

  • Low-fat dairy
  • Moderate amount of nuts, like peanuts, tree nuts, almonds or walnuts
  • Water- drinking plenty of water helps to maintain enough fluid in the bile [4]

Foods that should be avoided

Carbohydrates

Using too much carbohydrates in diet can be the cause of gallstones. Foods like sweeteners, refined sugar should be avoided. However, low calorie diet can also increase gallstone formation. Generally, diet with less than 1000 calories is considered to be a risk factor [5].

High-fat foods

Foods rich in saturated fats can increase gallstone production. These include:

  • Fried food
  • Fatty meat
  • Whole-milk dairy
  • Processed snacks, like soda and potato chips [5]

Diet after cholecystectomy

There is no special diet after cholecystectomy. There are some things patients should pay attention to, in order to avoid further digestive problems:

  • Keep diet low in fat- avoid using fried foods, fatty meat, dairy products and snacks.
  • Eat smaller and more frequent meals, to ensure better digestion
  • Gradually increase fiber in diet to normalize bowel movements [6]

 

References

  1. What is cholecystitis diet: http://www.diethealthclub.com/health-issues-and-diet/cholecystitis/cholecystitis-diet.html
  2. Gallstones: http://www.webmd.com/digestive-disorders/gallstones#3
  3. Cholecystitis: http://www.healthline.com/health/acute-cholecystitis#Treatment5
  4. Foods to include in diet: http://www.diethealthclub.com/health-issues-and-diet/cholecystitis/cholecystitis-diet.html
  5. Foods to avoid: http://www.livescience.com/42965-gallbladder.html
  6. After gallbladder removal: http://www.mayoclinic.org/healthy-lifestyle/nutrition-and-healthy-eating/expert-blog/gallbladder-removal-diet/bgp-20056135

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