Gallstones are made up of cholesterol and calcium and form hard stone like compounds. These stones can block the tubes that the gallbladder drains bile from – this causes inflammation of the tubes and the gallbladder itself. As a result, people experience a lot of pain, indigestion and fever. However, some people may not experience symptoms at all and gallstones can be present for years without causing trouble.
The gallbladder can be removed via surgery if it is causing a real problem. However, there are also some lifestyle measures that can be taken to reduce your risk of developing gallstones or lessen the severity of symptoms.
Prevention of gallstones
Unfortunately there can be a genetic component to gallstones. If your family members have had issues with gallstones then it increases the likelihood that you may experience them too. In this case, individuals should still work on modifying the lifestyle behaviours and habits that can be changed to decrease the risk of occurrence.
1. Avoidance of high fat foods
Bile is needed to digest fat so eating fatty foods can increase the release of bile and worsen symptoms. Avoid fatty, fried or oily foods. It’s also wise to avoid very concentrated fats like oils, butters, fat on meat, margarine and even avocado! Some people can tolerate these foods just fine so trial what works for you in order to be less restrictive.
2. Keep your water intake up
Aim for those eight glasses or 2L of water each day.
Reach and / or maintain a healthy weight. Ensure this is done in a healthy way. Being overweight creates more cholesterol and hence more is secreted in to the bile which gets stored in the gall bladder. This therefore increases the chance of developing gallstones. It also appears that the gallbladder is less efficient at emptying which exacerbates symptoms.
4. Inadequate fibre intake
Keeping your fibre intake up is important. If you aren’t eating adequate amounts and become constipated/ transit time is delayed then this can increase the chance of gallstones forming. Eat at least five serves of vegetables and two serves of fruit daily and make wholegrain choices.
A higher level of triglycerides in the blood will also increase the risk of gallstones developing. Unfortunately people with diabetes are more prone to higher triglyceride levels. Eating a healthy, balanced diet will assist in managing these levels, as well as cholesterol levels.
6. Rapid weight loss and fad diets
When people lose weight at a very rapid rate, the body uses up fat stores and the liver secretes extra cholesterol in to the bile. On top of the extra cholesterol in the bile, restrictive diets also make the gallbladder more sluggish and the bile becomes even more concentrated. This can result in gallstones and can make you constipated which is another risk factor. To prevent this, lose weight in a healthy, gradual manner.
7. Keep your cholesterol levels in check
Aim to keep your cholesterol levels within the healthy ranges by following a healthy diet that is low in saturated fats.
Contact us for results focused nutritional advice
This article was written by our dietitian Belinda Elwin who is a Dietitians Association of Australia member, and Accredited Practicing Dietitian and Nutritionist. If you have questions about healthy eating, make an appointment. We‘ll provide you with a simple and effective routine targeted to your concerns. Contact us today!