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10 Things You Should Know After Removing Your Gallbladder

A cholecystectomy is a surgical procedure to remove the gallbladder, usually due to gallstones causing pain or infection.

Although gallbladder removal is quite a common and routine surgery, it’s still the removal of an organ - which in effect removes part of our digestive process. The gall bladder stores bile; the fluid that helps us digest fatty foods, clear out unwanted hormones and absorb fat-soluble vitamins. Without it, we need to take extra care with our diet in order to feel our best.

"Did your doctor guide you on what to do after surgery to ensure happy digestion?"

Research suggests that people who have had their gallbladder removed are at a higher risk of developing conditions like metabolic syndrome, type 2 diabetes, heart disease and fatty liver disease.

How A Cholecystectomy Can Affect Your Health

Without the gallbladder’s regulating and storing function, after surgery, bile comes straight from the liver (where it's produced) and is consistently secreted into the small intestine at a slow and steady rate. This means the amount of bile you release after eating may not be sufficient for the particular meal you've consumed, or it may be too diluted. Because of this, you may not adequately absorb essential fatty acids and fat-soluble nutrients like vitamins A, D, E, and K which in turn will result in nutrient deficiencies.

When fat is not properly broken down and absorbed, it also binds with calcium and iron from our food and prevents these minerals from entering the blood where we need them. This leads to the accumulation of hard matter which causes constipation.

It's also possible for the opposite to occur. You may release more bile than your body needs for a particular meal and excess bile acids entering the colon can result in 'bile acid malabsorption' aka 'BAM', which damages your microbiome and can result in watery stools, urgency and fecal incontinence.

Ironically, some individuals who have their gall bladder removed believe they'll no longer experience the same issues with foods they had prior to surgery so they maintain their previous eating habits or become even less cautious with their diet.

So how can you stop these issues if you've had your gallbladder removed?

13 Ways To Support Your Digestion After a Cholecystectomy

1. Sprinkle 1 tbsp of non-GM organic lecithin onto any meal you have which contains fat. You can find this at your local health food store. Lecithin helps the emulsification (breakdown) of fat before it hits your intestines. Interestingly - because bile naturally contains lecithin! 

2. Skip all refined fats (poor quality oils) and instead opt for small amounts of healthy whole fats. For example, flax seeds (linseed), chia seeds, oily fish, avocado, coconut, olives, free-range eggs, nuts and grass-fed butter or ghee. 

3. When eating fats, make sure quantities are moderate and spread over the course of the day. For example, 1 tbsp of oil, a small handful of nuts, or one third or a large avocado.

4. Activate your nuts. Yep, sounds odd but soaking them in a bowl of water with a pinch of coloured salt aids proper digestion and enhances their nutritional value. 

5. Combine fatty foods with bitter foods. Such as cacao, rocket, radicchio, dandelion greens, eggplant, chicory, cauliflower, endive, broccoli, grapefruit, lemon, lime, ginger, beets, artichokes and brussels sprouts.  These foods stimulate the liver to produce bile and your gut cells to produce enzymes which help the breakdown of your meals. 

6. Up your fibre! Whole grains and legumes are excellent at binding to bad fats and unwanted cholesterol, dragging them out of the body via the bowel. 

7. Avoid foods you're intolerant to. It would also be wise to limit non-fermented dairy, refined sugars and refined grains. These are likely to cause inflammation and are linked to gallstone attacks. 

8. Opt for mostly plant-based foods and choose plant based proteins. For instance tempeh and legumes over fatty meats. Why? A vegetarian diet is associated with decreased risk of gallbladder issues. 

9. Take digestive enzymes (bile salts, ox bile, lipase, bitter herbs like gentian). They are a helpful option when dining out and you're likely to overindulge. Why? This will take the pressure off your digestive organs.

10. Drink Dandelion root tea. This root is well-known to support liver function and can regulate bile. You can easily find dandelion root in your local health food store, where it's often combined with chicory; another bitter herb that's used as a coffee alternative.

If you've had a tough time with digestion and well-being since removing your gallbladder, take our free online assessment, touch base for a free 10 minute call or book in for a gut healing package. We can help you feel better with the right supplements or some simple diet and lifestyle inclusions.


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