Diet and Nutrition

8 Tips on Living with Gallstones

8 Tips on Living with Gallstones

Key Takeaways

  • You can still live a comfortable life by managing your gallstone symptoms.
  • Avoiding circumstances that cause the development of gallstones is the best treatment.
  • Consulting with your doctor can help in controlling your gallstones symptoms.

You can opt to take ursodiol (a bile acid that occurs naturally and assists in dissolving cholesterol) in case you do not want surgery, if you are not able to undergo surgery, or if your gallstones are small. Ursodiol dissolves the gallstones that are made up of cholesterol, and sometimes, it can take up to two years for it to work.

Lithotripsy is a technique that breaks down gallstones into tiny pieces using sound waves from outside the body and makes them easy to dissolve or small enough to go through the bile duct is sometimes combined with drug therapy.

If for some reasons you decide to live with gallstones, you will require some knowledge on how to live with them. Below are eight tips to assist you in case trouble may arise due to your gallstones:

1. Look after yourself

People who have had a gallbladder removal and those living with gallstones do not follow a special diet. Many individuals do not require changing any of their diets. However, one of the key things you can do to stay healthy is to consume a well-balanced diet. You should eat low-calorie foods with protein, vitamins, and starch. Do the following tips to stay healthy:

  • Avoid eating salty foods.
  • Eat high fiber foods such as whole-wheat bread, oats, and brown rice.
  • Take in foods with low cholesterol.
  • Eat a lot of fruits and vegetables (5 servings a day).
  • Eat low-fat foods to ensure that your digestive system does not get irritated.

Eating a lot of high-fiber foods will assist your body to have better bowel movements by absorbing excess water in case you have diarrhea. To minimize symptoms, keep off fatty and spicy foods, caffeine, and dairy products.

If your diarrhea does not stop, consult your doctor immediately. 

2. Should you drink alcohol?

People with gallstones have no specific reason to avoid alcohol, although the level of alcohol consumption should be watched by everyone. Since the liver processes alcohol, and some gallstones are caused by a liver condition, it is wise to consult with your doctor if it safe for you to take alcohol.

It is advised to completely abstain from alcohol if your condition worsens.

3. Should you smoke?

Aside from being harmful to everyone's health, smoking increases your chances of getting gallstones. Not only does nicotine harm your gallbladder, but it affects various parts of the body including your lungs and heart. Consult with your doctor on how to get help to reduce or quit smoking if you are a smoker.

4. Importance of exercise

To maintain a weight that is healthy, exercise is important. According to research, you can prevent gallstones by improving the flow of bile through exercise. Exercise is highly recommended to adults each day for about half an hour. For people who are obese, the exercise time should be at least 45 to 90 minutes each day to be able to lose weight.

Looking for an exercise that you enjoy doing can help a lot. You can go dancing, swimming, or cycling. The aim should be to continue these exercises for a period of time until you feel healthy. Maintaining a good and regular regimen can do wonders for your body.

5. Are complementary and alternative medicine safe?

To alleviate gallstone symptoms, a number of complementary and alternative medicine are available. However, the effectiveness of these medications in treating gallstones is still unclear.

Always consult your doctor before using any of these therapies since the majority of them are not yet approved.

6. Adding herbs to your diet

Herbs are anti-inflammatory and easy on your stomach. Fresh oregano, ginger, milk thistle, thyme, and other herbs in your daily diet would do wonders to your metabolism.

Herbal tea and organic supplements are the ones to opt for. Find ways to put the herbs in your food, either freshly sliced or with a salad.

7. Try fasting once in a while

While it should not be rigid, fasting takes the pressure off your digestive system. After a week of eating foods with high fiber content, give juices a try, preferably from green vegetables or fruits such as apples, peaches, or grapes. Staying hydrated for most of the day is the key.

The next step is to eat one heavy meal (chicken soup or meat with vegetables) and one light spread at night.

8. Types of food to eat

The most important question is about the foods you should include in your daily diet to achieve desirable results. Thus, the following foods are the perfect options for maintaining a healthy gallbladder:

  • Kale, spinach, and collard greens – act as a good cleanser of meaty residues.
  • Beets and cucumber – either in a salad or juice, both contain insoluble fiber that can help break down gallstones.
  • Fresh garlic and onions – are liver cleansers and are good for the health.
  • Herbs like parsley, artichoke, and peppermint - in a salad or as beverage additives, they are used by herbalists for curing gallbladder ailments.
  • Lemon juice mixed with warm water – makes a good regular morning drink.
  • Fruits – pears, apples, berries, and papaya (for the liver).
  • Nuts – peanuts, almonds, and cashews are all good options. 

Other healthy foods to include in your diet are okra, avocados, sweet potato, green beans, shallot, and tomatoes

What happens after surgery?

Nausea may be felt immediately after surgery. It is a result of the painkillers and anesthetic administered during the procedure. Because of the gas used in inflating the abdomen during surgery, you may experience abdominal pain, pain in your shoulders, and bloating. However, these discomforts disappear within 48 hours.

Oral painkillers are normally given for several days once you are discharged to help control discomfort and pain. A follow-up appointment may be arranged by your doctor. Some patients are normally instructed to take oral antibiotics for some days.

There is no more storage of bile after a gallbladder removal. Therefore, it flows without stopping from the liver via the bile duct into the intestines. After a gallbladder removal, changes in your digestive system rarely occur and many individuals notice a very small difference without it.

The majority of people will experience bloating, an increase of bowel movements, or an increase in wind after eating for several weeks after the surgery.

After some months, your metabolism would be back on track, but you should always maintain a healthy diet to prevent any further health complications.