Healthy Living

What is a Cholecystectomy Diet?

What is a Cholecystectomy Diet?

Key Takeaways

  • Once your gallbladder has been removed, less concentrated bile is released into your intestines which is why you may experience frequent diarrhea after a cholecystectomy.
  • Most healthy people can return to their normal diet within one month of having a cholecystectomy. 

After your gallbladder has been removed, you may develop frequent loose or watery stool, which is a sign of diarrhea. In some cases, this diarrhea may last for a few weeks or even months. First, it is very important to understand why you are having diarrhea. Diarrhea which comes immediately after the removal of your gallbladder is mostly related to the release of bile directly into your intestines. It is important that you inform the doctor during your post-operative care, regarding this.

The normal function of your gallbladder is to collect and also concentrate bile. Bile is then released when the food reaches your intestines to help in the digestion of fats. Once your gallbladder has been removed, less concentrated bile is released into your intestines, continuously causing a laxative effect. This is one of the reasons why you may experience frequent diarrhea after getting your gallbladder removed.

You need to inform your doctor regarding your current condition and the current symptoms you are facing, as a result of your gallbladder surgery. This is why you need to think twice and hard, before getting your gallbladder removed. Once you have got it surgically removed, you will have to face multiple side effects as a result of this surgery.

So the moment you experience any side effects as a result of your surgery, you need to convey the same to the doctor in charge, who after running a few tests may suggest specific changes to your diet to help offset the frequent diarrhea. He may also prescribe some additional medication to help strengthen the bile as well as to alleviate your current symptoms.

There is no specific diet for cholecystectomy that you should follow. However, the amount of fats you consume may play a big role in your diarrhea. Smaller amounts of fats can be very easy to digest, but larger amounts may cause indigestion, gas, diarrhea, and constipation.

Dietary Adjustments

It is an important thing to follow your doctor’s instructions about your diet after a cholecystectomy. In case you are hospitalized after surgery, your health care professionals will help you change from a liquid diet to a solid diet immediately after the cholecystectomy. If you are released after surgery and you are recovering at home, there is need for you to introduce foods slowly. You may need to start taking liquids, such as broth and gelatin, before transitioning to solid foods. You should feel ready and not feel nauseated to put solid foods back into your diet.

It is important that you make a note of all the symptoms you may be facing as a result of your cholecystectomy, so that you can inform your doctor regarding the same, the onset, duration, pain and discomfort and any other side effects that you are experiencing at the moment. It would be better if you were to maintain a journal since this can enable your doctor to diagnose your condition accurately and help alleviate the symptoms and treat you for the same.

After you start eating solid foods, you should know that not all are fit for your condition. According to current scientific studies, more than half of the people who have undergone cholecystectomy report complications with fat digestion. This is because their gallbladder is no longer under control of releasing bile directly into the intestines after taking a meal. However, small and less concentrated bile is directly leaked into the duodenum and ileum at a slow and constant rate.

It may take a couple of days for your body to adjust to this change. Therefore, you are likely to experience bloating, gas, and diarrhea when you eat fatty foods at this time. Most healthy people can return to their normal diet within one month of having a cholecystectomy. It is a slow process and one that you cannot rush; your body may react adversely to certain solid foods and you may not be able to digest fatty foods for a while, but this is until your body gets used to the sudden changes as a result of your surgery.

You should be  able to return back to your normal diet in a little while but until then, you may want to stick to a specific diet, one that’s been vetted by your doctor and your dietician, so as to enable your body to recover even quicker from the surgery.

What diet composition is appropriate?

Are you worried about your diet after a cholecystectomy? Here is your diet from the first hour of surgery.

  • Clear Liquid Diet - For the first two to three days after a cholecystectomy, you are likely to feel very hungry. Anesthesia used during the surgical procedure can make you experience nausea; hence, it is recommended for you to stay on a clear liquid diet. This diet is recommended for 24 hours after gallbladder removal. This particular diet should provide your body with all the nutrients and minerals it needs while keeping it well hydrated. This should enable you to recover faster from the surgery and to return back to normal life. So immediately post-surgery, you will be put on a liquid diet which should also help to clear all the toxins form your system. After that, anesthesia is cleared from your body. A clear liquid diet includes foods such as:
    • Pure water
    • Broth
    • Tea
    • Jell-O
    • Fruit juice with no pulp, such as cranberry, apple, and grape
    • Clear soda without caffeine
    • Popsicles
  • Diet with Low Fat Foods - Even if the gallbladder is not important in your digestive system and does not play a vital role in your digestion process, its removal can affect fat digestion. The gallbladder stores, concentrates, and releases bile, a chemical used to emulsify fats. After cholecystectomy, bile still reaches the ilium, but in a more sporadic way. This can cause intestinal discomfort after eating foods rich in fat.According to current research, avoiding fatty foods such as dairy products, which worsen diarrhea, can help you manage complications after cholecystectomy. Foods with high fat content include:
    • Chicken and turkey skin
    • Pizza
    • Chocolate
    • Fried foods, such as potato chips and french fries
    • Oils originating from some fruits, such as palm oil and coconut oil
    • Creamy sauces and soups
    • Foods cooked or made of butter and lard
    • High fat dairy products, such as sour milk, cheese, cream, milk ice cream, and whole milk
    • High fat meats, such as bologna, ground beef, bacon, sausage, and ribs
    • Meat gravies
  • High Fiber Diet - You are recommended to take food rich in fiber to increase your food bulk and make your stools more firm. There are various food items that are a rich source of soluble and insoluble fiber. Apart from aiding in digestion, consuming a diet rich in fiber can provide your body with various health benefits. For example, chia seeds are extremely rich in dietary fiber and are also loaded with antioxidants, as well as complex plant compounds which can help regulate your blood pressure, and even your blood sugar levels. Apart from this, chia seeds also ensure that your cholesterol levels are maintained within the normal range and it also gets rid of triglycerides. This is why it makes sense to opt for a diet rich in fiber even under normal conditions.  Any food item rich in dietary fiber can also help eliminate some of the toxins from your system along with preventing serious health conditions like cancer and stroke. Here are some of the foods rich in fiber and they include:
    • Wholemeal bread
    • Brown rice
    • Vegetables
    • Lentils
    • Whole grains, such as wheat, maize, and rice
    • Beans, especially French beans
    • Nuts
    • Legumes
    • Seeds
    • Broccoli
    • Cauliflower
    • Brussels sproutsYou can also decide to eat smaller meals, but eat more frequently. It is recommended that you eat your meals this way evenly distributing them all through the day to aid the digestion process, as well. You can choose to take at least 4 servings of fruits and vegetables and also 4 servings of breads and cereals a day. According to the school of medicine of Wisconsin University, high fiber foods are very beneficial, as they help improve food movement through the intestines, reducing bloating.You can consult a dietician for a perfect diet for cholecystectomy patients and stick to the same so that your body recovers quickly from the surgery, while at the same time providing your body with the required health benefits that come from a high fiber diet.

Can bowel cleansing help improve your digestion?

Many times, alternative remedies may spread on the internet and social media sites like wild fire. However, it doesn’t mean that it is an effective remedy just because you are reading it and it is everywhere. One alternative remedy to your digestion after a cholecystectomy is cleansing your bowel. There are several recipes for the so called “cleanse,” but most of it involves drinking enough amounts of Epsom salts, citrus juice, and olive oil. The most popular home remedy for your gallbladder is a combination of lemon juice, apple juice, and olive oil. Although there is no good evidence to support that the home remedies can flush out gallstones, recent scientific studies have seen them to be effective.

But before you opt for any of the home remedies, do consult your doctor and even a specialist as well. While some of these home remedies may be somewhat effective at removing gallstones, you may have additional health conditions which may make the process risky. So do consult your doctor and seek his advice as to whether you can opt for these home based methods to clear the gallstones out of your body.

If you consume some of these remedies, you may experience frequent bowel movements that may include small round objects, which many think are gallstones. However, recent studies suggest that the movements result from olive oil mixing with bile.

It is always advisable to seek your doctor’s advice before trying out any of the remedies and any type of over-the-counter medications for your digestion problems. Remember the OTC medications always come with one side effect or the other.

Moreover, some of the medications can cause you to experience serious allergic reactions which is why it is a good idea to seek medical advice and get the prescribed medications. Also, make sure to inform your doctor regarding the allergic reactions you may have developed on ingesting certain medications. He may run a full panel allergy test to help determine what other allergens you are susceptible to and after a careful review, change your medication to something else. This is why you need to seek out a medical consult with your doctor prior to the surgery and explore all options to resolve your current condition, and opt for gallbladder surgery as a last resort.

Once you have had your surgery, you are likely to develop several side effects including developing gallstones as a result of gallbladder surgery. And you can opt for some of these home based methods to remove the gallstones and even get your doctor to prescribe some medication to help alleviate some of the symptoms. But with the right diet, you should be able to manage your current situation and even return back to your normal life at the earliest.

Bottom Line

It is important to know that after every cholecystectomy procedure, one is likely to experience digestive problems. This is because bile trickles directly into the small intestines as it is secreted from the liver. This may cause gas, bloating, and diarrhea. However, deciding to change your diet and eating habits can help curb this and also facilitate the healing process. Your digestive system will adapt to the normal digestion within a month, even with the absence of the gallbladder.

But it is important that you take care during this period by opting for a specific diet to ensure that your body returns to normal at the earliest. Gallbladder surgery should only be considered if there is no choice and that’s why you need to consult your doctor, seek out alternative treatments for your current condition and opt for gallbladder surgery only if there is no other choice.