Gallstones Food Tips: What You Need to Know

Gallstones are quite common. Two out of three people who have them may not have any uncomfortable feeling, barely causing any symptoms or pain. Other times they may cause problems such as pain, yellowing of the skin, the white part of the eyes (jaundice), the inflammation of the pancreas [1] (pancreatitis), or gallbladder inflammation. The most recommended treatment for gallstones that causes symptoms is surgery.

Gallstones occur when bile, normally fluid, forms stones in your gallbladder. The gallbladder is the organ that sits beneath the liver. Another important thing about gallstones is that they contain lumps of fatty (cholesterol-like) material that has solidified and hardened. In some cases, gallstones may comprise of bile pigments or calcium deposits. The number of stones vary. There might either just be a few of them formed or a great many. Occasionally, just one large stone is formed.

About one in three women and one in six men form gallstones at some stage in their lives. Even though Gallstones can happen to anyone, they become more common with increasing age. The risk of forming gallstones increases with:

  • Smoking
  • Diabetes
  • Pregnancy
  • Having a close relative with gallstones
  • Intake of some medicines such as contraceptive pills
  • Intake of unhealthy diet or excess fat
  • Rapid weight loss
  • Obesity

Gallstones can happen to anyone. However, there are certain steps to take that can help reduce the risk of developing gallstones. Some of which include:

  • Eating nuts
  • Drinking coffee
  • Eating vegetable protein
  • Drinking a moderate amount alcohol
  • Increase in calcium intake
  • Increase in vitamin C intake
  • Increase fiber intake

The Role of Gallbladder

Without the gallbladder, it would be difficult to digest food. The gallbladder helps to collect and store bile, then releases the bile into the small intestine when food enters the small intestine from the stomach. This helps with the digestion of food, because the gallbladder contains bile salts (and other substances) which break down fat.

The bile duct which connects the gallbladder to the small intestine can become blocked by gallstones. This can result in symptoms such as pain, bloating, a feeling of sickness (nausea), and being sick (vomiting). The gallstone may cause a blockage and make it difficult for the bile duct to release the bile.