According to the National Institutes of Health, gallstones occur when crystalline deposits of digestive fluid form in the gallbladder. The most common types of gallstones tend to result from an excess of cholesterol in the bile. To prevent the pain associated with gallstone attacks, physicians and alternative medicine practitioners advise a change in diet. Knowing which foods to avoid will lessen discomfort and could prevent new gallstones from forming. Consider eliminating high-risk foods that might aggravate your gallstone condition.
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Physicians recommend cutting back or removing eggs from the diet because of their high cholesterol levels and the possibility of a correlation between gallbladder conditions and food allergies. According to the University of Maryland Medical Center, eggs are a high-allergen food and are high in cholesterol. Both of these factors make them a likely cause of gallbladder irritation.
The Department of Nutrition and Dietetics of Norfolk and Norwich University Hospitals recommends avoiding meats with a high fat content. This includes red meat, pork, lunch meats, sausages and oily fishes. Substitute fatty meats with lean meat protein sources such as cold water fish, chicken and turkey. When preparing poultry, always remove the skin and fat to avoid gallstone irritation.
Eliminate deep fried foods from your diet. This also includes many fast foods notoriously high in saturated fats. Avoid cooking with solid vegetable shortening, margarine and animal fat. Frying food with partially hydrogenated fat, trans fat and saturated fats will aggravate gallstone pain and discomfort. Use olive or canola oil as a healthy alternative for frying.
Trans fatty acids, typically present in packaged foods, tend to induce gallstone symptoms according to the University of Maryland Medical Center. Many food manufacturers have reduced or eliminated trans fats from their product lines, but check nutritional labels just to make sure. If in doubt, avoid packaged food items like potato chips, crackers, cookies, doughnuts, dessert or side dish mixes.
Patients with gallstone disease should refrain from eating foods containing refined ingredients. White bread, refined flour pastas, white rice and refined sugar convert to stored fat, which might lead to an increase in cholesterol in the bile. According to Dr. Michael Murray, refined foods are low in fiber, and a low-fiber diet is one of the main causes of gallstones. Stick to unrefined foods such as whole grain breads, whole wheat pastas and brown rice. Dietary changes might reduce symptoms and prevent the need for surgery.
HealthHype.com warns that whole fat dairy products pose a risk for those diagnosed with gallstones. Milk, cheese, yogurt, ice cream, heavy cream and sour cream contain high levels of animal fat--a common link to gallbladder complications. Try reducing the amount of dairy in your diet or purchase low fat and skim substitutes. This will provide the necessary dietary calcium required to maintain healthy bones and teeth.
REFERENCES & RESOURCES
- National Institutes of Health: MedlinePlus: Gallstones
- Norfolk and Norwich University Hospitals: Dietary Advice for People With Gallstones
- University of Maryland Medical Center: Gallbladder Disease
- Macrobiotic Guide: Sugar--Its Effect on the Body and Mind
- Dr. Michael Murray: Gallstones
- American Gastroenterlogical Association: Understanding Gallstones
- National Digestive Diseases Information Clearinghouse: Gallstones
- 3fatchicks.com: Six Foods to Avoid With Gallstone Disease