Gallbladder disease is common in the United States and can occur regardless of diet. The gallbladder, a small, sac-like organ under the liver, stores bile and aids in the digestion of fats. Foods rich in soy and whey protein may affect the health or function of the gallbladder. If you have questions about the relationship between diet and gallbladder disease, consult a physician or dietitian.
Whey and Soy Defined
Whey and soy differ somewhat in their origins and health benefits. Whey protein, found in animal-sourced milk, contains a complete array of essential amino acids. The common soybean is similar to whey in that it provides a complete and high-quality source of dietary protein. According to the National Institutes of Health, soy protein is one of the few plant-based products considered to be equivalent in quality to animal-sourced proteins. Whey and soy can cause allergic reactions in some people.
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Protein and Gallbladder Disease
The gallbladder stores bile for the digestion of fats, not protein. Therefore, it's not directly involved in the metabolic breakdown of dietary proteins such as whey or soy. According to the Mayo Clinic, a diet high in fat and low in fiber may increase the risk of gallstones, but the organization cites no evidence that soy or whey protein can cause this condition. Unless you're allergic to a specific source of dietary protein, there's no need to limit or eliminate your intake of it if you have gallbladder disease.
According to the University of Maryland Medical Center, food allergens can seriously irritate the gallbladder, so it's important to eliminate them from your diet if you have any form of gallbladder disease. Whey and soy protein are common allergens, but they're generally harmless or beneficial to people who don't have food allergies. If you think you may be allergic to either food, consult your health care provider for an allergy test. Symptoms of food allergies include abdominal pain, diarrhea, hives and breathing difficulties.
If you aren't allergic to whey or soy, either product can help you to maintain good health while fighting gallbladder disease. The University of Maryland Medical Center recommends high-protein, low-fat foods such as whey and soy, because they provide an easy-to-digest alternative to high-fat protein sources for people with gallbladder conditions. You should also reduce or eliminate your intake of fatty meats, trans fats, eggs and refined grain products. High-antioxidant vegetables such as squash and tomato can also help provide vital nutrients.