Bile is a digestive fluid produced by your liver to help digest fat and absorb nutrients. But if your body can't reabsorb the fluid, it can lead to issues like bile reflux. Fortunately, following a bile reflux diet may help ease symptoms.
Here's how to get rid of bile in your stomach or neutralize stomach bile with the help of some dietary changes.
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Bile reflux can't be completely controlled by diet, so talk to your doctor about additional treatment options like medication, according to the Mayo Clinic.
What Is Stomach Bile and How Does It Work?
Bile is made up of water, electrolytes, cholesterol and phospholipids, according to Colorado State University. It's stored in your gallbladder until you eat, then it's secreted into your small intestine to help you digest the fat in your food.
Bile helps your body break down fat by emulsifying it and making it more soluble for digestion. Once you've digested your food, the byproducts of stomach bile — like cholesterol — are either recycled or eliminated from your body, per Colorado State University.
But a condition called bile reflux may occur if bile backs up into your stomach and, in some cases, your esophagus (the tube that connects your mouth and stomach), according to the Mayo Clinic. It can cause symptoms like:
- Upper abdominal pain
- Frequent heartburn
- Burning sensation in throat
- Sour taste in your mouth
- Vomiting greenish-yellow fluid (bile)
- A cough or hoarseness
- Unintended weight loss
These signs are a call to action to get rid of excess bile in the stomach and establish a better balance of acids, which can be regulated by a diet for bile reflux (more on that below). Eating foods that absorb bile and lower your cholesterol may help relieve your digestive discomforts.
Work with your doctor or dietitian to make sure your bile gastritis diet meets all of your health and nutritional needs.
Soluble Fiber and Bile
Dietary fiber is the part of plants that your body can't digest or absorb, according to the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health. This essential nutrient helps support healthy digestion, prevents constipation and promotes overall wellbeing.
There are two types of fiber: soluble and insoluble. Soluble fiber turns to gel during digestion and can help lower cholesterol levels, per the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health. It helps absorb the cholesterol and bile in your digestive tract and carries them out of your body in your stool.
As a result, one way to get rid of bile is by snacking on plenty of fiber. What's more, eating fibrous foods that absorb bile may also help to lower blood cholesterol levels by preventing your body from reabsorbing bile.
Bile-Absorbing Foods Rich in Soluble Fiber
Here are some of the best sources of soluble fiber to include in your bile reflux diet, according to the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health:
- Grains like oatmeal
- Nuts and seeds
- Legumes like lentils and beans
How Much Fiber Should You Eat?
Avoid Fatty Foods
Another dietary change that may help to reduce bile production (or at least lessen the effects of bile reflux) is to avoid high-fat foods, according to the Mayo Clinic.
When you eat fat, a signal is sent to your gallbladder to release bile into your small intestine, per Colorado State University. A high-fat meal also causes your lower esophageal sphincter to relax, which slows the emptying of your stomach, according to the Mayo Clinic.
That's why it's best to limit or avoid fatty foods like:
- Processed meats like salami and sausage
- Red meat
- Fried or fast foods
Instead, the American Cancer Society recommends opting for lower-fat options like:
- Low-fat or fat-free dairy products, including milk and cheese
- Egg whites or egg substitutes
- Crab, shrimp and light tuna (packed in water)
- Beans, peas and lentils
- Veggie burgers
- Rice or noodles
- Fruits and vegetables
Bile Reflux Diet Ideas
Looking for bile acid malabsorption recipes? Here are some ideas to get you started.
Start your day with a bowl of oatmeal topped with strawberries or diced pears. At lunch, add beans to your soup or salad or make a pureed bean dip and enjoy it with whole-wheat crackers or carrot sticks.
Snack on figs in the mid-afternoon. For dinner, add sliced Brussels sprouts to your veggie stir-fry or add extra eggplant to your ratatouille.
- Colorado State University: "Secretion of Bile and the Role of Bile Acids In Digestion"
- Mayo Clinic: "Bile Reflux"
- American Cancer Society: "Low-Fat Foods"
- Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health: "Fiber"
- U.S. Department of Agriculture and U.S. Department of Health and Human Services: "2020-2025 Dietary Guidelines for Americans"
Is this an emergency? If you are experiencing serious medical symptoms, please see the National Library of Medicine’s list of signs you need emergency medical attention or call 911.