By naturopath Margaret Jasinska
Gallbladder removal is one of the most common surgeries. A lot of people end up quite confused about what they should be eating and which supplements they can be taking. You might be left with new and unpleasant symptoms after surgery. Your doctor may have told you it’s fine to eat and drink whatever you like, and you’ll be fine. The fact is many people feel far from fine after getting their gallbladder removed. It is common to experience all sorts of digestive problems, and you are at higher risk of developing a fatty liver. Many people find weight loss is incredibly difficult after gallbladder removal.
A lot of people imagine that having their gallbladder removed will put an end to their digestive problems, but that is often not the case. Did you know it is possible to form stones within the ducts of the liver? The risk of developing a fatty liver and inability to lose weight is also greater in people without a gallbladder. Your gallbladder is important. Your liver continually manufactures bile, which travels to your gallbladder, where it is stored and concentrated. Bile helps you to digest fat. Bile is also your body’s way of excreting wastes and toxins. Bile contains cholesterol and other fats that your liver has broken down and wants to excrete. Bile also has mild laxative properties, helping you to have regular bowel motions.
What happens if you don’t have a gallbladder?
The liver continues to manufacture bile, but there is no longer a place to store it or concentrate it. That means bile continually slowly trickles into the intestines. If you eat a fatty meal, you will not be able to secrete a large enough amount of bile into your intestines, therefore the fat will be poorly digested. This means many people experience diarrhoea, bloating, nausea or indigestion. Not digesting fat well means you won’t be able to digest essential fatty acids, including omega 3 and omega 6 fats. It also means you’ll have a hard time absorbing fat soluble vitamins such as vitamins D, E, A and K. These nutrients are vital for good health.
Please be aware that you developed a gallbladder problem in the first place because you had an unhealthy liver. If your liver is not healthy, it will make poor quality bile. The bile will be prone to forming sludge and stones.
Strategies for those without a gallbladder
A lack of bile can produce symptoms such as bloating, nausea and indigestion after meals, light coloured stools, diarrhoea, fatigue after meals and nutrient deficiencies. Bile can be taken in supplement form.