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Gallstones: Diet and Supplements
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The gallbladder is a small pear-shaped organ that sits next to the liver. When fat is consumed in the diet the gallbladder contracts to release bile back into the digestive tract for fat digestion. Gallstones are accumulations of crystals that join together to form stones. The stones can be composed of cholesterol the most common , calcium salts, bilirubin or other bile pigments. They can vary in size from very small grains of sand or gravel to as large as a golf ball.

A person can have gallstones and never know they are there. Other people develop symptoms known as biliary colic or cholecystitis inflammation of the gallbladder. Gallstones are more common in women, people who are overweight, over 40 years of age, during pregnancy, after sudden weight loss or in people who consume a high-fat, high-sugar, low-fiber diet. Certain foods are better tolerated by people with gallstones.

In general a low-fat, high vegetable and fruit diet is the best for managing symptoms of gallstones. A vegetarian diet is associated with a low incidence of gallstones. In addition to avoiding these foods you should also avoid large meals, especially late in the evening.

Eat several smaller meals throughout the day and focus on consuming greater amounts of fruit and vegetables. Once you are symptom free and ready to re-introduce dairy and meat products, select low fat options. While weight loss is often desirable for people with gallstones it is important not to lose weight too quickly — this can lead to a gallbladder crisis.

Instead focus on slow, steady weight loss and regular aerobic exercise which also supports gallbladder health. In addition to a healthy diet there are several supplements that can support the function of the gallbladder and decrease symptoms of gallstones. Omega 3 fish oils — Fish oils reduce the formation of gallstones by enhancing bile flow and blocking cholesterol formation in the bile. A combined EPA-DHA fish oil supplement should be taken by anyone with gallstones, or risk factors for the development of gallstones.

Increase dietary fiber — Diets high in water-soluble fiber from fruits, vegetables, oat bran and guar gum decrease cholesterol levels — a primary goal of gallstone treatment. Vitamin C — Low levels are associated with the development of gallstones. Lecithin — a phospholipid that reduces the saturation of cholesterol in bile that leads to stone formation. Oral supplementation results in higher concentrations of lecithin in the bile. I haven't really had it that long though, but I'm impressed with what I have so far.

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