Tips For Easy Fat Digestion After Gallbladder Surgery

by Sarah TheHealthyHomeEconomist

after gallbladder surgery

How to go about eating fat, even healthy fats, after gallbladder surgery seems to be an increasingly common dilemma nowadays.

Why in the world are so many folks having problems with this small organ that aids in fat digestion by storing and concentrating bile produced by the liver?

Could the gallbladder surgery epidemic be related to our fat phobic society with malfunctioning or atrophying gallbladders the result from lack of proper use?

Whatever the reason, there are indeed a lot of folks walking around without a gallbladder and many are under the incorrect impression that after gallbladder surgery they can no longer eat fats without digestive discomfort.

The first thing to realize after gallbladder surgery is that you can most certainly still eat fat.  The bile necessary to digest most fat is made in the liver, not the gallbladder, and you still have a liver, right?

What you really need is a dietary strategy that compensates for the fact that your body no longer has a place to store and concentrate the bile much like a person with no appendix needs a strategy for replenishing beneficial flora to the gut after intestinal illness because there is no longer a place where good flora stay secure during bouts of gastroenteritis.

Please note that the tips outlined below are also very helpful to those who have been eating lowfat for a long time and are just now coming around to the fact that whole, unprocessed fats in the diet are critical to health.

Many times, folks who start to embrace and eat a plentiful amount of fats again after many years of avoidance experience the same digestive challenges as someone after gallbladder surgery – almost like their bodies have “forgotten” how to digest fats!

So whether you are adjusting to life after gallbladder surgery or simply trying to adjust to eating fats again as practiced by healthy Traditional Societies, keep these tips in mind for making the transition that much easier.

Cholesterol Still Needed for Bile After Gallbladder Surgery

It is very important thing to realize after gallbladder surgery that you still need cholesterol to produce bile which assists with the digestion of regular long chain fats and oils.  Note that short or medium chain triglycerides like coconut or palm oil do not require bile for digestion.

Cholesterol is required for the production of bile and the very foods that have sufficient and healthy quantities of cholesterol are those that are, you guessed it, quite fatty, like liver, egg yolks, cream, and butter.

Avoiding fat after gallbladder surgery is potentially going to compound problems with digesting fat in the long run as you won’t be getting the healthy, unprocessed cholesterol you need to produce bile!

Do you see the vicious cycle that can occur if you avoid fat after gallbladder surgery?

Please note that this discussion does not include oxidized cholesterol like what is in pasteurized, homogenized dairy (even if organic or skim) and the vast majority of processed foods.  Oxidized cholesterol is to be avoided in the diet and is the type of cholesterol that can trigger heart disease (Atherosclerosis. 2000 Mar;149(1):181-90).

Bitters Stimulate Bile Production After Gallbladder Surgery

Once you are comfortable with the fact that you can and should eat fat after gallbladder surgery and that it is wise to do so in order to provide your liver with the raw materials necessary for bile production, the next step is to “train” your liver to produce the bile you need at the proper times to digest the fats you eat with your meals.

Swedish BittersEating at regular intervals that your body can adjust to can go a long way toward this goal.

If a regular routine for consuming your fats does not prove helpful after a period of time or you are temporarily off schedule for whatever reason, use of herbal bitters can be used in conjunction.

Bitters are herbal extracts that are rich in minerals.  They are an ancient tonic for stimulating the liver to produce bile.

Traditional Asian cultures have long valued bitters not only for their digestive benefit but also for their cleansing properties which promote increased strength and healing.

Most healthfood stores have bitters available for purchase at very reasonable prices.

A single teaspoon of bitters in a small amount of water in the morning and in the evening should be sufficient to stimulate your liver to produce adequate amounts of bile.

When All Else Fails After Gallbladder Surgery …

If despite all your best efforts, you still have digestive issues with fats after gallbladder surgery, you can use a bile salts supplement to assist you.

Supplements should be a last resort, however, as it is always best to encourage the body to do its job unassisted if at all possible.

The important thing to keep in mind is that your need for healthy, unprocessed fats does not change after gallbladder surgery.  You still need these fats for optimal health and so finding a way to consume them comfortably is of paramount importance.

Keep in mind the research of Dr. Weston A. Price – it is the sacred foods which were all fatty and of animal origin that were prized by Traditional Societies.  These foods contained large amounts of Vitamins A, D, and K2 which were responsible for their strong, sturdy babies and children, resistance to chronic and infectious disease, easy fertility, and vitality into advanced age.

The fat soluble activators A, D, and K2 supercharge mineral absorption into the tissues as well so avoiding fat is a recipe for disaster and will likely contribute to a mineral starved state and other deficiencies and health challenges over time.

Fat is a critical nutrient that you cannot do without and still enjoy vibrant health.  Finding a successful strategy for consuming foods with the fats you need is the best approach after gallbladder surgery – not avoiding them as recommended by conventional medicine.

Sarah, The Healthy Home Economist


Bitters: Invaluable Aid for Fat Digestion

Flush Stones and Avoid Surgery with a Gallbladder Cleanse

Picture Credit


Comments (106)

  1. My gallbladder was removed in 2007. Besides a healthy, high fiber diet I have found digestion success with Bragg’s organic apple cider vinegar. I mix about 1 tbsp in
    5 oz. water or juice and drink that an hour or so before bed. Starting this year, I also take Align probiotic supplement everyday.

  2. Sarah,

    I would agree with the comments of Raine, above…

    Bile salts are no longer advised, as they can actually do more harm than good, in the long run. Swedish bitters, dandelion, burdock, yarrow, digestive enzymes (NO papain or bromelain), and possibly non-soy lecithin are now the recourse recommended… as well as the Paleo way of eating (GAPS is based on Paleo/Primal, but it is STRONGLY recommended to follow the introductory diet as suggested, FIRST).

  3. There are some puzzling assertions in this article; as health reporter and someone who has battled GB disease, “lack of use” is not really a documented or acknowledged cause of GB disease, and doubtful that that’s the cause for most people in the U.S. It’s linked to diet, exercise, food allergies, stress, and hormones/pregnancy.

    Bitters are indeed helpful in promoting bile production, and you don’t have to just consume “bitters,” there are Chinese medicine supplements such as GB 6 that provide the same stimulus, as well as things like dandelion tea.

    Most concerning is your citing of the “gall bladder cleanse/flush” in your sources, which has been widely criticized even by those in the naturopathic and integrative med communities. If someone unknowingly has asymptomatic stones–and millions do–and does this cleanse, they could end up with a blockage as the GB frantically squeezes to try to address all that oil, and this could result in an emergency removal or damage to the bile ducts, liver, even pancreatitis.

    See a qualified holistic-minded practitioner and/or nutritionist to address dietary changes to support your body after surgery, and even more important, before, and see if surgery can be avoided entirely. The medical community is very cavalier about recommending removal and it has lifelong implications, including increased rates of digestive cancers.

    • Sarah TheHealthyHomeEconomist January 7, 2015 at 12:45 pm

      The gall bladder cleanse linked to in this article is the same protocol recommended by Dr. Lawrence Wilson MD. There are risks to anything in life and anyone who is concerned should seek a thorough exam from their physician before undertaking.

  4. Pingback: Explain Low Fat Diet After Gallbladder Removal |

  5. Guisella Desouza-Blagojevic via Facebook May 14, 2014 at 10:48 pm

    Sarah, I’m just confused by the oxidized cholesterol you speak of in the article. You have recommended, on many occasions, to use a good quality butter like Kerry Gold (when raw is not available), which is a pasteurized butter- does this mean that the cholesterol in this butter is oxidazided and bad for your health then? It’s just very confusing. Will cooking dairy at high temperatures for example to prepare a pizza or in dairy based sauces, cause a healthy cholesterol to otherwise be oxidazided?

  6. James Hudock via Facebook May 14, 2014 at 1:04 pm

    oh by the way I cannot drink milk of any kind and cannot eat cheese. I sometimes use milk as a laxative and cheese on the other hand turns to rock in my gut, it’s apparent that my bowels or what ever will not digest it, or it digests and hardens afterwards.

  7. I had my gallbladder removed 12 years ago and ever since I’ve always had diarrhea whatever I eat sends me straight to the washroom oven always been taking Imodium to stop it but it feels like my body has gotten so used to the pills that it doesn’t work anymore .. I’m extremely tired of this feeling!! Can anyone help me

  8. Hi – thanks so much for your post. Butter is a medium-chain fatty acid by the way. If you look more at the research you will find this to be the case. Thanks again!

  9. My brother-in-law had this Gallbladder problem. This is a problem can be a minor nuisance or turn into a major medical condition if they are not treated properly. So After consulting of doctor and doing those medications now he is ok just continuing his everyday routine of Exercise at least 5 days a week, Eat a well-balanced diet of fruits, vegetables, whole grains, low-fat dairy products and lean meats to prevent gallbladder disease, take supplements that may reduce the chances of developing gallbladder disease, avoid high-fat foods like whole mild dairy products and watch out for quick fix diets.

  10. p.s. have you ever noticed anyone without a gallbladder having a reaction to fats that is similar to the reaction that someone with chronic candida would have to carbs? That seems to happen to me and I have treated the candida/yeast over and over and over again and modified my diet to include pretty much no carbs at all, but I still have the symptoms with carbs and very similar symptoms in response to fats. Do candida and lack of gallbladder overlap at all?

  11. Thank you so much for this article!! I had my gallbladder removed 15 years ago at a very young age (19) and your first paragraph pretty much describes why – lack of use. I had avoided fat through my entire teenage years due to an eating disorder. When I started trying to eat healthy fats again, I think my gallbladder didn’t know what to do. I wish I had known back then everything I know now about diet, nutrition, and alternative medicine. I wish I had not had it removed because I have had multiple chronic health problems since, many of which I believe have been caused or exacerbated by not having a gall bladder, especially in the sense of how the gall bladder meridians and energy pathways are now very stagnant and blocked. BUT your article is very helpful to me. I have a very, very strict and healthy diet, but have been having a lot of trouble with fats lately. I’m going to try some of those bitters. Thank you!

  12. I had my gall bladder removed in Nov 2011. I had my first attack in June 2011 on a business trip to China. Thought I was having a heart attack!! Came home, went to GP and was totally misdiagonosed. Suffered 9 attacks over a 5 month period and then was told GB had to be removed. In March 2012, 3 months after surgery I started feeling terrible and was suffering with terrible burning in my upper back between shoulder blades. No energy, bouts of nausea and in constant debilitating pain 24/7. I have no respite, burning when I sit, stand or sleep. I run my own clothing company and this has been a very scary year for me. I am always exhausted, I feel so disconnected from everything. There are days where I feel like somebody has poured acid inside my back. I have also just recently started suffering from the most horrible reflux. I dive out of bed at 1 in the morning and it feels like somebody has poured acid down my throat. I am not on any medication, only taking some homeopath meds. Is there anything diet wise that I can change or are there any other suggestions. My new GP told me she thinks I have Fybro Myalgia and put me on a muscle relaxant combined with an anti-depressant. I have never experienced anything so scary as that feeling of being so completely out of control. Had to come off it, felt like I was having a heart attack. I am a year down the line and nobody can tell me what is up with my body. Would appreciate some enlightenment.

    • Hayley Joe Weinburg
      Hi, You can be experiencing what is called bile reflux. I have just had my gallbladder out a year ago and have started feeling many discomforting pains and odd things happening with my body. I have been researching quite a lot and learned that you can develop bile reflux (which corresponds with your symptoms) after gallbladder removal.

  13. Sarah, hi there! I just got my gallbladder removed and I’m searching for the right thing to do with my diet. Thank you for your post. I just had a problem trying to translate BITTER… I speak Brazilian portuguese, I know this word as kind an opposite of SWEET, but never heard it as a noum… I tried to find it in some dictionaries without success… is BITTER a kind of almond of something? Would you help me clarify it?
    Thanks a lot!

    • Hi Francisco, I hope you are feeling better by now. In Spanish bitter translates as amargo, but it is often interchanged with the translation of sour. There are 4 basic taste buds on the tongue, Sweet, sour, salty and bitter. Unsweetened chocolate is a bitter taste. Hope that helps, but by now you probably have your question answered anyway.

  14. I just had my gallbladder out a few months ago.
    At first everything seemed allright. bowl movements seemed ok, but then it slowed down and rapid wieght gain is occurring.
    I’ve been tested for celleiacs and diabites and that’s been ruled out. I’ve tried eliminating glutan as a precaution for a month but it had no effect. I’ve been eating good fats and avoiding fast food, exercising and doing everything I should be doing. So the weight gain is baffling.
    I don’t have trouble eating anything
    I’m going to try the bile salts, and bitters. I’m crossing my fingers

  15. Bile dumping. Surgery was 7/2011. Had 3 attacks before, including one vomiting. Did not know it was GB, instead mistook symptoms for food borne illness of some sort, a “bad taco”. The 3rd attack happened just before 4th of July weekend. Could get any doctors appointment after the weekend. The doctor I finally got was in a hospital in the poor area of the town. Had high fever. Doctor said immediate hospitalization and in the bucket with it. Could not believe it. I wanted a second opinion. I asked the doctor what life without GB is, but got no answer other than “it is possible to live without GB”. This is exactly true, ironically. The difference between a carefree life, and being alive. No artificial gallbladders exist, but I would sure pay good money to get one in retrospect. I Needed a sonogram. Couldn’t get a sonogram in the hospital, despite only 3pm in the afternoon. Tried to ride it out. Next day fewer was higher, and got fever chills despite 80 degrees inside room temp (Texas). Had to go to ER. Ultrasound at ER shows “slurry” not stones. GB was enlarged and signs of scarring. Recommendation to operate next morning, Laparoscopic. Normally release from hospital next day. My fever did not go down so on antibiotics one extra day, staying 2 nights in hospital. Once I got home felt “burning up” very hot. Had to put on cold compresses. The antibiotics from pharmacy kicked in later in the afternoon. In the after surgery check up after 2 week received information that liver biopsy shows fatty liver, which may progress to liver scarring and reduced liver function. The doctor did not mention the odds, but read from internet that some 10% of fatty liver turns to liver failure. If fatty liver not caused by alcoholism, then supposedly not a good initial setting for the disease. Autoimmune rheumatoid arthritis, RA is bad combination. I had a very crappy job that constantly had on call work jogging back and forth between day and nigh time work. Liver works better when melatonin and regular sleep patterns.

    Before surgery had diarrhea, but after surgery really explosive diarrhea. I have had problems mostly summertime due to extreme heat. Sweating a lot on my right side where liver is. Difficulties to stay cool enough. Had white stools twice. When too little bile, the intestines will refuse to go to work. Very little sound from the bowel, and bowel nearly completely stopped moving. Got filled up to the point where I could not eat food. Was worried that once bowel stopped, then would dehydrate due to hot weather. Used the squeezed lemon advice to jump start digestion. I think the lemon helped. I used electrolyte drink to help against dehydration, but it might have been a mistake. Some 1 or 2 days later got swollen up ankle and hand, which was sign of fluid retention. In general too much bile, and in a couple instances too little bile. The remedy for bile dumping is to buy bags of frozen veggies. Typically the broccoli and carrots mix works best, per my own notes. A bowl of veggies microwaved for 3 minutes helps. The bile dumping happens night time. Typically the GB buffers 50% of the bile, and the other 50% goes bile duct – pancreas – sphincter of oddi aka ampulla of Vater – duodenum. Without GB a continuous flow through. With loss of buffering capacity the sphincter will loose it’s tone in the long run (?).

    The conversion of “human” 3 meals a day digestion towards the “bovine” cow eats grass all day long type of digestion. Now back to the cooked veggies. I’m no doctor. I think the veggies that are half cooked, and only partially broken down by chewing will form a porous mass, to which the continuously secreted stream of bile will mix into. Noticed that daytime goes by, because can snack food every now an then. Skipping the veggies before going asleep will get punishment every time. Wake up in the early morning hour with strong bowel sounds. The intestines protest against being filled with mostly bile. Intestines containing bile but little food will simply not work. The intestines will dump its content very quickly, resulting in explosive diarrhea in the morning. Eating too much veggies result in too slow intestinal turnover. The abdomen feels too slow, and you get a feeling of being lightly bloated, feeling “fat” when actually not being overweight. The too much veggies is not as bloated as the bloating that accompanies the light colored stool times. The option of taking taking bile supplement if light colored stools.

    For me it has been bile dumping 99% of the time. It is possible that drastically reduced fat consumption would also reduces bile production. I have intentionally lost some weight after the surgery. I was 205 lbs, now between 185 and 190. Unfortunately I have not had the fortitude to get down to the 180 lbs (at 5ft 10) that would be best for me. I just don’t seem to have the energy to manage my daily task without the unfavorably food items. Cant manage the expected tasks daily without the energy boost, but at same time these wrong foods takes be closer to my grave every day. What should I do? The frequent diarrhea is probably harmful to the health of the intestines and alters the way the nutrients are absorbed. Hemorrhoids worsen with diarrhea. Sometimes I treat myself with grilled steak, as many dieticians warn that Americans eat too much processed foods, instead of preparing meals from fresh materials.

  16. I still struggle with stomach issues, but they began long before I had my gallbladder out (about a year and a half ago), it just exaggerated them. I did have one terrible stomach ache after having fast food (last time I ate it almost a year ago, yay!) which was a good excuse to cut it out of my life completely. But there were so many days where it didn’t seem to matter if I ate something fatty or a carrot, my stomach rejected every single meal.

    I started worrying about nutrient absorption because nothing was staying in my system very long. The only information I could find on the internet said to cut out most fats, but I’d been reading up on Weston Price ect, and I couldn’t believe that a bad diet would cure the problem. What I ended up doing was taking both a digestive enzyme and a probiotic with EVERY meal for several months, which did wonders for me. I’ve actually been considering taking them again on a daily basis since my stomach still acts up.

    I remember when this article was first published I was SO very thankful for you writing it, Sarah. For me, having my gallbladder out was very necessary (I had a blocked duct) and there is so little information out about this.

  17. I still struggle with stomach issues, but they began long before I had my gallbladder out (about a year and a half ago), it just exaggerated them. I did have one terrible stomach ache after having fast food (last time I ate it almost a year ago, yay!) which was a good excuse to cut it out of my life completely. But there were so many days where it didn’t seem to matter if I ate something fatty or a carrot, my stomach rejected every single meal.

    I started worrying about nutrient absorption because nothing was staying in my system very long. The only information I could find on the internet said to cut out most fats, but I’d been reading up on Weston Price ect, and I couldn’t believe that a bad diet would cure the problem. What I ended up doing was taking both a digestive enzyme and a probiotic with EVERY meal for several months, which did wonders for me. I’ve actually been considering taking them again on a daily basis since my stomach still acts up.

    I remember when this article was first published I was SO very thankful for you writing it, Sarah. For me, having my gallbladder out was very necessary (I had a blocked duct) and there is so little information out about this.

  18. Lisa Pittman Bowman via Facebook December 17, 2012 at 8:29 pm

    Lymes disease can also destroy a gall bladder. My dad’s gall bladder wasn’t filled with stones. About the only thing left of it was sludge. Surgeon commented that he’d never seen anything like it. He cannot digest fats at all but he has many problems do to lyme, bartonella, and babesia. I have another friend with lyme disease and her gall bladder was the same as my dad’s. So sad.

    • I’m so curious if you’ve found what works best for him yet, as this comment is several years old.

      I too have chronic Lyme (erlichia, babesia and bartonella) and before I was properly diagnosed and treated had both my appendix and gallbladder removed within 15 months, with similar comments from the surgeons.

      Curiosity has me wondering what others attempting a real food diet do if they have had gallbladder (and appendix for me) removed. I’m also type 1 diabetic and hypothyroid.

  19. I was told that I needed my gallbladder out when I was 19. Shortly before I went through with it (and I was going to, cause oh man that hurt!) I lost insurance and so was unable to have the surgery. Over the past few years, I’ve watched what triggers my attacks, and I have found that while fat will occasionally provoke one, it’s only poly unsaturated fats NEVER mono or saturated fats. But the biggest trigger for an attack is large amounts of fructose. Especially HFCS. since I began watching what I eat and trying to maintain a healthy life (and I am far from perfect!) My attacks have gone from three or for times a week to three or for times a year.

  20. Tina Holan via Facebook December 17, 2012 at 7:42 pm

    Periodic liver cleanses for me, and I still have my gallbladder after more than ten years. Eliminating coffee and sugar and a few dietary improvements has helped as well.

  21. Monica Reads via Facebook December 17, 2012 at 7:41 pm

    also… I have heard that the gall bladder is usually not working right because of endocrine dysfunction / hormones. and, from what I understand, a diseased gall bladder usually gets larger, not atrophied. mine was the size of a large orange.

  22. Spook Hetherington via Facebook December 17, 2012 at 7:40 pm

    BAD Fats are what ruin a healthy Gall Bladder to begin with. One of my nieces had hers removed – the other has opted to renew hers with intelligent well informed diet. Coming along fine.

  23. Monica Reads via Facebook December 17, 2012 at 7:38 pm

    my gall bladder was surgically removed in 2007 … my digestion seems really good. we did the gaps diet most of 2011 which helped. I drink kefir/booch. also supporting my adrenals & taking desiccated thyroid has been great. maybe thats why it seems fine. how do you know if you are not digesting fats? and is there a test for liver function?

  24. Interesting. I had my gall bladder out in 2007. I have never, ever had a problem digesting fats. In fact, my body does very well on them. Now, I don’t eat fast food very much at all. Gluten is my enemy, so I eat lots of coconut oil, farm fresh raw milk, cream, farm pork, farm chicken, farm eggs…. and yep… eating the fat straight off the cooked meat is so stinking good, and it doesn’t bother me. I remember being told in the hospital that I wouldn’t be able to eat fatty foods anymore. Interesting indeed.

  25. Randi Cordwell via Facebook December 17, 2012 at 7:26 pm

    How would one have trouble digesting fats? I had mine removed 6 years ago and never noticed a difference….

  26. Kari Gates via Facebook December 17, 2012 at 7:25 pm

    Michael the “advice” came from my inner stubborn self, and intuition. It just happens it was the right thing for me.

  27. Kari Gates, I wish I had gotten that advice years ago. Luckily, I haven’t had too much trouble digesting fats as far as I know. I too have moved to Weston A Price diet. I am doing much better than I was on western diet previously. :)

  28. Kari Gates via Facebook December 17, 2012 at 7:16 pm

    I had a gall bladder attack in 2009. it was determined that (at the time) it was functioning at 12% and my DR recommended surgery. I declined. I figured, 12% is better than 0% and it must be there for a reason. Since then I have been following largely a weston a price type x gaps diet, lots of healthy fats and have never felt better in regards to diet. Western Dr’s basically have 2 tools in the their toolboxes, drugs and surgery. Unless my life in in danger, I say no to either.

  29. what i wish people would be notified of is how common gall bladder issues can be from pregnancy. When my son was 6 weeks old i suffered for a whole week thinking I had a bad case of food poisoning, and on my very first mother’s day i went to the ER and they said that i was not going home because I was “a very sick girl”. Turns out I had pancreatitis & gall stones and had to have my gall bladder out as soon as the pancreas was less inflamed. # other moms in my moms group (all our kids were born same month) had to have theirs out at varying times. no pregnancy book i ever read talked about this fact. luckally, I have not had digestive issues.

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  31. I know this is a long shot but I am replying to an older post hoping that someone named Maria that posted on August 23rd might see this. She spoke about success with a naturopathic doctor from . I am hoping that she may respond as I have some questions for her. We hope to find a way to not have my wife’s gall bladder removed. I am thankful that there is good info in this post if she does have the procedure, but my desire still is that we can avoid it somehow.

  32. @Joydeb Chandra Debnath, you should be supplementing with a product that supports the liver and has ox bile in it when you eat fats. I’m amazed that most doctors do not recommend this. Or eat more medium chain fatty acids like coconut oil. They do not require bile to be broken down and absorbed. Apex Energetics makes a product called Bilemin. Designs for Health has one called LVGB.

  33. Joydeb Chandra Debnath September 29, 2012 at 2:23 am

    My gall bladder has removed 2002. Now it is 2012. After 10 years I did not get any proper solution to digest food especially fatty food. As far as I know fatty food is trigger for my health. Almost every time I am suffering from diarrhoea and steatorrhoea. But taking milk powder after meal lessen my suffering.

  34. I had to have my gallbladder removed a few months ago and I appreciate this article to help me understand the cause and how to approach eating fat moving forward. Since my surgery I found drinking raw milk is harder on my digestive system and I was wondering if I had to give it up. Question: are the herbal bitters safe while conceiving or during pregnancy?

  35. Deborah M Hollingsworth via Facebook August 24, 2012 at 8:05 am

    make milk kefir from grass fed cows producing raw milk-millions of probiotics…we use a gallon every 2 days here! dog gets it too!

  36. The reason this site activates some security warnings could be that it has unusual settings to prevent some of its content being highlighted for “cutting and pasting”.

  37. A very useful article. I believe that low fat diets may be part of the reason that so many people are having gall bladder trouble.

    One day, someone I knew collapsed in agony, grabbing at his body. I helped him sit up, and he asked me to drive him to the emergency room, which I did. They soon diagnosed him with a badly inflamed and infected gall bladder, and rushed him into surgery to remove it. It turns out that he had no history of gall bladder trouble, but had gone on an extremely low fat diet for about a year. The surgeon told me that was what caused the gall bladder trouble, though it did not happen to everybody. This person was in his late thirties at the time.

    Gall bladder infection and removal used to be very rare, when folks ate traditional diets.

  38. Pingback: Tips For Easy Fat Digestion After Gall Bladder Surgery | Having A Healthy Baby

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    I use Microsoft Security Essentials…it’s just as good and best of all it’s FREE Just go to and download it.

  40. Thank you for the info! I had my gallbladder out 4 years ago and have never had much success finding diet info post-surgery on the internet. My situation was extreme: I’d been eating a high-fat diet largely consisting of fast food. I gave it all up and lost 80 lbs in 9 months. It took them so long to diagnose gallstones (about a year with a couple of attacks a month), that I had developed pancreatitis as well. The first year or so after surgery, I would almost always run straight to the toilet after eating a high-fat meal. It’s gotten better, but I still have those times. I’m thankful to finally have some coping strategies!
    A couple of things my doctor told me that weren’t mentioned here:
    – It’s not that we don’t need a gallbladder, it’s that by the time it’s dysfunctioning, our bodies (esp liver) have already learned to process fats without it
    -There was no recommendation of any type of diet, low-fat or otherwise

  41. When I had my gallbladder removed 18 years ago, my doctor said “you don’t really need it”. Ha! I wish I had been into a healthier lifestyle and sought another option. I never had any issues with any foods after surgery, but it wasn’t until about 10 years ago that a naturopath told me that I need to take bile salts and vitamin D for the rest of my life. Apparently, when the gallbladder is removed, there’s still a small piece of it left that can drip acids into the intestines, resulting in an increased risk of cancer in that area. I hadn’t heard about the possibility of celiac disease. Now that I’m 51, I feel like I need to start over and try a Nourishing Traditions style of diet, but I’m overwhelmed and not sure where to begin. Any suggestions anyone? Thanks!

    • Small steps! My family has been on this new health journey for about 6 months now, and we didn’t make all the changes at once. I was a little overwhelmed and intimidated at first. But with practice, it all comes naturally (no pun intended). It’s like second nature now to buy and prepare foods that nourish. I would never go back to my SADist ways :)

      When it came to giving up wheat, at first I still allowed half a piece of bread with my eggs and bacon at breakfast, and no other grains the rest of the day. Before long I gave that serving up too, and I really haven’t missed it. That’s just one example of the switchover.

      Good luck to you.

  42. I think I might have an answer as to why so many people have their gallbladder out these days. It is a known fact that people with Celiac Disease almost always have their gallbladder removed, some in their teens already, but usually by their forties. Somehow undiagnosed Celiac disease appears to cause gallstones! And I am one of them (my gallbladder came out when I was 42).

    Seeing that many scientists now believe that 33% of the population in the developed world have active Celiac disease (over 90% undiagnosed) and over 80% are actually gluten intolerant, this is likely the answer.

  43. I had my gallbladder out in emergency surgery on 9/11/11. I don’t have a problem with most good or full fat non-processed foods, but I do have two other problems. One, I cannot eat meat in any fashion, not even broth. If food is cross contaminated with meat, I get sick. Two, I get what is called “dumping” if I eat a good sized meal on an empty stomach. If I am going to brunch or something with friends, I have to have a snack before I can go otherwise I end up in the loo very unhappy.

    Anyone else have these problems? Before my gallbladder was taken out, I didn’t have these issues.

    • Elizabeth, that happened to me for a little while (a couple months?) after mine was removed. I could SEE the fat when I went to the bathroom too at those times. I am fine with meat now and it didn’t take long for my body to adjust. You’ve been dealing with this for 11 years? I didn’t know that people could be allergic to meat but I heard that recently… not sure if it’s really true or not but it seems society is developing all kinds of allergies. It could be a sensitivity to the way that meat was raised also.

    • After 23 years with no gall bladder I have started to have problems.. I can no longer eat meat or wheat.. Now taking apple cider vinegar before meals, and drinking Kombucha every day for good probiotics.. I have removed all processed foods and eat only raw dairy.. My body feels healthy for first time in 24 years..

  44. Heather Anderson August 23, 2012 at 2:15 pm

    Thanks for this great post! I have had some gall bladder issues but have not had my gall bladder removed. Initially, when I had a great deal of pain, I did a gall bladder/liver cleanse. This gave me some time to work on other issues. I did not think that I ate that much of a low fat diet, but I was off of raw milk for several years thinking that I had some intolerance to milk, but have been back on it the last couple of years and have done fine. I love all of your information.

  45. Roseann Ligenza-Fisher via Facebook August 23, 2012 at 1:17 pm

    I just want to report that there IS a way to get rid of gall stones without having a gall bladder operation. I’ve been doing it for 10 years now and it works like a charm. I do parasite, kidney and liver cleanses as per Dr. Hulda Clark’s method. If it weren’t for her method, I would’ve had to undergo surgery.

  46. Is there a particular type of bitters you recommend? Angostura or Swedish? I’d like to try this. I had my gallbladder removed at 26 when I was fervently following the government Food Pyramid, eating low-fat, lots of pasta and cereals (without proper preparation) and wondering why I couldn’t lose weight. I’m now 53 and eating the WAPF way, feeling great and maintaining a healthy weight.

  47. Pingback: Tips For Easy Fat Digestion After Gall Bladder Surgery | Health Body Image

  48. I know that drinking milk from a regular store is bad but if I don’t have access to the healthy raw butter, is regular organic pastured butter ok to consume? Is it only pasturized and not homogenized? Isn’t it the homogenization that makes it that much worse for the body?

    • Michelle, I can’t drink homogenized milk primarily because I think I can’t digest those fats that they’ve changed in composition. I thought I was intolerant to dairy but I can handle raw milk and cheese made the right way.

    • Michelle, I too was wondering about the “oxidized cholesterol” mentioned in this article. So Kerrygold grassfed butter is bad? And yogurt from the store is bad (because it comes from past. milk?) this is alarming information because I guess I thought we could eat these things from the store with no problem but raw was always better. But if the latest info is saying that these products will cause heart disease, then a lot of people like me who are trying to be healthy, are going to be in trouble!!

  49. Hello and thank you for this blog! I find so much good information here! I hope my experiences will help someone who wants to keep their gallbladder! At one point, my gallbladder was so bad that I could hardly walk 100 feet without a really bad “stitch” in my side. I fasted for 2 weeks (nothing but water) which helped me walk further without pain, but still couldn’t jog. I scoured the internet and learned of the olive oil/lemon juice trick. (The internet is a dangerous place, folks! Haha!) After fasting the day, drinking a half cup of olive oil with a half cup of lemon juice at bedtime, laying on my right side half the night, feeling kinda wasted/sick the next day, and doing this routine a few times, the only noticeable thing that happened was I got to where the very smell of olive oil made me feel ill. Thankfully, that ill feeling at the sight of olive oil has improved with time, much time! Then one day, I discovered naturopathic medicine! Dr. Huber at (she specializes in cancer treatment –90-95% success rate–, and a wonderful doctor/person she is too!!!! She helped my family and I in many, many ways!) gave me a tincture of dandelion root and leaf, iris and chelidonium. Two droppers full, twice a day. It has taken a few months and several bottles of the stuff, but I have had zero problems since I started, and the last ultrasound showed ALL inflammation/thickening of the gallbladder had vanished (thanks to the chelidonium) with reduced stone count. I’m due for another ultrasound soon and I expect the stones will be all gone. My family and I are so thankful to have found her and wish there were a million more like her!

    • Are you saying the dandelion root and leaf, iris, and chelidonium helped you keep from feeling sick when you smelled olive oil? Or was there more to it? That’s the way I feel with olive oil and coconut oil. Even bacon grease resembles coconut oil to me. I’ve used a lot of the oils but I don’t think it was too much because it gave me a lot of energy at first. I’d just like to know what you did. It would be appreciated.

  50. Yes, eat your healthy fats!!

    And anyone who has had gallstones must learn this:

    In Robb Wolf’s Book, “The Paleo Solution”, he reveals that if you have had your gallbladder removed, you are almost CERTAINLY undiagnosed CELIAC. (Robb is a research biochemist specializing in autoimmunity.) Gluten intolerance and the resulting Celiac disease is what causes gallstones. Stop eating the grains – especially the ones containing gluten: wheat, barley and rye to restore your health.

  51. Thank you for writing about this! You don’t know how hard it is to find information regarding diet and gallbladder removal. I lost mine 14 years ago and it is most definitely a combination of what Daniel shared– I just found out last year I’m gluten intolerant! And I have no appendix. I’m definitely home here in this post. In the 80’s I subscribed to the low/no-fat diet and when I started eating whatever I wanted (anyone remember Weigh Down by Gwen Shamblin? Don’t do it btw), it sent me into a huge gallbladder attack which also followed two back-to-back pregnancies. Supposedly pregnancy can also add to this condition. I am on a full-fat WAPF diet and haven’t noticed any difference. My digestive issues cleared when I gave up gluten. I take digestive enzymes when I remember which is mostly never. But I also have gained a lot more weight since being on a full fat diet and I always wonder if part of it is that my digestion of fats isn’t what it was before losing my gallbladder when I was naturally thin?

  52. Sarah, you failed to explain that the bile that is stored in the gallbladder is about 8 times more concentrated than the bile that comes directly out of the liver. The way you explain it makes it sound like we don’t really need a gallbladder. We most certainly do. The concentrated bile from the gallbladder is much more efficient at digesting most fats. Medium chain fatty acids like those found in coconut oil do not require bile for breaking them down. That’s why MCFA’s are easier to digest.

    Another thing to note is that gallbladder disease is most often associated with celiac disease. The hormone cholecystokinin (CCK) is produced in the duodenum. The duodenum is the target of the autoimmune destruction in celiac disease and therefore will either greatly reduce or stop the production of CCK all together. This causes bile in the gall bladder to stagnate and often crystalize. This is why most celiacs will also exhibit gallbladder disease. Without healing the duodenum it will inevitably lead to an infected gallbladder requiring removal.

    • This is true-there is definitely a link between gallbladder inflammation and gluten intolerance. Even traces of gluten can cause a gallbladder flare-up.
      I was already gluten-free, but when I started avoiding gluten in other products like shampoo, and went on some key supplements (for about 3 weeks), I didn’t have the pain anymore.
      There are herbs that dissolve gallstones and kidney stones. Chanca piedra and hydrangrea. Herb Pharm’s Stonebreaker is one good product that includes both, there are others. Also, one would need supporting supplements-high potency probiotics and digestive enzymes, beet root extract, vitamin D and vitamin C (in the form of sodium ascorbate).

      • ETA…
        I did one gallbladder cleanse about 6 weeks before I did the above protocol. It didn’t help nearly as much as removing all traces of gluten and the stone-dissolving herbs.

  53. Thanks a lot for this post, I have gallbladder issue too. But I do eat raw pastured butter, raw homamde sheep milk kefir(thick like yogurt cause has more fat than cows one) raw goat sheep cheeses, organic salmon, egg yolk daily and have no problem. I wish to know about WAPÅ› diet more earlier. I wonder if I do not eat too much dairy, but it is always fermented raw sheep kefir or other raw products as I mention. I can not imagine a day without them

  54. Sarah, I love getting your blogs; however, the links to read the full article never work. Instead of dot com, it is always dot dot com. It is very annoying to have to go in each time and make the correction to read your article. Anything you can do about this?

  55. I had my gallbladder out when I was 30 after a lifetime of yo-yo dieting. I gained and lost 50 pounds a half dozen times before age 30, and the doctor pointed to that as the reason my gallbladder calcified. The doctor didn’t tell me when I had it removed that I’d have to change my diet at all, he never addressed diet at all. I’ve only had problems with fat digestion once or twice, even after changing (at age 50) to a high fat diet. I just drink a little kombucha and I’m fine!

  56. On an emotional level, “gall of bitterness” came to mind. I don’t think that term is there as just an “idea”. I think the gall bladder is trying to tell us something. The world is in desperate need of emotional/ spiritual healing. We can do things to treat it, but there are things we can do to get rid of what is causing the distress.

  57. Thanks for a great post, Sarah. Such good info there.

    I have been without a gallbladder for 13 years, and I’m only 34! So wish I cared more about my health back then, instead of just doing whatever the doc said.

    That said, the only thing I have done, is taken digestive enzymes with my food. I have felt wonderful since, and have no problems with any fats. I do eat nourishing, healthy fats as stated above.



    • Hi Joy! I’m interested in starting to take digestive enzymes or bile salts (also had my gallbladder removed) and I was wondering why you started taking them. I seem to be handling food ok but my mood, energy is lower (its been 3 years since the surgery). I was wondering if you experienced anything like that before and if the bile salts/enzymes helped. I’m learning that healthy fat is necessary for the brain to receive information efficiently and can have an effect on mood an memory if you’re not getting enough into your body. Thanks! I also wish I knew then what I know now but an looking forward!

  58. Pingback: Tips For Easy Fat Digestion After Gall Bladder Surgery « Healthy Earth Mama

  59. This is interesting. My sis-in-law had hers removed and she still has attacks. I’m gonna forward this to her! Thanks!

    DaNelle recently posted…Why I changed my mind about Homeschooling

    • Hi, I’ve just had mine removed and they’ve found out the GB wasn’t the problem but the bile duct sphincter spasming which affected the GB. I’ve had a procedure called an ERCP to put a stent in there to resolve this.

  60. thanks! this is very informative. However, do you have any information (or a previous post) that talks about how to prevent having your gall bladder removed (due to inflammation and distention for instance)?

  61. Hi Sarah – this is a very informative post and I hope many who have had gallbladder issues/surgery can benefit from it.

    I’ve been without my gallbladder for nearly 12 years and its been a struggle to get my body back on track, but I’ve figured out a number of things I didn’t know before and I’ve learned to manage my digestion much better with diet. For some years I used bile salts and also digestive enzymes (Digest Gold by Enzymedica). I think the bile salts did help for awhile but after seeing a new ND, she suggested I cut out all my supplements and try Enzyme Formulations by Dr. Loomis – the original developer of enzymes for human beings. These are unique in that unlike many other enzymes on the market, they are living and also combined with healing herbs. Those are the only two ingredients. There are different enzyme combinations for people with different issues, and I have switched twice since starting in January. That along with GAPS has helped me tremendously. Here’s a link to Enzyme Formulations:

    I have friends who have had their gallbladders removed, and I’ve suggested various things to them which have worked for myself and the items you’ve mentioned here, but most of them are stuck in conventional mode and are still trying to apply the failing tenets of low-fat diets to their health. It’s very difficult to get out of the line of allopathic fire when dealing with gallbladder issues if you have no experience in treating digestive issues naturally, and I think many people simply lack the confidence to go away from these methods.


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