According to nutrition experts, painful gallstones can be avoided by a simple change in your eating habits.
Below is some information on gallstones and what types of foods prevent them from occurring or help get rid of them when they do.
What are Gallstones?
Gallstones occur when a surplus of substances (most often cholesterol) in your bile crystallize, or harden, and they may eventually block the normal flow of these digestive juices from your liver to your small intestines. Bile is essential for the digestive process to help break down food particles.
If blockages occur as a result of gallstones, not only will a person experience intense pain (likened to that of a heart attack or appendicitis), but he or she will also eventually suffer significant damage to major organs like the liver, pancreas and gallbladder.
Gallstones are considered a disease of the West, because in our culture a typical diet includes lots of fat and refined sugar, and not enough fiber. To top if off, many Americans live a sedentary lifestyle. This is a recipe for disaster, and one that could definitely lead to excruciatingly painful gallstones.
What to Avoid
Any foods that contain lots of sugar and cholesterol are definite no-nos, since these substances greatly increase your risk for gallbladder disease and gallstones. Sugar is found in so many of the foods we eat today, so you probably can’t eliminate it altogether, but you can at least greatly reduce your intake. Be smart and pay attention to food labels to determine which products contain the most sugar and avoid them.
Junk foods should be off limits totally, or at least as often as possible. Most of the beverages today are loaded with sugar – even fruit juices, and definitely sodas, so beware.
As far as cholesterol goes, avoid foods that are high in saturated fats, because that’s where most of the cholesterol lies. This includes foods like vegetable oils, palm oil, whole milk, meat, cheese, butter, egg yolks, etc. If you significantly cut back on saturated fats, you will also improve the health of your heart.
What to Eat
Instead of sugary drinks, drink plenty of water and sweeten your own drinks with honey or a safe sugar substitute.
You’re also going to want to eat more fiber. Fiber makes the digestive process a lot smoother, reduces the amount of bile acids your gallbladder contains, and helps to keep your weight under control; all of which reduces your risk for developing gallbladder disease and gallstones.
Caffeine has been shown to not only lower your chances of developing gallstones, but also to reduce the symptoms of a person who has them. So your daily dose of coffee may be a good thing.
Vitamin C is another biggie when it comes to gallstone prevention, at least in the case of women. Two-thirds of all cases of gallstones occur in women, because the female hormone estrogen increases cholesterol content in bile. Vitamin C works well in that it neutralizes the cholesterol and turns it into bile acids that the body can better digest. You can get more vitamin C by eating citrus fruits, green and red peppers and strawberries.