Life without a gallbladder and what this means.

gallbladder gallstones Sep 02, 2020


We don't often think about our gallbladder. But this useful organ has a critical part to play in our body. A healthy gallbladder has three primary responsibilities. Aiding digestion, storing bile and breaking down fat. When we eat a fatty meal, bile squirts into our small intestine. The bile then acts as a detergent, to breakdown the fat and help with nutrient absorption.


When we have too much cholesterol in the gallbladder, issues can arise. Cholesterol stones begin to form, leading to the development of gallstones. Gallstones are painful and generally require surgical intervention, either the removal of the gallstones or the entire gallbladder.



Hold up. I'm confused. Why would losing weight contribute to a rise in cholesterol levels?

When people lose weight, fat stores break down. This leads to an increase in triglycerides and cholesterol and can result in an increased risk of gallstone formation. 

After having weight loss surgery, it's not uncommon for people to have their gallbladder removed due to the recurrent formation of gallstones.



 Considerations if you don't have a gallbladder.

  1. Be mindful about fat intake.
    • Your body is still able to produce bile, but not at the same frequency. Ideally, it's good to avoid high-fat foods, like creamy foods and full-fat dairy. If you do eat a high-fat meal, let's say a carbonara pasta, your body might struggle to break down the fat. The fat content of the carbonara pasta can result in the meal being rushed through the body, resulting in cramping, bloating, nausea and diarrhoea. Not a pleasant experience, especially if you're out with friends!
  2. Small, regular meals are optimal.
    • Smaller meals reduce the likelihood of a high-fat intake. We want to aim for a palm-sized serve of meat (lean cuts, with the fat trimmed off), a small serve of carbohydrate and lots of colourful vegetables.
  3. Select a high fibre diet. 
    • Fibre helps to keep the bowel moving.
  4. Ensure adequate protein intake.
    • If you've had bariatric surgery, it's essential to ensure you're meeting your protein requirements. 


Therefore, when your gallbladder gets removed, it's best to follow a low-fat, high-fibre diet. A low-fat, high-fibre diet is a good diet for anybody looking to maintain healthy levels of cholesterol or worried about gallstone formation. The overall aim is to keep your colon happy, both with or without a gallbladder.  If you're looking for tailored advice, it's recommended you consult a qualified dietitian at CQ Nutrition. We will be able to provide personalised strategies to manage life without a gallbladder and appropriate meal plan options. 


Written by Annabel Johnston, BAppSc&MDietPrac



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