Today I wanted to stop in and share some healing foods for a healthy gallbladder. I often have clients mention they have some symptoms related to what I call a ‘sludgy gallbladder’. Poor fat digestion or trouble/symptoms when eating fats and even sometimes nausea. If this sounds familiar to you – try adding in some of the following ideas to better support yourself.
It is possible to support your body and help your liver & gallbladder do their job properly. So, let’s talk about foods/herbs/nutrients that can support fat digestion.
- Diet is critical. A properly prepared nutrient dense diet. (Paleo/GAPS/ SCD/WAPF/AIP/Real Food are all good templates to learn more about a real food diet.)
- Good fats are key/ Bad fats cause atrophy/damage to the gallbladder.
- Fiber – some may need to do some healing first, but adequate fiber in the diet – fresh veggies/low glycemic and fruits are key, some tubers and starchier veggies. I recommend trying to work up towards consuming 6-9 cups of a wide variety of cooked vegetables (that you personally tolerate) a day. Start with 3 cups per day for a bit and go from there.
- Water consumption (no fluoride or chlorine). Half your body weight in ounces of pure water per day. Don’t forget to consume good quality sea salt daily as well.
- Beets consumed regularly (if tolerated) with lemon juice. I recommend Beet kvass as a liver/gallbladder support. Drink 3-4 ounces up to 2 times per day. Beet Kvass -can help build healthy bile plus cleanse the liver to additionally support the gallbladder. (find my recipe here). Beets in general are great for the gallbladder – (Spiced Apple & Beet Slaw recipe) Lemon water supportive to liver gallbladder. Hot/warm lemon water upon arising.
- Avoid food allergens/sensitivities. Gluten (modern wheat) is a huge problem for many with gallbladder issues. As are sugars/starches/refined carbs in general. Dairy is even possibly a big issue – find out if you are one of the people who tolerate dairy or not. It’s is critical to identify food allergies/sensitivities and avoid any reaction foods or do an elimination/hypoallergenic diet.
- Cholagogues – These are foods/herbs that help stimulate bile. See list below.
- Other important foods – Raw or ‘runny’ egg yolks. An easily assimilated source of fat, lecithin and choline for the gallbladder (only if tolerated -otherwise you can supplement if needed-see below). Lecithin can be needed due to the fact that cholesterol stones are caused when your liver excretes more cholesterol into the gallbladder than it does lecithin and bile acids. The cholesterol tends to supersaturate and can cause stones to form. 500 mg of lecithin daily (with meals) helps to keep the bile flowing smoothly. Along with the bile acids (I’m a big fan of ox bile and pancreatic enzymes).
- Fresh Juices – here is my favorite juice recipe.
- Milk Thistle (Silymarin) – Helps to normalize liver function, detoxify the liver and improve solubility of the bile. It also helps to tone the spleen, liver and gallblader. Try it in tea or tincture form as a daily support.
- Apple Cider Vinegar – the malic acid helps to soften or dissolve gallstones. Try including a daily Apple Cider Vinegar Tonic. As well as using apple cider vinegar in salad dressings and consume regularly.
- Black radish – or radishes of all types can stimulate bile production and aid in the digestion of fats. (Standard Process carries a supplement called Spanish Black Radish that contains a high concentration of glucosinolate metabolites which induce detoxification enzymes, supports healthy liver and gallbladder function, encourages healthy digestion and supports the normal elimination of toxins). Or you can try fermented Spanish Black Radish.
- Daikon radish is good too – often used in kimchi. (try properly fermented kimchi and radishes to help)
- Dandelion greens or tea. Dandelion helps to release stored bile and is very gentle in doing so. My herbalist suggests only using dandelion medicinally as an herbal tea/tincture/tonic for 2 weeks at the most. Then to take a break. Do not use it long term daily. (including Dandy Blend tea). Dandelion root extract/tincture also works well, take the extract 1 tsp., 3 times a day. If you cannot find it in the store, have an herbalist make you some – better yet, have her concoct a blend specific to your body’s needs.
- Mustard Greens
- Turnip greens
- Herbs -for more on cholagogue herbs I recommend working with an herbalist on a protocol specific to you, my friend Lori Roop can help you with that. I’m mentioning this option here to inform you that there are specific herbs you can look for to help stimulate bile and support the gallbladder overall.
Recipes To Try
- Beet Kvass
- Fermented Radishes
- Spiced Apple & Beet Slaw
- Spice Pickled Beets
- Gallbladder/Liver Juice Recipes – this is a document you can download.
- Cran-Water – Use 4 ounces unsweetened cranberry juice to 28 ounces pure filtered water and drink 1 – 2 quarts daily. Cranberry contains malic acid which can help to break down any stagnant bile or bile stones.
- Homemade Mayonnaise
- Eggnog Smoothie
- Steamed Artichokes
- Spiced Artichokes
- Homemade Aioli
- Grilled Artichokes with Garlic Aioli
- Black Radish Slaw
Steps You Can Take
- Add at least 1-2 foods into your daily regime. Dandelion tea once a day. Or Lemon Juice and hot water every morning first thing. Red beets juiced (tops and stems) mixed with carrots (1/2 cups) once per day. 4-6 ounces of beet kvass daily. Or my Cranberry Nettles Tea is a great option.
- Choose from the list of cholagogues daily to help stimulate bile flow.
Need more support to help deal with digestive issues or overall health concerns? I work with clients individually to assess their current health and create a game plan to help!
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