Gallbladder Pain: Common Foods That Irritate Your Gallbladder
If you’ve ever had a gallbladder attack you’ll know that the pain can range from frustrating or annoying to frightening and severe, with many people mistaking the symptoms for a heart attack due to radiation up into the chest and shoulders. One of the symptoms which gallstones cause most often is pain in the upper, right abdomen, just under the ribs.
A gallstone attack may last 15 minutes, but can also last for several hours. People commonly complain of gas, nausea and even vomiting, especially after meals. The pain of a gallstone lodged in a bile duct is also known as biliary colic and will usually be triggered by the consumption of a large, high fat meal. The gallbladder’s role is to store and concentrate bile produced in the liver for release into the intestines when we eat.
Because bile emulsifies fats so that we can absorb them, the gallbladder contracts significantly in response to fat in our food and blocked ducts cause related pain from the pressure.
Foods That Trigger Gallbladder Attacks
Eggs, pork, greasy food, onions, fowl, pasteurized milk, ice cream, coffee, chocolate, citrus fruits, corn, beans, and nuts in that order have shown themselves to trigger gallbladder attacks in patients suffering from gallbladder symptoms.
A 1968 research study observed the effects of certain foods on a group of patients with gallbladder problems. When the patients went on a diet that excluded the above mentioned foods, they were symptom-free, but when eggs were added back into their diet gallbladder attacks returned in 93% of all cases.
It is thought that egg protein has a gallstone-producing effect as well as an allergic reaction that may make the bile ducts swell up and impede the discharge of bile from the gallbladder.
Other Foods That Irritate The Gallbladder
People want to avoid eating food, which can irritate the gallbladder or cause pain-especially if they have suffered through gallbladder attacks before. The following is a short list of foods to avoid in order to limit gallbladder irritation:
- Cured meats, sausages, ground beef and bacon all have high amounts of saturated fat and will stress your gallbladder when you eat them. Protein from low fat sources such as beans, fish and tofu will be easier for your gallbladder to manage.
- Fried foods tend to stimulate excessive bile production and lead to painful symptoms or nausea. People who have reflux or heart burn issues may already know that foods which are high in acid can upset the stomach. The same is true for your gallbladder. Tomato sauce, alcohol, citrus fruits and coffee can create an acidic environment in the stomach, which irritates the gallbladder.
- All milk products contain fat to varying degrees, especially cheese cream and butter. For many gallstone sufferers however, even regular milk is too high in fat for comfort. In addition, many people have difficulty digesting the sugars in milk and this adds to stomach upset.
- Packaged and processed snack foods are, unfortunately, high in fat.
- Cookies, chips, various sweet, salty or fried snacks will trigger gallbladder upset.
- Refined wheat and refined sugar, when consumed, tend to spike insulin levels and medical studies have shown troubling links between insulin resistance and impaired gallbladder motility.(1) This means that when excess, free-floating insulin is in our system due to an unhealthy diet high of refined carbs and sugar, then the gallbladder is less effective at contracting and releasing the right amount of bile. Bile will instead tend to stagnate inside, concentrating and crystalizing cholesterol and bile salts.
- Margarine can also irritate the gallbladder.
People can tolerate these items to varying degrees depending on their overall health and degree of gallbladder inflammation. It is simplest to eliminate all known irritants first and then attempt only small amounts, one-by-one, to find out what works for you.