The gallbladder plays a vital role in the digestive process, and while the removal of the organ may provide relief from gallstones or other inflammatory related issues, its absence can cause discomfort when it comes to digesting and absorbing fats properly.

The gallbladder stores bile which is produced by the liver, and bile is essential for the digestion of fats in the diet. Once the gallbladder is removed the process of breaking down fat becomes more taxing on the digestive system. Think of it this way, if you place oil in water it will remain floating on the surface and does not mix in. However, when you add a drop of dish soap it breaks the oil into smaller droplets, thus allowing the oil and water to mix together (1). This is how bile works in the body, it acts like the “soap” that breaks down fats into smaller molecules to be absorbed.

If you’ve had your gallbladder removed, it’s quite possible eating foods that contain fat can result in digestive discomfort, stomach cramping, and even fatty stools due to improper absorption of fat. This is not to say you can no longer consume fats, but you may want to ease your way into reintroducing fats after surgery.

Supplements can also provide much needed support in breaking down fats after gallbladder removal. A few of my favorites are:

Enzymedica Lypo Gold: This product contains enzymes for protein and carbohydrates but has a specific focus on fats, and in studies has been shown to break down up to 22 grams of fat within 30 minutes. One capsule to be taken with each meal for optimal support. Plant based, vegan, and Kosher.

Vital Choice Superzymes: A combination formula of pancreatic enzymes for breaking down protein (protease), carbohydrates (amylase), and fats (lipases). Also contains:

  • Bile acid- helps to break down fats so that fat digesting enzymes (lipases) can further break down foods
  • Betaine HCL- helps support the digestive process in the break-down of protein and fats, helps relieve digestive discomfort.
  • Bromelain- derived from pineapple, can aid in the break- down of protein
  • Papain- derived from papaya, supports protein digestion
    • It is important to note that if someone has stomach ulcers they should not use Betaine HCL, caution is advised if you are taking antacids or medications for acid reflux.

In addition to supplements, the following dietary changes can make digestion after gallbladder removal far easier and more comfortable (2)(3):

  • Fiber: high fiber foods such as flax, chia, beans, fruits, and vegetables
  • Beets, Artichokes, Dandelion Greens: these can help to support the liver and improve bile production for the break- down of fats
  • Unrefined Healthy Fats: these can come from sources such as nuts and seeds, olive oil, or coconut oil to name a few. Healthy fats should be consumed in small- amounts throughout the day
  • Fruits and Vegetables: an increase in plant- based foods in the diet can likely decrease gallbladder distress
  • Lean Protein: include good- quality pasture raised, wild caught, or grass- fed sources to decrease possible digestive upset associated with more fatty meats

This information is not intended as personal medical advice and is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease.