Gall bladder removal is a common surgery in Canada. Few of my customers who have had their gall bladder removed had been given post surgery dietary instructions.
The function of the gall bladder is to store and concentrate bile produced by the liver until it is needed to help digest a fat-containing meal. The bile is then dumped into the small intestine where it emulsifies the fats or disperses it into smaller droplets which are more easily digested. Without the gall bladder, bile is continuously dribbled into the small intestine and there may be insufficient bile following a meal to completely emulsify all the fat.
The digestive enzyme lipase is produced by the pancreas and lining of the small intestine. Lipase acts on the surfaces of the emulsified fat droplets to break down the fat into monoglycerides and free fatty acids. This process is hampered by lack of bile because the fat is left in larger clumps and the lipase cannot get at it all. The result is a fatty stool.
This may seem ideal – most of the fat we eat is not digested and just passes on through. Two problems occur though – we miss out on the essential fats that we need to stay healthy, and in the process may experience gas and bloating.
Additional lipase in the form of digestive enzyme supplements partially compensates for the reduced emulsification. Check the enzyme labels for the highest lipase content.
In summary, here are a few tips for post gall bladder surgery:
• Eat smaller more frequent meals
• With each meal take a digestive enzyme with a high lipase content
• Avoid large amounts of fatty foods in any one meal
• Restrict the total amount of fats in your diet
• What fats you do eat should be high quality nutritious nut and seed oils
• Take fish oil EFA supplements, preferably one with added lipase.
• High fiber and adequate fluids will help prevent constipation.
This article is intended for educational purposes only; for medical advice consult your licensed health practitioner.