Can I Still Eat Paleo After I Have Had My Gallbladder Removed?

Gas, belching and bloating. All fairly typical problems that present when a patient comes into the office. They typically point to gallbladder dysfunction or that you have eaten too much and not properly digesting the fats that you eat.

Todays Q & A is because the practice can be strange sometimes. If I have one or two patients with thyroid problems, you will probably end up getting at least four or five more thyroid patients over the next few months. I would like to think it is God testing me and helping me find better ways of educating people on how they can take better care of their health through diet and chiropractic.

However, in reality, it is more likely that birds of a feather flock together and when I can help one patient with a problem they usually have a friend or two that has the same problem.

Well, patients that have undergone cholecystectomies or gallbladder removal are the most recent wave to hit the office. Most of my new patients push back on the paleo or primal based diets because of the removal of grains, but these gallbladder patients push back because of the increase in fats. 

Asking "can I still eat paleo after I have had my gallbladder removed?"  So, I wanted to talk a bit about why it is safe to eat paleo after gallbladder problems.  The first thing that I tell patients is that and that we need to dig in and figure out why they had the gallbladder problem in the first place.  Most of the time it is because they have eaten a pretty standard American diet for several years full of trans-fats and sugar.  So, eating a paleo type of diet is a great place to start when trying to reclaim their health.

Lets first dive into what the heck the gallbladder is and does. The gallbladder is a balloon-like sac that hangs off of the bile duct. The primary job of the gallbladder is to concentrate, conjugate and store bile, but bile is not produced in the gallbladder, is manufactured in the liver and is mostly made up of cholesterol.

The main purpose of bile is to emulsify the fats that we eat. Allowing us to absorb and use the fat and the in particular fat-soluble vitamins we eat. Not to bore you with all the scientific detail, it is somewhat understandable why a patient would push back about increasing their fat intake on the paleo based diets.

Well, an interesting thing happens once the gallbladder is removed. You see the liver never stops producing bile, but there isn’t a gallbladder there to help concentrate those bile salts (the concentrated bile salts are more effective at emulsifying fats).

The interesting thing is that the ampulla of Vater, which is the junction of the pancreatic duct and common bile duct, starts to get bigger and because of the sphincter of Oddi; it starts acting much like a tiny gallbladder. Allowing for a little concentrating of the bile and for release when the eat. It is this function of the sphincter of Oddi and ampulla that helps the patients sans their gallbladder to eat paleo. That being said there are several steps that you should take when switching to a paleo based diet without a gallbladder.

Eat smaller more frequent meals making sure to include protein and fat at every meal. These meals will allow your GI to work more efficiently when it comes to digesting fat.  This may not be a permanent situation as your liver and ampule of Vater may become better trained in dealing with bigger, fattier meals.


This may be the number one reason people have to have gallbladder surgery in the first place.  Low-intensity exercise is essential to getting your liver, gallbladder, and intestine to work on a more consistent basis.  You should be walking 5-6 days per week, no excuses.

Eat Medium Chain Triglycerides:
Medium Chain Triglycerides (MCT), found in coconut oil, do not have to be digested by the gallbladder making them a great source of fat for the post gallbladder removal patient. Also, it may have an added benefit of increasing your intestinal mobility, which can be a problem post surgery.

Eat Beet Roots:
This is just a good guideline for anyone that has issues with fat metabolism. The beets are great for cleaning out the liver and thinning the bile. They are also amazing if you have arthritic joints in the body.

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