A gallbladder attack occurs when a gallstone becomes lodged in the duct of the gallbladder. A gallstone is formed when a substance called bile, which is normally released by the gallbladder to aid in digestion, forms a hard stone that can be as small as a grain of sand or as large as a golf ball. A major cause of gallstones is the presence of too much cholesterol in the bile. This excess of cholesterol is primarily the result of eating a low-fibre, high-cholesterol and high-fat diet, sometimes referred to as the "Western Diet."
The Western Diet
Developing countries around the world who have begun to incorporate elements of the Western diet into their own diets have seen an astronomical rise in gallbladder disease. Also known as the "meat-sweet" diet, this diet is popular in developed countries, and is characterised by processed foods that are high in fat, sugar, sodium, red meat and refined grains. Although it is fast, convenient, and tasty, the Western Diet is also a major cause of ailments such as gallbladder disease, heart attacks, diabetes and cancer, according to the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition.
Whether you already suffer from gallbladder attacks, or want to change your lifestyle now to proactively avoid developing gallbladder disease in the future, your diet is a key element to consider.
The "Gallbladder Diet"
A diet rich in fruits (except citrus) and vegetables (except the cabbage family), vegetable juices, fish, flax or other Omega 3 oils, and certain spices, such as garlic and tumeric, has been shown to promote gallbladder health and prevent the formation of the gallstones that cause gallbladder attacks. Juices or teas made from cucumber, beets, and flax seem to be particularly helpful in relieving the symptoms of a gallbladder attack.
Foods to be avoided, especially if you are suffering from a gallbladder attack, include citrus fruit, nuts, beans, onions, pork, chicken, turkey, corn, dairy products, eggs, alcohol, coffee or other caffeinated drinks, and breads.
Other Factors That May Cause Gallbladder Attacks
Although a healthy diet will go a long way toward minimising the risk of a gallbladder attack, other factors, such as age, gender, race and weight, also play a role. Women have gallbladder disease more often than men. These attacks occur more often after the age of 60, and they are more common in Mexican-Americans or Native Americans. Being obese, having diabetes, and taking oestrogen replacement hormones or cholesterol-lowering medications can also increase your chances of developing gallstones or gallbladder disease.