How to Improve Digestion Without a Gallbladder

by Dr. Nick Zyrowski March 18, 2023

Have you ever heard that your gallbladder serves no purpose so it’s no big deal to get it removed? Unfortunately, that’s not always the case. After surgery, some people experience long-term effects that can be truly burdensome if not handled appropriately. So, what should you know if you’re having your gallbladder removed and what kind of steps should you take to remedy any post-procedure issues? Since most doctors won’t give you a blueprint for how to manage your lifestyle without your gallbladder, we’re providing this guide to help you have a better quality of life after your procedure.

Gallbladder function

Your gallbladder is an organ that stores and releases bile. That’s the fluid that your liver makes that helps digest fats from your food intake. The gallbladder is in the upper right part of your abdomen and sits below your liver.

The main function of your gallbladder is to store the bile that your digestive system uses to break down fats. The fluid that makes up bile is cholesterol, bilirubin, and bile salts.

When you eat, your gallbladder gets signals to contract and move the stored bile through the biliary tract to the common bile duct. That is your largest bile duct. That bile goes into the duodenum and mixes with food to be digested. Once you eat, your gallbladder is empty and looks like a deflated balloon. (2)

Issues affecting the gallbladder

Some conditions can cause issues that affect the gallbladder. The most common conditions are:

  • Gallstones -Many people experience gallstones, which can be harmless, but cause a great deal of pain. They develop in the gallbladder or the bile ducts and have grown as large as golf balls. People who have these may experience pain, inflammation, and nausea.
  • Cholecystitis - This is the inflammation of your gallbladder. It may happen when a gallstone is blocking bile from leaving the gallbladder. The condition causes fever and pain and will typically require surgery.
  • Gallstone pancreatitis - This condition occurs when your pancreas becomes inflamed after a gallstone travels down the common duct and blocks the pancreatic duct.
  • Gallbladder cancer - Gallbladder cancer is very rare. Patients experience abdominal pain in the upper right quadrant. (3)

Signs of gallbladder problems

These symptoms may vary by person, but there are some typical symptoms most people will notice. If you start experiencing any of these problems, you should contact your doctor and get them checked. (4) Upper right abdominal pain Pain that radiates to your right shoulder or back Nausea and/or vomiting that doesn’t subside after a day or two Fever Chills Pain after eating Jaundice Dark yellow or brown urine

Roadmap to better digestion

So you’ve had your gallbladder out and you’re noticing some nasty side effects. If you’re like most, you may be having issues with diarrhea after eating. If you’ve heard that you just have to live with it and may have developed IBS, that doesn’t need to be the case. There are some actions you can take to have a healthy lifestyle without digestion problems, even if you don’t have a gallbladder.

Ox bile

Ox bile helps break down nutrients, which is helpful when your gallbladder is no longer there to do the job. Without this, you’re more susceptible to vitamin deficiencies. Ox bile will support breaking down fats, also. That will smooth out the digestive process and help the liver remove excess toxins from the body. (5)

Milk thistle

Milk thistle is great for digestion and helps relieve symptoms of an upset stomach. It’s been used for thousands of years as a medicinal herb. It also reduces the risk of getting a fatty liver, since you’ll have a greater strain on your liver after gallbladder removal. 

Selenium and N-Acetyl

Cysteine When you take selenium and NAC, it supports the body’s detoxification process. It also increases the health of the liver. That reduces the heavy strain that is put on the liver after the gallbladder is removed. The Liver Assist formula contains NAC, selenium, and milk thistle in one supplement.

Moderate fats

If you’ve had issues after eating meals, don’t omit the fat altogether. What you want to do is remove the bad fats from your diet, like seed oils, and include healthy fats like butter, avocados, olive oil, and coconut oil. You can enjoy these moderately, but you shouldn’t remove them from your diet. These support your brain and cellular health.

Take your vitamins

You want to take your Vitamin D3 and K2 together. Gallbladder removal may reduce vitamin D levels because of reduced absorption of fat-soluble vitamins like A, D, E, and K. Supplementing with vitamin D also supports the liver.

Pay attention to food sensitivities

Sometimes gallbladder issues occur due to food sensitivities. You may notice a reaction after eating things like grains, soy, wheat, and even dairy. Removing these will help relieve your symptoms. Many people also can’t tolerate as much sugar or as many spicy foods after gallbladder removal.

No gallbladder diet

As we mentioned, you want to include those healthy fats in your diet. Many people think they have to eat a bland, boring diet after gallbladder removal to avoid gastric issues, but that’s far from true.

You can enjoy delicious, healthy foods that are gluten and grain free, and don’t include sugar. We get it, you’re busy and don’t have time to be a chef in your kitchen after working all day. When you learn to cook healthy meals that don’t take much time, you’ll want to eat at home instead of grabbing takeout filled with tons of allergens and chemicals you may be sensitive to after gallbladder surgery. The Heal Yourself Cookbook is filled with low-carb recipes you can make in 30 minutes and are perfect for anyone without a gallbladder.

Living without a gallbladder

Since your gallbladder is designed to store bile, you may experience some issues after getting it removed. Most doctors won’t go over a list of things you should do to make the process easier.

You aren’t doomed to a life of boring food and gastric issues. With our gallbladder blueprint, you can thrive and enjoy delicious food and fun activities without worrying about pain or discomfort. Taking these steps will help you have a much easier time after your gallbladder procedure, whether you just had surgery or have been without your gallbladder for years. If you need more specific health information, don’t hesitate to contact us for a consultation.


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Dr. Nick Zyrowski
Dr. Nick Zyrowski