- Diseases, Disorders & Conditions
Diet and Lifestyle after Gall Bladder Removal & Controlling Blood Sugar
The Sugar Content of Fruit
When my friend Sunaina underwent surgery to get rid of a diseased gall bladder which had resulted from a small tumour in her bile duct, she was diagnosed as pre-diabetic. Since then, she has learned to choose fruits according to their sugar content, control blood sugar with curry and neem leaves and discovered what to eat in the absence of a gall bladder.
If you have pre-diabetes and like fruits, choose those with low sugar content. Raspberries and cranberries have low sugar content while fruits such as apples, papaya, strawberries, peaches and watermelon have low to medium sugar content. Check out the link at the end of this article for more information.
Curry Leaves and Neem Leaves Control Blood Glucose Levels
Sunaina was determined to find a way out of the fruit rationing. She prefers herbal medicine to allopathic, and discovered that eating eight fresh curry leaves early in the mornings on an empty stomach would keep sugar levels down. She began to do this every morning without fail a month after her surgery.
After a couple of months, she added five neem leaves to her bitter morning chew. This she continued for a whole year post-surgery. In India we say that anything bitter helps control sugar levels. Even bitter gourd/melon is good.
Another highly effective Indian herb is the Amrutha balli or Guduchi with bitter heart-shaped leaves. Just eating one leaf a day is enough to cure Diabetes. It also has many other health benefits including boosting the immune system.
No Diarrhoea After Gall Bladder Removal
Many people suffer from diarrhoea after gall bladder removal. But not Sunaina, possibly because she has cut down on cooking oil and butter. She uses only a bit of milk in her oatmeal porridge. She's found that a tall glass of cold coffee and cream can cause diarrhea, so she avoids it, but she can still enjoy an ice cream without unpleasant consequences.
What to Eat When You Have No Gall Bladder
Apart from avoiding sugary and starchy foods, Sunaina also had to consider that she no longer had a gall bladder which stores bile produced by the liver and sends it via the bile duct to the small intestine. The bile helps digest fats and neutralize acids. She avoids fried foods (most of the time) and for a year, only ate a little bit of Amul Lite butter with her brown bread.
Afterwards, she returned to her favourite regular butter, but she does not eat it every day. She alternates with a breakfast of oatmeal porridge and dosas (made from a batter of rice and lentils). She still uses a bit of ghee on her dosas and her daal, and still drains her rice. For protein, she eats lentils, an egg a day as well as soya nuggets occasionally. Her vegetarianism helps her cut out fat from her diet.
So where is the bile going from the liver? Directly into the upper part of the intestine. See a diagram of the digestive system here.
Weight Gain After Gall Bladder Removal – Myth or Fact?
Sunaina lost 11 pounds after her surgery. Since she was slightly underweight previously at about 99 pounds, this meant she looked skinny and her clothes hung on her. After about seven months, she went back to her original weight of 99 pounds but continued to gain another 11 pounds. She's now about 110 pounds, which is a surprise to her as she's never been over 99 pounds.
Her doctor tells her that it may be because she's past 50 years of age, but she finds it too much of a coincidence that she suddenly gained 11 pounds after surgery. So what could have happened? High fat foods and large meals cannot be digested without the gall bladder. Some doctors hold that weight loss may occur after gall bladder removal. Sunaina wonders where does the fat go? Maybe some of it just stays in the body.
Other doctors feel that since the bile is secreted at a slower rate, eating too much fatty food can lead to weight gain since the fat is not broken down fast enough. There's evidence to suggest that eating smaller meals more frequently can prevent weight gain. Adding fibre to your diet can also help digestion.
However, for her height, Sunaina is now the ideal weight. She has not stopped her routine of brisk walking for half an hour before breakfast (four to five times week). The walking has helped loosen her up and raising her left arm above her head became less of an effort as she continued to walk, swinging her arms.
As soon as she went back to doing her yoga after a year, the remaining stiffness melted away. She thinks yoga is the best exercise, but she has to wait before returning to this exercise routine because of her abdominal surgery.
As for being energetic, after about six months of regular walking, Sunaina felt her energy levels becoming normal again. She no longer had to rest between household chores or computer work.
Pre-diabetes and Dealing With Gall Bladder Removal
Chewing neem and curry leaves is an effective way to control blood sugar levels. Also, a pre-diabetic must check the sugar content of the fruit he or she eats. A diet after removal of the gall bladder should be low on fat, but that doesn't mean you can't have any. Sunaina's not so sure about the reason for her minimal weight gain. It could be age-related, or it could have something to do with the surgery.
Disclaimer: The information contained in this article is for educational purposes only and should not be used for diagnosis or to guide treatment without the opinion of a health professional. Any reader who is concerned about his or her health should contact a doctor for advice.
How is the Pre-diabetic, Gall Bladderless Sunaina Doing Now?
Just an important update here for those of you who have had gall bladder removal or have been diagnosed as pre-diabetic. Sunaina had her surgery in 2009 and it is 2015 now and she is fine and healthy. Still slim, exercising as usual, eating just about anything she likes but watchful about eating oily food as that tends to upset her stomach. She continues to be vegetarian which helps vastly. Her blood sugar has remained normal so there is no chance of diabetes. She exercises regularly (yoga and a pacer) which also helps.