Can People Without A Gallbladder Follow the Keto Diet?
The ketogenic diet is built around the concept of producing ketones in your liver as a replacement for glucose. As the gallbladder is connected to the liver, you may wonder whether a person without a gallbladder can follow the Keto diet.
The simple answer is yes. If you have had your gallbladder removed, the Keto diet is still very much an option for you.
However, there are a few considerations and details to explore before making changes to your daily meals because a Keto diet has the principles of a high fat, moderate protein, and low carbohydrate diet.
Understanding the Role of the Gallbladder
To better understand how the Keto diet impacts people without gallbladders, you need to know how the gallbladder works. The gallbladder is a small sac that is found beneath the liver and serves a specific purpose, storing excess bile.
The bile is produced by your liver and sent to your small intestine to help with the digestive process. The excess bile is then sent to your gallbladder.
With the gallbladder gone, your liver still produces bile. The bile is still sent to the small intestines. However, the excess bile has nowhere to go, preventing the body from storing the bile after each meal.
It is often not noted that there are different pH levels between the bile produced by the liver and the bile stored in the gallbladder. While the bile produced by the liver tends to be alkali, the bile stored in the gallbladder is more acidic, which aids in the digestion of fats.
Without your gallbladder, you may have difficulty digesting high-fat meals. As the Keto diet typically includes a lot of healthy fats, some people may experience trouble digesting their meals. This may cause diarrhea and other digestive issues.
Slowly Introduce the Keto Lifestyle to Limit Change
Whether you choose to wait until you have completely recovered from gallbladder removal surgery or not, you should slowly introduce the Keto lifestyle. Limiting the changes to your diet is easier on your digestive system, reducing the risk of digestive distress.
One way to limit the risk of digestive problems is to incrementally increase your fat intake. Most people on the Keto diet consume between 60% and 75% of their calories from fat. Starting at the lower end and gradually increasing the ratio of fat in your daily meals may be easier on your digestive system.
You may also want to research and consider supplements, such as bile salts or MCT oil. Bile salts are naturally formed by the combination of bile acids and amino acids, and they are essential for breaking down fat into smaller molecules. By taking a bile salt supplement, you may support this natural process and aid fat digestion.
MCT oil is a health supplement that contains partially man-made fats called medium-chain triglycerides. As these MCTs are easier for your body to digest, they may provide a way to supplement your fat intake when starting the Keto diet.
Should People Without Gallbladders Follow the Keto Diet?
While the common belief is that the gallbladder is not an essential organ, despite the fact that it plays a role in the digestive process, that is not necessarily the case. While the liver can produce bile, the pH will be higher than the bile that is stored in the gallbladder. Thus, this is likely to lead to digestive issues.
It is always advisable to do your own research and consult with your doctor when considering health-related changes. Let your doctor know that you intend to start the Keto diet, and consider the recommendations and feedback from your doctor.
It is also advisable to get assistance from someone who is experienced with the Keto diet and principles and who understands the changes that you will go through, as well as the challenges you may face. The impact of a health coach on your journey is important and will help guide you along the way.