Can you eat onions after gallbladder removal?

In this brief article, we will answer the question, “Can you eat onions after gallbladder removal?”. We will also elaborate on the effects of eating onions after removal of the gallbladder and other foods to avoid when you have undergone gallbladder removal.

Can you eat onions after gallbladder removal?

Yes, you can eat onions after the gallbladder removal. However, it is not recommended to eat onions or any spicy food (1).

Although in opposition to beliefs that the gallbladder removal could increase the risks of developing gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD), clinical studies report that the Cholecystectomy (gallbladder removal surgery) is not a risk factor for GERD (2). 

Why should you not eat onions after gallbladder removal?

You should not eat onions or any spicy food after the gallbladder removal because the function of the gallbladder to act as a bile reservoir disappears and the bile flows continuously, leading to alterations on the function of the digestive system (1,2). 

It is recommended that alcohol, easily digestible carbohydrates, fatty, spicy, fried and spicy food should be excluded during at least 4 months after the surgery and after this period, the patient should follow medical recommendations regarding the diet (1,3).

What should you eat after gallbladder removal?

A Mediterranean diet is recommended after the gallbladder removal. According to the scientific literature, patients that undergo gallbladder removal should adopt a healthy lifestyle and healthy eating habits (1).

The Mediterranean diet includes the consumption of fruits and vegetables, dried legumes, dried fruits and nuts, cereals, olive oil, and fish; moderate consumption of dairy products; and low consumption of red and processed meat (5).

People following a Mediterranean diet have lower risks of having metabolic diseases such as heart diseases, diabetes, obesity, infections of the gallbladder, pancreatitis and neurological diseases.

In addition, some supplements and foods are recommended after the gallbladder removal, such as:

  • The supplementation of fat-soluble vitamins, particularly vitamin A, D, E and K, due to the reduced absorption of this vitamins as a consequence of the surgery (1)
  • Ginger: although considered a spicy food, it has been used to reduce symptoms of nausea and vomiting by patients after cholecystectomy (4)
  • Initially a slow increase of fiber intake in the diet to reduce the risk of weight gain with an increase of the fiber intake, by the consumption of oats, barley, fruits and vegetables
  • Foods containing low amounts of fat and low amounts of sugar
  • Supplementation of prebiotics and probiotics to treat diarrhea and other gastrointestinal symptoms (1).

What happens with digestion when gallbladder is removed?

When the gallbladder is removed, the bile is no longer stored in the organ, rather it flows continuously, which may reduce the effectiveness of the body to digest fats. The gallbladder is an organ with a shape resembling a pear which is 10 centimeters in length located beneath the liver. Bile which is produced by the liver gets stored in the gallbladder to digest the acidic part of the meal and to absorb fatty acid particles.

After the gallbladder removal, the digestion of fats in the body will be reduced. Such patients will require more time to clean their stomachs and will get less hungry. Food will shift directly into the intestine through the digestive tract, creating disorders in the digestive tract. 

The consequences of this altered mechanism is a modified gastrointestinal motility in most of the cases, increased migrating motor complex leading to diarrhea and, probably, important changes in the composition of the gut microflora. Other bowel properties like the permeability of the enteric barrier could also be modified (1).

So, the removal of the gallbladder will affect the digestion of meals. That’s why physicians and nutritionists change the meal consumption routine of patients.  Patients are advised to have 4 to 6 small meals in a day, due to an increased gastric motility and emptying.

What food should you avoid eating after gallbladder removal?

General recommendation of diet for patients submitted to cholecystectomy includes the prescription of a hypo-lipid diet (cholesterol <200 mg/ day) (1). Certain foods you should avoid after the removal of the gallbladder include:

  • Fried and greasy foods: french fries and other fried foods, bacon, fatty cheese. 
  • Spicy foods, such as onions and chili
  • Refined sugar, such as sweets and soft drinks
  • Caffeine continuing foods, such as coffee, chocolate, and black tea
  • Alcoholic beverages, such as wine and beer

Other FAQs about Onions that you may be interested in.

Does Onion Powder Go Bad

How to preserve onions

How many red onions are there in a pound?

Conclusion 

In this brief article, we have provided an answer to the question, “Can you eat onions after gallbladder removal?”. We have also elaborated on the effects of eating onions after removal of the gallbladder and other foods to avoid when you have undergone gallbladder removal.

References

  1. Altomare, Donato F., Maria T. Rotelli, and Nicola Palasciano. Diet after cholecystectomy. Current Medicinal Chemistry, 2019, 26, 3662-3665.
  2. Akyüz, Filiz, and Ö. Mutluay Soyer. Which diseases are risk factors for developing gastroesophageal reflux disease. Turk J Gastroenterol, 2017, 28, S44-7.  
  3. Gaziev, Karim Umarovich. Current Views on Laparoscopic Cholecystectomy. Central Asian J Med Nat Sci, 2022, 3, 767-774.  
  4. Jiang, T. Alan. Health benefits of culinary herbs and spices. J AOAC Int, 2019, 102, 395-411.
  5. Bükülmez, Ayşegül, and Lütfi Molon. Evaluation of mediterranean diet adherence in children diagnosed with pancreatitis: A case-control study. Nutr Hosp 2021, 38,43-49.

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