6

votes

Can a person with no gall bladder still eat fat?

Answered on August 19, 2014
Created September 02, 2011 at 6:42 PM

Woman I know at work had hers removed and we've been talking a lot about nutrition when this came up. I don't really know what to tell her.

19ff515e8ec02d95e8f2cf68c3ec1373

(1207)

on August 25, 2012
at 05:34 PM

I had mine out 8 years ago and I eat a ridiculous amount

96440612cf0fcf366bf5ad8f776fca84

(19413)

on August 25, 2012
at 01:26 PM

(other digestive enzymes/bitters may also help, but I tried other brands and they didn't have as positive an effect - you can tell by the shape of your stools if it's working. long and smooth, you're digesting fats, clusters like grapes or floating, you're not digesting fats.)

96440612cf0fcf366bf5ad8f776fca84

(19413)

on August 25, 2012
at 01:25 PM

Try digestive enzymes, specifically Now Super Enzymes as capsules, not pills. See my answer above. You can get there here: http://www.amazon.com/NOW-Foods-Super-Enzymes-Capsules/dp/B0013OXKHC It's possible that you may have gall stones if you went very low carb to having some fat at some point and there's some blockage. I don't know about pollyps.

3846a3b61bc9051e4baebdef62e58c52

(18635)

on December 10, 2011
at 02:17 AM

Yeah Nance. I don't disagree that there are many cases where the only option is surgical. This comment was only written to point a fact that this is not a vestigial organ. It performs a quite relevant function. It is considered a "low risk" surgery, therefore IMO there are many cases where other remedies are skipped or not even considered prior to removal. Kinda like the appendix, tonsils, adenoids. We were not born with too many organs and not enough surgeons to survive :). Glad your doing well now though Nance!

96bf58d8c6bd492dc5b8ae46203fe247

(37227)

on December 09, 2011
at 07:03 PM

I've been told several times since my gallbladder was removed that the vitamins looked great in my blood tests. But if you're having lots of symptoms that you're not digesting fat well then you do have to wonder about vitamin absorption.

96bf58d8c6bd492dc5b8ae46203fe247

(37227)

on December 09, 2011
at 07:02 PM

I don't think it can hurt to try. Overall, I do fine without but I do find it helpful to take bile salts when I eat a major load of grease such as inhaling goose skin/meat fresh from the oven. But I think even people with gallbladders might need help then. :-))

96bf58d8c6bd492dc5b8ae46203fe247

(37227)

on December 09, 2011
at 07:00 PM

I'm with you, except I think I adapted to making MORE bile so enough leaked through my dying gallbladder to get the job done. Once the infected gallbladder was gone I did fine and I haven't missed it except once in a great while if I eat a major overload of grease. In those cases, I pre-emptively take a bile salts capsule.

96bf58d8c6bd492dc5b8ae46203fe247

(37227)

on December 09, 2011
at 06:57 PM

Well, they said mine looked like an angry bratwurst--there was no saving that puppy! However, if I'd known about and gone ancestral 3-5 years earlier there might have been a chance. As it was, a huge gallstone got caught in my common duct, I turned bright yellow and had 2 procedures: one down the gullet to abort the process of digesting my liver and a lap procedure to remove the gallbladder.

96bf58d8c6bd492dc5b8ae46203fe247

(37227)

on December 09, 2011
at 04:36 PM

The doctor who removed mine said I shouldn't have problems and he was right. He did say I now release bile continuously, rather than storing it up. On a few occasions when I've had an unusually large amount of fat I take a bile salts capsule so the food doesn't stay in my stomach long enough to trigger GERD.

98bf2ca7f8778c79cd3f6c962011cfdc

(24286)

on September 03, 2011
at 07:21 PM

Ewww. Well I will add this one to my gratitude journal for sure. Having my gallbladder out was the best thing that ever happened to me but I was in horrendous pain. It only took them two years to figure it out so for me taking out my organ was not a rushed decision. I'm still unclear how they missed a gallbladder as sick as mine but oh well. Glad we got it in the end and that saga is over with for me.

Cbb1134f8e93067d1271c97bb2e15ef6

on September 03, 2011
at 07:07 PM

Mine is gone too and I have no problem whatsoever, but know folks who do and have consistently since post surgery.

Cbb1134f8e93067d1271c97bb2e15ef6

on September 03, 2011
at 07:06 PM

As per Beth, people who don't digest fats well or adequately post gallballder removal typically get dumping syndrome and they *know* it as that fat is quite literally dumped and shows up in the stool and very often makes for quite the insistent, messy "blast" of a loose and very fatty stool.

7dc950fc76a046048e683d2a27dced37

on September 03, 2011
at 05:19 PM

Yes, it can affect absorption of fat-soluble vitamins as well.

0e4e5882872d6a7c472ea51aec457e66

(1994)

on September 03, 2011
at 04:41 AM

Lost mine 10 years ago and can eat tonns of fat without problems.

98bf2ca7f8778c79cd3f6c962011cfdc

(24286)

on September 03, 2011
at 03:32 AM

Thanks Beth. You just saved me $30.

1d0497f8781845ab371b479455bfee8e

(11157)

on September 03, 2011
at 03:00 AM

Could that also inhibit fat-soluble vitamin absorption then?

7dc950fc76a046048e683d2a27dced37

on September 02, 2011
at 11:59 PM

Shari, no, I don't think it's impossible. If you are eating fats and don't have sufficient bile to digest them, frankly you'd know because undigested fats typically make for fairly loose stools!

98bf2ca7f8778c79cd3f6c962011cfdc

(24286)

on September 02, 2011
at 11:44 PM

LOL! Exactly Annie! I'm open to that idea but honestly had never given it any thought. Everything "seems" to be o.k. but who knows? I have the salts in my Amazon cart but I'm holding out for someone to insist I need them, lol.

6670b38baf0aae7f4d8ac2463ddc37c0

(3946)

on September 02, 2011
at 11:15 PM

Waiting for answers to your "just curious." Am I just unaware that I am not processing these fats well?

2fdb7a6236b04bdfc3dacaf2bc236515

(528)

on September 02, 2011
at 09:40 PM

Add me to the list. Had mine removed almost six years ago and have never had any problems.

D5096ff5baffc0ba5d20b21346414a7a

(1112)

on September 02, 2011
at 09:04 PM

Me too. Had mine out 10 yrs. ago. I eat butter, bacon fat, coconut oil... Never have had any digestive problems....don't even know what heartburn is.

34a367e60db77270bd7096dc04270fdc

(4171)

on September 02, 2011
at 09:00 PM

I had mine out about 10 years ago and I have no problem eating fats either.

7dc950fc76a046048e683d2a27dced37

on September 02, 2011
at 07:42 PM

Just to clarify, in general without bile, fats aren't digested, which means that they just pass through. So eating fat without a functioning gallbladder can be (not necessarily ... it depends on the individual and/or whether the fats eaten are MCTs) a little like taking Orlistat (which prevents fat digestion and is notorious for having unpleasant side effects).

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16 Answers

best answer

3
7dc950fc76a046048e683d2a27dced37

on September 02, 2011
at 07:11 PM

In order to digest fats, you need bile (which is normally released by the gallbladder when needed). Without a gallbladder, bile just kind of drips non-stop into the digestive tract. She may or may not benefit from supplemental bile salts to help with fat digestion, but I'd have her ask her doc.

7dc950fc76a046048e683d2a27dced37

on September 02, 2011
at 07:42 PM

Just to clarify, in general without bile, fats aren't digested, which means that they just pass through. So eating fat without a functioning gallbladder can be (not necessarily ... it depends on the individual and/or whether the fats eaten are MCTs) a little like taking Orlistat (which prevents fat digestion and is notorious for having unpleasant side effects).

1d0497f8781845ab371b479455bfee8e

(11157)

on September 03, 2011
at 03:00 AM

Could that also inhibit fat-soluble vitamin absorption then?

7dc950fc76a046048e683d2a27dced37

on September 03, 2011
at 05:19 PM

Yes, it can affect absorption of fat-soluble vitamins as well.

7
66974b2cb291799dcd661b7dec99a9e2

(11121)

on September 02, 2011
at 08:56 PM

I had my gallbladder removed over 20 years ago - I eat a lot of fat and have no issues at all, but everyone is unique.

34a367e60db77270bd7096dc04270fdc

(4171)

on September 02, 2011
at 09:00 PM

I had mine out about 10 years ago and I have no problem eating fats either.

2fdb7a6236b04bdfc3dacaf2bc236515

(528)

on September 02, 2011
at 09:40 PM

Add me to the list. Had mine removed almost six years ago and have never had any problems.

D5096ff5baffc0ba5d20b21346414a7a

(1112)

on September 02, 2011
at 09:04 PM

Me too. Had mine out 10 yrs. ago. I eat butter, bacon fat, coconut oil... Never have had any digestive problems....don't even know what heartburn is.

0e4e5882872d6a7c472ea51aec457e66

(1994)

on September 03, 2011
at 04:41 AM

Lost mine 10 years ago and can eat tonns of fat without problems.

96bf58d8c6bd492dc5b8ae46203fe247

(37227)

on December 09, 2011
at 04:36 PM

The doctor who removed mine said I shouldn't have problems and he was right. He did say I now release bile continuously, rather than storing it up. On a few occasions when I've had an unusually large amount of fat I take a bile salts capsule so the food doesn't stay in my stomach long enough to trigger GERD.

4
3846a3b61bc9051e4baebdef62e58c52

(18635)

on September 03, 2011
at 01:54 AM

SAVE THE GALL BLADDER!!! I swear, I want to start a petition. These things get removed left and right like some sort of irrelevant mass thats in your way....Seriously, there are ways to promote a healthy system were you dont have to just take this thing out. Surgeons jump on removing this way too quick in my opinion. Kinda like, hey while i'm in here fixin your hernia you want me to go ahead and take out that pesky appendix and gall bladder?

3846a3b61bc9051e4baebdef62e58c52

(18635)

on December 10, 2011
at 02:17 AM

Yeah Nance. I don't disagree that there are many cases where the only option is surgical. This comment was only written to point a fact that this is not a vestigial organ. It performs a quite relevant function. It is considered a "low risk" surgery, therefore IMO there are many cases where other remedies are skipped or not even considered prior to removal. Kinda like the appendix, tonsils, adenoids. We were not born with too many organs and not enough surgeons to survive :). Glad your doing well now though Nance!

96bf58d8c6bd492dc5b8ae46203fe247

(37227)

on December 09, 2011
at 06:57 PM

Well, they said mine looked like an angry bratwurst--there was no saving that puppy! However, if I'd known about and gone ancestral 3-5 years earlier there might have been a chance. As it was, a huge gallstone got caught in my common duct, I turned bright yellow and had 2 procedures: one down the gullet to abort the process of digesting my liver and a lap procedure to remove the gallbladder.

4
98bf2ca7f8778c79cd3f6c962011cfdc

on September 02, 2011
at 07:13 PM

I think this is highly individual. CW says no. I prove that wisdom to not be so wise. In fact in the throws of my gallbladder disease all I could eat was fatty beef so go figure. I eat plenty of fat and have no signs that it is undigested. None.

You CAN do a paleo diet that is lower in fat so maybe you can just tell her that there certainly are people without gallbladders who can ingest large quantities of fat but she should try it, maybe start out at a more moderate level) and then listen to her body.


Just curious. Those of you who think the gallbladder-less should be taking salts, do you think it's just impossible that we are digesting the fats. Do you think it's possible that those of us who seem to have no apparent issue with fats just aren't aware, aren't getting the usual symptoms of fat malabsorption? I might like to try the salt therapy just to see the difference but honestly if I'm not digesting my fats at this point I'm not sure I want to start as I'll end up the size of barn I think.

98bf2ca7f8778c79cd3f6c962011cfdc

(24286)

on September 03, 2011
at 03:32 AM

Thanks Beth. You just saved me $30.

98bf2ca7f8778c79cd3f6c962011cfdc

(24286)

on September 03, 2011
at 07:21 PM

Ewww. Well I will add this one to my gratitude journal for sure. Having my gallbladder out was the best thing that ever happened to me but I was in horrendous pain. It only took them two years to figure it out so for me taking out my organ was not a rushed decision. I'm still unclear how they missed a gallbladder as sick as mine but oh well. Glad we got it in the end and that saga is over with for me.

Cbb1134f8e93067d1271c97bb2e15ef6

on September 03, 2011
at 07:06 PM

As per Beth, people who don't digest fats well or adequately post gallballder removal typically get dumping syndrome and they *know* it as that fat is quite literally dumped and shows up in the stool and very often makes for quite the insistent, messy "blast" of a loose and very fatty stool.

7dc950fc76a046048e683d2a27dced37

on September 02, 2011
at 11:59 PM

Shari, no, I don't think it's impossible. If you are eating fats and don't have sufficient bile to digest them, frankly you'd know because undigested fats typically make for fairly loose stools!

Cbb1134f8e93067d1271c97bb2e15ef6

on September 03, 2011
at 07:07 PM

Mine is gone too and I have no problem whatsoever, but know folks who do and have consistently since post surgery.

6670b38baf0aae7f4d8ac2463ddc37c0

(3946)

on September 02, 2011
at 11:15 PM

Waiting for answers to your "just curious." Am I just unaware that I am not processing these fats well?

98bf2ca7f8778c79cd3f6c962011cfdc

(24286)

on September 02, 2011
at 11:44 PM

LOL! Exactly Annie! I'm open to that idea but honestly had never given it any thought. Everything "seems" to be o.k. but who knows? I have the salts in my Amazon cart but I'm holding out for someone to insist I need them, lol.

2
96440612cf0fcf366bf5ad8f776fca84

(19413)

on December 09, 2011
at 02:29 PM

I had mine removed, and it was hard at first, but adapted. Dr. Kruse says that the biliary duct forms a sort of primitive gallbladder. I'm not sure that's enough.

However, when I went paleo last year, it was suggested that I take Now SuperEnzymes, which is a replacement for bile with Betaine HCL, and that I use these immediately before every meal that contains fats and proteins in the right amount.

I usually take one SuperEnzyme pill right before starting to eat meats, and the rest spaced out as I eat the meal.

The protocol Robb Wolf recommends to finding out the proper dose is to take these, upto 5 and no more, one at a time until you feel heat right at the top of your stomach with your hand. For me, it's about 2-3 per meal, but I also add in a betaine-HCL capsule as well as I previously had issues digesting proteins. (Not sure I need the extra Betaine-HCL anymore, but they don't seem to hurt.)

Robb says that if you don't have a gallbladder, you should always take these as you won't get proper digestion otherwise. So it's sadly for life.

I can say that they've made a huge difference, and I can tell via the shape of bowl movements when I've not had these - they come out lumpy, like clusters of grapes, instead of straight and smooth - from undigested fats.

The other thing to keep in mind is that since coconut oil is more than half MCTs and since MCTs don't require bile to process, eating relatively more coconut oil than other fats gets rid of the need for bile.

BUT there is one huge danger from the gall bladder removal surgery and that is that it increases the risk of colon cancer. I remember all sorts of issues with acid reflux (but it actually was bile reflux) after the surgery. If I didn't eat anything at night at all to avoid reflux, I'd throw or reflux up a bright yellow/green bitter liquid which of course was bile.

So I took to eating cheese at night since the fats in the cheese would counter the bile. This worked for a few years, until it didn't, then I found the dairy itself - almost any dairy, would cause acid reflux. So was in a catch-22.

I cleaned up my diet a couple of months after the surgery and found I could tolerate olive oil, so mostly ate paleo like salads, but also had pasta, beans, and whole wheat bread, as I found The Perricone Prescription PBS special and got his book, and that made my health a lot better, though I still had broken digestion when it came to fats. (I suppose EVOO was ok since it's mostly MUFAs and that didn't need bile to digest either.)

Over time, this stopped working, but luckily last year, I found Mark Sisson's site, and then Robb Wolf's site and Squatchy on that site recommended I take SuperEnzymes - with the same kind of advice at the top of this answer, and that made the entire difference.

So yes, you can digest fats even without a gallbladder, you can do it without the bile pills, but it's inefficient and certain types of fats work better than others.

Now, I don't have to care about the types of fats (obviously avoiding trans and n6-PUFAs, but not because of digestion issues), I can happily eat 4 rashers of bacon along with 4 eggs and have no issues at all.

2
Ed983a42344945b1ff70fd9597a23493

on September 02, 2011
at 08:51 PM

This came up in my nutritional training, because another student had no gallbladder. The instructor suggested she take Biotics bile salts after muscle testing her, and she did really well eating more fats with the addition of the bile salts. I agree that we are all unique, and there is no one size fits all protocol, but you could definitely suggest she try bile salts, and gradually add more fat as long as it keeps feeling good in her body.

2
6073ff8b2a50d1d580266251c331c37d

on September 02, 2011
at 07:57 PM

Find a Chiropractor that uses Standard Process Products in your area-- Cholacol are natural bile salts. We were given a gallbladder for a reason--whether or not you get "the rumblies" (Great word, by the way, Vern), the optimally functioning body would emulsify fats appropriately with bile stored in the gallbladder and digest them accordingly, including EPA/DHA, which are certainly longer chained fats. I guess what I'm saying is this--it's dangerous to base whether or not you are digesting fats based on presence or lack of symptoms...

1
68294383ced9a0eafc16133aa80d1905

(5795)

on August 25, 2012
at 08:12 PM

Including more sources of short and medium-chain fats can be beneficial for those who do have gall bladder issues or issues digesting fat.

Obviously things like Coconut Oil, MCT Oil, Ghee and even butter are good options. If you can tolerate them, raw milk, cream or other raw dairy sources are also good.

1
Ffff513ac686cd18c840ee12c79357ed

(1183)

on September 02, 2011
at 07:32 PM

I had a Gastric Bypass, as well as had my gallbladder removed in 2001.. ten years later and I don't really have any problems with fats, but I ate terribly before my surgery and eat very well now, so I don't really have the best way to compare how my body would/should have behaved prior to my surgery.

I occasionally experience oily stools and I certainly don't absorb as much fat as I eat (due to the Gastric Bypass) but I don't eat a ton of fat. When it comes to my proteins, I eat a lot of fish. When I do eat foods higher in fat (heavy cream in coffee or bacon) I do sometimes get a few rumblies, but nothing that would otherwise keep me from eating it.... you know. cause it's bacon.

1
7d64d3988de1b0e493aacf37843c5596

(2861)

on September 02, 2011
at 07:22 PM

Yes, but maybe not everybody, and it may take some time to adapt.

I can eat high-fat no problem. I think my gallbladder wasn't working well prior to the removal, so I think I adapted to less bile before my gallbladder even came out.

I believe certain fats require less bile and may be easier to digest as well (MCTs, emulsified fats like cream, etc...)

96bf58d8c6bd492dc5b8ae46203fe247

(37227)

on December 09, 2011
at 07:00 PM

I'm with you, except I think I adapted to making MORE bile so enough leaked through my dying gallbladder to get the job done. Once the infected gallbladder was gone I did fine and I haven't missed it except once in a great while if I eat a major overload of grease. In those cases, I pre-emptively take a bile salts capsule.

0
Ca723f6d49fd57e22096e8f3b789b86d

on January 10, 2013
at 06:39 PM

Just came across this forum.. I had my gallbladder out when I was 18, via emergency surgery. Another day, and my gallbladder would have burst. No question that it had to come out, along with the 8 marble-sized gallstones.

With that being said, I am now 45 (in a week), and I continue to have issues. However, I see my issues as blessings. I do not normally eat food high in fat. I'm not a vegetarian, but pretty close. If ever I experience constipation from being sick or due to multivitamins, or other reasons, I just eat something really high in fat and I no longer have a problem.

0
Eb0ca37d18e4bb74fb31b2a6918e1809

(333)

on August 25, 2012
at 07:59 PM

I had my gallbladder removed back in April of this year. After the surgery I was on a low fat, high fiber diet. After about 1.5 weeks I started to add fat back into my diet, mostly almonds. I just kept adding more and more over time so my body could adjust. I have no problem with fats, the majority of my caloric intake is from fat. From what I understand most people who have their gallbladder removed have no problem with fats, but there are always exceptions. Just remember that you're losing an organ, it will take some time for your body to adjust post-surgery.

0
A2269e68e7102536674682756bfb906d

on August 25, 2012
at 09:10 AM

I have been told I have a pollup in my gall bladder. I can't digest fats hardly at all, it seems...I eat mostly vegetables and fish occasionaly. My face is littered with white bumps and I have to dig them out...I am so disolutioned with my good diet, it seems nothing helps. So, my question is, is bile salts the answer? thanks so much.

96440612cf0fcf366bf5ad8f776fca84

(19413)

on August 25, 2012
at 01:25 PM

Try digestive enzymes, specifically Now Super Enzymes as capsules, not pills. See my answer above. You can get there here: http://www.amazon.com/NOW-Foods-Super-Enzymes-Capsules/dp/B0013OXKHC It's possible that you may have gall stones if you went very low carb to having some fat at some point and there's some blockage. I don't know about pollyps.

96440612cf0fcf366bf5ad8f776fca84

(19413)

on August 25, 2012
at 01:26 PM

(other digestive enzymes/bitters may also help, but I tried other brands and they didn't have as positive an effect - you can tell by the shape of your stools if it's working. long and smooth, you're digesting fats, clusters like grapes or floating, you're not digesting fats.)

0
4e0afa567c6fb7236a86bc8391130ec3

on December 09, 2011
at 07:09 AM

Am I absorbing ANY fat soluble vitamins? Post gastic bypass 2001 and minus gall bladder 2007; I am concerned about my body being able to absorb fat soluble vitamins. Vitamin A, D,E, K and Krill Oil? I eat a low fat diet. My skin is now dry, it never used to be.

                    Thank you,
                              R

96bf58d8c6bd492dc5b8ae46203fe247

(37227)

on December 09, 2011
at 07:03 PM

I've been told several times since my gallbladder was removed that the vitamins looked great in my blood tests. But if you're having lots of symptoms that you're not digesting fat well then you do have to wonder about vitamin absorption.

0
Fe4bfab8294bda9e3ff9ab51c1a5e3e0

on September 03, 2011
at 06:52 PM

I had my gall bladder removed in '99 ... even though I had been doing a gall bladder cleanse about every 6-8 months, acupuncture, herbs, etc. I ran late on a cleanse that year when I was in school for massage therapy, and the end result was total disaster.

I've never had anyone suggest bile salts to me, but now I am wondering if I should pick up some of the Standard Process ...

I've stayed 99% paleo/primal since March, not overdoing it on the fats either. A few walnut halves or mac's once a week or less, obviously no grains, dairy or even a potato. But there has not been any loss, and only a small amount on the inch loss (which I know is due to my workouts and lifting weights). I'm not a slave to the scales, but I do check every month or so.

Bowel movements have varied, but overall, are looser than what they should be. So considering that factor, I should be using the salts then ? Would this factor into the struggle to lose the extra body fat as well ?

96bf58d8c6bd492dc5b8ae46203fe247

(37227)

on December 09, 2011
at 07:02 PM

I don't think it can hurt to try. Overall, I do fine without but I do find it helpful to take bile salts when I eat a major load of grease such as inhaling goose skin/meat fresh from the oven. But I think even people with gallbladders might need help then. :-))

0
427c8cbb9c2492d74b887fc5cf7a8ce0

on September 02, 2011
at 10:26 PM

Maybe a little (colloidal) manganese supplementation could help (or from food/herbal source). I read that it is helpful in the metabolism of fats and sugars...

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