Your gallbladder is a tiny digestive organ that is very important to your digestive health. If you are on a ketogenic diet, optimal gallbladder function is important in the digestion of the ample fat in your diet.

There are a lot more organs associated with your digestion than just your stomach and intestines. Your forgotten gallbladder is one of the other digestive organs that must function normally so that complete digestion can occur. Your gallbladder deals with the enzymatic and chemical side of digestion whereas the stomach and mouth are mixtures of enzymatic, mechanical, and chemical digestion.

The liver produces bile and releases the bile either directly into the small intestine or into the gallbladder. When the bile is released into the gallbladder, the bile is then stored in the gallbladder until it is needed. Bile helps digest fat and breaks down the fat into individual fatty acids for assimilation. It further breaks down the food chyme so that the other digestive enzymes can fully digest and assimilate the food that you eat. Bile also has antimicrobial properties and can help to maintain a proper microbiome in the duodenum. Bile is known to interfere with overgrowth’s in the duodenum including H. pylori.

Poor gallbladder function can produce many symptoms of digestive discomfort. These include abdominal pain after eating fatty meals, GERD, greasy bowel movements ranging from pale to yellow in color, constipation, diarrhea, and bowel movements with a very strong odor. These signs are either caused by a lack of bile or too much bile being released into the small intestine. If too little bile is released, it tends to cause abdominal pain, constipation, GERD, and yellow, greasy, foul-smelling stools. If too much bile is released, on the other hand, usually causes frequent diarrhea. Another sign of possible gallbladder attacks or failure is referred right shoulder pain.

Most gallbladder symptoms and attacks usually occur right after eating a meal high in fat, because of the large bile release required to digest the high amount of fat after a meal.1 2 3

Tips For Keeping Your Gallbladder Healthy

  • Consume healthy fats including fats from organic pastured meat, wild seafood, pastured organic butter, pastured organic ghee, pastured eggs, extra virgin coconut oil, raw organic nuts, orgnaic cold pressed sesame oil, organic EVOO, and organic avocados (MCT oil is absorbed in the stomach, therefore does not affect the gallbladder.4) Consumption of healthy fats daily trigger bile releases by the gallbladder, by stimulating the hormone CCK, and over time can help keep it “clean.”
  • Perform a liver and gallbladder cleanse once a month. One of the easiest cleanses to do is for three days, drink a mixture of warm water, lemon juice, and one tsp of cayenne pepper in a glass of water upon waking. Eat your breakfast an hour afterwards. Take milk thistle to help support bile function (Jarrow) during those days as well.
  • Drink one cup of optimal quality coffee (Bulletproof coffee) daily (as long as you are not sensitive to caffeine or have adrenal fatigue). People who regularly consume coffee seem to have a less chance of developing gallstones and having their gallbladder removed. The mechanism of action for this is believed to be because coffee stimulates bile release by the gallbladder and has a high antioxidant capacity.5
  • Use spices daily when cooking that trigger bile release. Recommended spices include cayenne, ginger, and turmeric.
  • Consider supplementing, drinking (tea), or consuming artichoke which helps to support liver function and bile flow.
  • Supplement with a good digestive bitters supplement a few times a month with heavy fat meals.
  • Make sure that your diet contains enough of the amino acids taurine and glycine to help with bile flow and conjugation. Meat is very high in taurine. Meat and collagen contain glycine.
  • Magnesium supplementation (magnesium malate especially) is very important in reducing the risk of gallstones.6

  2. Patton, Kevin, Thibodeau, Gary, Douglas, Matthew. Essentials of Anatomy and Physiology, Mosby, March 16, 2011.
  3. Beers, Mark. The Merck Manual, Merck Research Laboratories, 2006