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Low-Fat Diets Preventing Gallstones is a Myth

author avatar Dr. Eric Berg 03/13/2024

Preventing gallstones through diet is a topic often shrouded in misconceptions and misinformation.

Discover the reality behind gallstone formation. Learn the role of fats in bile release, and challenge the widespread belief that a low-fat diet is always beneficial for preventing gallstones.

The Myth of Low-Fat Diets and Gallstones

Contrary to the misconception that a low-fat diet can ward off gallstones, it is bile deficiency caused by high insulin levels or other factors like high estrogen, birth control pills, and pregnancy, which is responsible for their formation.

Fats are crucial in triggering bile release, which helps dissolve gallstones.

The Role of Fats in Bile Release

Fats are not the enemy when preventing gallstones; they're our allies. Consuming fatty foods triggers our body to produce bile and discharge it into the small intestine, assisting in breaking down these fats for digestion.

This process keeps your bile flowing regularly, reducing the risk of gallstone formation. So, eating less fat could increase your chances of developing gallstones because it reduces the need for regular bile release.

How High Insulin Levels Deplete Bile

In addition to fat consumption playing a crucial role in maintaining healthy bile flow, another important factor is keeping insulin levels under control.

High insulin levels can deplete your body's supply of stored bile salts needed for adequate digestion and absorption of dietary fats.

Consuming large amounts of sugar or refined carbohydrates can cause spikes in blood sugar levels, leading to increased insulin production - setting off a chain reaction that ultimately leads to depleted reserves of vital digestive enzymes like bile acids.

Other Factors That Can Deplete Bile

Besides diet-related factors such as low-fat intake and high-sugar consumption causing imbalances with your body's natural processes leading up towards potential gallstone development, there are also several non-diet-related factors you should be aware of:

  • Pregnancy: Pregnancy increases estrogen production, which may result in higher cholesterol content within one's biliary system, hence increasing chances for stone formations.

  • Hormonal birth control pills: Like pregnancy, increased estrogen levels result in more cholesterol deposited within one's biliary system.

  • Rapid weight loss: Rapid weight loss due to sudden changes in one's dietary habits (like crash diets) might disrupt standard functioning mechanisms, including those responsible for proper breakdown and disposal of excess cholesterol - thus creating favorable conditions conducive to stone formations.

Gallstones vs. Kidney Stones

Understanding the difference between gallstones and kidney stones is essential if you want to prevent gallbladder disease.

Both conditions involve hard deposits forming in your body, but they occur in different areas and have unique causes.

Kidney Stones

Kidney stones develop when calcium oxalate accumulates in your kidneys—a process often influenced by dehydration rather than fat consumption.

Drinking lots of water daily helps dilute substances that could form kidney stones while promoting regular urination, which aids their expulsion from the body before they grow too large.

Although both conditions share similar names—and even some common symptoms—the strategies for preventing them differ greatly based on their distinct underlying causes.

Dietary Habits Leading to Gallstone Formation

Regarding gallstones, the food you eat plays a crucial role. Contrary to popular belief, certain dietary habits contribute more to gallstone formation than fat consumption.

Eating too many grains and sugars can cause a spike in insulin, resulting in depleted bile stores and thus raising the possibility of gallstone formation.

Impact of Grains on Insulin Levels

The impact that grains have on our bodies is often underestimated. They are broken down into glucose during digestion, which then causes your blood sugar levels to rise rapidly.

This triggers your pancreas to release insulin - a hormone responsible for regulating blood sugar levels by facilitating glucose absorption into cells. However, consuming large amounts of grains regularly leads our body into a state known as insulin resistance.

In this condition, our cells become less responsive or resistant to insulin, making them unable to absorb glucose efficiently, causing high blood sugar and elevated insulin levels in the bloodstream.

This chronic elevation in insulin level is harmful to overall health and contributes significantly towards the depletion of bile reserves, thus paving the way for potential gallstone formation.

Sugar Consumption and Gallstone Formation

Sugar consumption is not only linked to numerous health issues but also potentially gallstone formation. While sugar's relationship with gallstones isn't widely discussed, it is equally concerning.

  • Increase in Insulin Levels: Like grains, excessive intake of sugars, significantly refined ones like white table sugar or high fructose corn syrup, causes rapid spikes in blood glucose, triggering an increased insulin secretion from the pancreas, resulting in higher circulating levels over time. This heightened level depletes bile, making one susceptible to forming stones within the gallbladder.

  • Promotes Weight Gain: High consumption of sugars, particularly those found within processed foods, often leads to weight gain due to their empty calorie content devoid of any substantial nutrients yet packed full of energy (calories). Being overweight or obese increases the likelihood of developing cholelithiasis (gallstones).

Tips To Minimize the Risk Of Gallstones Through Diet

  1. Avoid consuming excess carbohydrates straightforward carbs like sugary drinks, sweets, etc. Opt instead for low-carb foods rich in healthy fats to provide a steady energy supply without causing drastic fluctuations in your blood sugar and insulin levels.

  2. Maintain a healthy weight through a nutritious low-carb diet like Healthy Keto. Obesity is a major risk factor for the development of cholesterol stones, the most common type of stone seen in patients suffering from this ailment. Losing even a small amount of weight, if overweight or obese, could potentially reduce the chances of getting affected by this painful condition.


Forget the low-fat diet myth, fats are essential for bile release and preventing gallstones. High insulin levels from consuming grains and sugar can deplete bile, forming gallstones.

Avoiding carbs and sugars and consuming plenty of healthy fats promotes normal bile flow and may lower your risk of gallstone disease.

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