What They Don't Tell You When They Remove the Gallbladder

author avatar Dr. Eric Berg 03/08/2024

Promoting healthy digestion is crucial for individuals who have undergone gallbladder surgery. Gallbladder removal can significantly change the digestive process, particularly when breaking down and absorbing fats.

We'll discuss bile deficiency following gallbladder surgery, its impact on fat digestion and vitamin absorption, and explain common digestive symptoms resulting from low bile production. Explore the complexities of digestion after gallbladder removal and discover practical ways to support optimal health.

Bile Deficiency After Gallbladder Removal

Post-gallbladder removal, a lack of bile can cause difficulties in fat digestion and lead to vitamin deficiencies or other digestive problems.

Bile emulsifies dietary fats, making them easier to absorb. However, fat digestion becomes less efficient without sufficient bile production or release.

Vitamin K deficiency, Doctor writing on transparent screen

Consequences of Bile Deficiency on Vitamin Absorption

Aside from aiding in fat digestion, bile is also crucial for absorbing fat-soluble vitamins, and a lack of concentrated bile due to gallbladder removal can quickly lead to nutrient deficiencies.

  • Vitamin A: Essential for vision and immune function; deficiency symptoms include night blindness and dry skin.

  • Vitamin D: Important for bone health; inadequate levels can result in weak bones or rickets in children.

  • Vitamin E: Acts as an antioxidant, protecting cells from damage; low levels may contribute to neurological problems.

  • Vitamin K: Necessary for blood clotting; insufficiency can cause excessive bleeding or bruising quickly after minor injuries.

Insufficient bile output can impede the absorption of these vital fat-soluble vitamins, leading to various health issues.

To avoid complications after gallbladder removal, consider supporting bile production and digestion with bile salt supplements and incorporating specific dietary fats that are easier to digest without a gallbladder, such as MCT oil, or consuming omega-3 fatty acids for optimal health benefits.

Digestive Issues Caused by Lack of Gallbladder

When you lose your gallbladder, your body faces several digestive challenges, including gallbladder problems and difficulty digesting fatty foods.

Learn about some of the most common digestive symptoms linked to gallbladder removal surgery.


Some individuals may suffer from persistent diarrhea after gallbladder surgery, with abdominal distress, flatulence, and frequent bowel movements caused by the constant trickle of bile released from the liver into the small intestine.


In contrast to diarrhea, some individuals may face constipation after removing their gallbladders, resulting in hard stools that are difficult to pass.

Bloating and indigestion

Without a gallbladder, the body may struggle to digest fatty foods efficiently, leading to bloating, gas, and indigestion after consuming high-fat meals.

To minimize these symptoms, consider taking bile salt supplements or digestive enzymes that aid in breaking down fats.

Fats That Are Easier To Digest Post-Gallbladder Removal

Some fats like MCT oil, ghee, and avocado oil are more accessible to digest after gallbladder removal.


The small intestine quickly absorbs medium-chain triglycerides (MCT) oil, doesn't require bile salts for digestion, and provides an instant energy source.


Ghee contains fatty acids directly taken up by the gut, has anti-inflammatory effects, and aids in digestive health by providing butyrate.

Palm Oil

Palm oil contains medium-chain fatty acids that are more easily digested and absorbed by the body without relying on bile salts while also being rich in antioxidants like vitamin E.

Avocado Oil

Avocado oil is rich in monounsaturated fats, including oleic acid, which can promote heart health and reduce inflammation, making it a beneficial dietary choice for those with gallbladder removal.

Incorporating these easier-to-digest fats into your diet post-gallbladder removal can help alleviate some common digestive issues while providing essential nutrients for optimal health.

Importance of Omega-3 Fatty Acids After Gallbladder Removal

After gallbladder removal, it's crucial to consume omega-3 fatty acids like EPA and DHA for overall health, brain function, and heart health, as well as to reduce inflammation. Cod liver oil is a great source for those looking to increase their intake of omega-3 fatty acids.

EPA and DHA are essential for good health, curbing inflammation, aiding cognitive functioning, and bolstering heart well-being.

Omega-3 Rich Food Sources:

  • Wild-caught salmon is rich in EPA and DHA.

  • Walnuts are a plant-based source of ALA, which converts to EPA/DHA in the body.

  • Chia seeds are another ALA source that can be easily added to your diet.

  • Sardines are small, fatty fish that are an excellent source of EPA and DHA.

fish and cod liver oil capsules

Cod Liver Oil: The Ultimate Omega-3 Powerhouse

In addition to its abundance of omega-3 fatty acids, cod liver oil is also a source of vitamins A and D, which are essential for optimal vision, immunity, bone health, and muscle function.

TUDCA Benefits

If you have had your gallbladder removed, you may experience difficulty digesting fatty foods.

The gallbladder stores bile that helps break down fats in the small intestine. Without a gallbladder, bile passes directly from the liver to the small intestine, which can cause abdominal pain and bowel movement issues.

One condition that some people with no gallbladders develop is post-cholecystectomy syndrome (PCS).

PCS symptoms include chronic diarrhea and abdominal pain after eating high-fat meals. If you are experiencing these symptoms, you must speak with your doctor about treatment options.

One supplement that has shown promise for those without a gallbladder is Tauroursodeoxycholic acid (TUDCA).

The liver naturally makes bile acids like TUDCA but sometimes needs help producing enough of them independently. Supplementing with TUDCA has been shown to improve liver function by reducing inflammation and oxidative stress.

Since TUDCA acts as a natural detergent in our bodies, it helps emulsify fats so they can be more easily digested without causing discomfort or bloating.

Bile Salt Supplements: The Key to Better Digestion

Don't let gallbladder removal slow you down - try bile salt supplements to support your digestive system and prevent uncomfortable side effects.

By replacing bile, supplements provide easier digestion of fats and can reduce symptoms such as bloating and diarrhea.

Choosing the Right Supplement

  • Dosage Form: Capsules are more easily absorbed than tablets.

  • Potency: Look for at least 100 mg of active bile salts per serving that contain ox bile.

  • Additives: Consider supplements with helpful ingredients like digestive enzymes or herbs.

Try combining bile salt supplements with intermittent fasting and a ketogenic diet plan to promote healthy digestion and weight loss for even better results. Remember that before beginning any new supplement or dietary plan, speaking with a medical professional is essential. 


Proper digestion after gallbladder removal requires extra attention to avoid digestive issues like diarrhea, constipation, and bloating.

Include MCT oil and ghee to aid in fat breakdown, and consume omega-3 fatty acids to maintain good health.

Bile salt supplements can also support digestion and improve overall well-being post-gallbladder removal.


1. Does gallbladder removal affect digestion?

Yes, bile flows directly into the small intestine without a gallbladder, leading to potential issues like diarrhea and difficulty absorbing fat-soluble vitamins.

2. What are the long-term effects of gallbladder removal on digestion?

Gallbladder removal may cause post-cholecystectomy syndrome, characterized by abdominal pain, bloating, indigestion, constipation, or diarrhea. Adjusting your diet and taking supplements like purified bile salts can help manage these symptoms.

3. Is digestion harder without a gallbladder?

Digestion of fatty foods might be more challenging without a gallbladder. Still, many adapt well over time with dietary adjustments such as incorporating easily digestible fats like MCT oil or ghee.

4. When does digestion return to normal after gallbladder removal?

The timeframe for returning to normal digestion varies among individuals post-gallbladder surgery; gradually reintroducing various foods and monitoring symptoms is essential during this period.

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