Gallbladder Health: Food and Recipes

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BeetsGallbladder symptoms are often hard to diagnose because it is an organ that never complains. The symptoms only show up down the road in some other organ. Healing your gallbladder can prevent a host of other problems.

Your gallbladder is a vital organ that stores concentrated bile to be able to help digest good fats, process bad fats and toxins, maintain healthy bowel movements and buffer the digestive acids from the stomach. (1,2) Over time, if the liver becomes congested as a result of toxins, stress, or poor diet and elimination, the bile in the gallbladder can become thick, viscous and congested. (3-5) This affects its ability to work optimally, and ultimately influences our ability to digest and detoxify while supporting healthy weight, mood, and overall health and vitality. (2,6-8)

If you answer yes to one or more of these questions below, your liver or gallbladder may need support:

  • Do you ever get nauseous after a meal?
  • Do you ever feel heavy after a high-fat meal?
  • Do you ever get occasional heartburn after a meal?
  • Do you have trouble digesting wheat, dairy, soy corn or nuts?
  • Do you ever have sluggish, green, or greasy stools?
  • Do you have a history of any gallbladder problems?

The recommendations in this article are to keep your gallbladder healthy and strong, and are not intended for someone who has had their gallbladder removed. Keep an eye out for an upcoming article on food and lifestyle tips for if you have had your gallbladder removed.

Recipes for Gallbladder Health

Beet Tonic Recipe

  • 1 fresh beet, peeled and grated
  • Juice of ½ lemon
  • 2 Tbsp. flax oil
  1. Combine all ingredients.
  2. Take 1 beet’s worth of this salad daily for 2-4 weeks.

Flaxseed Tea

  1. Mix 1 Tbsp. whole flaxseeds into 2 ½ cups water.
  2. Bring to a boil, and simmer for one hour.
  3. Use a strainer to separate the seeds from the liquid.
  4. Drink 1 cup each day on an empty stomach.

Green Smoothie

  • 1 bunch parsley
  • 3 medium zucchini
  • ½ lb. green beans
  • 5 stalks celery
  1. Steam all ingredients for 8-10 minutes, and then mix in blender. You can add a little warm water.
  2. Drink 1-3 per day as a meal or with meals, as needed for gallbladder pain and/or to optimize gallbladder function.
  3. Options for more flavor: Try adding a steamed apple and fresh lemon juice. Or you can try adding garlic and ginger with low sodium vegetable broth. Avocados add a nice creamy texture as well.

Apple a Day

Consume at least one apple a day after meals to increase bile flow. Apples have high amounts of malic acid which help to open up and dilate the bile ducts.

>>> For more information about how to cleanse your liver, thin your bile and strengthen your gallbladder…

Herbal Support for Gallbladder Health

  • Read up on Beet Cleanse to decongest the bile ducts.
  • Read up on Liver Repair to increase the liver’s production of bile and support healthy elimination.
  • Read up on Turmeric Plus to support liver and intestinal health.

Foods List for Gallbladder Health

Foods to Avoid Foods to Increase
  • Eggs
  • Onions
  • Pork
  • Milk
  • Grapefruit
  • Fowl
  • Hydrogenated Oil
  • Oranges
  • Beans
  • Saturated Fats
  • Corn
  • Coffee
  • Alcohol
  • Garlic
  • Ginger
  • Prunes
  • Artichoke
  • Coconut
  • Apples
  • Avocado
  • Grapes
  • Radishes
  • Apricots
  • Berries
  • Lemon
  • Casaba Melons
  • Figs
  • Pear
  • Currants
  • Guava
  • Beets
  • Leafy greens

This article was originally published January 9, 2009. It was updated and republished August 15, 2015.


  1. Lynne Gray says

    John, hmmmm!! The only food I avoid is hydrogenated fat. I eat plenty of all the other foods you list on the “foods to avoid” list. I follow the Weston Price way of eating–raw dairy, unprocessed organic foods, pastured, grass-fed meat and fowl, plenty of organic fruits and vegetables etc. I use raw honey and grade B maple syrup as sweeteners and eat plenty of coconut oil, butter, and ghee (all saturated fats). I drink one to two cups of coffee each day and consume a limited amount of alcohol throughout the day as herbal tinctures. I taught meditation for Deepak Chopra for years and meditate several times each day. I haven’t seen a physician in 6 years, feel better now than I have in the past 25 years, and am now 76 yr old. When I began including fermented cod liver oil into my diet, my digestion was a mess. No matter what time of day with or without food, I burped all day long (or all night). However, I kept at it and now have absolutely no trouble with any kind of healthy fat. I feel that there is no pixie dust when it comes to the right diet. Eating unprocessed, healthy organic foods, just like great grandma and grandpa did, balancing the autonomic nervous system through daily meditation, and developing a sense of gratitude for life itself and all it brings, I feel are what’s important.

    • John Douillard says

      Hi Lynne,
      Hydrogenated oils are probably best for everyone to avoid. Most of the other foods on that list are fine for people who are not trying to really target gall bladder health specifically. It sounds like you are healthy and feeling good. If you do not have trouble with health fat, that is a good indicator that your gall bladder is working well.

  2. Lisa Kentala says

    I has my gallbladder removed in 2008 because of 100s of gallstones. A few years after this I developed ongoing abdominal pains – had ct scans, ultra sound, etc. No dr could help. I had an intuition this was somehow related to my past gb problems. Searching the internet I found your site that mentioned beets could thin bile. Within a few days of eating beets all pain was gone!! I believe my body tends to thicken bile with or without a gallbladder. I’ve eaten beets regularly since then.

  3. Sharon says

    I’ve also had my gallbladder removed and continue to experience many of the symptoms noted in your article. I am anxious to read the upcoming articles relating to gallbladder removal and beyond.

  4. Shannon says

    Thanks for the article! It seems like you wrote it just for me based on our conversation last Monday. It was great to learn more about this subject. Question: What can I do about my teeth becoming overly sensitive when I have lemon juice regularly with the beet salad. I can remove the lemon but I’m guessing it’s part of the healing process and it tastes so good!

    • John Douillard says

      Hi Shannon,
      You can use the lemon in water instead of the beet salad so that your teeth do not have as much contact with the acid. Also, rinse your mouth with plain water after consuming lemon. Hope that helps!

      • oonagh says

        Using a straw when drinking lemon juice bypasses any enamel stripping issues! also lime juice is a good substitute for lemon, when making beet salad….

  5. says

    I cannot eat celery because, like nightshades (I know celery is not a nightshade!), it makes my hands ache. I am wondering what I can add instead of celery to the Green Smoothie?
    Also when I did the Colorado Cleanse two years ago, although I felt really great for the most part (and hope to do it again this fall!), I experienced an uptick in an itchy skin problem and have come to suspect only recently that it might be due to lemon juice. What can I use instead of the lemon juice in the beet tonic? Thanks!

    • John Douillard says

      Hi Kris,
      You can add any seasonal greens that you would like to the Green Smoothie. For the beet tonic, you can simply omit the lemon juice or flavor it according to your taste within the cleanse guidelines.

  6. Shannon says

    Thank you, John

    Ok, one more question – The above article says to drink 1-3 Green Smoothies per day. The quantities are larger than in your recipe in the Colorado Cleanse book and the book recipe makes quite a lot. I haven’t made the above recipe yet, but It seems like it would make a huge smoothie. Am I seeing this correctly or is there a typo?

    • John Douillard says

      Hi Shannon,
      The green smoothie will be fine in the fridge for a few days so you do not need to consume the whole batch in 1 day. Listen to your body as far as how much to drink in a day – no need to force drinking more than feels comfortable.

  7. Deb says

    Hi John. Thanks for sending out so much good stuff to read. Love you for that. I drink beet juice daily. Do u think that is a good alternative to the beet salad? I add apple, carrot and ginger to 3 beets. Thanks for any feedback. PS I’m not experiencing any GB issues and can’t live w/o your adhwaganda. Daily vitamin for me
    Thanks again.

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