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Intermittent Fasting without a Gallbladder

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  • Intermittent Fasting without a Gallbladder

    ***Note that while I've tried not to get too gross, this post includes talk of digestive function.

    I've only recently learned of the primal/paleo lifestyle. I'm not fully Primal yet, but I have reduced carbs, especially grains.

    In 2005, I had my gallbladder removed due to gallstones. The gallstones never bothered me as long as they stayed put. I could eat whatever I wanted without issue. I didn't even know they were there until one blocked the common bile duct and I experienced the worst pain of my life (worse than natural childbirth with 22 hours of labour). The stone blocked the duct for more than a week. I became jaundiced and was hospitalized. If I knew then what I know now, I would never have let them take my gallbladder, but hindsight is 20/20. And a quick search on the forum shows that I am not alone.

    After my gallbladder was removed, I didn't miss it. I could still eat whatever I wanted. I did not notice a single difference. I've been constipated all my life and that didn't change. Luckily, I have not had any more stones blocking the duct (which I have learned can still happen even after removing the gallbladder).

    I'm not sure when I started experiencing random diarrhea. It would always happen about 1 hour after eating. At first, I thought the particular food was the problem. But it didn't always happen and it would happen with different foods. For the longest time, I couldn't find the pattern. Then I realized it only happened when breaking a longer than "normal" fast. I've never had established meal times and sometimes, when I'm really busy, I forget to eat. I haven't figured out the exact cut-off point yet, but I'm pretty sure that the IF is the cause.

    Recently, I started to believe that it probably has to do with not having a gallbladder. Without a gallbladder, there is a constant trickle of bile. So I figure that there is a buildup of too much bile for the amount of food. I never had any issues during the fast. But as soon as I broke the fast, re-activating the digestive system, things moved too quickly.

    Anyone else have similar experience or a theory?

    Very recently I started taking a product to support the liver (containing ingredients such as milk thistle). I increased the dose slowly working up to the recommended dose. Three days after an increase (before reaching the full dose even), I started having constant cramps, gurgling, and diarrhea. I wasn't sure if it was a detox reaction or a reaction to one of the ingredients. I tried to stick it out for a few days, but it only got worse, so I cut back to the previous dose. I felt initial improvement, but then it got worse again. So I stopped the supplement altogether. It's been two full days since the last dose.

    What I've discovered in the last two days is that the cramps, gurgling, and diarrhea start up again whenever I go more than a few hours without food. If I forget to eat, then I get a strong reminder. Not long after eating (regardless of what I eat), things start to calm down again. My current theory is that the liver support product worked (much more quickly than I expected) and improved the function of my liver so that it is now producing more bile.

    A sluggish liver was causing me a whole host of other problems and it will likely take time to see if any of those symptoms improve, but this new requirement for eating constantly is annoying. The diarrhea that I had previously when breaking a long fast was a minor inconvenience, and I could stop it by fasting for shorter periods. The constant pain and diarrhea that I get now is more than an annoyance. I seem to be ok through the night, but have to eat immediately upon rising and constantly throughout the day. Maybe things will settle down again, hopefully.

    Any theories or suggestions?


  • #2
    imho the gall bladder has nothing to do with the issues ..

    i had mine removed in my last chrons surgery, and have felt 0 effects .. ive also been primal 5 months before surgery, 2 months post surgery ...

    it will take a while for that supplement to leave your system, cant possibly be gone in 2 days .. i tend to think that is what is at fault .. but also you may want to look at what you are eating.. no way should you go only a couple hours and get hungry again .. whats your daily diet like?
    started at 310 July 23rd 2011 ... workin and workin!

    my journal -


    • #3
      Hey there!

      I have something similar (Eat whatever I want, ended up with gallstones, removed the gallbladder, still can eat whatever I want), but I've thought it linked to carbs/processed foods. The main reason is that I can break a 24 hour fast with all-you-can-eat Shabu (meat in boiled water OMN!) and not have a single problem (No loose stools at all), but when I eat a regular sized burger and fries I get the runs with pain in less than 20 minutes.

      It makes going low carb pretty easy. ^_^

      What kind of things do you eat? I mean, sometimes when I eat classically packaged beef jerkey to break a 12 hour fast I get a brief bout of the runs.
      Down from 275 to 250!
      Werewolf Primal Living Blog -
      Some fact, a lot of fiction! Keep track of my progress there!


      • #4
        I have no gallbladder and I have no problem with IF (removed in 1996) or anything else.
        "Wait! I'll fix it!"
        "Problems always disappear in the presence of a technician."
        "If you can't improvise, what are you doing out in the field?"


        • #5
          I'll have to start tracking better to see. I know I've broken a fast with junk and I know I've broken a fast with chicken breast and salad. Both caused a trip to the throne at the one hour mark. No pain or anything, but definitely a sense of urgency. And then I'm fine right after. I'm not sure if I've ever broken a fast with high fat and low/no carb. Something to experiment with.

          In regards to my current situation, I'm not hungry. The cramps and gurgling are not hunger, they're GI distress. It was constant the other day and came with constant diarrhea. When it dawned on me that I hadn't eaten in 9 hours, I forced myself to eat. Low and behold, everything calmed down. Once I realized this, I ate at the first sign of cramps and gurgling. Today seems to be much better.


          • #6
            You say you forget to eat when you're busy, are you also stressed? Stress could cause this, I think.

            If I break a fast with milk-products, I need to hurry to the bathroom within 30 minutes. I'm pretty sure the milk couldn't have made it to the other end that quick... but it feels like it!
            If I have milk products but also eat something else at the same time (meat, vegetables), then I don't have that problem.

            (Note, I had gallbladder problems, but I still have mine)
            My smartphone makes me about $100 per month
            Updating my journal again after a 2 year break.


            • #7
              Oh yes, I do have plenty of stress, but that has been pretty constant and unchanging. I'm sure it is a major contributor to my overall issues, but I don't think it has anything to do with the recent changes. I've got a lot of work to do in a lot of areas of my life.


              • #8
                abstractpersona, do you have problems with dairy at other times or only after a fast?

                Today, I ate the exact same thing as yesterday. Yesterday, I had no problems, but today, I was rushing to bathroom about the 1 hour mark. I ate spinach egg cups (eggs, ricotta cheese, parmesan cheese, spinach, garlic) and sausage balls (pork sausage, cheddar cheese, ground almond, onion). I can't remember exact time I ate last, but probably fasted for about 14 hours with many of the hours sleeping. Yesterday, may have been a little shorter fast. I haven't eaten any grains for last 3 days (other than possible cross-contamination) and my gut was beginning to feel better.

                Do you think it's the dairy affecting me one day and not the next (or previous as it may be) or maybe I got cross-contamination with grains today and not yesterday?

                For the record, I never had any issues with grains or dairy (or any food for that matter) prior to liver cleanse. I stopped that liver support product 10 days ago.


                • #9
                  I re-read the whole thread again.

                  1) Don't some people take Ox Bile to soak up excess bile? Have you looked into that?
                  2) What did you eat like before primal? Low fat? How long have you been primal? Did you start eating high-fat suddenly, or did you add it slowly? Could it be that your body isn't used to digesting so much fat, causing diarrhea?
                  3) I know you're busy and forget to eat, but if your body really needs you to eat small meals throughout the day, would you be willing to try that? Maybe your body knows best =)

                  I don't know if cross-contamination would cause gut discomfort, depends how sensitive/damaged your intestines are, I guess. Cross-contamination doesn't cause noticeable problems for me, but maybe since I've been primal for so long, I'm somewhat more healed than in the past.

                  I assume you know that removing the gallbladder doesn't fix what's wrong, and that removing the gallbladder can actually cause more problems down the road.

                  Because I'm stupid and not careful with my diet, nowadays I get symptoms of pancreatis =(
                  So please don't follow my path. If dairy and grains bother you, don't eat them!

                  As I look back (pre-primal) I realize that dairy/grain problems (which like you, I didn't think I had) were because ofleaky gut / damaged intestines. Meaning, food crosses from your intestines into your bloodstream or body. Eeeeek !
                  Going primal really helped (I became Primal by accident, before I knew about it). But for leaky gut it would probably be even better to try GAPS diet (which is very primal but specifically designed to heal leaky gut).

                  Even something as simple as eating beef bone stock soup for breakfast, everyday, helped me a lot.

                  To reply to your question, I don't really do planned fasts, I eat when hungry. Nowadays that seems to work out to 2 meals, about 1 PM, and 6 PM.
                  What I meant is that if I eat dairy on a empty stomach, then it bothers me a lot, but if I have dairy at the same time I eat other things, it's not so bad.

                  For example, ice cream on a empty stomach... I would have to rush to the bathroom 30 minutes after. But if I eat some steak and vegetables, THEN have some ice cream, it doesn't really bother me. But the amount of dairy has to be small compared to the rest of the meal.

                  But that's no excuse, neither of us should be eating dairy anyway.
                  And by the way, it's not only dairy that bothers me; lettuce, spinach, apples, apricots, tomatoes, vegetable/soy oils, can all send me to the toilet. The less careful I am with my diet, the more and more foods start to affect me. GAPS diet helps, though, even when I don't do it as strictly as I should.
                  [detailed page]
                  [simplified page]

                  Sorry this became so long winded.
                  Last edited by abstractpersona; 02-27-2012, 02:34 PM.
                  My smartphone makes me about $100 per month
                  Updating my journal again after a 2 year break.


                  • #10
                    My understanding is that Ox Bile supplements the liver's production of bile. It increases bile rather than soaking up excess. If someone has info to the contrary, please let me know.

                    I really ate very poorly before going primal. Mostly junk and processed foods. I ate whatever I felt like whenever I wanted. Sometimes high fat and sometimes not.

                    When I first tried to get healthy I started following CW food guide and tried to increase my grain intake. Then I found primal and decreased it. I was aiming for 50% fat, 25% protein, 25% carb. Sometimes I did better than others. I didn't feel different regardless of what I did.

                    I did start eating high fat suddenly 5 days ago. I had only dabbled with primal until 5 days ago. I was completely grain-free for a month last year, but have bipolar-like mood swings and have trouble sticking to any plan for long. I'm not getting enough vegetables by far so fat has been more than 50% and I have trouble keeping carbs above 50g.

                    Since the liver support product, I've been having issues regardless of what I eat. Today is day 12 without the supplement and day 5 without grains. I still had loose bowel movements yesterday, but down to 3 per day. I had some gurgling when I broke a 12-hour fast yesterday, but no urgent trip to the bathroom. Today, I seem to be doing much better. I've been eating the same thing every morning for the last 4 days so as not to add any variables.

                    I have been trying to eat more often when I am up, but the problem is that I often sleep 10+ hours.

                    Yes, I know NOW that removing my gallbladder doesn't fix anything. I wish I had known then what I know now. Mainly that it was a SYMPTOM. If I had started making changes then, I would be so much further ahead. And I wouldn't have had the gallbladder removed at all. I'm sure my gallbladder was perfectly healthy and did not need to be removed. I had no symptoms of gallbladder disease. Just had a problem with a stone blocking the common bile duct. "They" told me that if they didn't take the gallbladder out, I would have recurrence. They never told me that I could get rid of the stones other ways. They never told me that I could still get stones even without a gallbladder. Back then, I trusted "them".

                    I was willing to reduce grains. I really didn't want to have to give them up altogether, but my body may have other ideas. I really don't want to have to give up dairy. My breakfast the last 4 days has had a lot of cheese and I seem to be fine today. If I had developed (or revealed) a sensitivity to dairy should that improve with 4 days of eating the same thing? Can you increase your tolerance with repeated exposure? Or does the fact that I'm doing better mean that dairy is OK for me and there is some other culprit for my issues? If I do have a sensitivity, I don't want to merely increase my bowel tolerance because it could be a culprit in my mood and other issues.

                    My fasts aren't planned either. Now that I have been trying to pay more attention to hunger and trying not to ignore that when I'm busy, I only eat two meals a day. With my hours, that works out to brunch and late supper.

                    My understanding is that some primal eaters do dairy and some don't. I want my dairy (yes, I know I'm whining LOL), but do need to work on getting it raw. I can't justify (to myself or my husband) spending more on raw dairy, grass-fed meat, local vegetables etc when I don't even have the rest down pat yet. Once I can maintain a healthy eating style, then I will look more at the source. It's overwhelming enough as it is.

                    I have read about GAPS. I have a difficult enough relationship with food already. I can't imagine cutting out more foods. I don't know whether I have leaky gut or not. When looking at my labwork, many have suggested it to me since many nutrients are low in range and that indicates an absorption problem. I'm more inclined to believe that it is an intake problem. When I started supplementing, my levels came up quickly. That says to me that the problem is not absorption.

                    I appreciate your long-winded response. LOL Of course, as you can see, I seem to suffer the same affliction. Thank you to anyone who reads all this.


                    • #11
                      Hey, thanks for giving lots of details, it helps to understand the whole picture :-)

                      Originally posted by Toxalot View Post
                      If I had developed (or revealed) a sensitivity to dairy should that improve with 4 days of eating the same thing?
                      Nope, you would become worse and worse. Otherwise we could cure Celiac's by increasing exposure to gluten, I'd think

                      does the fact that I'm doing better mean that dairy is OK for me and there is some other culprit for my issues?
                      Maybe yes, maybe not? Look, I used to have a list stuck to my fridge that said (before I knew better):
                      Good: Sugar, Banana, (don't remember what else)
                      Bad: Milk, apples, nuts, (don't remember what else)
                      The reason I had that list was because I knew eating the Bad things would give me diarrhea, but if I ate something from the Good list, it wouldn't be so debilitating.
                      So maybe something in your diet is compensating for the dairy? Or maybe now that you stoped the liver cleanse, you're ok with dairy again? *shrug* don't know.

                      My understanding is that some primal eaters do dairy and some don't.
                      Dairy is not Primal, but like rice, some people don't want to stop eating it. Some people have dairy because it doesn't cause them problems.

                      It's not just dairy, some people have to avoid nightshades, and some people like me have to avoid lettuce and apples.
                      People with health problems like us sometimes have to be picky with food, unfortunately. I would love to eat a roll of bread with cheese and a cup of gal„o (milk coffee) for breakfast, like I did when I was growing up, but I can't do that.

                      I have read about GAPS. I have a difficult enough relationship with food already. I can't imagine cutting out more foods.
                      It's temporary, you only have to do it until you start feeling better.
                      My smartphone makes me about $100 per month
                      Updating my journal again after a 2 year break.


                      • #12
                        Originally posted by abstractpersona View Post
                        The reason I had that list was because I knew eating the Bad things would give me diarrhea, but if I ate something from the Good list, it wouldn't be so debilitating.
                        So maybe something in your diet is compensating for the dairy?
                        I guess some more experimenting is in order at some point. During that month I was grain-free last year, I also started out egg-free, sugar-free, caffeine-free, dairy-free, and nightshade-free. I added eggs back first, then fruit, then dairy (at two weeks and I started with Kefir and butter), then nightshades (at 3 weeks). I noticed zero difference either while I was off anything or when I re-introduced things.

                        Originally posted by abstractpersona View Post
                        Or maybe now that you stoped the liver cleanse, you're ok with dairy again?
                        I'm still not sure whether it was the cleansing/detox itself or a reaction to one of the ingredients that caused me problems. I'm pretty sure my liver is sluggish/toxic so I need to work on it rather than just ignore it. And I know veggies are good for the liver. I really have to work on increasing my intake.


                        • #13
                          Hate to bring up a month old thread, but I was researching as I experience this identical problem with intermittent fasting. After a lot of research, it would seem to point to something called 'bile dumping' or also known as "gastric dumping syndrome" in the medical community.

                          It seems that eating any significant amount of dietary fat for the first meal after not eating for a certain length of time will release a large amount of bile causing food to not digest but quickly be emptied due to excess bile dumping. Referred to as "early dumping". Ironic, since dumping is pretty much what occurs quite quickly.

                          I'm going to try and eat a complex carbohydrate first and then eat fats maybe 30-60 minutes later and break my first meal up a bit, have 2 meals.

                          Edit: I'm also going to try from what people suggest, it may help.