Gallstones - Preventing gallstones
NHS Choices Medical Reference
Many of the risk factors for gallstones, such as age and gender, are fixed and cannot be prevented.
However, from the limited evidence available, the most effective way of preventing gallstones is to make lifestyle changes, such as:
- changes to your diet
- losing weight (if you are obese)
Due to the role that cholesterol appears to play in the formation of gallstones, it is advisable to avoid eating fatty foods with a high cholesterol content.
Foods that are high in cholesterol include:
- meat pies
- sausages and fatty cuts of meat
- butter and lard
- cakes and biscuits
A low-fat, high-fibre diet is recommended. This includes plenty of fresh fruit and vegetables (at least five portions a day) and whole grains.
There is also evidence that regularly eating nuts, such as peanuts or cashew nuts, can help reduce the risk of developing gallstones, as can drinking alcohol in moderation (no more than 3-4 units a day for men and 2-3 units a day for women).
Being overweight, and particularly being obese, increases the amount of cholesterol that is in your bile, which in turn increases your risk of developing gallstones. You should, therefore, control your weight by eating a healthy diet and taking plenty of regular exercise.
However, avoid low-calorie, rapid weight-loss diets. There is evidence that they can disrupt your bile chemistry and increase your risk of developing gallstones. A more gradual weight-loss plan is recommended.
There is more information and advice about how to lose weight safely in Live Well.