Foods that Increase Bile Production for Significantly Improved Digestion

Bile is very important for a healthy digestive tract, so this post helps you to eat lots of good foods that increase bile production and promote a healthy gallbladder. 

Not only will eating healthy foods help you absorb your food better by making more bile, but it will also reduce your chances of getting gallstones in the first place.

Healthy bile is critical for every system in the body because your body needs the nutrients that it helps deliver. 

In this post, learn about foods that increase bile production and foods that help stimulate bile flow from the gallbladder. 

What is bile?

Bile is produced by the liver and is a complex mixture of acid-neutralizing substances. This critical substance also helps emulsify fats and helps the body absorb fat from your diet as well as fat-soluble vitamins. There are around 50 types of bile acids made by your liver [R].  

The liquid substance called bile is made of two compounds called bilirubin and biliverdin, which are the reason a healthy poop is brown in color.

Another interesting fact about bile is that the body can make between 2-4 cups of it per day if you are healthy!

After bile juice is made by the liver, it is stored in your gallbladder for when you eat a meal. It is released into the small intestine, along with pancreatic enzymes,  so that your body can begin to absorb the food you eat.

It is important to have enough bile in the body because you absorb your food better and because bile helps reduce excess weight gain as well as helping to keep your gut bacteria in balance [R]. 

Roles of bile in optimizing health

Drawing of bile in the gallbladder by The Healthy RD
Bile in the gallbladder

Having a good amount of bile that is released when you eat your meals helps so many things in your body.  

These include: 

  • Absorb fat from foods
  • Increasing vitamin absorption
  • Improving the microbiome
  • Achieving a healthy body weight
  • Preventing diarrhea and constipation
  • Improving cholesterol levels

Foods that increase bile production

Image of healthy foods that increase bile production including an apple, lettus, tomatoes, grass-fed beef, chicken, salmon, nuts, pumpkin seeds, olive oil, potatoes, garlic eggs, and citrus fruits by The Healthy RD

As you can see, bile plays a critical role in keeping you healthy, so you should eat foods that stimulate bile production in the liver.  

You should also eat foods that help the gallbladder release bile as well. 

It is well-known that the Standard American Diet, which is full of processed fats, sugars, and additives is one of the main causes of a sluggish gallbladder, low bile levels, and inflamed livers that result in gallbladder disease. 

So as you can imagine, the opposite of the Western diet helps to improve bile flow and production. 

If you are looking for what stimulates bile production, whole and unprocessed foods are your best bet. These foods include the following categories [R, R, R, R, R, R, R, R, R, R, R]. 

  • Healthy fats
  • Herbs and spices
  • Protein foods
  • Fresh produce

This doesn’t mean that you should use these foods as a substitute for seeing a doctor or healthcare professional if you are having a gallbladder attack or painful gallstones. You should always seek medical help if you are having unexplained abdominal pain and digestive issues.

Healthy fats to increase bile production

If you are wondering how to produce more bile, a very important factor is eating healthy fats.  Fats stimulate the release of the gallbladder, which sends signals back to the liver to increase bile production. 

Healthy fats for bile include: 

  • Extra virgin olive oil
  • Organic grass-finished whole milk yogurt
  • Avocado
  • Virgin coconut oil and coconut shreds
  • Organic grass-fed butter or ghee
  • Nuts
  • Seeds 
  • Krill oil
  • Fish oil

You should include one or more of these healthy fats with each meal for best bile health.  Alternatively, you should avoid fried foods and processed fats because they cause inflammation in the liver where bile is made. 

Herbs to increase bile production

If you are wondering how to increase bile production, you should know that using certain herbs and spices may help your gallbladder and liver function properly to perform this function. 

Here are some herbs and spices to include:

  • Artichoke leaf
  • Turmeric
  • Ginger
  • Black pepper
  • Dandelion root tea
  • Burdock root
  • Cilantro
  • Peppermint
  • Green tea
  • Black tea
  • Chamomile
  • Fenugreek
  • Milk thistle

Using one or more of these herbs and spices regularly in cooking or adding them to teas can be helpful for making bile.  You can also supplement many of these herbs and spices as well. 

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Protein foods to increase bile production

Research shows that healthy protein-rich foods stimulate the production of bile.  This is partially because these foods are also rich in phospholipids, which are compounds that help to combine fat and water.  

By the way, bile helps to combine or emulsify fat and water in your small intestine, so it makes sense that you need phospholipids to make healthy bile!

Produce that helps make bile

Traditional treatment of biliary issues includes adding bitter foods like some vegetables and fruits that help bile production. It also includes the use of citrus and fermented vegetables.  Much research also supports the use of these foods and drinks for helping make a healthy gallbladder and liver too. 

These bitter foods and produce include:

  • Lemons and lemon juice
  • Lime
  • Grapefruit
  • Sauerkraut
  • Fresh apples
  • Leafy greens
  • Celery
  • Coffee
    • use moderately because it can cause poor sleep and stress when overused
  • Black tea and green tea
  • Dill
  • Artichokes
  • Brussels sprouts
  • Broccoli
  • Kale
  • Arugula

Foods that help bile flow

Some foods have been proven to increase bile flow from the gallbladder, while others make it sluggish. The use of some of these foods is a traditional method to help with bile flow while others are supported by research.   Foods that help increase bile flow include:

  • Healthy fats listed above
  • Turmeric
  • Coffee
  • Fresh apples
  • Artichokes
  • Lemons and citrus fruits
  • Extra virgin olive oil
  • Apple cider vinegar with the mother

A compound in lemons and citrus fruits called limonene may even help soften gallstones according to some early research [R].  

Foods that help you process bile

Bile healthy foods include foods that will help your body by binding excess bile salts.  Typically, these are fiber-rich foods. Balancing fiber with all the above-mentioned foods can help your gallbladder and liver make and store a balanced amount of bile [R, R, R, R]. 

Use fiber-rich foods including:

  • Legumes-preferably soaked and fermented
  • Avocados
  • Psyllium
  • Acacia fiber
  • Quinoa
  • Fruits and vegetables
  • Medicinal mushrooms

Related post: The Best Fiber Supplement for IBS-D +8 Brands to Choose (thehealthyrd.com)

Foods to avoid for a healthy bile flow

Image of junk foods like burgers, fries, onion rings, cookies, chips, candies, soda, and donuts with a big red x through them by The Healthy RD

While adding in foods that support healthy liver and liver bile production, you should avoid foods that reduce bile flow and production.  Foods that reduce bile production, cause liver inflammation, or cause gallbladder sludge are usually the ones that are convenience foods. 

Sorry to all the food manufacturers out there, but you aren’t helping our gallbladders and livers!

Often the reason to avoid these foods is not directly because they reduce bile production, but because they may produce long-term liver damage due to an increase in fatty liver disease over time.  Over time, this results in bile deficiency and often causes you to need a gallbladder removal, also known as cholecystectomy. 

These foods to avoid include [R, R, R]:

  • Sugar
  • Vegetable oil
  • Soybean oil
  • Corn oil
  • Fried foods
  • Soda
  • Fast foods
  • Processed snacks like cookies, cakes, candies, chips

Other ways to increase bile

Taking care of your digestive tract also requires your lifestyle to be healthy too.  Research shows that it is important to exercise regularly and reduce stress for your biliary tract to work properly. 

Exercise

Exercise helps to increase bile production in the liver, especially when combined with healthy weight loss according to new research.  

In obese women, exercise and medically supervised weight loss resulted in an increase in post-meal bile acid production in the liver and also made the body more responsive to mealtime feedback of bile production. This new research was published in the American Journal of Physiology, Endocrinology, and Metabolism

 Exercise may stimulate bile production by increasing insulin sensitivity and reducing inflammation.   

In summary, exercise and weight loss resulted in improved fat digestion, but also helped the body lose weight. 

Stress reduction

Stress is harmful to the gut and overall digestive function, so it should come as no surprise that stress also disrupts bile production and bile metabolism in the body [R]. 

Besides, reducing your daily stressors benefits you in just about every way too, by improving sleep, brain health, and heart health.

Take time to relax each day and remind yourself what you are grateful for.  Learn more about stress reduction and focus here. 

Symptoms of low bile production

Lack of bile can be painful and downright unhealthy. Low bile symptoms can include one or more of the following symptoms. 

Many signs of bile acid deficiency are tell-tale signs.  These include:

  • Pale, pasty, or yellowish colored bowel movements
  • Diarrhea
  • Constipation
  • Heartburn or acid reflux
  • Abdominal pain and discomfort
  • Worsening of symptoms after eating fried or greasy processed foods
  • Hair loss due to lack of fat soluble vitamins like vitamin D

Low bile production and constipation are related for some people. This is because bile lubricates the stool and promotes healthy gut bacteria [R]. 

What causes low bile?

There are many reasons that your body could be suffering from bile deficiency.  Fatty livers due to high sugar intake are becoming more and more common, and this type of condition is known to be tied to gallstones and low bile production [R, R]. 

Other causes can include:

  • Leaky gut or inflammatory bowel disease
  • Altered gut microbiome
  • Low fat diets
  • Gallbladder surgery or cholecystectomies
  • Chronic diarrhea

What does bile do?

The body makes bile to keep you healthy in a lot of ways.  

Combining with fat-soluble vitamins, it helps you absorb nutrients as well as antioxidants. According to John Hopkins Medicine, bile also has the following roles:

  • Helps remove toxins and waste products from the body
  • Assists in breaking down fats so that your body can absorb them

Other research shows that bile helps to keep the gut microbiome in balance and helps the body to clear out toxic heavy metals [R].  By doing so, it helps to promote healthy bowel movements.

Still, other research shows that bile helps keep your weight healthy and promotes energy production. It does this by promoting the healthy metabolism of fats, carbohydrates, sugar, and protein [R]. 

Supplements to increase bile production

If you can’t see yourself adding in lots of herbs and spices to help your bile flow better, you can consider supplementing some of them. Common supplements to support bile health include:

The most obvious way to increase bile when you are lacking it is to take a bile supplement called ox bile or directly supplement gallbladder organ, which is where bile is stored. Learn more about how to use a bile salt supplement and ox bile benefits here

Taking bile supplements isn’t for everyone, so make sure you check with your healthcare provider, preferably one trained in functional medicine, before doing so.

Summary of foods that increase production of bile

Foods that increase bile production are healthy ones like unprocessed fats, fruits, vegetables, spices, herbs, coffee, tea, and herbal infusions. 

Additionally, avoiding trigger foods like fast foods, junk foods, and the like helps to maintain a healthy bile flow and production.  If you are low in bile, you also may need to consider adding ox bile or gall bladder supplement in addition to herbs that support bile health. 

This post is not meant as medical advice and is for informational purposes only and not meant to treat diseases. As with anything, make sure to check with your healthcare provider before starting any new supplement. All rights reserved.

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