How to Keep Your Bile Thin and Moving?

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Why is it so important to take care of your liver and gallbladder? The liver produces bile, which is stored in the gallbladder. When we eat, the gallbladder squirts bile into the duodenum (the beginning of the small intestine) as part of the digestive process. Bile is essential for breaking down fats—not only from food, but also fat-soluble toxins, fatty hormones such as estrogen, and more. When we consistently eat fatty, hard-to-digest foods, the gallbladder becomes sluggish and begins to accumulate a thick, gluey sludge that can lead to thickened bile, gallstones, gallbladder inflammation, and other issues.

Congested bile lowers digestive fire and slows down fat metabolism. You may feel:

  • indigestion (bloating, gas, acid reflux, belching)
  • constipation
  • sluggishness
  • nausea
  • pain under the rib cage, on the right side
  • headaches

Indigestion produces excessive ama (poorly or semi-digested food) in your body and ama creates a vicious cycle of more digestive clogging and even stiffness in the muscles and joints. Long-term bile issues can lead to high cholesterol, weight gain, gallstones, reabsorption of toxins and hormones, thyroid imbalance, and more. Sadly, removal of the gallbladder (cholecystectomy) is one of the most common surgical procedures in the United States today.

What Can Cause Bile Sludge?

The foods listed below are hard to digest and can cause gallbladder and bile issues:


  • Frozen/ice-cold foods and beverages: The cold causes the fats in the bile to thicken and congeal.
  • Deep-fried foods
  • Hard-to-digest oils and oil supplements: Vegetable oils, hydrogenated fats and margarines, fish oil, flaxseed oil, and other oils rich in omega-3s and fat-soluble vitamins (A, D, E, K) can overwhelm the gallbladder’s ability to break down fat.
  • Cold dairy—especially Greek yogurt, cold milk, ice cream, frozen yogurt
  • Aged cheeses
  • Nut butters
  • Red meats
  • Refined flours and sugars

Some Foods That Support Healthy Bile Production

  • To thin bile: cooked beets, artichokes, sunchokes, carrots, apples
  • To flush the liver and gallbladder of congested bile: cooked leafy greens, arugula, fresh lime/lemon juice, aloe vera juice, grapefruit
  • To supply soluble fiber: whole grains, lentils, cooked cabbage, Brussels sprouts and leafy greens; daikon radish, celery, berries, powdered psyllium husk
  • To stimulate the release of bile: healthy oils in small quantities, such as cultured ghee, olive oil, coconut oil
  • To help move stagnation: hot water
  • Herbs: Triphala, shilajit, guduchi, hibiscus
  • Spices: fenugreek seedscinnamon stickturmericginger


To Learn More on This Topic:

Dr. John Douillard, Ayurvedic Herbs for Bile Sludge & Gallbladder Health

Dr. John Immel, Diet and Herbs for Healthy Bile Production

 Dr. Marianne Teitelbaum, Healing the Thyroid with Ayurveda, Chapter 6: Gallbladder Function and the Thyroid Gland (Healing Arts Press, March 19, 2019).

Dr. John Douillard, Eat Wheat, (Morgan James Publishing, 2017)



Cooked Apple-Beet Smoothie

Sautéed Broccoli Rabe and Beets with Saffron Almonds


1 reply
  1. Irina French
    Irina French says:

    Thank you so much for your article. I will implement the suggestions into my lifestyle.

    Could I ask why nut butters are problematic, please? Is it the quantity in excess that is the issue? Otherwise, it’s just like nuts, am I right? Unless it is about the skin not being removed and nuts not being soaked?

    Do you recommend using almond butter at all vs soaked and peeled almonds?

    Thank you so much for all you do.


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