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Pancreatitis Diet What Foods Should You Eat

Pancreatitis Diet What Foods Should You Eat

But in cases of chronic pancreatitis, in which flare-ups recur over time, your diet might have a lot to do with the problem. Researchers are finding out more about foods you can eat to protect and even help to heal your pancreas.

Nutrition is a vitally important part of treatment for patients with pancreatitis. The primary goals of nutritional management for chronic pancreatitis are:

  • Prevent malnutrition and nutritional deficiencies
  • Maintain normal blood sugar levels (avoid both hypoglycemia and hyperglycemia)
  • Prevent or optimally manage diabetes, kidney problems, and other conditions associated with chronic pancreatitis
  • Avoid causing an acute episode of pancreatitis

Paying close attention to your diet can help ease abdominal pain that accompanies this condition, says pancreas specialist Prabhleen Chahal, MD. If you choose your food well, you can give your pancreas a break and help it recover.

So, it’s vital to know which foods you can eat, which ones you should avoid, and how those choices can affect your body.

A pancreatitis diet takes this into account, prohibiting fatty foods and emphasizing choices that are nutrient-rich, especially those high in protein.

The pancreatitis diet is one of the important parts of the treatment of this disease. Without a proper diet, it is not possible to completely cure these patients.

Changing how you eat, either temporarily or committing to a long-term pancreatitis diet, can help you manage your symptoms and prevent attacks, as well as keep you properly nourished despite your condition.

And the benefits go beyond comfort. A pancreatitis diet helps support an organ that’s already functioning inefficiently, which is of great significance because a pancreas that becomes unable to contribute to insulin regulation can give way to developing diabetes.

Foods for a Pancreatitis Diet

The pancreatitis diet is one of the important parts of the treatment of this disease. Without a proper diet, it is not possible to completely cure these patients.
After examination and prescribing medication, the doctor refers to these patients to a dietitian for a pancreatitis diet.

Our goal of medical nutrition therapy in pancreatitis patients is to achieve the below objects:

  • Prevent malnutrition and ensure adequate nutrition in the pancreatitis diet
  • Maintaining normal blood glucose levels (prevention of hyperglycemia and hypoglycemia)
  • Prevention of diabetes and kidney disease as well as other diseases caused by pancreatitis
  • Prevent recurrence of pancreatitis and inflammation of the pancreas

To achieve these goals, that is necessary to make changes in the pancreatitis diet compared to the normal diet to relieve pressure on the pancreas.

The first thing about a pancreatitis diet is that it should be low in fat. Fats need digestive enzymes secreted by the pancreas to be digested and absorbed in the gut. The more fat in the diet, the more activity the pancreas must make to produce digestive enzymes. As the pancreas activity increases, more pressure is put on the pancreas and the inflammation of the pancreas increases.

Studies show that patients with pancreatitis can get up to 30% of their fat intake from MCTs; MCTs do not need pancreatic enzymes to digest and absorb, and therefore do not put too much pressure on the pancreas. Coconut and coconut oil are rich in MCTs. However, note that consuming too many MCTs can cause problems for the body and should not be overused in the pancreatitis diet.

Sugar and simple carbohydrates are other things to look out for in a pancreatitis diet. Because the pancreas produces insulins and glucagon, the two primary hormones that regulate blood sugar, pancreatitis can affect these hormones’ secretion and upset blood sugar levels. For this reason, the intake of simple carbohydrates and sugars should be balanced, and you should avoid excessive consumption of things such as chocolate, candy, sweets, etc. in the pancreatitis diet.

Meals in the pancreatitis diet should be small and frequent. Large meals increase the pancreas’ pressure to secrete digestive enzymes and cause more inflammation of the pancreas. Eating 6-8 small meals is much better than eating three large meals and reducing the pancreas’ pressure.

Adequate eat of fruits and vegetables, especially those with many antioxidants such as berries, red grapes, cherries, etc. is beneficial for you.
Avoid excessive consumption of fruits, vegetables, and high-fiber foods in one meal; these foods, due to their high fiber, reduce foods’ absorption and harm digestive enzymes’ effectiveness, so you should avoid eating high amounts of them.

Do not forget to consume enough water in the pancreatitis diet.

The first treatment for pancreatitis sometimes requires a person to refrain from consuming all food and liquids for several hours or even days.

Some people may need an alternate way of getting nutrition if they are unable to consume the required amounts for their body to work properly.

When a doctor allows a person to eat again, they will likely recommend that a person eats small meals frequently throughout the day and avoids fast food, fried foods, and highly processed foods.

Here is a list of foods that may be recommended and why:

  • vegetables
  • beans and lentils
  • fruits
  • whole grains
  • other plant-based foods that are not fried

These foods are recommended for people with pancreatitis because they tend to be naturally low in fat, which eases the amount of work the pancreas needs to do to aid digestion.

Fruits, vegetables, beans, lentils, and whole grains are also beneficial because of their fiber content. Eating more fiber can lower the chances of having gallstones or elevated levels of fats in the blood called triglycerides. Both of those conditions are common causes of acute pancreatitis.

In addition to fiber, the foods listed above also provide antioxidants. Pancreatitis is an inflammatory condition, and antioxidants may help reduce inflammation.

Lean meats

Lean meats can help people with pancreatitis meet their protein needs.

Medium-chain triglycerides (MCTs)

For people with chronic pancreatitis, adding MCTs to their diet may improve nutrient absorption. People often consume MCTs in supplement form as MCT oil. This supplement is available online without a prescription.

Foods That Should Not Be Used In The Pancreatitis Diet

As mentioned in the pancreatitis diet, some foods should be restricted in these patients’ diets due to the lack of secretion of digestive enzymes. Below is a list of foods that should be limited or should not be consumed:

  • Red meat like pork, beef, etc.
  • Animals and organs of animals such as liver, kidneys, etc.
  • Fried foods such as chips, french fries, etc.
  • Mayonnaise
  • Butter, cream and margarine
  • High-fat dairy
  • Desserts that are made from sugar, such as jelly, candy, etc.
  • Trans fatty acids that are found in large amounts in fast foods and fried foods.
  • Processed meats such as sausages, hot dogs, burgers, etc.

Try to eat healthier foods in your pancreatitis diet instead of the foods listed above.

Enzyme Supplementation

If pancreatic enzymes are prescribed, it is important to take them regularly in order to prevent flare-ups.

The healthy pancreas is stimulated to release pancreatic enzymes when undigested food reaches the small intestine. These enzymes join with bile and begin breaking down food in the small intestine.

Since your pancreas is not working optimally, you may not be getting the pancreatic enzymes you need to digest your food properly. Taking enzymes can help to digest your food, thus improving any signs or symptoms of steatorrhea (excess fat in the stool, or fat malabsorption). In turn this will improve your ability to eat better, lowering your risk for malnutrition.

Alcohol

If pancreatitis was caused by alcohol use, you should abstain from alcohol. If other causes of acute pancreatitis have been addressed and resolved (such as via gallbladder removal) and the pancreas returned to normal, you should be able to lead a normal life, but alcohol should still be taken only in moderation (maximum of 1 serving/day). In chronic pancreatitis, there is ongoing inflammation and malabsorption — patients gradually lose digestive function and eventually lose insulin function — so regular use of alcohol is unwise.

Smoking

People with pancreatitis should avoid smoking, as it increases the risk for pancreatic cancer.

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