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Diet for Pancreatitis: The Do’s and Don’ts of a Pancreatitis Diet Plan

Pancreatitis is a potentially debilitating condition marked by abdominal discomfort. Following a specific pancreatitis diet plan, however, can help relieve symptoms and improve overall well-being. Below, Flo outlines its various forms and how to design a pancreatitis diet that works for you.

Simply put, pancreatitis is an inflammation of the pancreas. While there are multiple contributing factors, it’s usually caused by specific digestive enzymes becoming active prior to leaving the pancreas. This tends to irritate pancreatic cells, creating an inflammatory response. 

Typically, pancreatitis diagnoses are categorized as either acute or chronic. The former is defined as appearing suddenly, then subsiding within a few days. The latter, on the other hand, is a persistent issue lasting for a number of years.

Since each case of pancreatitis is unique, so is the right pancreatitis diet plan for each patient. No one diet for pancreatitis is considered to be a one-size-fits-all approach.

Unlike those created for breastfeeding or boosting fertility, pancreatitis diets are a little harder to concretely define. Ask a dietitian or health care provider about developing a customized plan. 

Those experiencing an acute version of pancreatitis may need to fast, but this doesn’t mean it’s OK to totally neglect your diet. The pancreas is heavily involved in the digestive process and enzyme production, so the foods you eat will have a huge impact on pancreatic health. 

In fact, designing (and sticking to!) a focused, well-balanced diet for pancreatitis could serve as an effective pancreatitis treatment at home. Ideally, foods that alleviate pressure on the pancreas and reduce stomach aches provide a great starting point for recovery. Try adding the following things to your chronic pancreatitis diet: 

  • Fruits and vegetables
  • Fat-free or low-fat dairy products (e.g., milk, cheese, and yogurt) 
  • Lentils and beans
  • Whole grains

Antioxidant-rich options fit perfectly into a pancreatitis diet since they significantly decrease the volume of free radicals in the body. This, in turn, tackles inflammation and aids in restoring pancreatic health. Consume dark red, blue, and purple-colored berries, leafy greens, sweet potatoes, and carrots. 

In the meantime, whole-grain foods increase fiber intake and reduce cholesterol, a leading cause of gallstones, which raise the likelihood of acute pancreatitis. 

Some experts suggest switching to a vegetarian diet as a key component of pancreatitis treatment at home. Just be sure to research the pros and cons of vegetarianism and discuss it with your health care provider in advance.

Now that we know the best diet for pancreatitis recovery, it’s equally important to be aware of what not to eat on a diet for pancreatitis. As the pancreas is tasked with processing all fats, consuming fatty foods inevitably places more strain on this vital organ. 

Opt for low-fat and low-sugar products to fight pancreatic inflammation. Also, try to limit consumption of:

  • Fried potatoes (e.g., french fries, chips)
  • Red meat
  • Full-fat mayonnaise, margarine, or butter
  • Sugary drinks like soda
  • Pastries and cakes

If you’re experiencing acute pancreatitis, related symptoms may last a few days before disappearing. With a well-executed pancreatitis diet plan, it’s possible to speed up the recovery process. 

As mentioned, one of the most common reasons behind pancreatitis is gallstones, which create blockages in the bile duct. Digestive enzymes are unable to leave the pancreas once activated, producing inflammation. Frequently found in obese individuals with high cholesterol, severe gallstones can be largely prevented with a pancreatitis diet plan. 

Steer clear of fatty, fried foods and eat plenty of fresh fruits, vegetables, and whole grains. Additionally, taking artificial digestive enzyme capsules (with the approval of your health care provider), could further aid digestion and give your pancreas a much needed break.

Instead of eating three big meals per day, eat 6 to 8 smaller meals throughout the day, in combination with a multivitamin supplement. Avoid alcohol and tobacco products, and drink lots of water to stay hydrated. 

By carefully managing your pancreatitis diet, you’ll not only fast-track recovery from an acute flare-up, you could even stop future flare-ups from occurring.

Being in-the-know about pancreatitis prevention goes far beyond what you eat. Numerous adjustments should be made to your daily lifestyle to reduce the chances of a flare-up. 

Alcohol consumption is yet another culprit behind acute pancreatitis. If possible, eliminate alcohol altogether; otherwise, practice moderation. Do not exceed more than 14 servings of alcoholic beverages per week. 

If you’ve had past flare-ups or think you might be susceptible to developing pancreatitis, start getting regular checkups. Even sporadic abdominal pains or diarrhea after eating are worth following up on with a trusted medical professional. 

A variety of methods are used to gauge pancreatic health, including blood tests which detect abnormal enzyme levels. CT scans, ultrasound exams, and stool testing search for gallstones, while MRIs provide a comprehensive look at the gallbladder, bile duct, and pancreas. 

Luckily, pancreatitis tends to be a short-term, easily treatable problem, but only if it’s diagnosed early on. Once it becomes a chronic issue, pancreatitis could have serious medical consequences.

By making a pancreatitis diet plan part of your daily routine, it’s possible to restore and maintain pancreatic function. Choose your meals wisely and try your best to follow the above do’s and dont’s in order to maximize the benefits of a pancreatitis diet. 

Should you ever notice intense abdominal pain or discomfort, with no signs of improvement, please seek medical attention immediately. Though rare, some instances of pancreatitis may be life-threatening, particularly in the absence of proper treatment.

https://europepmc.org/article/med/3362842

https://pancreasfoundation.org/patient-information/chronic-pancreatitis/

https://columbiasurgery.org/pancreas/pancreatitis-diet

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4087585/

https://link.springer.com/article/10.1007/s002689900204

https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/acute-pancreatitis/prevention/

https://insights.ovid.com/gastroenterology/cogas/1991/10/000/chronic-pancreatitis/6/00001574

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