More than 100,000 people are affected by pancreatitis globally (1). It is a serious medical issue and should not be ignored. Pancreatitis is caused due to inflammation of the pancreas, the gland that helps to regulate sugar uptake by the cells by secreting insulin and glucagon. It also releases digestive enzymes that aid digestion (2). Due to gallstones, excess alcohol, smoking, autoimmune disease, or faulty genes, the pancreatic enzymes are secreted in the pancreas instead of the small intestine. This leads to inflammation, improper digestion, and malabsorption. It is, therefore, mandatory for people with chronic and acute pancreatitis to follow a pancreas-soothing diet. In this article, we will discuss foods to include and avoid if you have pancreatitis.
But first, let us understand the difference between chronic and acute pancreatitis and the symptoms.
What Is The Difference Between Chronic And Acute Pancreatitis?
The pancreas is an elongated gland present in the visceral cavity, almost covered by the stomach and duodenum. As mentioned earlier, it secretes insulin and glucagon, thereby regulating the blood glucose levels. It also secretes digestive enzymes to break down and metabolize proteins, carbs, and fats.
Acute pancreatitis involves active inflammation of the pancreas, causing sudden bouts of abdominal pain and an increase in the level of blood enzymes.
Chronic pancreatitis is a condition in which the inflammation has reduced but caused damage to the pancreas by calcification, ductal inflammation, and fibrosis.
In fact, people with chronic pancreatitis can experience bouts of acute pancreatitis. Hence, it is important that you are aware of the symptoms so that you can take precautionary measures before it’s too late.
- Upper abdominal pain that may come and go or persist
- Drastic weight loss
- Pain right after meals
- Tender abdomen
- Higher heart rate
- Back and shoulder pain
- Smelly and oily stool
Now, let’s see which foods you should eat and avoid if you suffer from chronic or acute pancreatitis.
Pancreatitis Diet – Foods To Eat
If you’re on a pancreatitis diet, you’ll need to consume low-fat food since the presence of fat in your blood could be triggering your condition. But you have nothing to complain about because, nowadays, low-fat foods are available everywhere, and they’re all delicious. There are plenty of varieties to choose from, so it’s almost certain that sticking to your diet will not be a problem at all. Here are some choices you could include in your pancreatitis diet:
- Yogurt should be an important part of your daily diet, whether you have it with your meals or as a light snack.
- Veggie soups are great as well. If you love tomato soup, it’s fantastic as it has loads of antioxidants.
- Spinach is rich in iron, so go ‘Popeye’ on everyone and consume loads of this veggie.
- Blueberries are great as they are rich in antioxidants that combat free radicals.
- Red grapes are rich in resveratrol that is great for treating pancreatitis.
- Vitamin B is important, so keep foods such as dark leafy veggies, whole grains, etc. in stock.
- Lean meat is a great choice. You could use tofu as a substitute.
- Fluids are a must. Water, juices, and soups are a big yes. Go for these any time of the day.
Pancreatitis Diet – Foods to Avoid
There are certain foods that need to be avoided when you have pancreatitis. They are listed below:
- White bread, pasta, sugar, and other refined foods are a strict no-no.
- Avoid red meat and organ meat if you can.
- Stay away from commercial foods that contain trans fats, such as doughnuts, cookies, etc.
- Avoid tea, coffee, and packaged drinks.
- Fried foods, pizzas, butter, eggs, potato chips, cheeses, and beans should be avoided at all costs.
- If you smoke, kick the habit – NOW!
- Avoid butter, margarine, ghee, full-fat dairy, and mayonnaise.
What if you have just had an episode of pancreatitis pain and are recovering from it? What diet should you follow then? Find out in the next section.
Pancreatitis Recovery Diet
Your doctor might ask you to be on complete bowel rest during the recovery phase. You will be gradually allowed to include foods that do not cause inflammation in the pancreas. Keep yourself hydrated and avoid alcohol, smoking, and fatty and greasy foods. Take vitamin and mineral supplements after consulting your doctor.
You must also take charge of your life by changing your lifestyle. Here’s how you can go about it.
Recommended Lifestyle Changes
- Drink 3-4 liters of water every day.
- Go on walks.
- Eat healthy and avoid foods that can cause inflammation of the pancreas.
- Practice meditation and yoga.
- Consume home-cooked food.
- Quit smoking and drinking alcohol.
- Join a support group to talk it out and get the support of people who understand what you are going through.
- Do not miss your doctor’s appointments. Reschedule them if you do.
We highly recommend you follow these tips so that you can reduce the chances of further complications. What can they be? Here’s a list.
Health Complications Of Pancreatitis
- Pancreatic cancer
- Kidney damage
It is a no-brainer that you do not want to aggravate the condition. So, follow the pancreatitis diet to soothe your pancreas and help it heal. Talk to a doctor immediately if you are experiencing any of the symptoms listed in the article. Take care!
Expert’s Answers For Readers’ Questions
Will I be able to do normal activities?
That depends on your condition. If your doctor recommends rest, you must avoid doing strenuous activities. You may do isometric exercises and stretching.
Will I be able to consume alcohol after my recovery?
No. It is not recommended to consume alcohol. It will only aggravate the condition and make you prone to another flare up.
Will smoking impact my disease?
Yes, it will. Hence, it is better to quit smoking.
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