In addition to making insulin, which your body uses to regulate blood sugar levels, a healthy pancreas produces enzymes that help your body digest and use the food you eat. If your pancreas becomes inflamed ( pancreatitis ), it is more difficult for it to break down fat and not be able to absorb as much food.
The pancreatitis diet takes this into account by banning fatty foods and focusing on options that are rich in nutrients, especially those rich in protein.
Changing your diet, whether it's a temporary or long-term pancreatitis diet, can help you manage symptoms and prevent seizures, and ensure adequate nutrition despite your condition.
About 15% of people who have acute pancreatitis will develop the disease in others. Chronic pancreatitis occurs in about 5% of people.
The most common cause of chronic pancreatitis is alcohol abuse, which accounts for about 80% of cases. Although diet does not directly cause pancreatitis (it can contribute to gallstones and lipid levels, which can lead to illness), it can help control symptoms and prevent future attacks in those diagnosed.
And the benefits go beyond convenience. The pancreatitis diet helps maintain an already inefficiently functioning organ, which is of great importance since the pancreas, which is no longer involved in regulating insulin, can lead to the development of diabetes .
At the center of all of this is fat restriction. The less you consume, the less stress on the pancreas, which is already complicated by pancreatitis when it comes to fat metabolism.
A 2013 study published in the journal Clinical Nutrition found that male pancreatitis patients on a high-fat diet were more likely to experience persistent abdominal pain. They were also more likely to be diagnosed with chronic pancreatitis at a younger age.
Additionally, a 2015 review of treatment recommendations developed by Japanese researchers found that patients with severe chronic pancreatitis benefited from a very low-fat diet, but people with milder forms of the disease tended to tolerate fats from the disease. diet (especially if they took digestive enzymes) . during meals).
If you have recurring pancreatitis and ongoing pain, your healthcare provider may ask you to experiment with your daily fat intake to see if your symptoms improve.
Eating nutrient-rich foods in your diet for pancreatitis also helps prevent the possibility of malnutrition. One reason this can happen is that some of the key vitamins (A, D, and E) are fat soluble; Problems digesting fats cause problems with the proper absorption of these nutrients .
Deficiency of one or more fat-soluble vitamins has its own set of symptoms and health risks. For example, vitamin A deficiency can cause night blindness, and vitamin D deficiency has been associated with an increased risk of osteoporosis (especially after menopause).
How does it work
While the specific diet for pancreatitis will depend on your dietary needs and preferences, there are some general guidelines that you can use as a starting point.
It is generally recommended to avoid the following options:
- High fat
- Heavily processed
- There is a lot of sugar
- Contains alcohol
Advice on fat intake for pancreatitis varies. For example, the Stanford University Center for Digestive Health recommends that patients with chronic pancreatitis limit their fat intake to 30-50 grams per day, depending on how well they are tolerated.
Fats are still an important part of a balanced diet; you just need to pay more attention and regulate your intake of the type of fat you are consuming .
For example, a type of fat called medium chain triglycerides (MCTs) can be digested without the help of the pancreas. Coconut and coconut oils are natural sources of MCT, but they are also available in supplement form.
If your body has a hard time processing healthy fats, your healthcare provider may recommend that you take digestive enzymes. These synthetic enzymes help replace what your pancreas cannot make. They usually come in capsules that are taken with meals.
There are two general approaches to treating pancreatitis with diet. You may need to use both, depending on whether you are having a bout of symptoms or trying to prevent inflammation.
- When you have symptoms of acute pancreatitis , eating foods that are less digestible can be a relief.
- If you are in the middle of an acute attack , your healthcare provider may ask you to follow a restricted diet of soft foods until your body recovers.
In most mild cases of pancreatitis, complete bowel rest or a liquid diet is not needed. A 2016 review of clinical guidelines for the treatment of acute pancreatitis found that a soft diet was safe for most patients who could not tolerate their usual diet due to symptoms of pancreatitis.
For severe pancreatitis symptoms or complications, a feeding tube or other artificial feeding may be required.
Although you can return to a less restrictive diet when you feel better, it can cause your symptoms to return. If you are prone to recurring pancreatitis attacks, changing your diet for a long time can help prevent attacks while ensuring that you are likely nourished and hydrated.
What is it
Popcorn (no butter), wheat, or spelled pretzels
Beans, lentils, legumes
Coconut / palm kernel oil (for MCT)
Corn or whole grain tortillas
Couscous, quinoa, whole wheat pasta
Dairy-free milk substitutes (almonds, soy, rice)
Fish (cod, haddock)
Fresh / Frozen / Canned Fruits and Vegetables
Fruit and vegetable juices without sugar or soda.
Herbal tea, decaffeinated coffee (with a little honey or non-dairy creamer, optional)
Lean cuts of meat
Low-fat or low-fat dairy products (cottage cheese, Greek yogurt)
Low-fat sweets (cookies, gingerbread, tea cookies)
Drinks with food additives (Boost, Ensure)
Poultry (turkey, chicken) without skin
Reduce the amount of jam and sugar jelly.
Low-fat / low-fat clear soups and broths (avoid dairy or cream products)
Spices and herbs (tolerated), salsa, tomato based sauces
Steel oats, bran, farina, groats
Sugar-free gelatin, lollipops
Tuna (canned in water, not oil)
Whole-grain breads, cereals, and crackers
Baking (donuts, muffins, bagels, cookies, croissants)
Battered / fried fish and seafood
Butter, lard, vegetable oil, margarine, ghee
Cake, cakes, pastries
Cheese, cream cheese, cheese sauce
Cookies, cakes, sweets
Eggs with yolk
Fatty cuts of red meat, offal
Fried / fast food (fried vegetables, fried rice, scrambled eggs, French fries)
Ice creams, puddings, custards, shakes, dairy shakes
Jams, jellies, preserves
Lamb, goose, duck
Milk-based coffee drinks
Nut butters (peanuts, almonds)
Nuts and seeds (in moderation if tolerated)
Potato chips or corn
Processed meat (sausages, hot dogs, steak dinners)
Refined white flour (such as bread, pancakes, waffles, muesli, cereals, crackers, pretzels)
Roasted beans, olives
Buy salad dressings, mayonnaise, creamy pasta sauces (Alfredo), tahini
Whole milk, fatty dairy products
Soft drinks, energy drinks
Fruits and vegetables : Choose foods high in fiber, fresh or frozen. Canned fruits and vegetables can also be used, although they should be drained and rinsed to reduce the sugar / salt content. Fatty foods like avocados can be too rich to digest if you have pancreatitis.
It is also not advisable to cook foods with butter and oils or to season them with creamy sauces.
Dairy products : Choose low-fat or fat-free milk and yogurt, or dairy-free alternatives like almond, soy, and rice milk. Most types of cheese are high in fat, although low-fat options like cottage cheese may not make symptoms worse and can be a good source of protein.
Proteins : Look for low-fat protein sources to include in your pancreatitis diet, such as white fish and poultry without lean skin. Beans, legumes, and lentils, as well as grains like quinoa, can also make protein meals easy and tasty. Nuts and nut butters are rich sources of plant protein, but a high fat content can contribute to the development of pancreatitis symptoms.
Grains : For the most part, you'll want to build your pancreatitis diet around high-fiber whole grains. An exception may be when you have symptoms and your healthcare provider advises you to follow a bland diet, during which you may find white rice, plain noodles, and white bread toast to be easier to digest.
Carefully review the ingredient list for cereals and muesli, as these foods may have added sugar and brands with nuts may be too greasy if you have pancreatitis.
Desserts : Rich sweets, especially dairy like ice cream and custard, are often too rich for people with pancreatitis. Avoid desserts that are high in sugar, such as cakes, cookies, baked goods, baked goods, and candy.
Depending on how well your body can regulate blood sugar, you can add honey or a little sugar to tea or black coffee, or sometimes eat a small piece of dark chocolate.
Drinks : Alcohol should be avoided completely. If tea, coffee, and caffeinated sodas contribute to your symptoms, you can limit or avoid them. In general, avoiding carbonated beverages will help you reduce the sugar intake in your diet. If you continue to drink coffee, avoid milk-based drinks with sweetened syrups.
Hydration is important and, as always, water is the best option. Herbal teas, fruit and vegetable juices, and complementary drinks recommended by your doctor are just a few more options.
If you have pancreatitis, you may feel better by following a specific diet. Try to eat several small meals and snacks throughout the day instead of three large ones.
If you feel full quickly, it helps to avoid eating and drinking at the same time. You may also feel better if you don't combine certain foods or ingredients; Pay attention to how you feel after eating and make any necessary adjustments.
Avoid fried, stewed or fried foods. Instead, try baking, broiling, baking, boiling, and steaming. It's best to avoid fats like butter, lard, and oils, although you can tolerate small amounts for cooking.
Some spices can be irritating, but turmeric and ginger are delicious and good for your digestion.
In some cases, people with pancreatitis try to prevent symptoms by limiting their diet on their own, which also contributes to malnutrition. While there are foods that can make pancreatitis worse, there are also many nutritious foods that also promote digestive health and can help reduce inflammation.
For example, non-fat plant and animal sources of protein, whole grains, and high-fiber foods contain key vitamins and minerals that your body can use for energy without overloading your digestive system.
Fiber is an important component of a healthy diet, but you may need to adjust your intake depending on how you feel. If you have symptoms of acute pancreatitis, you can follow a low-fiber diet until you feel better.
A dietitian can help you make decisions to help you manage your condition and stay healthy. Proper nutrition is especially important in severe pancreatitis, as the body's energy needs may increase.
Studies have shown that when pancreatitis patients are underweight or seriously ill due to infections such as sepsis, the amount of energy consumed by their body at rest (resting energy expenditure) can increase by up to 50%.
Diet changes and restrictions
If you have other health problems, you may need to adjust your pancreatitis diet to make sure you get the nutrition you need. It is important that you inform your healthcare provider of any other diagnoses you have and seek help in developing a diet to help control pancreatitis and other problems.
For example, pancreatitis attacks can occur during pregnancy . However, your dietary needs will be different during pregnancy or while breastfeeding, so your plan can be adjusted accordingly.
Nutrition is also an important factor if you have another medical condition that affects your digestion. For example, if you have inflammatory bowel disease or cystic fibrosis , you may already have malabsorption issues. Gallbladder disease means that you are more likely to have digestive symptoms.
If you also have diabetes, your pancreas is already working too hard or not working at all. In this case, the decisions you make about what you eat and drink will further affect your overall health.
Also, people with high triglyceride levels ( hypertriglyceridemia ) may be more restrictive about avoiding or limiting foods high in saturated fat.
If you go out to dinner and you don't know how much fat is in a particular dish, ask your server. You may be able to reduce your fat content by requesting a change or replacement, or by sharing a meal with someone.
Be sure to read the labels when shopping at the grocery store. For the most part, you should look for low-fat and low-fat foods. There are a lot of them these days, which makes dieting easier. Remember, however, that while the labels indicate the amount of fat per serving, the package may contain more than one serving.
Support and community
If you are upset or discouraged about changing your eating habits, it can help to talk to others who have been through the experience.
Joining a personal or online support group is one way to connect with other people who are treating pancreatitis with diet. What works for them may not work for you, but sharing ideas and supporting each other can help keep you motivated.
If your healthcare provider wants you to take nutritional supplements, you will find that the price of vitamins varies greatly depending on the type, brand, and dosage. If you develop exocrine pancreatic insufficiency and your healthcare provider wants you to start pancreatic enzyme replacement therapy (PERT), this may come at an additional cost.
As with nutritional and vitamin supplements, you can find PERT capsules at most drug stores and health food stores. The product you need to buy will depend on the enzyme combination and the amount (units) that your healthcare provider wants you to take with each meal.
If you have health insurance, ask your PCP if he or she can prescribe vitamins, nutritional supplements, or PERT. Your insurance may cover part or all of the cost. However, when PERT is used, coverage may be limited based on FDA approval.
Frequently asked questions
What Vitamins and Supplements Should You Take for Pancreatitis?
Your healthcare provider may recommend that you take artificial digestive enzymes to help your body absorb nutrients. Multivitamins can also help you replenish nutrient loss due to digestive issues in pancreatitis. Look for one with vitamins A, B12, D, E, K, folate, and zinc.
Can you eat bananas for pancreatitis?
Ripe bananas are a good option because they are easy to digest. They are also high in fiber, which reduces the risk of gallstones and high triglycerides that can sometimes cause acute pancreatitis.
Can I eat eggs with pancreatitis?
Egg yolks are rich in fats that are difficult to digest in pancreatitis. Instead of eating a whole egg, choose egg whites, as they are low in fat and high in protein.
Get the word of drug information
Pancreatitis can be painful and unpleasant, especially when it becomes chronic. There is no single diet for pancreatitis, but diet can make a big difference in how you feel. Keep in mind that it may take time to find the right plan for you, and work with your doctor, registered dietitian, and / or dietitian to adjust the pancreatic diet to suit your needs.