8 Ways Diet can Help Treat Mild Pancreatitis

Tracy Davenport, Ph.D. | Sep 15th 2016 Jun 1st 2017

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Pancreatitis is inflammation in the pancreas. The pancreas is a gland that sits behind the stomach in the upper abdomen. Your pancreas helps with digestion and processing sugar.

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Treatment

Pancreatitis can have many causes and can vary in severity and duration. If your condition is severe, you may be admitted to the hospital and required to stop eating to allow your pancreas a chance to repair. If your condition is not severe, your doctor may suggest the following dietary changes.

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Eat a low fat diet

According to the National Pancreas Foundation, the average person should aim for no more than 20 grams of fat per day, with no meal more than 10 grams of fat. For example, chicken breast without the skin has about 1.5 grams of fat per serving, while ground beef can have about 11 grams. If meat is cooked in oil or butter, this will also add to the fat content.

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Consume more fish

High fish consumption has been associated with a significantly decreased risk of acute pancreatitis. It was discovered that two or three servings of fish a week are more beneficial than one serving a week when it comes to pancreatitis.

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Increase your fiber

Obesity is a risk factor for pancreatitis. The more high fiber and whole grain foods you eat, the better chance you have to keep your weight in check. Try snacking on popcorn or whole grain granola bars and replace your breakfast cereals with whole grain, high fiber varieties.

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Take enzyme supplements

Pancreatic enzymes help break down fats, proteins, and carbohydrates. A normally functioning pancreas secretes fluid containing enzymes to help with digestion and neutralize stomach acid. Depending on your condition, your doctor may suggest that you take enzymes to help with digestion and food absorption.

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Reduce sugar consumption

Chronic pancreatitis can impair your body’s ability to digest food and regulate blood sugar. Approximately 45 percent of people with chronic pancreatitis will develop diabetes. Excess sugar consumption can also lead to obesity, another risk factor for pancreatitis.

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Drink more liquids

One of the initial treatments for acute pancreatitis is intensive fluid therapy. The individual is given only liquids to help heal the pancreas. Dehydration is also known to cause the pancreas to flare. Therefore, it is a good idea to always have a bottle of water with you and to drink it to stay hydrated throughout the day.

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Refrain from alcohol

The second most common cause of acute pancreatitis in the U.S. is due to alcohol. One reason alcohol is not recommended is because it can cause dehydration. Abstaining from alcohol may stop early stage pancreatitis and reduce the number of inflammatory episodes.

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Do not smoke

Although tobacco is not a food, you are still exposed to it through inhaling and so it should be avoided. Smoking tobacco increases the risk for developing chronic pancreatitis. Research has found a direct relationship between the level of smoking and pancreatitis for both men and women.

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Next steps

Mild pancreatitis can go away with minimal treatment. Left untreated, severe pancreatitis may require hospitalization and can cause life-threatening consequences. Therefore, if you suspect you have pancreatitis, you should contact your doctor to determine the severity of your condition.