The pancreas functions to activate enzymes for digestion and produce hormones for processing glucose. Acute pancreatitis is an inflammation of the pancreas, which prevents normal digestion. Chronic pancreatitis occurs when acute pancreatitis does not heal, or it can occur suddenly on its own. Special dietary changes are essential to promote healing and to prevent further inflammation. Find out what you can eat on a pancreatitis diet to encourage digestive health.
During normal digestion, the pancreatic enzymes become activated and move to the small intestine to break down fat, protein and carbohydrates. However, in pancreatitis when the enzymes become activated they stay in the pancreas and cause inflammation. Foods that are high in fat or have refined flour are especially difficult for the pancreas to break down. Symptoms of pancreatitis consist of nausea, vomiting, diarrhoea and weight loss. These symptoms can be spurned immediately after eating and drinking. Acute pancreatitis may be treated by avoiding fatty foods, alcohol and caffeine; however, chronic pancreatitis can not be resolved just by diet alone.
Foods high in fat can aggravate symptoms of pancreatitis. The National Institutes of Health at www.nlm.nih.gov recommends a low-fat diet for people with pancreatitis. Instead of eating a diet full of saturated and hydrogenated fats, eat monounsaturated or polyunsaturated fats. You can find these beneficial fats in olive oil, peanut oil, canola, vegetable oil and sunflower oil. Avoid eating saturated fat like butter, dairy products, sausage, fatty cuts of meat, bacon and lard. Coconut oil is a saturated fat that can be found in nondairy creamers. Hydrogenated fats or trans fatty acids are in fried foods, baked goods, crackers, crisps and margarine. Experiment with cooking methods that use little or no fat like grilling, poaching, baking, broiling, boiling and steaming. Use cooking sprays for frying. Choose proteins that have little fat such as fish, tofu, skinless chicken and turkey.
The University of Maryland Medical Center at www.umm.edu recommends eliminating refined foods from your diet. These include sugar and white flour. Sugar suppresses the immune system, which makes healing difficult for the body. Flour has little nutritional qualities and can easily be replaced with food that is loaded with fibre and vitamin B. Vitamin B aids in healing inflammation and strengthening the immune system. Sugar is in a plethora of food products even those you would not suspect, like ketchup and marinara sauce. Refined flour can be found in pastas, breads, pastries and tortillas. Incorporate more white flour alternatives like whole wheat pasta, wheat breads and soy flour. You can find whole grain products in most grocery stores or make your own.