Information, Diet Suggestions, and Resources

what is Pancreatitis?

Pancreatitis occurs when there is an inflammation of the pancreas. The pancreas  is the organ in the gastrointestinal system that produces: 1) digestive enzymes that break down ingested food, and; 2) hormones, such as insulin, that help to regulate the body’s energy system. When pancreatitis occurs, the digestive enzymes start attacking the pancreas before they are released into the gastrointestinal tract. The symptoms include mild to severe abdominal pain, nausea, vomiting, and the passing of nutrients, particularly fats and fat soluble  vitamins (A, D, and E) into the stool. Two of the most common causes of pancreatitis are gallstones and alcohol intake.

Although acute (temporary) pancreatitis often requires hospitalization, it usually  goes away on its own after receiving intravenous fluids, pain medication, and sometimes antibiotics. Chronic (long term) pancreatitis is a slowly progressive condition that does not improve or go away on its own or chronically relapses with episodes of acute pancreatitis, and causes permanent damage. If the pancreatitis is due to gallstones your physician may recommend having your gallbladder removed.

The Diet

Dietary recommendations for pancreatitis will depend on the cause and your individual height and weight. All patients should drink plenty of water and avoid all alcohol. It may be helpful to eat 4-6 small meals each day rather than three  larger meals. Do not fry your foods. For acute pancreatitis, after hospitalized treatment there is a recovery phase that requires a high carbohydrate, low fat and low protein diet. With chronic pancreatitis, a low-fat diet of 20-50g or less of  fat per day is recommended to limit symptoms. If you have diabetes in addition to pancreatitis, eat smaller serving sizes of low fat carbohydrates to control blood sugars.


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