7 Foods to Avoid with Pancreatitis

People often advise bringing a change in the diet once you are exposed to any health issues. So have you ever wondered what foods to avoid with pancreatitis? There are several foods one must avoid if they are suffering from pancreatitis.

1. What Is Pancreatitis?

Pancreatitis1 is an unhealthy condition where the pancreas is inflamed. This causes the hampering of sugar processing in the body. The pancreas is an essential organ responsible for secreting certain necessary hormones. The Pancreas is both an organ and a gland that is essential for secreting hormones like insulin and glucagon.

Insulin is important for regulating blood sugar levels in your body. Excess insulin or lack of insulin can become problematic to the body. This can make a person more vulnerable to other negative health conditions, specifically diabetes.

Glucagon2 is also responsible for regulating your blood sugar levels in the body, just like your insulin. Both these hormones are exceptionally important for processing sugar that enters the blood. They both help maintain the sugar balance in the body, which is necessary for the body’s healthy functioning.

Pancreatitis can be both acute pancreatitis and chronic pancreatitis. Acute pancreatitis is a condition that remains only for a short period. In this condition, the organ is inflamed but remains only for a brief time. A sudden acute pancreatitis attack will stay for a few days and disappear.

On the other hand, chronic pancreatitis3 is a condition where the duration is long. The problem persists throughout the lifespan of an individual until treated. This is severe as it can completely destroy the endocrine and exocrine systems. This will eventually affect all the other hormones and their functioning in their body.

This will also make you vulnerable to developing other diseases such as calcium stones or even developing cysts in your pancreas that can be very uncomfortable.

This imbalance will affect digestion largely as your body now finds it harder to digest in the presence of other excess or lack of certain hormones. If the food is not digested properly, then your body will not be able to absorb the nutrients, making you malnourished too.

Hence, be conscious of the kind of foods to avoid pancreatitis. Follow a proper pancreatitis diet, which will not be harsh on your digestive system. As you conduct more research on foods to avoid pancreatitis, here are some foods you must start with. Avoid them completely from your diet for the benefit of your overall health.

2. Some Foods to Avoid with Pancreatitis

2.1. Fried Foods

You must strictly avoid high-fat foods4; most fried foods are high in fat. The cholesterol in them again is bad cholesterol and not the good one that will further hamper your health.

Foods to Avoid with Pancreatitis
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Items like potato chips, processed foods5, fries, and other similar dishes are foods to avoid with pancreatitis. These fried foods can increase your risk for diabetes. In addition, fried foods and processed foods, in general, are known to increase weight, acne, bloating, and gas problems.

The impact is so large at the severe end that it may also cause problems in the functioning of the brain in the long term. So try and avoid high-fat foods. Any type of highly fried or processed dishes are foods to avoid with pancreatitis on the line.

2.2. Meat

Meat that we usually savor is also one of the foods to avoid pancreatitis. Avoid organ meats and processed meats and opt for lean meats. Basically, avoid meats high in fat. Go for healthy fats that come from most marine meats. Whether acute or chronic, pancreatitis limits your fat intake.

In the larger picture, when we talk about foods to avoid pancreatitis, we must avoid high-fat foods. Focus on consuming a fat-free diet. Go for fat-free sauces, low-fat milk, lean meat, and other healthy fats like avocados. Fat is still necessary for your body, so do not completely cut out the healthy fats too. Have a moderate-fat diet.

Foods to Avoid with Pancreatitis
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If you, on some fine day, feel like having ice cream, do not stop yourself. Go ahead and buy ice cream. However, be sure to buy low-fat ice cream.

The market is quite big for healthy foods in the current times. Several trustworthy brands sell health-friendly products. We also have several brands: low-fat milk, low-fat cheese, and many other low-fat diet-related products. Get rid of unhealthy fatty foods by opting for these healthy alternatives.

There are several foods to avoid pancreatitis, but one must also know what foods to consume in their absence.

2.3. Pastries

Pastries are one of the foods to avoid pancreatitis. Excess sugar and excess fats are the main reasons you must avoid pastries. Pastries, in general, when consumed in excess, have several side effects. Pastries can increase your risk for cancer and cause weight gain, and in addition, they can also increase your risk for congestive heart failure and other related heart diseases.

The pancreatitis pain can also get worse when one consumes pastries. You may take them in small meals if you have acute pancreatitis. However, be sure to consume them in small quantities and in the absence of pancreatitis. However, please avoid full-fat dairy pastries; look for pastries that are low in fat.

Foods to Avoid with Pancreatitis
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Even while baking on your own, use fat-free or low-fat products like fat-free sour cream, low-fat cream cheese, and other similar products. Replace refined sugar with brown sugar for good health or other natural sweeteners like dates.

It is generally considered healthier to eliminate refined sugar from your diet completely. Many alternative options are now easily available in the market. So choose safely for a healthy lifestyle, and avoid pastries in general if you have pancreatitis.

2.4. Mixed Nuts

Nuts are filled with fats, and hence they become one of the foods to avoid pancreatitis. Nuts certainly are filled with healthy fats, but they can become very harmful to your body, so be sure to consume them in moderate quantities. Certain ingredients in nuts already make digestion harder. Hence it is only safe to avoid these foods causing pancreatitis.

Nuts, in general, must be eaten in small quantities only. If you are suffering from chronic pancreatitis, it is only wise to avoid nuts completely. Look for other alternatives. Most alternatives are found in most health food stores that are now so easily available in the market.

Foods to Avoid with Pancreatitis
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In fact, it is fully possible that your body might have excess cholesterol due to eating excess nuts. Avoid nuts, seeds, or even items made of nuts.

Nut butter or buttered foods generally are foods to avoid pancreatitis. It has become a trend to make some buttered nut toast in the morning for breakfast as it is easy to make and has protein. Undoubtedly, all these nut butter have good amounts of protein in them. However, the excess fat content in nuts pushes them into the foods to avoid pancreatitis.

2.5. Mayonnaise

When you look at foods to avoid pancreatitis, mayonnaise which is usually done with eggs or some kind of oil, is done by emulsification. Emulsification, in simple terms, is just the mixing of two liquids to create another textural element. Vinegar and lemon juice which is citric are usually used to make mayonnaise.

So by now, it must be evident that the fat content is exceptionally high in mayonnaise and hence must be reduced or avoided completely if possible.

2.6. Full Fat Dairy

Full-fat dairy products include whole milk, full-fat cheese, and heavy cream, and they are the foods to avoid pancreatitis. One major reason to avoid full-fat products is that they have saturated fats6 instead of monounsaturated or polyunsaturated.

Let us understand them in detail. Unsaturated fats are healthy fats that can be mono or poly in nature. The mono or poly refers to the number of bonds between the molecules. On the other hand, saturated fats are unhealthy in nature and can cause severe heart-related issues and many other problems in general too.

So avoid them in general or consume them in moderate quantities to be on the safer side.

2.7. Spicy Foods

Finally, spicy dishes are foods to avoid pancreatitis. They become very harsh on the pancreas, which is already inflamed. So try and avoid spices in excess in your dishes. Eat bland foods and consume liquids as much as possible. Avoid Chinese cuisines, fast foods, and even Indian cuisines loaded with spices.

Keep your food light; this way, your stomach, and pancreas will have to strain less.

3. Treatment for Pancreatitis

Unfortunately, there is no cure for this health condition, especially chronic pancreatitis. However, one can manage and reduce the symptoms through early and consistent medical interventions.

3.1. Early Food Consumption

While older research suggested the patient not eat anything at all, the newer research suggests you eat light food and them earlier than usual. The logic behind the former is that this no-food time would give the pancreas a good time to take a break and heal. However, going without food will only hamper your body, making it worse.

So, according to your doctor’s suggestion, try and alter both your diet and the timings of your diet.

3.2. Medications

On your doctor’s advice, you may be given certain medications to help control the pain and the symptoms.

There is nothing much that can be done in addition to this. However, great improvements can be seen, of certain lifestyle changes are also brought into the picture.

4. Lifestyle Choices to Reduce Symptoms

4.1. Quit Smoking

In addition to being conscious of foods to avoid pancreatitis, you must also quit smoking. Smoking, in general, has several side effects. To begin with, it makes you more vulnerable to infections.

We also know the huge role smoking has in bringing breathing and cancer issues. It also increases the risk of heart disease, weakening you if you already have pancreatitis.

4.2. Quit Alcohol

Alcohol puts excess strain on your livers. It is extremely harsh on your body. Excessive alcohol will start interfering with your daily routine, making day-to-day activities harder for you. If it leads to addiction, you must visit a de-addiction center to deal with it.

Consuming alcohol while having pancreatitis will greatly harm your body, so you must cut it out completely.

4.3. Pancreatitis Diet

Be very conscious of the food you consume. It may be hard to control your cravings for spicy foods, fast foods, regular ice cream, pastries, full-fat cream soups, full-fat dairy products, cheese, red meat, organic meats, and so many more.

However, consumption of any of these, even in moderate quantities, can harm your body greatly and must be reduced highly or completely avoided.

Eating Healthy with Pancreatitis

Look for foods to avoid pancreatitis, and consume a more pancreas and digestive-friendly diet after consulting your doctor to improve the symptoms.

5. Frequently Asked Questions

5.1. What foods irritate the pancreas?

High-fat foods, red meat, excess sugar, and spicy foods usually irritate the pancreas.

5.2. Is papaya good for pancreatitis?

Yes! Papaya can help in treating pancreatitis. Also, other fruits and vegetables are beneficial for treating pancreatitis.

5.3. How can I keep my pancreas strong?

You can keep your pancreas strong by avoiding consuming harmful substances like smoking, alcohol, and tobacco. Also, be very conscious of the food you consume. Have a healthy diet for the pancreas and avoid foods that harm the pancreas.

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  1. Mitchell, R. M. S., M. F. Byrne, and J. Baillie. “Pancreatitis.” The Lancet 361.9367 (2003): 1447-1455. ↩︎
  2. Jiang, Guoqiang, and Bei B. Zhang. “Glucagon and regulation of glucose metabolism.” American Journal of Physiology-Endocrinology and Metabolism 284.4 (2003): E671-E678. ↩︎
  3. Braganza, Joan M., et al. “Chronic pancreatitis.” The Lancet 377.9772 (2011): 1184-1197. ↩︎
  4. Castiñeira-Alvariño, M., et al. “The role of high fat diet in the development of complications of chronic pancreatitis.” Clinical Nutrition 32.5 (2013): 830-836. ↩︎
  5. Manohar, Murli, et al. “Food-induced acute pancreatitis.” Digestive diseases and sciences 62 (2017): 3287-3297. ↩︎
  6. German, J. Bruce, and Cora J. Dillard. “Saturated fats: what dietary intake?.” The American journal of clinical nutrition 80.3 (2004): 550-559. ↩︎

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R Shishma Jeevitha

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