All About Pancreatitis:
What is Pancreatitis?
The pancreas is a long, flat gland situated in the upper abdomen. Its functions are:
- Release digestive enzymes into the small intestine. Hence it helps to digest food.
- Release insulin and glucagon into the bloodstream. These hormones help your body control how it uses glucose as fuel for energy.
Pancreatitis occurs when digestive enzymes get activated while still in the pancreas. It irritates the cells of the pancreas, hence causing inflammation. The inflammation of the pancreas is known as pancreatitis.
Types of Pancreatitis
The two forms of pancreatitis are acute and chronic.
- Acute Pancreatitis: Acute pancreatitis is sudden inflammation lasting for a very short time. On-time treatment leads to faster recovery.
- Chronic Pancreatitis: With the repeated occurrence of acute pancreatitis, there is constant damage to the pancreas leading to chronic pancreatitis.
Symptoms of Pancreatitis:
Symptoms of acute pancreatitis
- High temperature.
- Increased heart rate.
- Nausea and vomiting.
- Upper abdomen pain radiating towards the back. The pain worsens after a high-fat diet.
Symptoms of chronic pancreatitis
- Constant upper abdominal pain radiating towards the back.
- Diarrhea, because there is incomplete food digestion.
- Indigestion causing weight loss.
- Vomiting especially after meals.
Causes of Pancreatitis:
Acute pancreatitis causes include:
- Autoimmune diseases: It leads to damage to its own cells causing scarring and inflammation.
- Alcohol abuse: Binge drinking in a short period of time leads to acute pancreatitis.
- Repeated Infections: Reoccurrence of infections overworks the pancreas, hence leading to inflammation.
- Gallstones: It blocks the duct that releases the pancreatic enzymes. Hence, leading to enzymes digesting the pancreatic cells.
- Metabolic disorders: Metabolic disorders like long-standing diabetes exhaust the pancreatic cells leading to pancreatitis.
- Trauma: Any trauma to the pancreas can lead to its inflammation.
Chronic pancreatitis causes include:
- Family history: It can be heredity.
- Gallstones: Repeated gall stones lead to chronic inflammation of the pancreas. (Read about cholecystectomy)
- High triglycerides: Excess triglycerides above 1000 mg/dl lead to inflammation of the pancreas.
- Alcohol abuse: Pancreas metabolizes alcohol into a toxic metabolic by-product that is harmful to the pancreatic cell. The enzymes before release start digesting the pancreatic cells leading to chronic pancreatitis.
Complications of long-standing or untreated pancreatitis:
- Diabetes Mellitus: The inflammation can damage the cells of the pancreas affecting insulin and glucagon secretion.
- Pancreatic infection: Acute pancreatitis weakens the pancreatic cells making them prone to infections.
- Malnutrition: Damage in pancreatic cells affects the secretion of digestive enzymes. Lack of enzymes results in less nutrient absorption and indigestion. This leads to malnutrition, diarrhea, and weight loss.
- Pancreatic cancer: Long-term inflammation makes the cells prone to scarring of the tissue. This might be a risk factor for developing pancreatic cancer.
- Pancreatic necrosis: Pancreatic cells die because of damage to pancreatic cells.
- Pseudocyst: Acute pancreatitis can cause fluid and debris retention in the pancreatic cells leading to its infection known as a pseudocyst. It can burst and infect the pancreas and also lead to internal bleeding.
What is the treatment for Pancreatitis:
- The infected pancreas needs antibiotics.
- Food intake is not up to the mark, thus intravenous fluids are given.
- There is indigestion, Hence a low-fat diet or liquid diet is preferable.
Diet plan for Pancreatitis
Acute or chronic pancreatitis treatment includes similar dietary tips to manage pancreatic health.
- The pancreas might increase the acid secretion in the stomach. Hence, It is generally accompanied by nausea and vomiting.
- Excess water in the intestines can lead to diarrhea.
- The digestion and absorption of nutrients are affected because of the defect in pancreatic enzyme activity.
- Lack of fat digestion might also lead to fatty stool or steatorrhoea. Thus, a low-fat or no visible fat diet is apt to treat both types of pancreatitis.
Acute and Chronic Pancreatitis Food List; Food to Eat:
Here is a list of foods to include in the Pancreatic Diet. The diet for managing pancreatitis has to be moderate in protein, with low or no visible fat, as well as a moderate amount of complex carbohydrates.
- Proteins: Consume a moderate amount of lean protein or good quality proteins. Include lean chicken, fish, low-fat milk and products, egg whites, nuts, as well as defatted soy. Lentils, dals, sprouts, and beans.
- Fats: Consume low-fat milk and products, good quality fats, MCT oils like coconut, kernel oil, or ghee.
- Carbohydrates: Consume a variety of fruits and vegetables. Include whole-grain cereals, millets, bran, psyllium, as well as unrefined flours.
- Antioxidant-rich foods: Include enough fruits, vegetables, nuts that contain antioxidants. It reduces stress on the gland and helps in better recovery and prognosis.
Acute and Chronic Pancreatitis Food List; Foods to avoid:
- High-fat foods: Avoid fatty, fried foods. As well as organ meat, and junk as it contains a very high amount of fats. Avoid full-fat milk and its products. A high-fat diet puts a load on pancreatic enzyme secretion and action. Avoid trans fats in the diet.
- Refined foods: Junk, refined flours, sugar, as well as all strained juices demand for pancreatic enzymes for digestion and absorption.
Diet plan for Acute Pancreatitis
Acute pancreatitis needs a very strict diet that is low or has no fat. Initially, the patients are kept NBM (nil by mouth ). When the pain and symptoms subside, (nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, or GI disturbances), We start with a liquid diet. Start with soft food only when the liquid diet is well accepted by the body.
Sample Diet for Acute Pancreatitis:
Early Morning: Lemon Water (No sugar)
Breakfast: 1 glass Coconut water
Lunch: Blended dal
Evening Snack: Mix vegetable and fruit juice Or buttermilk
Dinner: Blended rawa Kanji
Bed Time: Low fat Almond milk with turmeric
Indian Diet plan for Chronic Pancreatitis:
Chronic pancreatitis requires a normal low-fat diet with changes or modifications according to the symptoms.
Sample Diet for Chronic Pancreatitis:
Early Morning: 1 teaspoon Soaked jeera seeds in 1 cup water
Breakfast: 1 cup Green Tea + 2 Steamed idli or 1 Plain Dosa with sambar
Mid-Morning: 1 Fruit
Lunch: 1 cup Vegetable Soup + 2 Chapati + 1 cup Vegetable + 1 cup Low fat Curd
Mid Afternoon: 1 cup Steamed rice + 1 cup Dal
Evening Snack: 1 cup low-fat Cinnamon Milk + 1 cup Upma or Rawa Appam
Dinner: 1 cup Soft cooked Rice + 1 cup Sambar + 1 cup vegetable juice
Bed Time: 1 cup low-fat milk
What to Eat After Pancreatitis Episode:
- The first rule of pancreatitis is to avoid alcohol and smoking. Alcohol and smoking have a direct effect on pancreatic damage.
- Keep yourself hydrated at all times. Nausea vomiting or any gastric issues might lead to dehydration.\
- Eat small frequent meals throughout the day. This decreases the load on the pancreas. Acute pancreatitis might require only a liquid diet initially and then a soft diet as the symptoms reduce. Chronic pancreatitis that occurs after repeated acute pancreatitis requires a low-fat diet under the guidance of professionals.
- Eat fruits and vegetables as normal but avoid excess fiber intake in a single meal. It might lead to bloating or any other gastric issue further worsening the pancreatitis symptoms.
- Use MCTs as a source of visible oil so it doesn’t require pancreatic enzymes for digestion. Coconut oil, palm kernel oil, or ghee would be the best option to use.
- Include multivitamin supplements along with the diet. The diet has to be low fat or no visible fat diet for faster recovery of the pancreas.
In any condition, acute or chronic saving pancreatic function is the main aim. The main goal of the pancreatic diet is to alleviate the symptoms and not put extra workload on the pancreas. The moderate protein low-fat diet with a sufficient amount of fiber does the trick.