Peter Hibberd, M.D., is a doctor whose advice is based on more than 28 years of hospital outpatient and inpatient experience. He is an experienced emergency medicine physician, surgeon, and consultant. Dr. Hibberd is certified by the American Board of Emergency Medicine. He is also a fellow and active member of the American Academy of Family Physicians, an active member of the American College of Emergency Physicians, and a member and fellow of the American Academy of Emergency Medicine. Dr. Hibberd has earned numerous national and international professional certifications, memberships, and awards.
Tags: Coping With Pancreatitis

Coping With Pancreatitis

Tuesday, 12 Apr 2011 11:19 AM

Question: My husband was diagnosed with pancreatitis. Do most people with this condition have to stay on a low-fat diet even if the pancreas heals? How much sugar and fat should he consume?

Pancreatitis should be managed under the supervision of a medical professional experienced with its diagnosis and treatment because the condition can cause serious complications. The pancreas normally secretes digestive enzymes via the pancreatic duct into our small bowel (duodenum), which is necessary for digestion. The process is stimulated by food ingestion and hormonal signals.

Ductal block, tumors, infection, inflammation, uncontrolled triglyceride levels, and some drugs may induce pancreatic ductal obstruction and inflammation, releasing potent pancreatic digestive enzymes into pancreatic and surrounding tissues and causing a very destructive auto-digesting process. Pancreatic enzyme supplementation is commonly required to supplement lost enzymes from pancreatic tissue destruction.

Cysts and abscesses of the pancreas and surrounding tissues within the abdomen are not uncommon complications, and perforations and life-threatening complications arise from time to time. Your husband’s diet itself will not usually cause pancreatitis, but a high-fat diet may precipitate a recurrent attack in those of us at risk for pancreatitis. The malabsorption syndrome and fluid losses are common complications of pancreatitis.

The key for treating this painful condition is to keep total dietary fat intake to about 30 grams (less than 10 to 15 of which would be from saturated and trans fats). Consuming mainly unsaturated, trans-fat-free foods and those rich in omega-3 fatty acids such as olive oil and fish including tuna, mackerel, and salmon is very important.

Your husband also should keep serum triglyceride levels as low as possible and limit caffeine and gas-forming foods that may stimulate the pancreas. In addition, he needs to avoid all alcohol and nicotine products. Alcohol in even small amounts may precipitate pancreatitis; nicotine from smoking and chewing tobacco will stimulate the pancreas.

Your husband must reduce his concentrated sugar consumption, especially if his blood-glucose levels are elevated. Cutting sugar intake by avoiding processed foods is critical. He should keep total daily carbohydrate consumption to less than 300 grams and daily calorie consumption at 2,000 calories or fewer.

After his pancreatitis has settled down, he can help reduce the chance of recurrent attacks by keeping his calorie load commensurate with his level of physical activity, body weight, and body-fat percentage and within guidelines for his age and co-existing health conditions.


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Question: My husband was diagnosed with pancreatitis. Do most people with this condition have to stay on a low-fat diet even if the pancreas heals? How much sugar and fat should he consume? Pancreatitis should be managed under the supervision of a medical professional...
Coping With Pancreatitis
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2011-19-12
Tuesday, 12 Apr 2011 11:19 AM
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