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Veggies Prevent Pancreatitis

Thursday, 28 June 2012 12:10 PM

A diet rich in veggies could stave off acute pancreatitis, a potentially deadly inflammation of the pancreas, suggests a large study published in the journal Gut.
The pancreas is a gland which — among other things — releases digestive enzymes to help break down food. Occasionally, the enzymes become active inside the pancreas and start to digest the gland itself. The condition becomes life-threatening in about 1 in 5 cases.
Previous research suggests that excessive production of free radicals, which are by-products of cellular activity, is associated with acute pancreatitis. Furthermore, levels of antioxidant enzymes, which mop up free radicals, are increased during an attack. The authors therefore wanted to know if an imbalance in antioxidant levels, associated with dietary factors, might make the pancreas more sensitive to the effects of free radicals and so increase the risk of acute pancreatitis.
The study began in 1997 when about 80,000 Swedish men and women were asked to complete a comprehensive dietary questionnaire about how often they had eaten 96 food items the preceding year. They were then tracked for an average of 11 years.
Average vegetable and fruit consumption was around 2.5 and just under 2 servings, respectively, every day. In general, those who ate the fewest daily servings of vegetables were men, smokers, and those who had not gone on to higher education.
The people ate a similar amount of fruit, but those who ate the fewest daily servings of fruit were more likely to drink alcohol and to have diabetes.
During the monitoring period, 320 people developed acute pancreatitis that was not associated with the complications of gallstones — a relatively common cause of the condition.
The amount of fruit consumed did not seem to influence the risk of developing acute pancreatitis, but this was not the case for vegetables.
After taking account of factors likely to influence the results, the analysis showed that those who ate the most vegetables — more than 4 servings a day — were 44 percent less likely to develop acute pancreatitis than were those who ate the least — less than 1 serving a day.
The protection afforded by a diet rich in vegetables seemed to be the strongest among those who consumed more than one drink of alcohol a day and those who were overweight (BMI of 25 or more).
The risk of developing the condition fell by 71 percent among drinkers and by 51 percent among those who were overweight, when comparing those in the highest with those in the lowest category of vegetable consumption.
The most likely explanation for the protective effect of vegetables is the high level of antioxidants they contain, say the authors.
The reason why fruit (which also contains high levels of antioxidants) did not seem to affect the risk of acute pancreatitis may lie in its fructose content, which might counter the effects of antioxidants say the authors. Previous research has linked fructose to free radical production.
If their findings are confirmed by other research, the authors suggest that boosting dietary intake of vegetables may help to stave off the development of acute pancreatitis that is unrelated to gallstones.

© HealthDay

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A diet rich in veggies could stave off acute pancreatitis, a potentially deadly inflammation of the pancreas, suggests a large study published in the journal Gut.
Thursday, 28 June 2012 12:10 PM
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