The onset of pancreatitis signals that you should make healthy modifications to your diet. One reason is that it may help reduce your chances of having pancreatic inflammation again, as repeat attacks may permanently damage your pancreatic cells.
The other one is to ensure that you receive the proper nutrition not just to keep your pancreas healthy, but for the rest of your body as well.
What Your Diet Will Look Like After Your First Episode of Pancreatitis
Once your doctor confirms that you have pancreatitis, you'll be asked not to eat anything for a couple of days. This will allow your pancreas to rest from producing digestive enzymes, which can help the inflammation subside.
During this period of fasting, your doctor may ask you to drink only water and some soup. You may be injected with fluids containing various nutrients to compensate for the lack of food as well. After two or three days of fasting, you may be able to resume eating normally again.1
Once Your Pancreatitis Subsides, Nourish Yourself With Powerful Anti-Inflammatory Foods
Once you start to feel better, you should give up your old diet and start eating healthy, organic food that can help your pancreas heal.
The world has no shortage of amazing foods that can help nourish you. In the case of pancreatitis, it's important to nourish yourself with foods that may help reduce inflammation, such as:
• Animal-based omega-3 fats
Omega-3 is a healthy fatty acid mostly found in fish such as wild Alaskan salmon, sardines and anchovies. It's highly recommended that you purchase fish from organic providers, because commercially grown fish is usually contaminated with pollutants. If that's not possible, you can take a high-quality krill oil supplement.
• Leafy greens
Dark, leafy greens like kale, collard greens and Swiss chard are filled with powerful antioxidants, flavonoids and vitamin C, all of which may help protect your pancreas from cellular damage. Preferably, your vegetables should be certified organic, so you don't ingest pesticides and other harmful chemicals that may damage your pancreas further.
Garlic has long been known for its various health benefits, such as aiding in calcium absorption, healthy formation of bones and connective tissues and proper thyroid function. But new research has shown that the allicin found in garlic may help not only with inflammation, but oxidative stress and cardiovascular dysfunction as well.2
• Probiotic-rich foods
It's important that you don't forget to nourish your gut flora, because most inflammatory ailments start in the gut. By increasing your intake of probiotics, you will ensure proper balance in your gut microbiome, which may help reduce your chances of chronic inflammation. Fermented foods like kefir, natto, miso, sauerkraut and yogurt made from raw milk are typically the best sources of probiotics.
• Shiitake Mushrooms
Shiitake mushrooms contain ergothioneine, a compound that has been shown to have strong anti-inflammatory properties that can provide cellular protection.3
Avoid These Unhealthy Habits to Lower Your Chances of Another Pancreatitis Attack
Aside from eating healthy, organic food to help manage your condition, it's equally important to avoid habits that have been harming your pancreas in the first place. Follow these lifestyle tips to help keep pancreatitis at bay:4
• Avoid alcohol consumption
If alcohol consumption is the primary reason for your pancreatitis, then it makes sense to give up drinking alcohol. Continuing this habit may permanently damage your pancreas and lead to chronic pancreatitis. If you're having trouble controlling your alcohol consumption, consider getting treatment by visiting a therapist or joining a support group.
• Don't go on a crash diet
Many people believe that losing weight simply entails starving yourself until you get thinner, but this is not recommended. When you induce quick weight loss on your body, your liver produces more cholesterol as a response. Excess cholesterol can accumulate and form gallstones that will most likely cause pancreatitis. Instead, consume healthy fat-burning foods and follow a regular exercise routine to achieve your weight goals.
• Stop smoking
Not only is smoking harmful for your lungs, but it's also linked to an increased risk of pancreatitis. In a wide-scale study in Sweden comprising 84,667 participants, researchers concluded that those who smoked the equivalent of one pack of cigarettes a day for 20 years had twice the risk of developing non-gallstone-related pancreatitis compared to non-smokers.5 Similar to alcohol addiction, consider visiting a counselor to help you curb your smoking habit.