The main functions of the pancreas are to provide digestive enzymes to help break down food and hormones such as insulin and glucagon to control blood sugars. Cancer of the pancreas can interfere with this, which can lead to digestive problems and prevent you from absorbing all the nutrients from your food.
Treatment options such as surgery, to remove all or part of the pancreas and/or radio and chemotherapy, can also cause dietary problems leading to poor appetite, nausea and vomiting, diarrhoea and changes in taste and smell.
Malnutrition in chronic pancreatitis
Nutrition is a vitally important part of treatment for patients with pancreatitis. We work with your GP to provide helpful diet suggestions that help manage the impact of the disease. The primary goals of nutritional management for chronic pancreatitis are:
- Prevent malnutrition and nutritional deficiencies
- Maintain normal blood sugar levels (avoid both hypoglycemia and hyperglycemia)
- Prevent or optimally manage diabetes, kidney problems, and other conditions associated with chronic pancreatitis
- Avoid causing an acute episode of pancreatitis
To best achieve those goals, it is important for pancreatitis patients to eat high protein, nutrient-dense diets that include fruits, vegetables, whole grains, low-fat dairy, and other lean protein sources. Abstinence from alcohol and greasy or fried foods is important in helping to prevent malnutrition and pain.
Nutritional assessments and dietary modifications are made on an individual basis because each patient’s condition is unique and requires an individualized plan. Our Pancreatitis Program offers nutritional and gastrointestinal support for those with pancreatitis.