Nutrition for Diseases of the Pancreas

Nutrition for Diseases of the Pancreas

Of the diseases of the pancreas, diabetes caused by an inadequate supply of insulin from the pancreas is the most common in our country and is a serious disease requiring strict dietary controls and exercise and in some cases injections of insulin. There are also other diseases of the pancreas whose detected cases are lesser in number, but which require adequate nutrition and dietary planning. In our issue on Diabetes (Vol 1, Issue 7, 7th June) we have covered the dietary needs for the diabetic. Interested readers can refer to that issue for details. In today's issue we take up nutritional needs for those afflicted with pancreatitis, cystic fibrosis and pancreatic cancer.

Patients with pancreatitis need to maintain normal blood sugar levels. For this the trace mineral chromium is needed, and foods containing chromium should be part of the diet. Insulin and chromium appear to act together to metabolize glucose, the body's major fuel. Brewer's yeats is very high in chromium; other good sources include wheat germ, whole-grain products, liver, cheese and molasses. Chromium supplement of 300mcg a day is needed.

The micronutrients Vitamin B complex and Vitamin C are also necessary, both in the diet and as vitamin supplements, though the dosage of all vitamin supplements have to be prescribed by the doctor.

Extra doses of Niacin (B3) and Pantothenic acid (B5)are required to help reduce stress and infection in the patient.

Niacin is found in lean meats, poultry and seafood; milk, legumes; fortified breads and cereals. Pantothenic acid is found in almost all foods. Vitamin C intake has to be increased in the diet with citrus fruits and juices; melons, berries and other fruits; peppers, broccoli, potatoes; and other fruits and vegetables. Foods such as potatoes also aid in fat-digestion necessary for the patient.

Cystic fibrosis is a genetic disease, which affect children at birth. The most serious consequences of the disease occur in the pancreas, lungs, and intestines, all of which become clogged with thick mucus. The patient has to consume plenty of fish, poultry, meat and other high-protein foods; starchy foods and a moderate amount of sweets for energy; fat (as much as can be tolerated) for extra calories; salt to replace that lost in sweat; fluids to prevent constipation.

Larger portions of high-calorie foods should be eaten along with enriched milk, eggs and dairy products. Fruit juices or nectars instead of water with meals is recommended.

For pancreatic cancer, the usual diet for cancer patients has to be followed, and also diets which reduce risk of cancers such as ample fruits and dark green or yellow vegetables. Also eat plenty of whole-grain breads and cereals and other high-fibre foods to promote smooth colon function.

Avoid fatty foods, and salt-cured, smoked, fermented, and charcoal-broiled foods. Among some specific foods for patients with pancreatic cancers are apricots recognized as a possible cancer inhibitor. Despite fears that drinking coffee might induce cancer, namely pancraetic and bladder cancer, later findings generally clear coffee and laboratory tests show that chemicals in coffee may actually prevent cancer.

Citrus fruits and juices and carrots are specifically suggested in the diet for pancreatic cancer.

Submitted By
Mahbub Husain Khan

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