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Lifestyle Modifications for Pancreatitis

Making certain lifestyle modifications can help those with chronic pancreatitis manage the condition long-term and prevent acute flare-ups. These guidelines can also help people who have had acute pancreatitis avoid a recurrence.

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NYU Langone specialists often recommend the following approaches.

Dietary Changes

To manage pancreatitis, doctors recommend limiting foods that may aggravate the condition. In people with chronic pancreatitis, the pancreas can’t produce enough of the enzymes needed for proper digestion of fats, carbohydrates, and protein. As a result, your body may not be able to absorb a sufficient amount of nutrients, and you may experience abdominal discomfort after eating foods high in fat and carbs.

To help ease digestion, NYU Langone doctors recommend that people with pancreatitis adopt a diet high in lean protein and low in fat. Your doctor may also recommend taking pancreatic enzyme supplements with meals to facilitate the digestive process.

Many people with chronic pancreatitis have type 2 diabetes. This is because long-term pancreatic inflammation damages cells that produce the hormone insulin, which regulates sugar absorption. Choosing low-glycemic foods—such as whole grains, leafy green vegetables, and lean proteins—allows the pancreas to release insulin slowly and steadily, putting less strain on the organ and helping to prevent or manage diabetes.

Maintain a Healthy Weight

Being overweight or obese can increase the risk of developing gallstones, which can lead to pancreatitis if stones get trapped in the duct that allows digestive enzymes to exit the pancreas. Maintaining a healthy weight can help prevent gallstones and protect you from other medical conditions as well.

Avoid Alcohol

If you have chronic pancreatitis, one of the best things you can do to lessen symptoms and prevent acute episodes is to abstain from alcohol. Alcohol abuse is one of the most common causes of pancreatitis, and abstaining prevents further damage to the pancreas. It also alleviates the pain commonly associated with the chronic form of the disease.

NYU Langone doctors offer therapeutic treatment for alcohol addiction and other substance abuse problems.

Stop Smoking

Doctors at NYU Langone recommend that people with pancreatitis stop smoking since it may worsen symptoms or delay recovery. In people with pancreatitis, smoking also increases the risk of developing pancreatic cancer. Specialists at NYU Langone’s Tobacco Cessation Programs can help you quit smoking for good.

Our Research and Education in Pancreatitis

Learn more about our research and professional education opportunities.