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Foods to Avoid for the Pancreas

author image Owen Pearson
Owen Pearson is a freelance writer who began writing professionally in 2001, focusing on nutritional and health topics. After selling abstract art online for five years, Pearson published a nonfiction book detailing the process of building a successful online art business. Pearson obtained a bachelor's degree in art from the University of Rio Grande in 1997.
Foods to Avoid for the Pancreas
Sugary, processed foods can contribute to pancreas disease.

The pancreas is an organ located behind the stomach, and connects to the intestines just below the stomach. This organ is responsible for producing enzymes that aid in the digestion of proteins, fats and carbohydrates in foods, according to the Jackson Seigelbaum Gastroenterology website. It is also responsible for producing insulin, which regulates glucose levels in the bloodstream. Diabetes, alcoholism and other factors can cause a variety of pancreas diseases, including acute pancreatitis. While medical attention is required for pancreatic disease, certain foods can also contribute to pancreas inflammation and damage.

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Nutritional therapy is not meant to replace medical attention. Check with your doctor before changing your diet.

Processed Foods

Whole wheat pasta
Whole wheat pasta Photo Credit: Deron Rodehaver/Hemera/Getty Images

Processed foods, such as those that contain large amounts of refined white flour, sugar and partially hydrogenated oils, can aggravate the symptoms of pancreas disease, according to the University of Maryland Medical Center. White bread, pastas and sugary snack foods can all trigger a spike in insulin production, which can damage the liver. Whole grain breads, whole wheat pastas and low-sugar snacks can replace sugary, refined foods.

Red Meat

Beef steak
Beef steak Photo Credit: Joshua Resnick/iStock/Getty Images

According to the University of Maryland Medical Center, people with pancreatitis and other pancreas diseases should avoid eating red meat, which contains high levels of saturated fats. Other meats high in saturated fats, such as bacon and ham, are also harmful to the pancreas. High triglyceride levels contribute heavily to pancreatitis, notes Dr. James F. Balch, author of Prescription for Nutritional Healing. Lean meats, tofu, beans and fish are excellent protein replacements for red meats.


Woman's hand holding a glass of red wine
Woman's hand holding a glass of red wine Photo Credit: Keith Levit Photography/Keith Levit Photography/Getty Images

Alcohol is one of the most significant contributors to pancreas disease, according to Dr. Balch. People with pancreatitis should avoid using alcohol in any form. Like refined sugars, alcohol increases insulin production in the bloodstream. It also lowers levels of antioxidants in the body, which increases the likelihood of pancreatitis, according to the University of Maryland Medical Center.

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