Diet for Pancreatic Health

A diagnosis of pancreatic cancer can bring unexpected changes to the body, as well as our diet. Clinical Dietitian & Credentialed Diabetes Educator, Sophie Skalkos joined us at our May patient support group to discuss how to maintain a healthy diet as well as a list of foods to nourish your pancreas.

The pancreas is a small organ near the stomach that aids in digestion by releasing digestive enzymes into the small intestine. It also releases insulin and glucagon into the bloodstream to regulate the body’s use of food for energy.

The pancreas plays a role in both type 1 and type 2 diabetes.

  • Maintain weight towards a Healthy Weight Range
  • Eating foods low in fat (<10g fat per meal), lean sources of protein
  • Rich in fruits and vegetables including dark green leafy vegetables (spinach, endive, silver beet, kale)
  • Low fat dairy particularly fermented good quality yoghurt.
  • In addition to a diet of low-fat foods, hydration is important – drink plenty of fluids.
  • Patients who suffer from pancreatic disease should avoid drinking alcohol.
  • Avoid high fat greasy foods
  • Fibre plays a key role in maintaining our gut health, and even in reducing the risk of developing some cancers. Current Australian nutritional guidelines recommend around 30g of fibre for men and 25g for females. A balanced diet with plenty of high fibre foods such as fruit, vegetables, legumes, nuts, seeds and wholegrain cereals is recommended. The addition of fibre helps to lower the glycaemic load of a meal and can improve insulin sensitivity and blood glucose levels; placing less strain on the Pancreas to release Insulin. In addition, the fermentation that is seen in the gut is also beneficial for the good bacteria which can use this as a fuel source to helps them proliferate, creating a more healthy microbiome. Research is strongly indicating that a healthy gut is crucial to a healthy lifestyle having an effect on inflammation, immunity, weight and mental health.

– choose wholegrain breads and brown rice or pasta over white varieties,
– leave the skin on fruits and vegetables where possible for more insoluble fibre,
– choose a high fibre breakfast cereal with at least 7g fibre/100g,
– top your breakfast cereals with some nuts, flaxseed or psyllium husks,
– use a soluble fibre supplement.

More Foods to nourish your pancreas

  • Allium-species vegetables – onions, garlic, fenugreek, chives, shallots, and leeks contain beneficial nutrients—such as sulfur, arginine, oligosaccharides, flavonoids, and selenium—which have very positive effects on pancreatic tissues.
  • Probiotic Yogurt eating 3 servings of low fat or fat free yogurt that contains active cultures (probiotics or beneficial bacteria) to help ease digestion, protect the pancreas and digestive system.
  • Dark green leafy vegetables – consume a diet high in dark green leafy vegetables spinach (i.e., kale, spinach, mustard greens, and Silverbeet) with elevated levels of B vitamins and iron.
  • Cruciferous Vegetables – foods rich in the flavonoids apigenin and luteolin, like broccoli, cauliflower, brussel sprouts,
  • Red Grapes (or the skin of red grapes) a powerful antioxidant compound called resveratrol, found in fresh red grapes, raspberries and blueberries.
  • Sweet Potatoes not only lower the glycemic index—the bright orange is linked to boosting organ function

Click here to download this information as a PDF.

This information is kindly provided by Sophie Skalkos, Clinical Dietitian & Credentialed Diabetes Educator