Vegetable Diet

Can A Vegetable Rich Diet Help With The Prevention Of Pancreatitis?

All of us, whether in good health or not, recognise the need to eat a wide range of nutrient rich foods for optimum health and nutrition. This is more so when a condition such as Pancreatitis has been diagnosed and diet has to be even more carefully watched and monitored to avoid any flare-ups of symptoms and the pain and discomfort this may entail. Last year, the results of a long term study carried out in Europe were published, which may provide some enlightening and interesting views on whether or not eating a diet rich in vegetables can help with the symptoms of this illness and actually prevent it from occuring in the first place.

Swedish Study

This interesting cohort study was carried out over a period of eleven years for the Karolinska Institute. In total, eighty thousand Swedish people had their dietary habits examined over this time frame, via a questionnaire format. It involved questioning on all aspects of diet and drinking habits, but in particular, the surveys were designed to find out as much about the participant’s consumption of fruit and vegetables on a daily basis. From these answers, the goal of the research was to determine whether levels of antioxidants within the body had anything to do with the chances of developing acute Pancreatitis.

Over the eleven years of the study, it was found that three hundred and twenty of the people taking part in the study developed symptoms of acutePancreatitis that were not related to gallstones. The researchers found that those who in general ate four or more servings a day of fresh vegetables were on average around forty four percent less likely to contractPancreatitis than those who only ate one or no servings a day. The average amount of fruit and vegetables consumed by people who took part in the survey was two and a half servings of veggies and two servings of fruit per day.

Perhaps one of the more interesting points of the research is that the scientists found absolutely no correlation between the amount of fruit consumed and the development of the illness, it was all purely down to vegetable intake. Interestingly, they also discovered that people who were perhaps overweight or tended to consume one or more alcoholic drinks a day gained more benefit from the vegetable rich diet than those who were of a normal weight and/or teetotal. The figures showed that as many as seventy one percent of the people surveyed who drank but consumed four portions of vegetables a day were less likely to develop the condition, as were fifty one percent of people who were overweight.

The scientists responsible for the study concluded that “The findings, if confirmed by other studies, indicate a potential benefit of increasing the consumption of vegetables for the prevention of non-gallstone relatedacute Pancreatitis”.

The benefits of a vegetable rich diet

In truth, many of us probably could benefit from eating a diet that is richer in vegetables and one that contains fewer fatty, processed foods and sugary drinks. If nothing else it will help to raise energy levels and help us feel less sluggish and tired so we can face the challenges and stresses of the day. One of the main reasons scientists gave vegetable consumption the thumbs up for helping to prevent the symptoms of Pancreatitis, was that the antioxidant levels in fresh vegetables were more likely to have a better benefit to the body as they were not affected by things like fructose – the complex sugars found in fruit, which can have a somewhat negative effect, in certain instances blocking them from being absorbed properly. Fruit, whilst an excellent source of vitamins and essential nutrients couldn’t compete with the levels of antioxidants in fresh vegetables. Previous studies into Pancreatitis had found that people who suffer from the condition may produce more free-radicals in their system than those who do not suffer. Levels of antioxidant enzymes, which work to kill off the effects of free radicals, generally tend to be higher when people who suffer from Pancreatitis have an attack. Therefore the link between a higher vegetable consumption and prevention of the illness starting in the first place would seem to be validated.

However, the advice is as with everything else, it’s wise to just eat a good, sensible diet that doesn’t involve eating anything to excess or indiscriminately cutting food groups out without a valid reason. The results of this long term study are indeed interesting and may provide a good baseline for future work in this area to determine if there can ever be a way to improve people’s symptoms or indeed actually prevent the illness from occurring in the first place.

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