Survey shows 74 percent of Americans living with GI discomfort
“Over half of them never discussed it with their doctor,” said Dr. Rashini Raj, a gastroenterologist at NYU Langone Medical Center in New York City, on behalf of AbbVie Pharmaceuticals, who commissioned the survey.
“And that’s probably the most alarming part for me, because as you know, sometimes this can be a sign of a more serious underlying condition: urgency to go to the bathroom, pancreatic cancer, diabetes, celiac disease, Crohn’s disease, EPI or exocrine pancreatic insufficiency — so these are symptoms you shouldn’t ignore, and unfortunately a lot of people don’t feel comfortable talking about them.”
EPI is a condition where the pancreas does not function properly, failing to produce the enzymes needed for digestion. It’s often associated with other underlying health issues like chronic pancreatitis, pancreatic cancer or diabetes.
Solution: Eat whole foods, chew food slowly, take digestive enzymes in the morning, avoid foods with trans-fat.
“It’s a condition where people experience a lot of GI distress; abdominal pain, bloating, diarrhea, both frequency and urgency to go to the bathroom, and it can be tough to diagnose,” Raj.
Because they are lacking the proper enzymes to break down the food they eat, patients with EPI are not able to absorb vital nutrients.
“You’re not absorbing the nutrients your body needs, so that leads to the diarrhea, and it’s often what we call steatorrhea; diarrhea where the stools are kind of oily, they’re floating,” said Raj. “These are some of the symptoms that could be pointing toward a more serious issue.”
Raj noted that because many patients are embarrassed to discuss digestive issues with their doctor, they often go undiagnosed, which can lead to further complications.
“Part of it will involve changes in the diet, or adjusting the diet in some ways, but also giving back these enzymes that you’re missing if you have EPI … with medications,” said Raj. “You’ll take them every time you have a meal to help digest.”
From Dr Mercola:
Once Your Pancreatitis Subsides, Nourish Yourself With Powerful Anti-Inflammatory Foods
Once you start to feel better, you should give up your old diet and start eating healthy, organic food that can help your pancreas heal.
The world has no shortage of amazing foods that can help nourish you. In the case of pancreatitis, it’s important to nourish yourself with foods that may help reduce inflammation, such as:
•Animal-based omega-3 fats
Omega-3 is a healthy fatty acid mostly found in fish such as wild Alaskan salmon, sardines and anchovies. It’s highly recommended that you purchase fish from organic providers, because commercially grown fish is usually contaminated with pollutants. If that’s not possible, you can take a high-quality krill oil supplement.
Dark, leafy greens like kale, collard greens and Swiss chard are filled with powerful antioxidants, flavonoids and vitamin C, all of which may help protect your pancreas from cellular damage. Preferably, your vegetables should be certified organic, so you don’t ingest pesticides and other harmful chemicals that may damage your pancreas further.
Garlic has long been known for its various health benefits, such as aiding in calcium absorption, healthy formation of bones and connective tissues and proper thyroid function. But new research has shown that the allicin found in garlic may help not only with inflammation, but oxidative stress and cardiovascular dysfunction as well.2
It’s important that you don’t forget to nourish your gut flora, because most inflammatory ailments start in the gut. By increasing your intake of probiotics, you will ensure proper balance in your gut microbiome, which may help reduce your chances of chronic inflammation. Fermented foods like kefir, natto, miso, sauerkraut and yogurt made from raw milk are typically the best sources of probiotics.
Avoid These Unhealthy Habits to Lower Your Chances of Another Pancreatitis Attack
Aside from eating healthy, organic food to help manage your condition, it’s equally important to avoid habits that have been harming your pancreas in the first place. Follow these lifestyle tips to help keep pancreatitis at bay:4
•Avoid alcohol consumption
If alcohol consumption is the primary reason for your pancreatitis, then it makes sense to give up drinking alcohol. Continuing this habit may permanently damage your pancreas and lead to chronic pancreatitis. If you’re having trouble controlling your alcohol consumption, consider getting treatment by visiting a therapist or joining a support group.
•Don’t go on a crash diet
Many people believe that losing weight simply entails starving yourself until you get thinner, but this is not recommended. When you induce quick weight loss on your body, your liver produces more cholesterol as a response. Excess cholesterol can accumulate and form gallstones that will most likely cause pancreatitis. Instead, consume healthy fat-burning foods and follow a regular exercise routine to achieve your weight goals.
Not only is smoking harmful for your lungs, but it’s also linked to an increased risk of pancreatitis. In a wide-scale study in Sweden comprising 84,667 participants, researchers concluded that those who smoked the equivalent of one pack of cigarettes a day for 20 years had twice the risk of developing non-gallstone-related pancreatitis compared to non-smokers.5 Similar to alcohol addiction, consider visiting a counselor to help you curb your smoking habit.