Biliary inflammation (gallbladder disease, SOD), acute and chronic pancreatitis are all made worse by consuming high fat meals. It’s a fact. A fact I know from personal experience and from scientific evidence. Many of you who have read my blog(s) may be wondering …
Why does fat consumption increase the risk of acute pancreatitis in those who have previously experienced pancreas damage? Why does fat exacerbate other biliary conditions such as gallbladder disease and sphincter of oddi dysfunction?
I have been telling people, who have experienced recurrent acute pancreatitis and/or have been diagnosed with chronic pancreatitis, that fat is an enemy to avoid. It is an enemy of anyone who suffers from biliary inflammation yet, I have never explained WHY. So …
I thought it might be time to explain as best I can exactly why avoiding certain fats and drastically limiting other fats is beneficial for those of us who have suffered pancreas damage due to pancreatitis. The subject is involved and often conflicting, in regards to evidence, and you may find it boring but …
I am hoping that with the increase of knowledge regarding fat and it’s role in biliary inflammation that you’ll understand why a low-fat diet is extremely beneficial for those who suffer from pancreatitis and other biliary conditions. Sometimes testimonials such as these from my FB page:
It was a year last week since he’s been following this diet Marianne Birtchnell and yes doing really well
I found this blog when my doctor just left me hanging when I first was diagnosed. Have been following this regimen the past six months and feel pretty much free of pain. Worth exploring his time tested suggestions.
I thought I´d share my story on this post since I got some very happy news yesterday.A little under a year ago I was diagnosed with chronic pancreatitis after several bouts of stomach pain over a period of about five years, the last one lasting for several weeks with fever and everything.I was sent to ultrasound and there the radiologist found scar tissue having formed in my pancreas and he said that this was caused by inflammation of the pancreas due to drinking too much (which is what caused the attacks) and ordered me to stop drinking altogether. I haven´t touched alcohol since.Shortly after I came over this blog and adopted the regime of a low fat diet, grape seed, vitamin C, curcumin and enzymes before meals. I also took Ibuprofen whenever I felt the slightest sign of pancreatic stomach pain (you kinda know how it feels if you´ve had it before). I also made sure to get cardio-vascular exercise at least three times a week and have a certain amount physical activity every day (walks, biking etc). CT-scan Yesterday I got the results from a recent CT scan, (which is a more precise form of diagnosis than ultrasound) and to my surprise they found “no evidence of disease in pancreas”. This means that the scarring in my pancreas has healed in less than a year and I stand a much better chance of escaping this horrible disease, and the future looks bright!I will continue to stay away from alcohol, and will also continue to take supplements, although maybe not as many as before, just to stay on the safe side.This goes to show that there is indeed hope if you get an early diagnosis and implement measures immediately and stick to them.”
The above comment was posted on my other blog. You’ll have to find it but you can read it in original form here.
Sometimes a person simply needs a viable explanation backed up by scientific proof (studies) that at least suggests that what someone says (me) is actually beneficial for someone else (you). So we may as well get on with it. 🙂
Biliary Inflammation – WHY Is Fat Bad?
Simply put fat is inflammatory and high fat meals produce postprandial inflammation . Most studies regarding fat and the inflammation caused by consuming high fat meals is geared towards heart disease yet high fat meals may cause inflammation of brain tissue as well at least it does in mice brain tissue . Yet, if you recall, grapefruit juice coupled with a low fat diet originally stopped my acute pancreatitis attacks. Then while writing about my experiences I found a study done on rats that pointed to grapefruit as being the potential real friend . So …
Since high fat meals contribute to inflammation in the cardiovascular system and brain tissue high fat meals most certainly do the same within the biliary tree (liver, pancreas, gallbladder, sphincter of oddi). Yet there may be other mechanisms besides inflammation at work as well.
Lipase, as most pancreatitis warriors know, is an enzyme that catalyzes the hydrolysis of fats (lipids). It is manufactured and secreted in the largest quantities by the pancreas to aid in the digestion of fats. When a high fat meal is eaten the pancreas has to work more to produce and secrete more lipase to handle the fat. Making an already damaged pancreas work more on top of the inflammatory meal may also contribute to problems BUT I can find no proof. It may simply be the offending, inflammatory fat.
For those with gallbladder disease (with or without stones) and sphincter of oddi dysfunction high fat foods can inflame the gallbladder just as they do the pancreas and bile flow is stimulated by high fat foods .
The increase in bile flow coupled with inflammation most likely causes the GB to eject stones and sludge when stones or sludge are present. These ejected stones and/or sludge could inturn obstruct the common bile duct or pancreatic duct and cause gall stone pancreatitis.
For those with SOD (sphincter of oddi dysfunction) the biliary inflammation along with increased bile flow could irritate the SO, cause it to spasm, which in turn could cause mild to severe SOD symptoms and acute pancreatitis. Spasms cause acute pancreatitis due to the sphincter closing causing bile along with other digestive juices to back up into the pancreatic duct.
Are ALL Fats Bad?
Yes. No matter what class of fat, trans fats (hydrogenated garbage) found in processed foods, saturated fats (meat, fish, poultry, water fowl, dairy), monounsaturated fats (nuts, seeds, cooking oils) or polyunsaturated fats (plant sources), all fat groups are not conducive to pancreas healing. Fat is fat yet polyunsaturated fat seems to be tolerated more easily than the other fats in those of us who have pancreatitis. Ya but …
What About Omega 3’s Found In Olive Oil, Flax Seed and Fish?
I have to admit this is where it is very confusing, contradicting and down right baffling. Good fats, omega 3 fatty acids, found in cold water fish (salmon, sardines, mackerel, tuna), fish oil, olive oil and flax seed are actually ANTI-inflammatory yet they will still cause problems in those who are at risk for biliary inflammation (e.g. pancreatitis)
I don’t have a good answer and I can’t find any scientific research stating why they would ignite inflammation in our pancreas or other biliary tree organs, they just do. If you haven’t sustained a lot of damage and are healed up nicely you may tolerate small amounts of cold water fish, olive oil and flaxseed. Then again maybe not. Test them yourself if you dare. Just remember I warned you. 🙂
1) A high-fat meal induces low-grade endotoxemia: evidence of a novel mechanism of postprandial inflammation – Read
2) High-fat diet rapidly induces hypothalamic inflammation in mice – Read
3) Extract of grapefruit-seed reduces acute pancreatitis induced by ischemia/reperfusion in rats: possible implication of tissue antioxidants – Read
4) Effect of fat pre-feeding on bile flow and composition in the rat – Read