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While it’s often overlooked, the pancreas is an important, hardworking organ. It makes enzymes that help digest food and regulate blood sugar levels. The most important steps to keeping your pancreas healthy are to eat healthy, cut alcohol consumption, and avoid tobacco. If you’re managing a pancreatic disorder, such as pancreatitis, follow your doctor’s dietary guidelines, and take any medication as directed.
WH.shared.addScrollLoadItem(‘5c29863143002’)Pancreas Friendly Day Meal PlanWH.shared.addScrollLoadItem(‘5c29863143260’)Healthy Foods for Your PancreasWH.shared.addScrollLoadItem(‘5c298631435ac’)Unhealthy Foods for Your Pancreas
EditFollowing a Healthy Diet
Limit your fat consumption, and choose healthy fats and oils. Include healthy sources of fat in your diet, such as vegetable oils, nuts, fish, and avocados. Go for low-fat or fat-free dairy products instead of full-fat options. Steer clear of fried foods, red meat, processed meats (such as bacon or deli meat), butter, and margarine.
As a rule of thumb, about 25% of your daily calories should come from fat. Fat contains 9 calories per gram; to find your target daily value in grams, calculate 25% of your daily calories, then divide by 9. For example, 25% of 2500 is 625, and 625 ÷ 9 = 69.4, or about 70 g.
If you’re managing a pancreatic condition, you should consume a fat-free diet if possible. Talk to your doctor about the best way to minimize or eliminate fat in your diet while also getting the nutrients you need.
Avoid greasy fast food. Many people experience pancreatic symptoms when they eat a lot of greasy junk food, such as fast food burgers and fries. Limit eating out as much as possible, and stick to home-cooked meals that are baked, boiled, or prepared in healthy oils (such as olive oil or canola oil).
When you do eat out, look for healthy items that are low in oil and grease, such as salads, steamed vegetables, or baked chicken or fish. When in doubt, ask your server how the food is prepared.
In some restaurants, you may be able to ask for a healthier alternative. For example, ask if foods normally cooked in partially hydrogenated soybean oil can be prepared with olive oil instead.
Eat lean proteins, such as white meat poultry and fish. Other lean protein sources include eggs, nuts, beans, and lentils. Your exact daily needs depend on your age, sex, and activity level. In general, women need of protein per day, and men need per day.
Eggs and nuts should be eaten in moderation. Try to eat no more than 3 eggs a week, and just a small palmful of nuts daily.
If you have a low-protein diet, you will have a harder time digesting and metabolizing harmful substances, such as fat, alcohol, and tobacco.
Learn more about your specific nutritional needs at https://www.choosemyplate.gov.
Go for low-glycemic foods, such as whole grains. Healthy choices include bran cereals, whole grain breads and pastas, brown rice, nuts, fruits, and vegetables. Choose these options instead of high-glycemic foods (i.e., foods containing refined sugars and simple carbohydrates), such as white bread, white rice, sugary cereals, and candy.
Carbohydrates are important for pancreatic health, but some types aren’t good for you. The simple carbohydrates in high-glycemic foods break down into sugar very quickly and easily in your body, causing spikes in your blood sugar. This can overwork your pancreas.
About 45% of your daily calories should come from carbohydrates. Carbs contain 4 calories per gram. Find 45% of your total calories, then divide by 4 to calculate your target amount in grams. Suppose you eat 2,000 calories per day; 45% of 2,000 is 900, and 900 ÷ 4 is 225 g.
If you’re not sure how to calculate your carbohydrate intake from each meal, try using an online nutrition calculator.
Avoid consuming added sugars. Foods that naturally contain sugar, such as fruits and veggies, are good to eat. However, go easy on items that contain added sugars, such as sweetened breakfast cereals, desserts, and soft drinks. Eat candy and pastries sparingly, read nutritional labels (especially for cereals, sauces, condiments, and juices), and try sweetening coffee and tea with Stevia extract instead of sugar.
Read labels, but note that sugar contents listed under nutrition facts may not include all the added sweeteners. Check the ingredients, which are listed by weight. If you see sugar or words like “sucrose,” “glucose,” “dextrose,” or “high-fructose corn syrup” high up on the list, that product contains a lot of sugar.
Added sugars make the pancreas do more work, and they don’t provide any nutritional value. Recommended limits for added sugars for adults are 100 to 150 calories, or 24 to 36 grams per day.
Drink at least of fluids per day. Water is the best choice; don’t go overboard on sugary sports drinks and fruit juices. If you’re managing a pancreatic condition, keep a bottle of water handy at all times to avoid dehydration. In hot weather and when you exercise, drink of water every 20 minutes to replace the fluids lost due to sweating.
Check your urine to see if you’re dehydrated. If it’s pale yellow, you’re drinking enough water. If it’s dark, infrequent, or comes out in small amounts, you may be dehydrated.
Dehydration can overwork the pancreas, and can aggravate or cause pancreatic disorders.
Eat small, frequent meals if you have a pancreatic disorder. Smaller meals are easier on your pancreas, and lots of calories all at once can make it work too hard. For instance, instead of having an chicken breast in a single meal, eat a portion over greens for lunch, and save the rest for dinner.
If you have pancreatitis, stick to clear liquids for 1 to 2 days during a flare-up to give your pancreas a break. Clear liquids include water, apple juice, and broth. Stay on the safe side and check with your doctor before fasting during a flare-up.
During a pancreatic flare-up, you may experience symptoms such as sharp abdominal pain and tenderness (especially after eating), nausea and vomiting, a rapid pulse, and fever or chills.
EditMaking Beneficial Lifestyle Choices
Get about 30 minutes of exercise per day. Stay active to manage your weight, reduce stress levels, and improve your overall health. Brisk walks, bike rides, and swimming are great forms of exercise, especially if you’re not used to physical activity.
If you’re just starting to exercise, start by walking for 5 to 10 minutes 2 or 3 times per day. Increase the length of time gradually, and slowly add new activities to your routine.
Ask your doctor for advice about starting a new exercise routine, especially if you have any medical conditions.
Avoid drinking alcohol. If you’re managing a pancreatic disorder, avoid alcohol altogether. Otherwise, stick to 1 to 2 drinks per day if you’re a man, and 1 drink per day if you’re a woman. Keep in mind abstaining or drinking alcohol sparingly is the best choice, even if you’re in good health.
Heavy drinking is a common cause of acute pancreatitis. Continuing to drink, even in moderation, after developing acute pancreatitis can lead to serious complications.
To cut down or quit, set limits and stick to them. If necessary, avoid situations that trigger the urge to drink alcohol. In social settings, drink club soda with lemon or lime so you don’t feel out of place. Remind yourself that maintaining your health is more important than drinking.
Quit smoking or stop using any other tobacco products. Among other harmful effects, smoking and chewing tobacco dramatically increase the risk of pancreatic cancer. If you use tobacco, talk to your doctor or pharmacist about products that can help you quit.
Patches, gum, and medication can help you quit smoking or chewing tobacco. To manage cravings, try to keep yourself busy or take up a new hobby. If you’re used to smoking after a meal, go for a walk instead. If you used to smoke a cigarette with your morning coffee, switch to tea.
Manage stress by doing yoga and meditating. Look for guided yoga and meditation videos online, or join a local class. When you feel stressed, do deep breathing exercises. Inhale deeply and fill your belly with air as you count to 4, hold your breath for a 7 count, then exhale slowly as you count to 8.
Stress can aggravate pancreatic disorders and slow down the healing process.
Try to lose weight if you’re overweight or obese. Stick to a healthy diet, keep track of your calorie consumption, and do your best to exercise regularly. Try to lose about per week, since drastic changes in weight aren’t good for the pancreas.
If you’re overweight, losing 5% to 7% of your starting weight can benefit your pancreas, lower your risk of developing diabetes, or help you manage diabetes if you’ve already been diagnosed.
Ask your doctor for advice about losing weight and to recommend healthy weight loss goals.
People who are underweight or at a healthy weight can also get pancreatitis. Talk to your doctor if you have any weight concerns or want to find out how your weight might be connected to the health of your pancreas.
EditManaging Pancreatic Disorders
See your doctor if you have symptoms of a pancreatic disorder. The main symptom of pancreatitis is pain in the upper left quadrant of your abdomen, above your belly button. Pain may be worse after eating or drinking, increase gradually over a few days, become worse when you lie on your back, or spread to your back or under your left shoulder blade.
Other symptoms of pancreatitis may include bloating, hiccups, indigestion, greasy or yellowish stools, or diarrhea. In the later stages of the disease, you may develop yellowing of the eyes and skin.
The symptoms of pancreatitis can mimic those of other conditions, like cirrhosis of the liver. If you experience any of these symptoms, see your doctor for an accurate diagnosis.
Diabetes and prediabetes are pancreatic disorders, and are usually diagnosed at routine check-ups. While there are often no obvious signs of diabetes, symptoms may include increased thirst, frequent urination, fatigue, and blurred vision.
Take supplemental enzymes or insulin if necessary. Your pancreas may not produce enough of the enzymes needed to digest food if you have a pancreatic condition. If your doctor advises it, take capsules of supplemental enzymes with every meal. If you’re diabetic, your doctor will prescribe medication or insulin injections to regulate your blood sugar.
Take any medication according to your doctor’s instructions. Don’t stop taking any medication without consulting your doctor.
Pancreatic disorders can lead to malnutrition, so your doctor might also recommend vitamin supplements. Many people with pancreatitis become underweight, so weigh yourself every few days to make sure you are maintaining a healthy body weight.
Manage pain due to pancreatitis with over-the-counter medications. Take a pain reliever, such as ibuprofen, according to the label’s instructions. If over-the-counter medication isn’t effective, your doctor may give you a prescription-strength pain reliever.
Pancreatitis flare-ups can cause severe pain. Rest and relax during a flare-up, and do your best to distract yourself with music, a movie, or a good book. You can also apply a warm compress to the area for about 20 minutes every 1 to 2 hours.
If you experience severe symptoms, don’t try to manage them at home. Seek medical attention immediately if your pain becomes so severe that you can’t stay still or find any position that relieves your discomfort.
Undergo surgery if you have damaged tissue or pancreatic cancer. Part of the pancreas must be removed if there’s tissue damage due to pancreatitis or a cancerous tumor. In rare, serious cases, such as advanced pancreatic cancer, the entire pancreas, gallbladder, and part of the stomach, is removed.
Recovery depends on the scope of the surgery. After surgery, you may stay in the hospital 1 to 3 weeks. In general, stick to a bland diet just after surgery, and add foods according to your doctor’s instructions. Eat small meals every 3 hours, and take supplemental enzymes and any other medications as directed.
Pancreatitis and cirrhosis of the liver often present with identical symptoms. If you experience symptoms such as sharp pain in the upper left quadrant of your abdomen (just above your belly button) along with yellowing of the eyes and skin, see your doctor right away to get a diagnosis and appropriate treatment.
EditSources and Citations
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For some people, the gym is expensive or inconvenient. Others don’t like working out in front of a crowd. No matter your reason for not wanting to go to the gym, there are plenty of exercises you can do at home. Walk, jog, dance, or play sports to get your heart rate up for cardio, and use bodyweight exercises for strength training. Even someone with a busy schedule can find room for exercise without heading to the gym.
EditGetting a Cardio Workout
Go for a walk or jog. Walking and jogging are 2 totally free ways to get in some cardio without having to hit the gym floor. If you’re just starting to build a fitness routine, try taking a brisk walk for 20-30 minutes a day, 3-4 days a week. If you don’t find that you break a sweat from a brisk walk, increase your pace and jog instead.
Walking and jogging are endlessly customizable to fit different schedules, fitness levels, and fitness goals. Vary the terrain and the pace to make your walk or jog more challenging.
Take a hike in a natural area like a park or forest if you have some extra time. Hiking is both more physically challenging and a great activity to do with friends or family.
Bike during your commute. Biking is a low-impact cardio exercise that you can work into your daily routine. Bike to work or school if it’s close enough. If you can’t add a bike ride to your commute, take 30 minutes and go for a ride in your neighborhood, or use your bike to run errands such as grocery shopping.
You can use biking to supplement your other exercises, or you can use it as your primary exercise. If you want to use your bike for daily exercise, try to do at least 30 minutes of active peddling at least 3-4 times a week.
Join an intramural sports team. If you don’t want to go to the gym but you still want group or social exercise, look for a local intramural sports team. Many areas have teams for any sport from soccer and basketball to dodgeball and even quidditch. Check with your local recreation centers or look online for teams that interest you.
Social media is often a great place to find intramural sports groups and teams or look for informal pickup games in your area.
Sign up for affordable exercise programs at your community center. If you aren’t into team sports, check your local recreation and community centers for affordable exercise classes like dance and yoga. These often cost much less than a gym membership but generally offer the same level of instruction and rigor.
Follow along with an exercise video. You can find exercise videos from most online streaming services, as well as in DVD and VHS form. You can find videos for many forms of aerobic exercise, from dance workouts like Zumba to interval training. These videos allow you to get a rigorous, structured workout in your own home.
Different video producers will have different styles. Try a few different videos from different producers and creators to find the best match for you.
You can find exercise videos for free on sites like YouTube if you don’t want to pay for the video or streaming service. You can also borrow an exercise video or DVD from your local library.
EditPracticing Strength Training at Home
Practice a bodyweight exercise routine. You can find a wide variety of workout plans online that use bodyweight exercises to target different muscle groups or areas of the body. Use exercises like push-ups, triceps dips, squats, crunches, planks, lunges, and bridges to help you build your strength without any fancy equipment. To get started, try a once-daily routine like:
Walk or jog for 5 minutes to warm up.
10 push ups
20 lunges (10 on each leg)
10 tricep dips
30-second glute bridges
Use household objects to add weight to exercises. If you don’t feel like you’re getting enough resistance from standard bodyweight exercises, use household objects to increase the intensity. For example, you can use a gallon of milk or a heavy book to add more weight to your squats. Hold the book close to your chest as you squat to add resistance to this bodyweight exercise.
You can also use household objects to try exercises that typically require weights, like rows and bicep curls.
Invest in a set of dumbbells or resistance bands. Both dumbbells and resistance bands can be found affordably from most sporting goods stores. Resistance bands can be used for exercises like rows, bicep curls, arm raises, donkey kicks, and presses. Dumbbells are versatile and let you tackle many of the exercises you’d find in your gym’s weight room.
For curls, for example, loop the band under your foot. Grasp the band in a closed fist. Hold your arm so that your elbow is against your side, and your forearm is facing up toward the ceiling. Bring your forearm up toward your shoulder, then slowly lower it down to your starting position. The band will provide resistance as you lift.
You will need different levels of resistance and different weight for different exercises. Try to invest in a set of dumbbells or resistance bands rather than getting just one.
You don’t need both dumbbells and resistance bands. Either one will be beneficial. However, the different tools work different body parts in different ways, so if you have the resources, getting a set of each may be beneficial.
EditFitting Exercise into a Busy Routine
Increase the intensity of your exercises. If you can’t find more time to exercise, focus on increasing your intensity instead. Walk up a hill instead of on a level path, or practice high-intensity interval training (HIIT) instead of your regular daily workout to get a greater impact from the same amount of time.
Use your breaks to get in some cardio. Take 15-20 minutes during your lunch break to take a walk around your block or go for a short bike ride to a new lunch spot. Even small amounts of exercise can add up, so use your breaks to get out and get active.
Exercising during your breaks also has the advantage of getting you away from your desk. It can help you clear your head and get your mind off your work for a few minutes.
Go dancing for your night out. If you were planning a night out, combine your fun and your cardio and go dancing at a local dance club. Just because you’re out enjoying yourself doesn’t mean that you’re not getting exercise. The more you move and shake on the floor, the more exercise you’re getting.
If dance clubs aren’t your scene, make a date night or a friend’s night out by going to a dance class or lesson. You can easily find groups for swing dancing, ballroom dancing, hip-hop, lyrical dance, and many other styles.
Do bodyweight exercises during commercial breaks. Make the most of your TV or streaming time by doing a set of bodyweight exercises every time a commercial comes on. Do 10 pushups, squats, or hold a 30-second plank every time your show takes a break. Resistance training doesn’t have to be done all at the same time to be effective.
For a plank, lie on your stomach with your legs together. Put your palms flat on the ground next to your chest and hold your elbows in against your sides. Tuck your toes, and push your body up until your arms are fully extended. Engage your core and focus on keeping your spine in a straight line. Hold this position for 30 seconds.
To do squats, stand up and sit back down as many times as you can during the commercial break.
Avoid gimmicky exercise gear that you won’t realistically use.
Try to find a friend to exercise with. You can motivate one another. Comradery or friendly competition can be a good thing.
If you tend to procrastinate about exercise, remember that even doing small amounts of exercise throughout the day will benefit you. Look for windows when you can exercise, such as during a commercial break and do something that is easy for you, such as dancing around the living room or walking in place. Don’t worry about the amount or intensity at first. Just focus on doing something.
Make sure to practice proper form to prevent physical injury or pain.
Check with your doctor before starting any new fitness program.
Remember to always increase your activity gradually to warm up your muscles. Do 3 to 5 minutes of a less intense form of the type of exercise you will be doing, such as walking if you plan to go for a jog. Then, stretch your muscles after your workout. Hold each of the stretches you do for 15 to 30 seconds and breathe deeply to relax into each stretch.
Buy an Exercise Band
Begin a Walking/ Weight Loss Program for the Very Unfit Person
Build a Low Cost Home Gym
Jump Double Dutch
Create Your Own Home Gym for Little or No Cost
Start Walking for Exercise
Train Your Body
Motivate Yourself to Go to the Gym
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