(NaturalNews) Few people give much thought to their pancreas, the small digestive organ that is located behind the stomach and functions to release digestive enzymes to break down food. Acute pancreatitis is a serious, potentially life-threatening disease that occurs when those enzymes begin to eat the pancreas itself. Pancreatitis leads to pancreatic exhaustion and is associated with a significant increase in the risk of developing pancreatic cancer.
Researchers from the Karolinska Institute in Sweden have published the result of a cohort of studies in the journal Gut (an International Journal of Gastroenterology and Hepatology) that explains how a vegetable-rich diet is protective against non-gallstone related acute pancreatitis. The study was the first broad population-based research body to investigate how vegetables and fruits influence the risk of developing pancreatitis and indirectly, the future risk of pancreatic cancer.
Four daily servings of vegetables cuts risk of pancreatitis in half
Study researchers examined the dietary habits of 80,000 Swedes for a period of 11 years via a standard questionnaire to determine vegetable and fruit consumption patterns. The goal of the research was to gain a better understanding of a possible connection between antioxidant levels, which are affected by diet, and an increased risk of acute pancreatitis. Over the 11 years, 320 participants developed cases of acute pancreatitis that weren't connected to gallstones, which are a common cause of the disease.
After adjusting their statistics for various factors, the researchers found that those who ate more than four servings of vegetables a day were 44 percent less likely to develop acute pancreatitis than those who ate less than one serving of vegetables a day. Lead researcher, Dr. Viktor Oskarsson commented "A significant inverse association between vegetable consumption and risk of non-gallstone-related acute pancreatitis was observed; the risk declined in a linear dose-response fashion for every additional serving per day."
It is interesting to note that the researchers found no association with the amount of fruit consumed and the risk of acute pancreatitis. The researchers suspect antioxidants in vegetables helped prevent the condition, while fructose in fruits may weaken the protective effect. Also of note, overweight people and those who consumed more than one alcoholic drink per day appeared to get the most positive benefit from eating a lot of vegetables. Although this study found that four daily servings of vegetables lowered risk of pancreatitis by 44 percent, nutrition scientists regularly recommend consuming a minimum of five to nine servings each day to optimize protection from chronic disease.
About the author: John Phillip is a Certified Nutritional Consultant and Health Researcher and Author who writes regularly on the cutting edge use of diet, lifestyle modifications and targeted supplementation to enhance and improve the quality and length of life. John is the author of 'Your Healthy Weight Loss Plan', a comprehensive EBook explaining how to use Diet, Exercise, Mind and Targeted Supplementation to achieve your weight loss goal. Visit My Optimal Health Resource to continue reading the latest health news updates, and to download your copy of 'Your Healthy Weight Loss Plan'.