The pancreas secretes insulin and other digestive enzymes in the body. It helps to break down carbohydrates, fats, and proteins. A pancreatic cancer patient requires proper nutrition during and after treatment. The nutritional goal of a patient with pancreatic cancer should be to get adequate calories, vitamins, fluids, minerals, and proteins every day in order to maintain a healthy weight and muscle mass.

Diarrhea is one of the side effects experienced by pancreatic cancer patients. This may come as a result of pancreatic enzyme insufficiency, bacterial overgrowth, dumping resection or lactose intolerance. Making a healthy choice by maintaining good nutrition can help to minimize the treatment side effects of pancreatic cancer. It can also help patients to recover from surgery and maintain quality of life.

However, some foods can cause discomfort to patients. Such foods should be avoided by patients, and they include:

  • Foods that are high in fats, including whole milk, rich foods, high-fat cheeses or meats, among others.
  • Fast foods, foods with added margarine, butter, oil, cream cheese, sour cream, full salad dressing, and also fried foods. 
  • Refined foods or carbohydrates that contain high fructose corn syrup or sucrose, especially if the patient has dumping syndrome.
  • Spicy foods that contain hot peppers, onions, or garlic.
  • Foods high in fiber
  • If lactose intolerant, avoid dairy and milk products.
  • Soft drinks, coffee, and tea.

Patients with multiple side effects may experience difficulty in deciding the best food to eat. Keeping a diary of your daily food consumption and the symptoms to watch out for will help to monitor the patterns of foods that worsen the symptoms, those that neutralize the symptoms and those that make their situation better. A registered dietitian’s advice is vital in this case.

Each pancreatic cancer patient has individualized nutritional needs. It is wise to liaise with the doctor or dietician before making changes to your diet.