Expatriates may be able to curtail their likelihood of suffering from acute pancreatitis – a serious illness often requiring treatment through international medical insurance and that is potentially life threatening – by consuming a diet that contains a large number of vegetables.
This is according to a study published in the journal Gut that involved tracking 80,000 Swedish adults for 11 years.
The population-based sample of participants were issued a questionnaire in 1997 asking them how frequently they ate from a list of 96 different food items during the preceding 12 months.
A total of 320 people in the monitoring period developed acute pancreatitis for reasons other than gallstones and while the amount of fruit they consumed did not appear to impact their likelihood of suffering from the ailment, their vegetable eating habits did.
People who ate at least four servings of vegetables every day were 44 per cent less likely to develop the condition than those who ate less than one serving, after taking account of other variables likely to influence the results.
Alcohol intake, accidental damage to the pancreas, viral infections such as measles and mumps or medicine side effects are known to cause acute pancreatitis, with other risk factors including being at least 70 years old, obese, or being a smoker.
The report authors claimed the high levels of antioxidants seen in the diets of vegetable consumers are the most likely reason why these foodstuffs have such a protective effect.
While fruit also contains these beneficial compounds, their protective potential could be mitigated by the fructose they also hold, they added.
People who imbibed at least one alcoholic drink every day and those who had a body mass index of at least 25 per cent were found to realise the highest protective effects from their vegetable intake.
Drinkers who ate the highest levels of vegetables were 71 per cent less likely to develop acute pancreatitis than those who ate the least, with this difference 51 per cent among the overweight.
These findings ought to be confirmed by further studies, the report authors asserted.