Acute pancreatitis is often caused by gallstones or drinking too much alcohol. A healthy lifestyle can reduce your chances of developing the condition.


The most effective way of preventing gallstones is by eating a balanced diet that includes at least 5 portions of fresh fruit and vegetables a day.

Your diet should also include wholegrains – found in wholemeal bread, oats and brown rice. This helps lower the amount of cholesterol in your body.

Because there seems to be a link between having high cholesterol and developing gallstones, you should avoid eating too many fatty foods with a high cholesterol content.

Being overweight also increases your chances of developing gallstones. Maintain a healthy weight by eating a balanced diet and doing regular exercise to reduce your risk of developing the condition.

See exercisehealthy eating and managing your weight for more information and advice.


You can reduce your risk of developing acute pancreatitis by cutting back on drinking alcohol. This helps to prevent your pancreas being damaged.

It's recommended that you:

A unit of alcohol is equal to about half a pint of normal-strength lager or a pub measure (25ml) of spirits. A small (125ml) glass of wine (ABV 12%) or an alcopop is 1.5 units.

Remember, if you've had acute pancreatitis caused by drinking too much alcohol, you should avoid it completely.

Read about alcohol advice for more information.

Page last reviewed: 24 May 2022
Next review due: 24 May 2025