The pancreas is a
large gland behind the stomach and close to the duodenum; the first part of
the small intestine. The pancreas secretes digestive juices, or enzymes,
into the duodenum through a tube called the pancreatic duct. Pancreatic
enzymes join with bile (the liquid produced in the liver and stored in the
gallbladder) to digest food. The pancreas also releases the hormones insulin
and glucagon into the bloodstream. These hormones help the body regulate the
glucose it takes from food for energy.
performs two important functions within the body.
The first function belongs to the exocrine pancreas. The pancreas produces
digestive juices and enzymes to help digest fats and proteins. When food has
been partially digested by the stomach, it is pushed into the duodenum (the
first part of the small intestine).
Secreting its enzymes into the duodenum helps to prevent the
protein-digesting enzyme known as trypsin from eating the protein-based
pancreas or its duct. Pancreatic digestive juices and enzymes are released
through a small duct attached to the duodenum to mix with the food. The
exocrine pancreas also produces enzymes that break down carbohydrates
(amylase) and fats (lipase) as well as sodium bicarbonate which helps to
neutralise the stomach acids in food.
The second function belongs to the endocrine pancreas. The pancreas produces
the hormone insulin together with a variety of other hormones. Insulin helps
to control the body’s blood sugar (glucose) levels. It is produced by small
groups of pancreatic cells called the Islets of Langerhans, which are also
known as the "islet cells".
Insulin is secreted when the blood sugar is raised and it causes the muscles
and other bodily tissues to take up glucose from the blood to fuel their
activity. Insulin also promotes the absorption of glucose into the liver,
where it is stored as glycogen for use in response to stress or exercise. If
the islets of Langerhans produce too little insulin, glucose levels in the
blood are raised and can result in
diabetes as well as increasing the risk of a number of other problems
throughout the body.
Diabetes occurs either when
the pancreas stops producing insulin or the body is unable to use the
insulin it produces. Both result in glucose, the body's fuel, not being
absorbed by the cells and building up in the bloodstream. Insulin is needed
to be present and working for this absorption into the cells to occur.
Pancreatitis is inflammation
of the pancreas and may be caused by gallstones blocking the pancreatic duct
chronic alcohol use,
infections and genetic abnormalities.
pancreatitis with upper abdominal pain that is often severe and constant
over several days and may be accompanied by
vomiting, tachycardia and abdominal swelling. Severe cases can develop
dehydration, low blood pressure, shock, organ failure and death.
pancreatitis is pancreatic inflammation that does not heal, gets worse over
time and results in permanent pancreatic damage; the most common cause is
heavy alcohol use over years. Chronic pancreatitis has many of the same
symptoms of acute, but may include
diarrhoea, oily stools and weight loss. Conditions such as hereditary
cystic fibrosis, autoimmune problems and other causes can result in
Other health conditions that pancreatitis can lead to
Unhealthy diets have a lot to do with pancreatic
problems. Eating too many sugars such as sweets, biscuits, cookies, cakes,
pastas and even breads, can cause an overload of sugar in the body. As the
body breaks down these sugars it does it in such a rapid pace that it creates
blood sugar imbalances that can lead to conditions such as diabetes. This rapid
rise and fall process of high to low blood sugar levels due to diabetes,
leads to the deterioration of the pancreas and eventually pancreatic
exhaustion, which can be prevented by eating a proper diet.
Because the pancreas’s main job is to regulate blood sugar, it is common for
the pancreas to become exhausted for those who have diabetes. Once the
pancreas has exhausted itself by working so hard to break down sugars, it
will stop producing insulin hormones altogether, making it impossible for
the body to break down sugar at all.
Pancreatic cancer infects the cells
of the duct and spreads into the body of the pancreas. Blood vessels and
nerves which are near to the pancreas may also become involved in the spread
of the cancerous cells. Risk factors include cigarette smoking, chronic
pancreatitis and advanced age (over 65 years old). If left untreated,
pancreatic cancer can spread to all the abdominal organs as well as other
parts of the body.
When the first signs of pancreatic disorder are noticed the first step is to eliminate alcohol, unnecessary medications, processed and refined foods, recreational drugs, sugar and tobacco, medications, recreational drugs and alcohol from the body which all aid in deterioration of the pancreas. Changing the diet drastically to all natural foods, plenty of vegetables, legumes, whole grains, fruits, seeds, nuts, herbs and spices and cutting right down on meat and animal fats is vital to recover the health of the pancreas.
Cruciferous vegetables, red fruits and berries, especially raspberries, turmeric and cumin should become an essential part of the diet.
Nutrients to heal and protect the pancreas
Consuming plenty of natural foods rich in the following nutrients can help the pancreas recover faster and protect it from further damage.
Consuming foods rich in
vitamin D and getting enough sunshine on the skin so the body can make it's own vitamin D protects the pancreas by its ability to block the proliferation of cancerous cells. This is especially important from October to April in the northern hemisphere and if the liver is damaged in any way.
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