The Pancreas. Many people have never even given this precious spongy tube-shaped organ a second thought. The pancreas lies in the abdominal cavity behind the stomach and plays a very important role in your digestion. Here, we discuss the top foods to eat for a healthy pancreas.
The pancreas has 2 main roles in the body, an exocrine function that produces many important enzymes that help to break down food and aid our digestion, as well as neutralising stomach acid to prevent damage to the intestines. The pancreas also has an endocrine function which helps to regulate blood sugar. Your pancreas is responsible for releasing hormones like insulin and glucagon into the blood to help maintain blood sugar levels.
If your pancreas becomes unable to function properly, nutrients from your food are no longer available to your body. The top four problems that can develop from a weak pancreas are;
- Gallstones – produced in the gallbladder, can block the bile duct and stop the pancreatic enzymes from travelling to the small intestines and force them back into the pancreas
- Acute or Chronic Pancreatitis – simply means inflammation of the pancreas and symptoms include; nausea, vomiting, abdominal distention, elevated heart rate and temperature and experiencing pain after consuming a fatty meal or excess alcohol
- Diabetes – chronic inflammation of the pancreas can damage the cells that produce insulin and problems with the pancreas can lead to diabetes
- Cancer – diabetes can increase your risk of pancreatic cancer
Find out more about the pancreas in this short video:
The pancreas holds a vital role in the human body, so it’s important we keep it healthy, and one of the best ways to do this is through implementing an anti-inflammatory diet.
Consuming foods for a healthy pancreas help to ensure that this organ continues to perform its duties. The following 10 foods will support and nourish your pancreas so it’s able to work effectively.
Turmeric has been found to decrease pain and inflammation in the pancreas. It also stimulates the production of insulin and reduces blood sugar levels which help prevent the onset of diabetes. Turmeric has also been found to decrease the size of gallstones as well as gallstone formation to help with the onset of pancreatitis caused from bile duct obstruction. If you’re looking for new ways to include turmeric into your daily diet, you can read more here. Turmeric also has some amazing healing properties and benefits.
Garlic in addition to onions, fenugreek, chives, shallots, and leeks all contains beneficial nutrients including; sulfur, arginine, oligosaccharides, flavonoids, and selenium—which have very positive effects on pancreatic tissues.
It’s really hard to eat just a handful of cherries, which is great news since the fruit is rich in antioxidants and a compound called ‘POH’ that’s been linked to the prevention of pancreatic cancer.
- Cruciferous Vegetables
Broccoli is rich in the flavonoids apigenin and luteolin, which inhibit human pancreatic cancer cell formation. Other cruciferous veggies such as cauliflower, kale, cabbage and brussel sprouts provide easily absorbable nutrients needed to support the pancreas. This ‘Cauliflower & Herb Detox Soup’ is loaded with all of these incredibly nourishing cruciferous vegetables.
- Sweet Potatoes
Many people believe that consuming foods that visually resemble an organ will support the health of that particular organ. The elongated shape and colour of the sweet potato has an uncanny resemblance to the pancreas.
Sweet potato is linked to boosting pancreatic function as well as lowering the instance of pancreatic cancer by 50%. It’s also been found to stabilise blood sugar levels by slow releasing the sugars gradually into the bloodstream.
The live cultures in probiotic rich foods aid the digestive system and the pancreas plays a vital role in this. Fermented foods are rich in pre-biotics, probiotics and enzymes which also help to support the healthy microbes in the digestive tract, improve digestive health and boost your immune system.
There has even been research conducted regarding certain beneficial strains of bacteria such as;
- Lactobacillus bulgaricus is beneficial in helping to prevent pancreatitis
- Lactobacillus acidophilus has also been found to improve symptoms associated with pancreatitis
- Bifidobacterium bifidus has been found to decrease inflammation and improve and prevent symptoms associated with pancreatitis.
Onions have flavonoids, which are cancer-fighting compounds. They also contain sulfur compounds, which are good for keeping the pancreas in good working order.
Lemons encourage the release of vital digestive enzymes from the pancreas. Limes and kiwi fruit are also very beneficial for the pancreas.
Dandelion tea is known to flush toxins out of the intestines and liver. This helps to repair damaged pancreatic tissues and boosts the production of bile. When the production of bile is increased, pressure and damage of the pancreas decreases because the inflammation is reduced.
Oregano is a powerful anti-hyperglycemic compound that can manage hyperglycermia and/or diabetic long-term complications as well as being an effective treatment against aggressive pancreatic cancer cells.
What else can you do?
Reduce and Manage Your Stress Levels
We know that stress, especially chronic stress is one of the worst things in the world for your health. Keep in mind that going through periods of stress and anxiety will increase your cortisol levels and change many of your basic body functions, such as turning off your digestion which can increase inflammation causing your pancreatic health to worsen and release enzymes into your stomach.
Happy changing habits