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Pancreas Health


The pancreas is both an endocrine and exocrine organ that can be found near your stomach and small intestine. As an endocrine gland, the pancreas is responsible for the production and secretion of two hormones, insulin and glucagon, that work together to regulate the level of glucose or sugar in the bloodstream.

When the level of blood sugar rises, insulin is secreted to lower it. On the other hand, when the blood sugar is low, glucagon is secreted to raise it.

Insulin has the added duty of converting glucose into energy which the body can use to function well. Without insulin, glucose remains in the blood stream making it impossible for the body to draw energy from it. As a consequence, energy levels may drop, the blood vessels may become damaged, and the health of the other organs such as the eyes, heart, liver and kidney may be compromised and diabetes may occur.

As an exocrine gland, the pancreas supports the digestive system by producing digestive enzymes. When you consume a meal, the central nervous system sends signals to the pancreas that food is about to be digested. The pancreas responds by producing inactive enzymes.

When partially digested food or chyme enters the duodenum, it stimulates the secretion of and activates pancreatic juices inside the small intestine. These enzymes are responsible for breaking down fatty acids, protein and carbohydrates before they enter the bloodstream.

Sometimes, due to alcohol abuse, the pancreatic enzymes are not secreted and attack the pancreas. This may lead to inflammation of the pancreas and the body's failure to absorb food nutrients. Depending on the duration and frequency of the inflammation, the condition could be an acute or a chronic case of pancreatitis.

Self help

Adjustments to one's diet and lifestyle may greatly help in the prevention of pancreatic dysfunction. These include:

  • Avoidance of sugary food. Excessive amounts of sugar may overwhelm the pancreas, making it difficult to cope with the production of insulin to lower blood sugar levels. It is best for the body to obtain energy from complex carbohydrates as these can be broken down by digestive enzymes and enter the bloodstream gradually.
  • Decrease alcohol consumption. Alcohol intake has been identified as the leading cause of acute pancreatitis. Give your pancreas a break by drinking less alcohol or abstaining from it entirely.
  • Eat smaller portions. Instead of eating three heavy meals a day, try having 5 or 6 smaller meals spread out during the day to relieve your digestive system. Eating regularly also helps maintain balanced energy levels for you to stay alert during the day.
  • Quit smoking. Next to alcohol, smoking is also a risk factor in pancreatitis. Toxins from smoking can wreak havoc to your digestive system, including your pancreas.
  • Take multivitamin supplements. Look for health supplements that can help stabilize blood sugar levels such as chromium picolinate and Bilberry. To promote pancreas health, get a regular dose of calcium, magnesium, Vitamin-B complex and Vitamin C.
  • Stress management. Stress coming from daily activities may lead to pancreatic disorders if you respond to it by smoking, drinking alcohol, bingeing on food or using prohibited substances. While stress is part of our daily lives, you can deal with it by having a positive outlook, exercising regularly, eating healthy meals and engaging in a hobby to take your mind off things temporarily.

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