Your pancreas is found across the back of your abdomen, behind your stomach.
Part of your pancreas is inside your duodenum, which is the first part of your small intestine.
This organ is incredibly important for your overall health, but compared to your lungs or heart it is a lesser known organ.
The pancreas is important because it creates the hormones that your body needs in order to function and is the key to proper digestion.
It is also core to your immune system because of its dual functions.
If you’re looking for naturopathic autoimmune solutions contact the Annex Naturopathic Clinic today to speak with one of our many experienced professionals.
Now, let’s get to know your pancreas in further detail.
What Does Your Pancreas Do?
The pancreas is a true multi-tasking organ because it is both an exocrine gland and an endocrine gland.
As an exocrine gland, the pancreas creates digestive enzymes which are released into the small intestine and break down food.
This includes proteins, fats, and carbohydrates so that they can then be absorbed by your gut’s wall and transported into your blood.
This is the process your body uses for cellular energy, building your cells, and feeding the body with nutrients, vitamins, and minerals.
This is also the reason your pancreas is key to digestion, which is not possible without these enzymes.
As an endocrine gland, the pancreas creates hormones which you can think of as blood messengers for a variety of tasks.
One such example is insulin, which is vital to the regulation of glucose levels in the blood.
A lack of insulin leads to diabetes and associated health issues.
What Sort Of Conditions Affect Your Pancreas?
The pancreas is a core component of optimal health for your body, but there are a number of conditions that can result when it is not functioning like it ought to.
Let’s explore some of the common conditions below.
1. Type 1 Diabetes
Type 1 diabetes is an autoimmune disorder, which means your body’s immune system mistakes part of your body for a pathogen and attacks it.
In this case, your immune system targets and kills the insulin producing cells in your pancreas.
Insulin injections are then required to control your blood sugar indefinitely.
2. Type 2 Diabetes
Type 2 diabetes occurs when your body becomes resistant to insulin, which causes your blood sugar levels to rise.
This causes the pancreas to lose the ability to produce and release the appropriate amount of insulin, which creates a need for synthetic insulin.
3. Cystic Fibrosis
Cystic fibrosis is a genetic disorder that affects multiple body systems including the lungs and pancreas.
It is common to develop digestive problems and diabetes as a result of cystic fibrosis.
4. Pancreatic Cancer
Because the pancreas fulfills two complex functions, it is composed of many different types of cells.
Each of these cell types can result in a different type of tumour, some of which are cancerous.
The most common type of tumour is one that takes root in the cells that line the pancreatic duct.
Often, there will be no early symptoms and so it is typically advanced by the time pancreatic cancer is discovered.
Pancreatitis occurs when your pancreas is inflamed and damaged by its own digestive chemicals.
This can cause swelling and death to the tissues of the pancreas.
Pancreatitis is sometimes caused by gallstones or alcohol abuse; although other times the cause isn’t known.
6. Other Conditions
There are a number of other conditions that can also affect your pancreas.
Some of the more common conditions are:
- Pancreatic Pseudocyst
- Islet Cell Tumour
- Enlarged Pancreas
How To Support Your Pancreas Naturally
Diet is incredibly important for the healthy maintenance of your pancreas, especially if you are recovering from pancreatitis.
Specifically, a low-fat diet is the best way to support your pancreas naturally.
In addition, many people are lacking in optimal amounts of vitamins and minerals like potassium, magnesium, zinc, and cobalt.
These are all critical to support your pancreatic function.
It is also recommended to be mindful of your alcohol intake because alcohol makes it very difficult for your pancreas to function.
Stress can also be harmful to your pancreas and if constant, can have a negative impact on your hormonal and neural systems.
A naturopathic doctor can be a great resource to guide you if you are looking to support your pancreas naturally.
They can give personalized recommendations just for you after a thorough evaluation.
Now, let’s dive into some general recommendations below.
1. Eat Pancreas Supporting Foods
In addition to low fat, pancreas supporting foods are high in protein and contain antioxidants.
This is because these qualities make it easier for your pancreas to process them.
Some food examples include lean meats, lentils, clear soups, hummus, and dairy alternatives.
Other foods high in antioxidants are spinach, blueberries, and cherries which help to fight free radicals that damage your organs.
Fruit is also a great alternative if you are craving something sweet because people with pancreatitis are at a higher risk of developing diabetes and so should avoid processed, sugary foods.
2. Avoid Foods Hard On Your Pancreas
Just like it’s great to eat foods that support your pancreas, it’s best practice to avoid foods that are hard on your pancreas.
Foods to limit include:
- red and organ meats
- fried foods
- full-fat dairy
- beverages with added sugars
- pastries and desserts with added sugars
Of this list, the foods to really avoid are fried and heavily processed foods, as well as foods high in trans fats.
Eating these foods might trigger a pancreatitis flare-up.
Turmeric is a natural anti-inflammatory agent that can help to diminish the pain caused by the burning sensation of your pancreas.
Its active ingredient curcumin also stimulates the production of insulin in the pancreas, which is vital to regulating your blood sugar levels and preventing diabetes.
4. Drink Dandelion Tea
Dandelion tea is a great tonic helpful for detoxifying the liver and pancreas, which also helps to repair the damaged pancreatic tissues and boosts bile juice production.
It can also help to combat cancer cells without a severe effect on non-cancerous cells.
5. Stay Hydrated
Staying hydrated is also key to your pancreatic health.
Maintaining adequate electrolytes and hydration is an easy to implement preventative measure that is especially effective against pancreas-related conditions like pancreatitis.
This is because pancreatitis causes dehydration in the body, which exacerbates the strain on your body.
A good strategy is to always keep a full bottle of water handy to keep hydrated.
Book An Appointment With Annex Naturopathic
Book an appointment today with the Annex Naturopathic clinic.
Naturopathic doctors are a big help if you are looking to support your pancreas naturally because of their knowledge and experience.
We can create a customized nutritional plan to support your pancreas naturally, which is incredibly important for the longevity of your overall health.
We look forward to working with you.
Yours in Health,
Annex Naturopathic Clinic is a clinic in Toronto that offers integrative healthcare solutions from Drs. Marnie Luck, ND, and Tanya Lee, ND