- What is the pancreas?
- What are the signs of pancreas problems?
- 15 simple yet effective ways to take care of your pancreas
- What helps your pancreas work better?
- How can I repair my pancreas naturally?
- How do you reduce inflammation of the pancreas?
- What foods help keep the pancreas healthy?
- What foods irritate the pancreas?
We all know the importance of self-care.
But have you ever thought about caring for your pancreas?
This crucial organ may need some TLC. Especially since pancreatic diseases can increase your risk of developing diabetes.
Let’s talk about all things pancreas-related and discuss how to heal the pancreas naturally.
What is the pancreas?
Your pancreas is an abdominal organ just behind your stomach. It is approximately the size of your hand. It contains the pancreatic duct, which joins the pancreas with the common bile duct.
During the digestion process, your pancreas creates pancreatic juices and enzymes. These help to break down sugars, fats, and starches.
Your pancreas also makes hormones, such as insulin. Insulin helps to control your blood sugar levels. If you have pancreatic disorders or improper pancreatic function, your blood sugar levels can become too high. This is type 1 or type 2 diabetes.
Your body needs to maintain tight control over its blood sugar levels. Your pancreas is responsible for insulin production in order to lower blood sugar, as well as its opponent hormone glucagon.
Type 1 diabetes is an autoimmune disease. In type 1 diabetes, the immune cells target pancreatic islets. They destroy the beta cells. This results in hyperglycemia and lower plasma insulin levels. In type 1 diabetes, there is also what we call insulitis that occurs. This is when inflammatory cells infiltrate the pancreatic islets.
There is also overexpression of molecules called HLA class I and class II. Type I diabetes can also involve the following:
- Changes that affect extracellular matrix components
- Evidence of viral infections
- Endoplasmic reticulum stress
All of the above can lead to beta-cell dysfunction, the stimulation of cell death, and autoimmunity.
Pancreatic pseudocysts are another pancreatic problem. They are collections of pancreatic fluids that have leaked. They can form next to the pancreas during pancreatitis.
What are the signs of pancreas problems?
There are a few different signs of pancreas problems, such as pancreatitis and pancreatic cancer, to look out for.
These include the following:
- Constant and severe pain in your upper belly that moves to your back
- Weight loss
- Upset stomach
- Stool that is lighter in color and that floats
15 simple yet effective ways to take care of your pancreas
1) Eat more cruciferous vegetables
Cruciferous vegetables can be beneficial to your pancreas. This includes vegetables such as the following:
2) Consume garlic
Garlic has beneficial anti-inflammatory properties. It can also be helpful for high blood pressure.
3) Stay hydrated
Did you know that being even slightly dehydrated can lead to inflammation of the pancreas? It’s true!
The cells in your pancreas must be hydrated all the time. Drink between eight and ten glasses of water each day.
You can also maintain hydration by eating hydrating foods such as:
While you heal from pancreatitis, you may even require IV fluids.
4) Cut back on tea and coffee
Caffeine can contribute to acidity and inflammation of the pancreas. Replace your morning cup of joe with herbal tea instead.
5) Eat more fruit and vegetables
Fresh fruit and vegetables can be helpful for the health of your pancreas. They also provide your pancreas with digestive enzymes!
6) Avoid junk food
Eating sugar-laden and processed foods makes it harder for your pancreas to produce digestive enzymes. This can lead to acidity and indigestion.
7) Don’t eat too late at night
Your pancreas isn’t meant to produce digestive enzymes late into the night. This is why eating later at night puts additional pressure on your pancreas. This can lead to indigestion and weight gain.
8) Get some shut-eye
Sleeping allows your pancreas to regenerate digestive enzymes. Besides, there are many other benefits to getting good quality and quantity of sleep.
9) Practice fasting
When you are fasting, it gives your pancreas some time to heal. That way, it can get back to work producing insulin and digestive enzymes.
10) Avoid alcohol intake
Binge drinking alcohol can be dangerous to your pancreas. It can also lead to dehydration, which is increasingly harmful to the pancreas.
Research shows that alcohol and its metabolites injure the acinar cells of the pancreas. They also cause stellate cells to trigger the necrosis fibrosis sequence.
This can lead to dead tissue, atrophy, and fibrosis, which are signs of pancreatic inflammation. It can also lead to the growth of pancreatic cancer cells.
11) Avoid a fatty diet
Fatty foods can lead to inflammation that damages the pancreas. This is especially true for animal fats and deep-fried foods.
12) Exercise regularly
Exercise improves circulation. The pancreas needs a good blood supply, which can be provided through regular exercise.
Of course, exercise is also important for heart health, weight management, blood pressure, and cholesterol levels.
13) Improve your gall bladder health
Severe gallstones can lead to inflammation in the pancreas. Pancreatitis is a potential complication of gallstones.
Lifestyle changes can help to reduce your chances of developing pancreatitis from gallstones.
14) Reduce acidity
Continuous acidity in your digestive system can harm the pancreas. In fact, just one minute of acidity and acid reflux can harm the health of your pancreas.
15) Chew your food properly
Chewing your food properly helps to reduce the burden on your pancreas. Chewing also encourages the production and release of digestive juices and enzymes. You should be chewing your food until it is the texture of a paste in your mouth before swallowing it.
What helps your pancreas work better?
Limiting your alcohol consumption can help your pancreas heal and work more efficiently. Drinking less alcohol can help protect your pancreas from the toxic effects of alcohol. This can help to reduce your risk of developing acute or chronic pancreatitis.
Consume foods such as fresh fruit and vegetables and whole grains. Avoid fatty and fried foods, as well as full-fat dairy products.
If you are overweight or obese, it’s important that you lose excess weight. Exercising regularly can help with this and improve your overall pancreas health.
If you are working to lose weight, do it gradually and sustainably. Avoid crash diets, which may prompt quick weight loss but cause the liver to ramp up cholesterol production. This increases your risk of developing gallstones, which can lead to severe pancreatitis.
If you smoke, your pancreas can work better if you quit. A review of studies found that adults who smoke are 1.5 times more likely to develop an inflamed pancreas than non-smokers.
How can I repair my pancreas naturally?
You don’t require any fancy home remedies to heal your pancreas. Many lifestyle changes can do the trick.
In order to naturally heal your pancreas, you will first want to avoid alcohol and quit smoking. Consume a diet low in fat, as this will be less taxing on your pancreas. It’s important to stay hydrated, even with an electrolyte drink or sports drink, if that’s necessary.
Eating several small meals during the day is easier on your digestive system than having a few large meals. Consume medium chain triglycerides (MCTs) as your primary source of fat. MCTs do not require pancreatic enzymes for digestion like animal fats do.
You can also help heal your pancreas by spreading out your fiber consumption. Instead of having a bunch of fiber all at once, keep it in small quantities throughout your day.
Eating too much fiber can slow your digestion. This can decrease the absorption of nutrients from your food. Fiber can also make your pancreatic enzymes less effective in your small intestine.
In order to ensure you’re getting enough nutrients, take a multivitamin. Your doctor may also recommend taking digestive enzymes at each meal, especially if you have pancreatic insufficiency.
Curcumin is a natural anti-inflammatory that we often use in herbal medicine. It is the active ingredient that comes from the herb turmeric.
How do you reduce inflammation of the pancreas?
The medical term for an inflamed pancreas is pancreatitis. Potential causes of pancreatitis include the following:
- Genetic mutations
- Autoimmune pancreatitis
- Congenital pancreatic abnormalities
Diagnosis of pancreatitis is based on clinical findings, testing, and imaging studies. In conventional medicine, they reduce pancreas inflammation through a sphincterotomy and stenting. Should this not work, they may perform surgery to help.
Your medical doctor may also use non-opioid pain medication such as ibuprofen and naproxen. They may even use opioids such as oxycodone.
Less intense treatments include pancreatic enzyme replacement therapy. This may be particularly beneficial if you have abdominal pain, malnutrition, or steatorrhea (fat in the stool).
Smoking increases the chances of having an inflamed pancreas, so if you engage in this habit, then you’ll want to consider quitting.
There is a subtype of pancreatitis called autoimmune pancreatitis. In order to reduce inflammation in autoimmune pancreatitis, the first line of therapy is steroid therapy. Many patients may need immunomodulators or rituximab to stay in remission.
Pancreatitis that evolves into pancreatic necrosis may require a multidisciplinary approach. You may need to see gastroenterologists, surgeons, radiologists, nutritionists, and experts in critical care medicine and infectious diseases.
Researchers in the medical field are looking into developing prognostic laboratory tests to detect severe acute pancreatitis. The latest news is that they are also looking into pharmacological therapies to reduce pancreatic inflammation.
What foods help keep the pancreas healthy?
For the most part, foods that help keep the pancreas healthy are high in protein, low in animal fats, and have antioxidants such as vitamins A, C, and E.
This includes lean meats, beans, lentils, and clear soups. You may want to stick to bland foods, especially if you are just recovering from pancreatitis.
You will also want to have whole food plant sources of fats, such as medium chain triglycerides.
Encourage the intake of foods that help protect your digestion and bind up free radicals. These include the following:
- Whole grains
If you have cravings for sweets, have fruit instead of refined sugars. If you have a pancreas problem, you are also at higher risk of developing diabetes. Therefore, your sugar intake is always something to keep in balance.
If you’re looking for a snack, try cherry tomatoes, cucumbers, fruit, and vegetables dipped in hummus.
What foods irritate the pancreas?
The following foods irritate the pancreas, and therefore you may want to avoid them:
- Red meat
- Organs meats
- Fried foods
- Potato chips
- Full fat dairy
- Pastries and desserts with added sugars
- Drinks with added sugars
You now know what the pancreas is and what it does, and its link to diabetes. You are also aware of the symptoms of pancreas problems to look out for.
This article discussed some simple but effective ways to take care of your pancreas and what can help your pancreas to work better.
You’ve learned how to heal your pancreas naturally and reduce inflammation in this important organ. So get to eating those pancreas-healthy foods we mentioned and stay away from those that irritate it.
If you want to learn more about the health of your pancreas, speak to your healthcare provider today. You may want to consult resources such as the National Pancreas Foundation as well.