Your pancreas

Doctors To Youhealth, highlight2, Wellness

The pancreas is one of our organs that we don’t really think about until we’re forced to think about it. But as much as we like seeing you when you call us for a house call, we still prefer a healthy version of you, which is why we take pride in providing preventative insight. 

The pancreas plays an integral role in hormone function and digestion, so like most aspects of our health, diet and lifestyle can play a major role in maintaining optimal function of this organ in our body. We’re providing a few tips on how you can keep your pancreas from being the reason you call us.

What is the pancreas and what role does it play?

Again, the pancreas plays a big part in hormone regulation and digestion. This small (6-inch) organ, located in the upper abdomen behind the stomach, and has an oblong shape, almost like an ear of corn with a head, neck, body, and tail. 

“It makes enzymes, which help digest proteins, fats, and carbohydrates before they can be absorbed in the intestine… [and] it makes hormones (chemicals made from glands), the most important of which is insulin, which control how the body uses and stores sugar (glucose), its main source of energy.” - National Pancreas Foundation.

So not only does the pancreas produce the enzymes that help your body to break down the foods that you eat, it also creates the hormone that helps to regulate your blood sugar.

The pancreas is very important in making sure that you get the most out of the food by aiding in absorption and making sure hormones stay balanced, and Healthline details how this is important for maintaining proper functioning of the liver, kidneys, nervous system, cardiovascular system, and the brain.

There’s a direct connection between pancreas health and the likelihood of diabetes. Living without a pancreas is possible, although it may increase the chances of diabetes.




The pancreas is one of our organs that we don’t really think about until we’re forced to think about it. But as much as we like seeing you when you call us for a house call, we still prefer a healthy version of you, which is why we take pride in providing preventative insight. 

The pancreas plays an integral role in hormone function and digestion, so like most aspects of our health, diet and lifestyle can play a major role in maintaining optimal function of this organ in our body. We’re providing a few tips on how you can keep your pancreas from being the reason you call us.

What is the pancreas and what role does it play?

Again, the pancreas plays a big part in hormone regulation and digestion. This small (6-inch) organ, located in the upper abdomen behind the stomach, and has an oblong shape, almost like an ear of corn with a head, neck, body, and tail. 

“It makes enzymes, which help digest proteins, fats, and carbohydrates before they can be absorbed in the intestine… [and] it makes hormones (chemicals made from glands), the most important of which is insulin, which control how the body uses and stores sugar (glucose), its main source of energy.” - National Pancreas Foundation.

So not only does the pancreas produce the enzymes that help your body to break down the foods that you eat, it also creates the hormone that helps to regulate your blood sugar.

The pancreas is very important in making sure that you get the most out of the food by aiding in absorption and making sure hormones stay balanced, and Healthline details how this is important for maintaining proper functioning of the liver, kidneys, nervous system, cardiovascular system, and the brain.

There’s a direct connection between pancreas health and the likelihood of diabetes. Living without a pancreas is possible, although it may increase the chances of diabetes.




When do you know there’s a problem?

“Pancreatitis” is the term used to describe the disease where your pancreas becomes inflamed. This pain can be acute (short-term) or chronic (long-lasting).

Acute pancreatitis usually starts with pain that begins slowly or suddenly in your upper abdomen, that sometimes spreads to your back. It can be mild or severe, and generally may last for several days.

Other symptoms may include fever, nausea, vomiting, swollen or tender abdomen.

Chronic pancreatitis lasts longer, and you may feel pain in the upper abdomen, although some people have no pain at all. The pain may spread to your back, become constant and severe, and become worse after eating, and it may go away as your condition gets worse.

Other symptoms might include digestive issues such as diarrhea, vomiting, weight loss, and greasy foul-smelling stools.

In order to diagnose pancreatitis, your doctor will use lab tests (blood) and image testing (CT scan, ultrasound or MRI), and consider your family history, along with a physical exam.



Supporting your pancreas

A healthy diet and an active lifestyle is an obvious answer for how to support any aspect of your health to help your body function optimally, but because the pancreas plays such a crucial role in digestion and absorption, it’s a good idea to focus on foods that are nutrient dense.

“You should aim to have a 'moderate fat diet,' in which about 25% of your calories come from fat. For a 2000 calorie diet, this would be 55 g fat/day… Healthy fats such as avocado, olive oil, fatty fish, nuts, and seeds, may be consumed with careful portion control. Therefore, consume these healthy fats in small amounts.”

Increase your consumption of green-leafy vegetables, and according to Cleveland Clinic, a pancreas-friendly diet is high in protein from lean meats and low in animal fats and simple sugars.

“Antioxidant-rich foods such as dark, leafy vegetables, red berries, blueberries, sweet potatoes, grapes, carrots,  walnuts and pomegranates are also beneficial. But, eat avocado, olive oil, fatty fish, nuts and seeds in moderation.”

If you already suffer from pancreatitis, your doctor may recommend clear liquids and “bland” foods such as rice, dry toast, and crackers. They also include bananas and applesauce.

Alcohol may exacerbate your symptoms, and in some cases, it may have contributed to the cause, so doctors will generally recommend staying away from alcohol altogether.

On that note, you’ll want to limit: red meat and organ meat, french fries, potato chips, mayonnaise, margarine and butter, full-fat dairy, pastries, and of course sugary drinks (soda).

When do you know there’s a problem?

“Pancreatitis” is the term used to describe the disease where your pancreas becomes inflamed. This pain can be acute (short-term) or chronic (long-lasting).

Acute pancreatitis usually starts with pain that begins slowly or suddenly in your upper abdomen, that sometimes spreads to your back. It can be mild or severe, and generally may last for several days.

Other symptoms may include fever, nausea, vomiting, swollen or tender abdomen.

Chronic pancreatitis lasts longer, and you may feel pain in the upper abdomen, although some people have no pain at all. The pain may spread to your back, become constant and severe, and become worse after eating, and it may go away as your condition gets worse.

Other symptoms might include digestive issues such as diarrhea, vomiting, weight loss, and greasy foul-smelling stools.

In order to diagnose pancreatitis, your doctor will use lab tests (blood) and image testing (CT scan, ultrasound or MRI), and consider your family history, along with a physical exam.



Supporting your pancreas

A healthy diet and an active lifestyle is an obvious answer for how to support any aspect of your health to help your body function optimally, but because the pancreas plays such a crucial role in digestion and absorption, it’s a good idea to focus on foods that are nutrient dense.

“You should aim to have a 'moderate fat diet,' in which about 25% of your calories come from fat. For a 2000 calorie diet, this would be 55 g fat/day… Healthy fats such as avocado, olive oil, fatty fish, nuts, and seeds, may be consumed with careful portion control. Therefore, consume these healthy fats in small amounts.”

Increase your consumption of green-leafy vegetables, and according to Cleveland Clinic, a pancreas-friendly diet is high in protein from lean meats and low in animal fats and simple sugars.

“Antioxidant-rich foods such as dark, leafy vegetables, red berries, blueberries, sweet potatoes, grapes, carrots,  walnuts and pomegranates are also beneficial. But, eat avocado, olive oil, fatty fish, nuts and seeds in moderation.”

If you already suffer from pancreatitis, your doctor may recommend clear liquids and “bland” foods such as rice, dry toast, and crackers. They also include bananas and applesauce.

Alcohol may exacerbate your symptoms, and in some cases, it may have contributed to the cause, so doctors will generally recommend staying away from alcohol altogether.

On that note, you’ll want to limit: red meat and organ meat, french fries, potato chips, mayonnaise, margarine and butter, full-fat dairy, pastries, and of course sugary drinks (soda).






Recover through diet and lifestyle

If you’ve dealt with pancreatitis acutely, there are a few things you can do to help ease the pain:

  • If you smoke, stop. If you don’t smoke, don’t start.
  • Eliminate alcohol 
  • Healthy fats are good, so make sure to get about 30 gram/day through foods like avocados and walnuts.
  • Add MCT oil (1 to 2 tbsp) to your diet.
  • Eat smaller meals more often throughout the day (6 to 8 small meals)
  • Check with your doctor about which supplements are best for you based on blood tests, but supplementation is important for replenishing vitamins and minerals that are not being absorbed through food because of this illness.

The pancreas is an extremely important little organ that, again, is often overlooked. But when it’s not functioning at its best, it can be both painful and dangerous to many other aspects of your health.

Hopefully these simple insights will help keep your pancreas in tip top shape.



Recover through diet and lifestyle

If you’ve dealt with pancreatitis acutely, there are a few things you can do to help ease the pain:

  • If you smoke, stop. If you don’t smoke, don’t start.
  • Eliminate alcohol 
  • Healthy fats are good, so make sure to get about 30 gram/day through foods like avocados and walnuts.
  • Add MCT oil (1 to 2 tbsp) to your diet.
  • Eat smaller meals more often throughout the day (6 to 8 small meals)
  • Check with your doctor about which supplements are best for you based on blood tests, but supplementation is important for replenishing vitamins and minerals that are not being absorbed through food because of this illness.

The pancreas is an extremely important little organ that, again, is often overlooked. But when it’s not functioning at its best, it can be both painful and dangerous to many other aspects of your health.

Hopefully these simple insights will help keep your pancreas in tip top shape.