If you think your pancreas is not particularly important, think again. A healthy pancreas is essential for a healthy digestion; so here’s what to eat to make your pancreas function at its optimum…
The pancreas is super important, for it makes all the enzymes necessary for digestion – that is, the breaking down of the food we eat into the necessary nutrients, as well as hormones like insulin, polypeptides, somatostatin and glucagon. Basically, the pancreas has an endocrine function because it releases hormones directly into the bloodstream, and it has an exocrine function because it releases enzymes into ducts.
A poorly functioning pancreas can not only lead to pancreatic pain (pain in the upper abdomen) that can radiate all the way to the back and even cause headaches and migraines but cause nausea, irritability, fatigue and even fever. Internally, an unhealthy pancreas may lead to poor digestion and malabsorption of nutrients.
To keep your pancreas functioning at an optimum, this is what you must include in your diet:
- The Allium Veggies: Garlic, leeks, shallots, onions, chives, and fenugreek are all veggies of the allium plant family and they are rich in sulfur, arginine, selenium, oligosaccharides, and flavonoids -- all of which combine to keep the pancreas at its healthiest. Remember that with garlic, its medicinal primarily when raw and crushed. For a medicinal dose of garlic, that’s also good for the heart, crush two cloves of garlic and drink them down with a glass of honey and lemon water.
- Spinach & Greens: A good source of iron and vitamin B, spinach and other green leafy veggies like kale, mustard greens and Swiss chard will keep your pancreas well-nourished and at its healthiest.
- Probiotics: Probiotics help in maintaining a healthy balance of good bacteria in the body, and these active cultures help in better digestion and also reduce the risk of ill health.
- Cherries: Cherries are rich in antioxidants and perillyl alcohol which is proven to stave off pancreatic cancer, too.
- Mushrooms: Mushrooms are a great source of fiber, selenium, potassium and vitamin D12 with few calories; they are great for pancreatic health as well.
- Broccoli: Broccoli has a flavonoid called apigenin that protects pancreatic tissue – however, this nutrient remains preserved only when broccoli is eaten lightly steamed or even raw. Cooking will kill these pancreas-friendly nutrients.
- Red Grapes: Rich in the antioxidant resveratrol, red grapes help prevent blood vessel damage and reduce inflammation. This antioxidant also induces cellular death (apoptosis) in pancreatic cancer cells.
- Sweet Potato: Ayurveda states that any food item is most beneficial for the organ it most resembles and sweet potatoes look eerily similar to the pancreas. They regulate bodily sugar levels and are a high GI food, which means they release sugar slowly in the body – thereby taking away some of the stress on the pancreas.
For people with pancreatic issues, it is essential to take in a high protein, nutrient-dense diet that includes fruits, vegetables, whole grains, low-fat dairy, and other lean protein sources. Alcohol, greasy food and sugar should be avoided to prevent further stress on the pancreas.
And as is with all organs and the human body in general – to keep the pancreas healthy, it’s important to eat a balanced diet and get in some exercise, too. On that note, here’s wishing you good health…
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