Pancreas: Function of this Organ and Associated Health Problems: Information, Research, Causes, Symptoms and Treatment



Index of Diseases / Health Conditions ... Medicinal Foods, Herbs, Spices & Household Items

The below provides a general overview on this topic and may not apply to everyone. Any treatment protocol should be discussed with a qualified healthcare practitioner ... Please refer to: Medical & Legal Disclaimer.

The pancreas is both an endocrine gland (producing several important hormones, including insulin, glucagon, and somatostatin), as well as an exocrine gland, secreting pancreatic juice containing digestive enzymes that pass to the small intestine. These enzymes help in the further breakdown of the carbohydrates, protein, and fat in the chyme.

The main work of insulin is to improve the ability of your body to use and store sugar (glucose). When our blood glucose levels are high, our kidneys try to remedy the situation by excreting glucose in our urine. Injecting with insulin reverses these processes as blood glucose levels return to normal, which can contribute to weight gain as the glucose is not excreted, but stored as body fat (unless the body converts the glucose into needed energy -- for example, during exercise).

Note: The more we weigh, the more insulin our pancreas will pump out after a meal. The body’s need to have more and more insulin to burn the same amount of fat in an obese person is referred to as “insulin resistance”.

Maintaining a Healthy Pancreas

Eating nine servings of vegetables, instead of the frequently recommended five servings, will be an important step in keeping your pancreas healthy, including protecting it against pancreatic cancer. In fact, eat nine servings instead of five could cut your risk in half.

You can even better your chances if you get a sampling of specific veggies from a recently researched list of key produce picks for pancreas health; specifically vegetables that are high in vitamin C, carotenoids, folate and fiber are highly recommended, such as:

  • Beans like soybeans, lima beans, and lentils Alum veggies, specifically onions and garlic
  • Cruciferous veggies like broccoli and brussels sprouts
  • Dark, leafy greens like spinach, kale, mustard, and chard

  • Onions & arugula

  • Fish, eggs and poultry
  • Orange-yellow veggies like corn, squash, sweet potatoes, and carrots

Pancreatic Cancer:

A study published in 2005, in the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA), found those with high glucose levels to be at increased risk for developing cancer and dying from cancer. A higher death rate for all cancers, approximately 29%, was reported in these patients. As well increased risk of cancer of the pancreas, esophagus, liver, cervix, and colon were shown. The food items listed above -- recommended for pancreatic health -- will balance blood sugars. Eliminating sugary and starchy food items and beverages will prevent undesirable spikes in blood sugar levels. The bulk of our diet should consist of nutrient-dense food items that will support our body processes.

  • Supportive Nutrition:

    • Rochester researchers showed for the first time that a natural antioxidant found in grape skins and red wine can help destroy pancreatic cancer cells by reaching to the cell's core energy source, or mitochondria, and crippling its function. The study is published in the March edition of the journal, Advances in Experimental Medicine and Biology. The study also showed that when the pancreatic cancer cells were doubly assaulted — pre-treated with the antioxidant, resveratrol, and irradiated — the combination induced a type of cell death called apoptosis, an important goal of cancer therapy. The benefits of red wine must be weighed against the known hazards of alcohol consumption. Alcohol can worsen high blood pressure and diabetes. Heavy use of alcohol can cause cirrhosis of the liver, is linked to several forms of cancer. It can also lead to alcoholism. Heavy consumption negates any heart-healthy benefits. In a large Danish study, those who had 22–35 drinks a week had the same death rate as those who didn’t drink at all. People who had more than 35 drinks a week had the highest death rate of all.

      • A better choice would be to drink as much red or purple grape juice as desired.

    • Nigella Sativa Seeds, also known as Black Cumin, Fennel Flower, Nutmeg Flower, Roman Coriander, Blackseed, Black Caraway, or Black Onion Seed: Researchers at the Kimmel Cancer at Jefferson in Philadelphia have found that thymoquinone, an extract of nigella sativa seed oil, blocked pancreatic cancer cell growth and killed the cells by enhancing the process of programmed cell death, (apoptosis). While the studies are in the early stages, the findings suggest that thymoquinone could eventually have some use as a preventative strategy in patients who have gone through surgery and chemotherapy or in individuals who are at a high risk of developing cancer.

      The seeds have been traditionally used in the Middle East and Southeast Asian countries to treat ailments including asthma, bronchitis, rheumatism and related inflammatory diseases, to increase milk production in nursing mothers, to promote digestion and to fight parasitic infections. Its oil has been used to treat skin conditions such as eczema and boils and to treat cold symptoms.

    • Tumeric is often referred to as the No. 1 anticancer spice and it is a potent antioxidant and anti-inflammatory. Add 1/4 teaspoon at the end of cooking to almost any food.

      When researchers added Curcumin (which gives the bright yellow color to the Indian spice "turmeric" ) to cancerous pancreas cells, and found that production of cancerous cells practically shut down. This is attributed to a clampdown on cytokines - the chemicals linked to tumor growth and cell survival.

    • Epsom salt delivers sulfates that stimulate the pancreas to generate digestive enzymes and help to detoxify the body's residue of medicines and environmental contaminants. (Caution is recommended)

Information contained on this website is provided as general reference only. For application to specific circumstances, professional advice should be sought.

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