Published: 10/30/2015 - Updated: 10/30/2015
The pancreas is an organ that takes part in digestion and metabolism. It produces digestive enzyme that help neutralize stomach acid and enzymes that help absorb certain nutrients. Another primary function is to produce hormones like insulin and glucagon that help keep glucose levels in the blood stable.
Choosing the correct foods and a healthy diet can help care for the pancreas.
The pancreas is not exempt from problems and diseases, and perhaps one of the most preventable diseases with good diet and habits is pancreatitis, or inflammation of the pancreas.
This can be caused by high fat or calcium levels in the blood, or it could also be caused by an abdominal injury or hormonal imbalances.
Other factors that could contribute to pancreatitis include genetic factors and using certain medications. You should also consider habits like alcohol consumption and smoking, which can increase the possibility of suffer from pancreatitis.
Certain habits can be damaging to pancreas health which is why it is a good idea to follow a few recommendations:
Reduce the amount of fat in your diet: Stones that develop in the gallbladder are generally formed by cholesterol. These stones affect the gallbladder and can also increase the probability of suffering from pancreatitis. We recommend limiting your consumption of saturated fats, and opt for plant-based fats like those from vegetables or oily seeds. Avoid excessive consumption of red meat and choose lean cuts, like white meat including chicken and fish.
Include enough produce: Fruits and vegetables a rich sources of dietary fiber which improves digestion. It also helps reduce cholesterol levels in the blood. We should also mention that plant foods like fruits and vegetables are rich in vitamins and minerals, which are essential for optimal health.
Limit your sugar consumption: Especially simple sugars as these can overstimulate the pancreas. Food sources of this type of sugar include white sugar, sweets, ice cream, industrial pastry products, honey, and many more.
Reduce or avoid alcohol consumption: Excessive alcohol consumption has been related to the risk of pancreatitis which is why we recommend avoiding it.
Perform regular physical activity: Being sedentary is often times related to obesity which is why it is a good idea to exercise regularly to keep a healthy weight and good health in general.
Avoid intense or rapid diets: Although quick diets can seem like a tempting option for losing weight, the truth is they increase your risk of developing gallstones and therefore, pancreatitis. We advise choosing a balanced diet instead.
Stop smoking: Smokers are estimated to be at twice the risk of suffering from pancreatitis than non-smokers. However, if you stop smoking you can reduce your risk.
Foods for Pancreas Health
Some foods should be avoided while other foods are recommendable for the pancreas:
Garlic: Because of its Sulphur compounds, flavonoids and selenium, garlic is a great ingredient for caring for the pancreas. According to studies, garlic has been connected to a lesser risk of suffering from pancreatic cancer.
Spinach: This is a source of vitamin B, and regular spinach consumption, along with other leafy green vegetables, has been related to a protective effect against pancreas cancer.
Yogurt: Fermented dairy products, like yogurt, cheese, etc., are considered to be probiotic foods. This means that they provide beneficial bacteria for the digestive system which promotes optimal immune system functioning and better digestion. We advise choosing low fat, organic yogurt.
Mushrooms: Consuming mushrooms can help reduce the risk of pancreas cancer. The ganoderma reishi mushroom can also prevent and improve inflammatory processes.
Red grapes: These are a source of resveratrol, a substance with antioxidant properties. We recommend consuming a handful a day, or consuming grape extract. Red wine is a source of antioxidants, but because it is an alcoholic drink we don’t especially recommend it if you suffer from pancreatitis.
Blueberries: The tiny fruit are a source of vitamin C and other antioxidant substances. They help reduce cellular damage and the oxidative effects of stress. Regular consumption of blueberries could help promote pancreas health.