Pancreas health starts with the pancreas. The pancreas is the organ that regulates the amount of sugar in the blood. The sugar fuels your metabolism. When food is digested in your small intestines, sugar or glucose from the food is immediately released into the bloodstream. The pancreas immediately detects this spike in blood sugar and releases a hormone called insulin. The insulin attaches to the glucose and delivers them to your blood cells at a slow and steady rate. This helps your body to maintain needed energy throughout the day.
When you eat whole foods rich in fiber, the fiber helps control the release of glucose into the blood stream. Foods without fiber cause high amounts of glucose to be released all at once. This causes the pancreas to release massive amounts of insulin to handle all that glucose. Constantly eating high sugar low fiber processed foods causes the pancreas to be over worked. When we overeat and over load the body with glucose, we put the body in a state called hyperglycemia or high blood sugar. The pancreas must strain itself to take care of all the sugar in our bloodstream.
The opposite doesn’t not help pancreas health either. When we don’t eat enough in a day, the blood sugar levels of the body drop to very low levels. The body then becomes hypoglycemic or low on glucose. This causes insulin production to slow down. Then when we finally eat, our body gets hit with glucose that it is not prepared for and the pancreas has to kick into overdrive immediately to compensate for the sudden change of sugar. The body functions best with steady, high fiber meals throughout the day.
The constant strain on the pancreas really affects pancreas health. This type of strain, whether over eating or not eating enough, done constantly, can lead to the development of Type 2 Diabetes. Type 2 Diabetes occurs when the body cannot properly manage the amount of glucose in the body. Type 1 Diabetes generally inherited genetically or brought on by illness. Type 2 Diabetes results from years of poor eating habits, and accounts for about 95% of all diabetes diagnoses. The great news is that Type 2 Diabetes can be prevented or even reversed with proper eating and lifestyle changes.
What Kind of Foods Can Help Pancreas Health?
The key to pancreas health is consistency and moderation. Making sure your blood sugar never gets too high or too low. This results in insulin being released at a steady rate. Here are a list of foods you can eat to help promote pancreas health.
- High Fiber Fruits, Legumes, Vegetables, Leafy Greens, Cabbage, Berries, Asparagus, Brussels Sprouts, Beans, and Apples. As mentioned earlier, fiber slows down the release of glucose into the blood stream. Once in the intestines, soluble fiber turns into a gel like substance which slows down the release of glucose. These foods are very rich in soluble and non-soluble fiber. Non-soluble fiber helps pancreas health by bulking up foods without adding extra sugar, calories, fat, or proteins. This causes you to feel full, which makes you eat less.
- Sea Vegetables, Blackstrap Molasses, and Pumpkin seeds. These foods have high levels of magnesium, a nutrient that diabetics tend to lack. Magnesium helps control glucose levels and help prevent retinae damage.
- Cinnamon. Adding 1-2 teaspoons of cinnamon to your diet everyday can help the body process insulin.
- Broccoli, Apple, Corn, Sweet Potato, Grapefruit, and Tomatoes. A serving of each of these foods will give you the needed nutrient chromium. Chromium helps pancreas health by keeping cells healthy which decreases the buildup of blood sugar.
- Complex Carbohydrates like Quinoa, Brown Rice, Whole Wheat, and Whole Oats. Complex Carbohydrates takes time to be converted into glucose. This causes a slower, steadier release of insulin in the body. This is great for pancreas health.
Pancreas health is not something that is hard to do on a daily basis. The hardest thing is making the decision to change your lifestyle to encourage good pancreas health. We will all pay for our health. The question is will you pay before or after you get sick. Don’t just eat, Eat Well.