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The pancreas

The pancreas is a gland that lies behind and slightly below the stomach. It has a head, a tail and a body and each part produces specialised chemicals. Some cells produce hormones and these are found scattered around the entire gland. Some produce insulin which is necessary for moving sugars into cells for energy; others assist with fatty acids that are vital for overall health. Problems here cause diabetes which is fully discussed on the link with dietary recommendations. Other cells secrete glucagon. Combined with thyroxine from the thyroid gland, and adrenaline and cortisol from the adrenal glands, this converts stored forms of energy in the liver and the muscles to glucose, thus raising the blood sugar. Obviously this intricate process is dependent also on a well-functioning thyroid gland and adrenal glands for the “energy partnership” to be effective.

But the pancreas produces enzymes as well as hormones and these vital enzymes have a major role in the digestion of food after it leaves the stomach. The pancreas is mainly concerned with secreting digestive enzymes in order to break down protein, carbohydrates and fats present in the duodenum (the first part of the small intestine). Because the fluid it produces is alkaline, it also effectively neutralises the acids issuing from the stomach, creating the right environment for the enzymes to work. The health of the pancreas relies upon a well-functioning stomach, spleen, liver and gallbladder.

Pancreatic insufficiency is becoming common. Many contemporary lifestyles cause havoc with digestion, and the pancreas can be affected as part of this. Food is often eaten in a rushed and stressful atmosphere and may be of poor nutritional value. We are not designed to eat in this manner.

Nutritional advice
•Refer to the section on digestive system foods, using predominantly neutral and astringent flavours. Hot spices may be too taxing if there is poor digestive function, although gentler spices such as ginger, cinnamon and turmeric (when used raw) can be beneficial.
•The use of bitter and sour flavours is paramount as this will stimulate the release of vital digestive enzymes from the pancreas.
•Many seaweeds help to normalise blood sugar and at the same time offer gentle thyroid support and natural iodine.
•A major pancreatic food is garlic that can help to balance the amount of sugar in the blood, partly by stimulating the pancreas to produce sufficient insulin. You can easily update your knowledge about the positive benefits of this food by reading Jill Davies' book “Garlic” which is also available as a free online read.
•Cinnamon is wonderful to support weakened digestion and low blood sugar.
•Poor digestive function from a weakened pancreas often goes hand in hand with low or high blood sugar levels. Sugars are generally discouraged, but the plant stevia helps to balance blood sugar and safely stimulates the pancreas, and can be used as a natural sweetener.
•Fenugreek leaf and sweet root vegetables like yams can be helpful; they combine well and are generally available from Asian greengrocers.
•Also superb is bitter gourd – an Asian vegetable much used for supporting the pancreas. It is an acquired taste, however! Ask your local Asian grocer.
•Kiwi is the only fruit that really aids pancreatic function.
•An overtaxed digestive system is better served with small and regular meals. Eat little and often (six meals a day) as this helps to support pancreatic function and may stabilise blood sugar levels. Be sure to include some protein-rich food with each meal or snack in order to stabilise sugar levels.
•Supporting liver health with gentle detoxification and cleansing will in turn greatly assist pancreatic function.
•Excessive alcohol harms the pancreas and liver and can give rise to pancreatitis.
•Simple dressings such as Lemon & Artichoke Concentrate will aid all digestive processes and energise the system in general. Lemon juice is generally cleansing and can also be used on its own as a dressing, or added to drinking water.
•Superfood Plus contains plant enzymes that can support digestion, as well as all essential nutrients in a form that is easy to digest and does not tax the system.
•Almost all herbs and the gentler spices will be useful to support digestion and pancreatic function.

Natural healing
•Poor digestion, low blood sugar and stress can combine to make you feel sluggish and fatigued. Hot & cold showers will encourage better circulation and delivery of oxygen, vital for regulating blood sugar levels.
•Food is meant to be eaten slowly and with discrimination, tasting and savouring flavours; it is a time for sharing and gratitude and relaxation. If your mealtimes never feel like this then start an examination of your habits and commit to tiny changes.
•Sit at a table to eat your meals rather than in front of the television or at your desk!
•Rest for 10 minutes after a meal, and also before if you feel stressed.
•Love nutritious food that will love you back, rather than food that you know will rob you of your health, beauty and vitality.
•Additionally take plenty of exercise. Yoga (and other body movement therapies) will ensure that the pancreas and other digestive organs are gently moved and stimulated to work better and remain in a healthier state.
•Detoxing will help, especially the liver and bowel. We have products that can help you with this.


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