You feel dizzy every time you get up. There just doesn’t seem to be enough water to quench your thirst. You crave sweets and carbohydrates (like bread and pasta) but no matter how much you eat, you always feel hungry. These symptoms-and more-may indicate that the Pancreas, a critical organ involved in the digestion and distribution of food to the cells in your body, is not able to do its job.
The Pancreas is a small organ located just below the stomach. It has many important functions such as delivering hormones, insulin, and glucagon into the blood. It also secretes sodium bicarbonate and enzymes, which aid in the process of digestion. Most enzymes that digest triglycerides (fats), sugars, and proteins are produced by the Pancreas. If foods are not partially digested in the Pancreas before they are released into the bloodstream they could destroy the cells of the body due to their acid content. The Pancreas then provides a stage in the digestion process between the chewing of food which releases the digestive juices into the stomach for absorption into the cells. This process reduces foods to amino acids, sugars and fatty acids which are now ready for absorption into the cells.
The Pancreas is famous for one of the most well known hormones, insulin. Insulin helps to maintain the balance of blood sugar and epinephrine (a growth hormone) in the body. If there is too much insulin blood sugar levels decrease resulting in a condition known as hypoglycemia or low blood sugar. If there is not enough insulin or if insulin is not working properly then hyperglycemia results, or high blood sugar, which is also known as Diabetes.
Experts disagree on the exact reasons that these conditions occur. Is the Pancreas producing enough insulin but is not being recognized by the body? On the other hand, has it lost its ability to produce insulin, or is there only so much insulin that can be produced in a lifetime and when it is gone there is no more?
At any rate, experts agree that our modern diet has a lot to do with the health of the Pancreas. Refined grains, too much sugar, caffeine and too much of the wrong kinds of fats have taken their toll. Eating too much food at one sitting and the lack of exercise in our industrialized society add to the problem.
One of the minerals that was abundantly found in grains is the trace mineral, Chromium. As foods are refined more and more they lose this vital nutrient. It is proven that adding Chromium to the diet is beneficial to the Pancreas. One naturally sweet herb, known as Stevia, is used extensively in Europe to help stabilize blood sugar levels.
If the Pancreas is being challenged, there are measures to help keep it healthy. Eating more, smaller meals throughout the day, trying to eat more protein with each meal, and balancing protein and small amounts of carbohydrates (including sugar) are some of these measures. If you can find a copy of the glycemic index this will provide an analysis of which sugars enter the bloodstream more slowly thus reducing the stress to the Pancreas. Some of the best fruit choices, based on the glycemic index are berries, peaches and cherries. Exercise is critical in the proper functioning of the pancreas since we live in a time when hard physical labor is not a large part of our daily routine.
Nutrients that help maintain a healthy Pancreas include: Chinese Licorice; Dandelion Root, Eleuthero; Ginger Root; Saw Palmetto berries; Oregon Grape Root; Osha; Wild Yam Root; and Yellow Dock Root.
It is better to look for these nutrients in properly balanced combinations of ingredients. This results in a formula that is designed to strengthen the Pancreas, as well as the Liver. Joining these ingredients together and balancing the unique properties of these parts to complement each other is critically important.
It sounds like a difficult lifestyle to maintain and at first it can be. But with patience and the support of healthy nutrients it is possible to strengthen the Pancreas, thus avoiding some of the pitfalls that come with the depletion of its ability to produce sufficient, absorbable insulin.
Doctor’s Guide To Natural Medicine. Paul Barney, M.D. Woodland Publishing, Inc. Pleasant Grove, UT. (c) 1998.
Human Physiology-The Mechanisms Of Body Function. Arthur J. Vander. McGraw-Hill. (c) 1974.
Nutrition Almanac. Gayla J. Kirschmann and John D. Kirschmann. McGraw-Hill, New York, NY, (c) 1996.