It has been some time since many of us have started taking care of our health. Gut health, liver, skin and heart have become priorities in our lives. However, the least talked about subject, I feel, is the pancreas. Located in the abdominal area, the pancreas converts our food into fuel or energy for all the cells in our body. And hence it is important to take care of our pancreatic health. Here are some of the main functions of the pancreas:
■ Endocrine function or regulation of blood sugar: Endocrine cells of the pancreas produce and release the hormones insulin and glucagon into the bloodstream with the help of beta cells and these hormones regulate our body’s blood sugar levels.
■ Exocrine function or secreting pancreatic enzymes: The pancreas releases a few important enzy-mes or digestive juices like pancreatic amylase (digests carbs), Trypsin and Chymotrypsin (digests proteins) and pancreatic lipase (digesting fats).
If you are not following a healthy lifestyle or your body is acidic with the intake of excess coffee or tea, smoking, less sleep or eating spicy food, it can decrease the right functioning of the pancreas. This can lead to pancreatitis — inflammation of the pancreas, and if it goes untreated, it can also lead to pancreatic cancer. When we look at improving pancreatic health or keeping pancreas-related issues at bay, it is important to focus on getting good quality protein for healing and repair, carbs to improve energy levels and providing food to create fuel, and antioxidants to reduce oxidative stress.
Here’s the list of food that you can include in your daily diet to take care of your pancreatic health as well as enzymes.
■ Pineapple and papaya: Pineapple contains bromelain and papaya has papain. Both of these are rich in enzyme-protease which helps break down protein from the food. It is also a good source of antioxidants that help in reducing oxidative stress from the pancreas. Include them in your fruit intake with soaked nuts.
■ Avocado: It’s rich in healthy fats and contains lipase, which helps our body break down the fat from the food that we eat.
■ Alkaline food: When our body stays acidic for a longer time the pancreatic functions and production of digestive enzymes can get affected. That’s when we have to look at maintaining the pH balance of our body. To get the alkaline benefits, add colourful veggies and fruits to your meal which will ultimately help in controlling inflammation.
■ Dandelion tea: This herbal tea has diuretic properties which help in flushing out toxins from our liver and kidneys. It also flushes out our intestine and reduces damage to the pancreas. Therefore, it works on controlling the inflammation from the pancreas.
■ Garlic: No Indian meal is complete without garlic and that’s because it holds so many virtues. Garlic not only enhances the taste of our food but also decreases sugar levels in the blood. Several research studies have shown that garlic can stimulate our pancreas to produce adequate levels of insulin which helps in managing better sugar levels.
Let’s understand the importance of this tiny organ and take care of the same to make sure our body functions well and gets enough fuel to feel energetic throughout the day.