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The health, function of the pancreas

GLENN ELLIS | 4/23/2018, 5:49 p.m.
Like many of you, more and more we are hearing about family, friends and loved ones facing a sudden issue ...
The pancreas and nearby organs Terese Winslow

Strategies for Well-Being

Like many of you, more and more we are hearing about family, friends and loved ones facing a sudden issue with the Pancreas. Most people don’t know much about this organ, but in fact, it is an important part of the human body. It often goes unnoticed … until a problem occurs.

The pancreas is a gland that lies crosswise deep in the abdomen between the stomach and the spine. The pancreas serves two purposes – Endocrine and Exocrine functions:

• The endocrine function allows for the production of insulin, which is imperative for the metabolism and regulation of blood glucose – the thing that keeps you from being diabetic.

• The exocrine component aids in the digestion of food. Pancreatic juices filled with important enzymes flow into the small intestine and break down the carbohydrates, proteins and fats to allow absorption into the body.

Problems with the pancreas usually come down to two things – pancreatitis and pancreatic cancer.

Pancreatitis is an inflammation of the pancreas where the enzymes that help digest fats, proteins, and carbohydrates start digesting the pancreas. There are two types of pancreatitis: acute and chronic. Acute pancreatitis occurs suddenly lasts a short amount of time – usually no more than two days – and heals itself. Symptoms for both may include: severe pain and swelling in the upper abdomen, jaundice, fever, sweating, nausea and rapid pulse. Causes for acute pancreatitis may include gallstones and drinking too much alcohol. Usual causes for chronic pancreatitis are alcohol abuse and excess iron in the blood.

Quite simply, pancreatitis refers to inflammation of the pancreas, usually marked by abdominal pain. The primary causes are identified in the medical community as alcohol, gallstones [by virtue of the shared biliary tree], infection, and certain medications such as diuretics.

There are strong indications that a major factor in chronic non-acute pancreatitis is the stress put on the pancreas through a diet high in cooked and processed foods – a diet deficient in natural or supplemented enzymes.

Research done on rats and chickens that were fed cooked foods revealed that the pancreas enlarged to handle the extra burden of the enzyme-deficient diet. In other words, the pancreas will enlarge over time when called upon to compensate for a diet high in enzyme deficient foods. Animals such as cattle, goats, deer and sheep get along with a pancreas about a third as large as the human pancreas because of their raw food diet. However, when these animals are fed heat-processed, enzyme-free food, their pancreas enlarges up to three times the normal size than when fed on a raw plant diet. Make no mistake; long-term, non-acute pancreatitis is a condition that affects virtually every person living on a modern diet – given enough time.

Just like pancreatitis, the incidence of pancreatic cancer is rising dramatically in the developed world. Pancreatic Cancer is a very deadly form of cancer. Because it is generally diagnosed late, this cancer is very tough to treat. Pancreatic cancer is one of the few cancers for which survival has not improved substantially over nearly 40 years. Because signs and symptoms of most pancreatic cancer may be mistaken for less-serious digestive problems, the disease is rarely detected before it has spread to nearby tissues or distant organs through the bloodstream or lymphatic system.