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Getting To Know Your Body: Your Pancreas

Getting To Know Your Body: Your Pancreas | Mindful Healing Clinic Dr. Maria Cavallazzi Naturopathic Doctor In Mississauga Streetsville Clinic

Have you ever stopped to think about the unsung hero in your body, diligently working day and night to regulate your blood sugar levels and help with digestion?

Meet your pancreas, the remarkable organ tucked away in your abdomen.

It quietly carries out its essential functions without much recognition.

While your heart, brain, and lungs steal the spotlight, it’s time we shed some light on your pancreas.

In my online naturopathic doctor consultations, I often work with patients who have issues with their pancreas.

But while pancreatic concerns are fairly common, naturopathic medicine is a great solution to address them.

Today, we’ll embark on a journey to discover the inner workings of this organ and understand why it deserves your attention and appreciation.

So, let’s dive in.

What Is Your Pancreas?

Your pancreas is a remarkable organ.

It plays a pivotal role in your body’s daily functions.

This glandular organ is about six inches long and is long and thin, like a tadpole.

With functions in both your exocrine and your endocrine system, your pancreas carries out a variety of tasks to keep your body in balance.

What Does Your Pancreas Do?

Firstly, as an endocrine gland, it secretes hormones like insulin and glucagon into your bloodstream.

These hormones are essential in regulating your blood sugar levels.

Secondly, as an exocrine gland, your pancreas produces digestive enzymes that facilitate the breakdown of food in your small intestine.

Without these enzymes, your body would have a hard time absorbing nutrients from your diet.

What Are The Symptoms Of Pancreatic Conditions?

Detecting pancreatic conditions early on is important for timely treatment.

However, understanding their symptoms is the first step.

Pay close attention to signs such as persistent abdominal pain that may radiate to your back, unexplained weight loss, and jaundice.

Additionally, be wary of changes in your stool, like pale or greasy appearances, as well as digestive issues such as nausea, vomiting, and diarrhea.

Diabetes, which is a pancreas disorder (more on that in a moment), can lead to excessive thirst, frequent urination, and chronic fatigue.

Common Pancreatic Conditions

Pancreatic conditions, while sometimes overlooked, can significantly impact your health and quality of life.

Understanding these conditions is essential, so let’s take a look into some of the most common ones.

1. Insulin Resistance

Insulin resistance occurs when your body’s cells become less responsive to the hormone insulin, which plays a key role in regulating blood sugar levels.

In response to this resistance, your pancreas produces more insulin to compensate, creating a dangerous cycle that can lead to various health problems.

Common signs of insulin resistance include persistent fatigue, increased hunger, and difficulty losing weight.

Also, it often precedes the development of type 2 diabetes.

2. Type 1 Diabetes

Type 1 diabetes, often referred to as juvenile diabetes, is an autoimmune condition that affects people of all ages.

Your immune system mistakenly attacks and destroys the insulin producing cells in your pancreas, leaving your body unable to regulate your blood sugar levels naturally.

Symptoms of type 1 diabetes include excessive thirst, frequent urination, unexplained weight loss, and extreme fatigue.

While the exact cause remains elusive, genetic and environmental factors are believed to contribute to its development.

Living with type 1 diabetes requires vigilant self management, including regular blood sugar monitoring, careful meal planning, and insulin administration.

People with type 1 diabetes rely on external insulin sources, such as injections or insulin pumps.

The discovery of using external insulin is due in large part to the research of Dr. Frederick Banting right here in Ontario.

Thanks to Dr. Banting’s work, people with type 1 diabetes can now live full, healthy lives.

3. Type 2 Diabetes

Type 2 diabetes, the most common form of diabetes, is a metabolic disorder characterized by elevated blood sugar levels.

Unlike type 1 diabetes, type 2 develops later in life.

This condition primarily results from insulin resistance.

Lifestyle factors, such as an unhealthy diet and lack of physical activity, contribute significantly to its development.

Symptoms may include excessive thirst, frequent urination, blurred vision, and slow wound healing.

Managing type 2 diabetes typically involves dietary changes, exercise, and sometimes medication.

4. Pancreatic Cancer

Pancreatic cancer is known for its silent progression and challenging treatment landscape.

This aggressive cancer originates in the tissues of your pancreas.

Often, symptoms don’t surface until it’s reached advanced stages, making early detection a challenge.

Common signs include abdominal pain, unexplained weight loss, jaundice, and digestive issues.

Pancreatic cancer has a reputation for being hard to treat, mainly due to its late diagnosis and limited effective treatment options.

However, advancements in research and treatment options are continually emerging, offering hope to those facing this diagnosis.

RELATED: A Naturopathic Doctor’s Role In Cancer Treatment

5. Pancreatitis

Pancreatitis is a distressing condition that causes inflammation and severe discomfort.

It can manifest in two forms: acute and chronic.

Acute pancreatitis often arises suddenly, leading to intense abdominal pain, nausea, and digestion problems.

It’s frequently linked to gallstones or excessive alcohol consumption.

On the other hand, chronic pancreatitis is a long term illness that gradually damages your pancreas over time.

This results in persistent abdominal pain and complications like malabsorption and diabetes.

6. Other Conditions

Above are the most common pancreatic disorders, but there are others as well.

Pancreatic cysts, for example, are fluid filled sacs that can develop in your pancreas.

These cysts can be benign or potentially cancerous.

Pancreatic neuroendocrine tumors are another category of pancreatic conditions, which originate in the hormone producing cells of your pancreas.

Similarly, these tumors can be benign or cancerous, and their symptoms may vary depending on their size and location.

Additionally, autoimmune pancreatitis is a rare condition in which your body’s immune system mistakenly attacks your pancreas.

This leads to inflammation and other complications.

How To Support Your Pancreas Naturally

Although pancreatic conditions can significantly impact your health, fortunately, there are natural ways to support your pancreas.

What Is Your Pancreas? | Mindful Healing Clinic Dr. Maria Cavallazzi Naturopathic Doctor In Mississauga Streetsville Clinic

1. Eat a Pancreas Friendly Diet

Your diet plays an important part in the health of your pancreas, and making wise food choices can go a long way.

Focus on incorporating whole, nutrient rich foods into your meals.

Opt for a variety of colourful fruits and vegetables, which provide essential vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants that promote pancreatic health.

Fibre rich foods like whole grains, beans, and legumes help stabilize blood sugar levels and reduce the strain on your pancreas.

Additionally, lean sources of protein can be beneficial.

Be mindful of your fat intake as well.

Choose healthy fats, and do your best to avoid unhealthy fats like monounsaturated and trans fats that can contribute to inflammation.

Lastly, avoid excessive consumption of sugary snacks and drinks.

These foods have a lot of added sugar, which can overload your pancreas with insulin demands.

RELATED: 5 Amazingly Unhealthy Foods To Avoid
RELATED: 5 More Amazingly Unhealthy Foods To Avoid

2. Eat More Turmeric

Turmeric, a vibrant yellow spice native to South Asia, has been celebrated for its potent health benefits for centuries.

One of its remarkable attributes is its potential to support pancreatic health.

Curcumin, the active compound in turmeric, boasts powerful anti inflammatory and antioxidant properties.

This can help reduce pancreatic inflammation and oxidative stress.

Incorporating turmeric into your diet may help improve insulin sensitivity, making it useful in managing your blood sugar levels.

Turmeric can also enhance digestion by stimulating bile production, easing the burden on your pancreas.

Whether it’s added to curries or taken as a supplement, turmeric offers a flavourful and accessible way to boost your pancreas’ well being.

3. Stay Hydrated

Drinking enough water is essential for overall well being, and it holds particular significance in supporting your pancreas.

Water helps regulate blood sugar levels by helping in the transport of glucose to your cells, where it’s used for energy.

Dehydration can lead to concentrated blood, which puts extra strain on your pancreas as it works to produce and release insulin.

Proper hydration also supports your pancreas in producing digestive enzymes needed for breaking down food.

Drinking water can even help you lose weight.

4. Drink Dandelion Root Tea

Dandelion tea, derived from dandelion roots, is surprisingly helpful in promoting pancreatic health.

Rich in antioxidants and anti inflammatory compounds, dandelion tea can help reduce oxidative stress and inflammation within your pancreas.

Additionally, it may help in digestion by stimulating the production of digestive enzymes.

Some research suggests that dandelion root tea may also help regulate blood sugar levels, making it a valuable addition to your diet if you have diabetes.

So, the next time you see those yellow blooms in your yard, consider harvesting the roots to brew a cup of dandelion tea.

And yes, you can make it from the ones that grow in your yard, so long as you aren’t spraying your lawn with pesticides.

In fact, dandelion roots, and leaves as well, can be a great part of building a nutritious, environmentally friendly diet.

Book Your Appointment With The Mindful Healing Clinic Today

From the complexities of pancreatic conditions to the power of a pancreas friendly diet, we’ve explored various aspects of this often underappreciated organ.

Do you have concerns about your pancreas?

Does diabetes run in your family?

Or are you just looking for ways to stay healthier?

If so, I’m Dr. Maria Cavallazzi, ND, and I’m here to help.

Book your appointment with me, Dr. Maria, at The Mindful Healing Clinic today.

Until next time,

Dr. Maria Cavallazzi, N.D
Mindful Healing Naturopathic Clinic
Mississauga, ON L5M 1L7
(905) 819-8200

Dr. Maria Cavallazzi is a medical doctor from Colombia where she practiced as a family physician for 8 years until she moved to Canada 16 years ago and became a naturopathic doctor in Mississauga.