Moving on forward through the endocrine system, we roll up on a gland lots of folks are familiar with which is the Pancreas! Hearing about Type I and Type II diabetes and the lives it touches is sadly becoming common place. What is also beginning to go beyond common place is the amount of high sugary foods a single person consumes in any given day !
So where can we find this important part of our endocrine system? It’s located towards the back of our abdomen behind our stomach.
This gland is the most active gland in our entire digestive system. According to Dr. N.W. Walker D. Sc. “It produces substances in the form of digestive juices of several different kinds at one and the same time, each to process the various elements contained in the food we eat. When we eat raw vegetables & fruits, the functions of the pancreas are at their best. They have virtually no splitting of molecules to do, merely assisting the atoms & molecules to separate so they can be readily collected by the blood & lymph streams & quickly utilized by the glands, cells & tissues throughout the body.
When we eat starches, sugar & meat foods, the pancreas has to do more than its normal work. Starches cannot be digested as such, but must be converted into primary or chemical sugars. The pancreas must not only furnish the digestive juices for these sugars but must also help to do the necessary work of conversion or breaking down of the starches. This extra work is what eventually may develop into diabetes.
When we eat meat, fish or fowl, we cannot use either the concentrated protein or the amino acids that compose it as such. They must all be reduced to the atoms composing them so that the body may reorganize these atoms to build its own amino acids & proteins. The pancreas does most of this conversion work, furnishing the digestive juices for the purpose. As this involves considerable work, it not only overworks the pancreas, but it also generates large quantities of uric acid in the system.
Fats contained in the food we eat, must be converted into glycerin, and the pancreas also furnishes the digestive juices for this purpose.
As the pancreas has so much work to do for us under even the most favorable circumstances, it is obvious that to overwork it just because we choose to eat food & drink beverages that do actual harm, does not make sense. On the contrary, we should consider this angle of our appetites & desires seriously & with common sense.” (N.W. Sc., Become Younger n.d.)
HYPOGLYCEMIA (LOW BLOOD SUGAR)
Many folks struggle with a condition referred to as hypoglycemia which is when their blood sugar is abnormally low. Reactive hypoglycemia occurs when blood sugar drops to low levels 2-5 hrs. after eating a meal. Symptoms of reactive hypoglycemia include sweating, tremors, rapid heartbeat, anxiety & hunger. Most often, this results from the over secretion of insulin by the pancreas. Insulin facilitates the transport of glucose from our blood into the cells, especially those of muscle & fatty tissue, & causes glucose to be synthesized in our liver. If the pancreas is not functioning as it should, normal carbohydrate metabolism is impossible. As the blood sugar then drops, stress hormones like adrenaline & cortisol kick in at high levels to prevent the blood sugar from dropping to fast.
Another type of hypoglycemia is known as fasting hypoglycemia. Meaning this happens as a result of not having food for 8 or more hours (typically, for some the effects can happen after 6 hours). They symptoms are often more sever than those of reactive hypoglycemia & can include seizures, loss of consciousness, and a loss of mental acuity. Liver disease generally contributes to this type of hypoglycemia too.
Someone with hypoglycemia may display any or all of the following symptoms:
- heart palpitations
- blurred vision
- inability to concentrate
- light headedness
- irritable, fainting spells
- cravings for sweets
- night sweats,
- weakness in legs
- swollen feet
- feeling tight in the chest
- constant hunger
- pain in various parts of the body especially the eyes
- nervous habits
- mental disturbances
If the blood sugar levels drop below 40 mg of glucose per 100CC of blood (80-100 is considered normal), the person can actually become unconscious. Typically someone with hypoglycemia can become very aggressive & lose their temper easily. Any or all of these symptoms can occur a few hours after eating sweets or even fats. The onset & severity of symptoms are pretty much directly related to the length of time since the last meal was eaten& the type of of foods that meal contained.
More & more peeps today are realizing and being diagnosed with this condition, due to poor dietary habits that include eating large amounts of simple carbohydrates, too much sugary foods, alcohol, caffeine & soda & they are not eating near enough complex carbohydrates. High levels of stress also can contribute as high amounts of cortisol production also make the fat cells more insulin resistant.
Lots of folks will say they inherited their low blood sugar issue, but most often it is precipitated by a diet that has been overloaded for years with too many of the foods I talked about above. This is referred to as functional hypoglycemia. There are other imbalances that can also contribute to hypoglycemia like:
- adrenal insufficiency
- stomach surgery
- thyroid disorders
- pituitary disorders,
- kidney disease
- large amounts of caffeine
WHAT SHOULD YOU REMOVE FROM YOUR DIET IF YOU KNOW YOU STRUGGLE WITH PANCREA ISSUES?
I’d remove alcohol, canned & packaged foods, refined & processed foods, dried fruits, table salt, white sugar, saturated fats, sodas and anything made with white refined flours. Also avoid foods that contain artificial colors or preservatives.
Reduce fatty foods like bacon, lunchmeats, fried foods, gravies, ham, sausage or dairy products (exception would be low-fat soured/fermented products)
Instead you want to be eating a diet that is high in fiber & include large amounts of vegetables, especially broccoli, carrots, artichokes, raw spinach, squash & string beans. Vegetables should be eaten raw or steamed. Also eat beans, brown rice, lentils, oats, oat bran, Yukon gold potatoes, tofu, and fruits, especially apples, apricots, avocados, cantaloupes, grapefruits, lemons.
For your protein choices, I’d suggest low fat cottage cheese with some flax oil added, fish, whole grains, kefir, raw nuts, turkey, chicken.
Stop skipping meals and get in the habit of eating 6-8 smaller meals through out the day. The other mistake we make is we are in the habit of drinking liquids with our meals which dilute the digestive fluids, drink some liquid before you sit down to eat, and wait about 30-35 mins. after eating (if you can) before you drink anything.
Are there herbs & particular supplements that can be helpful for supporting the pancreas…. absolutely, however, in this case I especially would as a practitioner prefer to have done a consultation/appointment before recommending any nutritional/orthomolecular support. The one thing I don’t want is for people to think if I just take some herbs/supplements it will neutralize the “bad-food” choices and life goes on as usual.
I cannot tell you how many people I have worked with who use insulin and/or oral meds and rely on those to keep things in what they believe to be “check” while they continue to eat in ways that are not contributing in positive ways.
So if you are looking for a more holistic/nutritional way to support the health of your pancreas, I’d be honored to embark on that journey together. You can go to http://www.jodibarnett758.com and click on services.
Till next time, which we will be talking about the Adrenal glands, stay healthy my friends!
Dr. Jodi Barnett N.D.
Harvested Health LLC
Become Younger N.W.Sc.,
Prescription for Nutritional Healing, Phyllis A. Balch, CNC
2 thoughts on “Can We Protect The Pancreas?”
Thank you for the thorough article on the pancreas. Is it common to have slightly below serum glucose levels upon awakening and even shortly after eating breakfast? A couple of times I have noticed this with my teenage son when we did blood work although the pediatrician was not concerned because the level was only a couple of points below the reference range. Just curious if glucose levels tend to be low upon awakening because the body has been fasting for 8+ hours (during the sleep mode). Thank you in advance for your insight.
Martha, you are correct, in the morning you are coming off a fast so to speak, eating a small amount of protein before bed can help to balance blood sugar a bit more, and eating a protein based breakfast, like eggs, or protein smoothie, vs. the common breakfast kids typically have which is box cereals which are loaded with sugar and converts to sugar.