Is Your Pancreas Healthy?

Many of us have heard about the importance of prevention and early detection when it comes to numerous types of conditions and cancers, but what about conditions of the pancreas? Chances are you haven’t heard much about this small, but important organ.

And while the pancreas may be a bit of a mystery to you, pancreatic cancer shouldn’t be. Recent trends continue to show that pancreatic cancer statistics are on the rise. This isn’t the only concerning part, pancreatic cancer has been shown to be one of the deadliest types of cancer.

However, by learning more about the pancreas and its role, the risk factors and symptoms of pancreatic cancer and tips to improve pancreatic health, you will be well on your way to having a powerful pancreas.

Taking a Closer Look at the Pancreas

The pancreas is gland (an organ that makes substances the body needs) located in the abdomen. One of its jobs is to make pancreatic enzymes. They travel to the small intestine to help digest food.

The pancreas also makes hormones, like insulin and glucagon, to help control the amount of glucose (sugar) in the blood.

A Deep-Rooted Problem

Pancreatic cancer is extremely difficult to detect. This is in part due to the fact that the pancreas is located deep within the body and doctors aren’t yet able to readily screen for it. On top of that, the symptoms of pancreatic cancer often go unnoticed because they’re subtle and relate to many health conditions.

Even though symptoms of pancreatic cancer may be hard to spot, if you notice these symptoms persistently, it is best to have them checked by your medical provider, especially if you have one or more risk factors. Some symptoms to note of include:
  • A yellowing of the skin and eyes (jaundice)
  • Pain in the stomach or back
  • Unexpected weight loss
  • A lack of appetite
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Blood clots in the legs

Giving Your Pancreas a Beneficial Boost

While there are some pancreatic cancer risk factors that are unavoidable, like age and genetics, there are everyday things that you can do to show your pancreas some much needed love.

In addition to avoiding heavy alcohol consumption, maintaining a healthy weight and getting regular exercise, here are some of the best foods to support a healthy pancreas. Not only are these foods full of cancer preventing nutrients, they’re also full of delicious flavor!
  • Fruits high in antioxidants: Prunes, Raspberries, Strawberries, Cranberries and Blueberries
  • Cruciferous Vegetables: Broccoli, Brussels sprouts, Cabbage and Cauliflower
  • Allium Plants: Garlic, Onions and Leeks
  • Foods High in Resveratrol: Dark Chocolate, Pistachios, Peanuts and Grapes
  • Veggies high in Iron: Spinach and Beans
  • Veggies high in vitamin A: Sweet Potatoes, Carrots, Corn and Squash
  • Dairy products with probiotics: Yogurt, Sauerkraut and Soft Cheeses

Incorporating more of these nutritious and delicious foods makes a big difference in the health of your pancreas, which plays a major role in your overall health. And it isn’t only your pancreas that will benefit; these health-filled foods will leave you feeling better than ever.

Keep in mind that by learning more about pancreatic cancer, you are taking the first step towards prevention. And if you are at a high risk of pancreatic cancer, or notice the symptoms, make sure to work with your physician.

In the event that you or a loved one is diagnosed with pancreatic cancer, the Center for Cancer Care, a service of Gwinnett Medical Center, provides the best cancer treatment possible. With experienced specialists and extensive resources available, you will receive comprehensive, thorough care at every stage of the healing process. 

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