Protect Your Pancreas Through Diet

The pancreas is the gland organ in the abdomen that produces the hormone insulin.  When the pancreas becomes overworked or stressed, it can become inflamed and insulin production can be compromised.  Eating a pancreas-friendly diet can help reduce pancreas inflammation and maintain the health of this important organ.

If you have diabetes, you know insulin is the key to managing your blood sugar.  Type 2 diabetes results when the pancreas produces insulin but the cells in the body are not able to use the insulin effectively.   This kind of diabetes is often preceded by insulin resistance.

Insulin resistance may be triggered by the foods we eat.  Carbohydrates are easily converted to sugar or glucose.  So when we eat large quantities of carbohydrates, large amounts of glucose are dumped into our blood.   Presented with a feast of sugar, cells take what they need and ignore the rest.  Repeated servings of carbs effectively train the cells to ignore the presence of insulin because they have become sensitized by the high levels of sugar in the blood.  This can be the start of insulin resistance.

Because insulin resistance puts stress on the pancreas to produce more and more insulin, the first step in eating a pancreas-friendly diet is reducing carbs. Start by cutting the amount of white sugar, white flour, and white rice you eat.  Better choices include whole grains and brown rice.   Carbs are also found in fruits and vegetables.  Be sure to eat whole fruits so you get the good nutrients and fiber in the bulk of the fruit and peel rather than just drinking the high-sugar juice.

If your pancreas becomes inflamed, the condition is known as pancreatitis.  You can help protect your pancreas or help it heal by eating a diet low in fat.  High cholesterol, triglyceride, and overall blood lipid levels all contribute to the risk of pancreatitis, which can potentially damage the insulin producing cells in the pancreas.

Fat also stays in your system longer and takes longer to digest, which adds more work for the pancreas.  So avoid foods that are high in fat.  In addition to choosing lean meats and fish, the way you cook your foods can help reduce their fat content.   Choose grilled, broiled, baked, boiled or steamed foods rather than foods that are fried.

Antioxidants in your diet can help protect your cells from cell damage and inflammation.  Consider adding anti-inflammatory proteins such as coldwater fish as well as blueberries, apples, red wine, and green tea to your diet.  And make sure you drink enough water every day to stay well-hydrated.

Denise DeWitt is a freelance writer for



MSN Health. The #1 Surprising Reason You Can’t Lose Weight. Paula Spencer Scott. Web. March 18, 2012.

Live Strong. Diet for Healthy Pancreas. Amanda Davis.  Web. March 18, 2012.

Mayo Clinic.  Pancreatitis. Web. March 18, 2012.

National Digestive Diseases Clearinghouse. Pancreatitis. Web. March 18, 2012.

Tags: Pancreas diet,pancreas and carbs,pancreas and insulin resistance.

Category: Prevention,Featured Articles