The pancreas is a generator of the hormone insulin as well as important digestive enzymes in the upper abdomen. Lush food and stimulants often put the pancreas under heavy strain. This can lead to acute pancreatitis (pancreatitis). Targeted measures help to keep the most important digestive gland in the body healthy. This can be done by enzyme therapy and long-term diet modification.
Function of pancreas and bile
Many people think of diabetes first when talking about the pancreas. In fact, the vital hormone insulin, which regulates sugar metabolism, is produced here. But the flat 18 cm long organ, also called pancreas in medicine, does a lot more. Every day it produces about 1.5 liters of enzyme secretion, which is needed above all for the digestion of fats and proteins.
Through a gland duct into which the bile duct also flows, the enzyme secretion enters the duodenum. So that the glandular tissue is not digested, the secretion contains only precursors of the enzymes, which are activated only in the intestine. Here they split the food components into small molecules that can enter the bloodstream via the intestinal mucosa.
Approximately 98 percent of the glandular tissue produces digestive secretions, while the remaining cells produce the hormone insulin and its antagonist glucagon. These hormone-producing cells are like small islands in the glandular tissue and are therefore also called islet cells. As the enzymes enter the gut, the hormones are released directly into the bloodstream.
Common Suffering: Inflammation of the pancreas
In Germany, about 100, 000 people suffer from a disease of the pancreas, usually there are acute or chronic inflammation. And the number of patients is increasing. Frequent causes are our habits, too fatty food and increasing alcohol consumption. More rarely, gallstones or hereditary factors are responsible.
An acute inflammation of the pancreas is often noticeable on the day after a luscious meal. For example, fat sausages or bacon and so much more of the grill are a heavy burden on the pancreas. Often in conjunction with sweetened drinks or alcohol, the pancreas then reports violent, cramping discomfort.
Patients with acute pancreatitis report extreme pain that drills through the back or spans the entire body like a belt. The symptoms last for hours or days and become worse when eating or drinking alcohol. At the same time many patients complain of nausea, vomiting or fever.
The severe pain usually leads the patients directly to the hospital. Here, they first receive painkillers and anti-inflammatory drugs. To protect the pancreas, the vital nutrients are delivered via a nasogastric tube or intravenously.
As soon as the inflammation has subsided, the patient can gradually eat solid food again. In most cases, the symptoms disappear with the help of the drugs soon. Surgery may be required if the gland duct is blocked by gallstones. In any case, an acute inflammation of the pancreas is to be taken seriously, since damage to the tissue may be left behind, which will affect the sugar metabolism or digestion in the long term.
Permanent inflammation is dangerous
Particularly pernicious are permanent inflammations of the pancreas, which often go unnoticed. The damaged tissue releases enzymes that can also attack neighboring organs long before the first symptoms appear. Some patients experience a dull pain that can persist for weeks or even years. Sometimes, fever, nausea and bloating also occur. Because digestion is compromised, many patients lose weight, even though they do not eat less.
Enzymes relieve the gland
Whether there is actually an inflammation of the pancreas, the doctor can determine by blood and stool tests. Even with ultrasound or computed tomography, changes can be detected. A reflection shows if the gland duct is blocked by gallstones.
In addition to analgesics, the patient usually also receives pancreatic enzymes, which help with digestion and relieve the pancreas. If the insulin-producing cells are affected by the inflammation, the sugar in the body can no longer be sufficiently absorbed into the cells. In this case, diabetes mellitus may develop.
Pancreatitis and nutrition
But also preventive can do a lot for the pancreas. Drugs can be used to administer enzymes, but most important is lifestyle. Alcohol should definitely be enjoyed moderately. He is taboo when the gland is already ill.
A special pancreas diet does not exist, but fats should always be used sparingly. A healthy, wholefood diet, which uses natural foods, helps the pancreas.