Keep your pancreas happy and healthy

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The best food choices for a healthy pancreatitis are vegetables, whole grains, legumes, and nonfat/low fat dairy. Photo: Reuters

In the typical human fashion, we sometimes take things such as our good health for granted until things start to go awry. Let’s face it, we have all been there – when we wake up one morning with sniffles or a major headache, we suddenly find ourselves on the internet, searching for a quick-fix, only to have hundreds of health-related sites screaming in our faces that prevention is always better than cure.

These sites are not wrong, especially since most are backed with medical research. The important takeaway from this article is: a little extra attention for our health goes a long way.

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Just because things are not visible to the naked eyes, it does not mean that we should neglect them. Take the vital organs hidden deep inside our body, for instance.

While we may not be fully aware of how they work, we should show our gratitude by paying a little more attention to them whenever we can. One of the least talked about organs, unfortunately, is our pancreas. Previously, we have discussed in depth about pancreas-related problems such as pancreatitis and pancreatic cancer but today, let’s talk about what we can and should do to boost its health.

Why your pancreas matters

Let’s jog our memory a little. Pancreas is a dual-functioning gland located behind the abdomen. You need a healthy pancreas in order for food digestion to go on smoothly and also to regulate the body’s blood sugar levels through the insulin it produces.

The pancreas, through its exocrine cells, secretes digestive enzyme into the small intestine where it breaks down the proteins, lipids, carbohydrates, and nucleic acids in food.

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Meanwhile, through its endocrine cells, the pancreas produces the hormone insulin and secretes it into the bloodstream. If your body has problems maintaining insulin, it could lead to severe health problems such as diabetes.

It is all in the diet

According to multiple researches, these are five health-boosting food that you can incorporate into your daily diet to keep your pancreas (and other organs) happy and healthy.

1. Broccoli

Who knew this vegetable that looks like ‘tiny trees’ could be so good for you. Broccoli and other cruciferous vegetables like Brussels sprouts, cabbage and cauliflower are great as they are rich in flavonoids – a type of compound that helps expel cancer-inducing toxins from your body. Broccoli sprouts especially amp up your body’s detox machinery, stop cancer cells from growing and to a certain extent, it could encourage cancer cells to self-destruct.

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Ways to enjoy broccoli: Best eaten raw or lightly steamed, we suggest pairing it with hummus dip or any other low-fat alternatives.

2. Spinach

Dark, leafy greens such as spinach and kale are loaded with vitamin C and beta-carotene, which are known to be cancer’s biggest enemy. They are also rich in kaempferol, a flavonoid that deters the growth of pancreatic cancer cells. Your overall health can benefit from the vitamin B and iron found in these vegetables.

Ways to enjoy spinach: You can make Khmer sour soup with water spinach, or you can occasionally swap out the lettuce in your sandwich with spinach to spice things up.

3. Garlic

A study by the National Cancer Institute revealed that people who consume a high garlic diet have a 54 percent lower risk of developing pancreatic cancer. This is because onions are rich with cancer-fighting compounds called flavonoids. Not only it enhances the taste of food, it also decreases the amount of sugar in the blood. Garlic reportedly can stimulate the pancreas to produce adequate levels of insulin.

Ways to enjoy garlic: This is the easiest to incorporate into your diet. Crush one to two cloves of garlic and add it to your food such as soup or salad.

4. Cherries

Research shows that cherries are rich in perillyl alcohol, a compound that helps prevent pancreatic cancer. As a good source of antioxidants, cherries consumption is also encouraged for those with existing pancreatic health problems as they could help prevent further cell damage.

Ways to enjoy cherries: If you have a major craving for something sweet, don’t go for a tub of ice cream or desserts but reach for this fruit instead.

5. Yogurt with probiotics

The National Cancer Institute has recommended three servings of low-fat or fat-free yogurt that contains active cultures per day. This is because it eases digestion, protect the pancreas and digestive system. If you want to go for a high protein intake while maintaining a low fat and sugar content, Greek yogurt is a good alternative.

Ways to enjoy yogurt: Substitute your breakfast congee with a healthy bowl of yogurt with fruits once or twice a week and see the difference.

In celebration of AIA 100th Anniversary, the leading insurance company has offered a free upgrade to its life insurance solution for all customers. This special upgrade covers up to 26 conditions, including cancer and pancreatic transplantation.

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