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Real Life Wellness–The Workhorse of Digestion…Your Pancreas

By Bill Hemmer
Your digestive system is absolutely the most important foundational part of you getting and staying healthy. The second part of the river analogy of your digestive system is how the pancreatic enzymes are secreted just past the bottom valve of the stomach to help with the digestive process.

Your pancreas is totally the workhorse of your digestive system. It produces enzymes and hormones both. Enzymes are substances that help break down food into nutrients for delivery to your organs, glands and tissues. Hormones are substances that send messages from one part of the body to other parts of the body.

The pancreas produces enzymes that help to digest carbohydrates, proteins and fats. What is much different than in the stomach, pancreatic enzymes work the best at a much different pH than in the stomach. The best pH for pancreatic enzyme activity is slightly over 7. This is by far less acidic than in the stomach. By design, bicarbonate is also secreted which brings the pH up from the low level it was in the stomach to allow pancreatic enzymes to work properly.

Another important function of the pancreas at this point is to produce the hormone insulin. We all know this as the blood sugar hormone. Insulin is produced when blood sugar levels begin to rise because your food is getting broken down into sugar. Blood sugar then circulates and insulin is produced to bind to the cell wall to open the gate and let the sugar get into the cell to make energy.

Your pancreas is a very tough organ. It can take decades of abuse without a problem. We have all been abusing our pancreas eating the Standard American Diet for the last 40 or 50 years. When you eat too many carbohydrates, simple sugars and processed foods, it puts a lot of extra stress on your enzyme production of your pancreas. Over time this extra stress will lead to your pancreas getting tired.

When your pancreas finally gets tired, you start noticing your concentration and energy beginning to get worse. You start having the 2 pm slump of energy or you can’t sleep at night as well as you used to. You also crave sweets more and feel bad if you don’t snack during the day to keep you blood sugar up.

These are all signs of your pancreas is working too hard and beginning to wear down. Sometimes it will get to the critical point and if things don’t change, you can fall into Diabetes Type 2. Most people really have to work hard on getting this disease for years before the pancreas gets so tired it can’t keep up anymore. But the great thing about Diabetes Type 2 is that it can be reversed just like many other chronic diseases by changes in lifestyle, diet, exercise and attitude.

Your pancreas will love you if you have better acid content in the stomach to aid digestion upstream. You can also help yourself by not eating sugary, processed foods. The kinder you are to your pancreas the better it will treat you down the road.

Next week, Fat doesn’t make you fat…sugar makes you fat!!

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