The pancreas, also known as the "pancreas," is hidden deep in your abdomen. It is located in the upper abdominal cavity, beneath the liver and behind the stomach. This organ is an elongated, cluster-shaped gland, approximately 12 to 15 centimeters long and 1 to 3 centimeters thick. The pancreas is an essential organ with two distinct functions. On one hand, it releases enzymes for digestion, which is referred to as its exocrine function. On the other hand, it secretes hormones into the bloodstream that play a role in regulating the body's sugar levels, known as its endocrine function. This organ is crucial for maintaining a healthy blood sugar level and proper digestion.
Important Player in Digestion
The production of pancreatic juice, or "sucus pancreaticus," is one of the crucial functions of the pancreas. Pancreatic juice contains a wide spectrum of enzymes, including trypsinogen, chymotrypsinogen, elastase, carboxypeptidase, lipase, and amylase. These pancreatic enzymes aid in the digestion of proteins within the digestive system. On average, the pancreas produces one to two liters of pancreatic juice per day. This juice contributes to the smooth functioning of digestion. Additionally, pancreatic juice is alkaline due to its high concentration of bicarbonate ions. This allows the juice to neutralize stomach acid and food chyme, facilitating the action of the enzymes.
Balancing Sugar Metabolism
Within the pancreas, there are clusters of cells known as the "islets of Langerhans," named after their discoverer, the German pathologist Langerhans (1847-1888). These islets can be divided into alpha cells, which produce the hormone glucagon, and beta cells, which produce the hormone insulin. The islets of Langerhans play a vital role in carbohydrate metabolism. Insulin, in particular, is responsible for reducing high blood sugar levels to normal values by converting glucose into glycogen. When there is insufficient glucose in the blood, the hormone glucagon ensures that glycogen is broken down into glucose, raising blood sugar levels. Therefore, these hormones play a significant role in maintaining the balance of sugar metabolism in the body.
Supporting Your Pancreas Naturally
To support your pancreas, it is important to engage in regular physical activity and maintain a healthy dietary pattern. Your diet should not have deficiencies and should keep your blood sugar levels as stable as possible. Lean proteins, dairy products, vegetables, fruits, and whole grains are often recommended, while fried foods, sugar, trans fats, and alcohol are discouraged. Specifically, peas, cinnamon, and foods rich in protective polyphenols (such as garlic, onions, nuts, seeds, rosemary, basil, green tea, apples, walnuts, and citrus fruits) can help keep your pancreas healthy. It is also possible to support the pancreas with supplements. For example, Ergomax offers the Suprefort® Pancreatic Extract from Garmonia, a pancreatic enzyme supplement containing a potent peptide complex specifically for the pancreas.