The pancreas is an organ located in the upper abdomen, behind the stomach.  It is surrounded by organs such as the liver, small intestine and liver.  It is surrounded by major blood vessels such as the portal vein, the superior mesenteric artery and the celiac axis which supply blood to the pancreas and other abdominal organs.  About 95 % of the pancreas consists of exocrine tissue that is responsible for producing pancreatic enzymes for digestion.  The remaining 5 % consists of endocrine cells which produce hormones that regulate pancreatic secretions blood sugar and blood sugar.  When your pancreas is healthy, it produces the correct chemicals in the right quantities, at the right times in order to digest the food we eat.

The pancreas plays an important role in converting the food we eat into fuel for the body’s cells.  Pancreatic juices contain enzymes that only become activated once they reach the duodenum (first part of the small intestine).  Other enzymes produced by the pancreas include lipase which breaks down fat amylase which breaks down carbohydrates.  The exocrine pancreas is also responsible for making sodium bicarbonate which helps neutralise the stomach acids contained in food. ₁

Our glucose levels are controlled by insulin which is produced in the pancreas.  In type 1 diabetes patients, the body does not make enough insulin.  Untreated type 1 diabetes can cause weight loss.

Pancreatitis is when the pancreas is inflamed.  This occurs when digestive enzymes become activated while still in the pancreas, irritating the cells in your pancreas which causes inflammation.  Pancreatitis can be acute, meaning that it appears suddenly and only lasts for a few days or chronic, meaning that it occurs over many years. ₂

Pancreatitis causes poor absorption of food which leads to weight loss.  This poor absorption occurs because the body does not secrete enough pancreatic enzymes to break down food normally. Even with a good diet and normal eating habits, patients with pancreatitis may still lose weight.

Symptoms of pancreatitis include:

  • Tenderness in the abdomen.
  • Increased heartbeat.
  • Vomiting and nausea.
  • Increased heartbeat.
  • Unintentional weight loss.
  • Fever and fever sweats.

“The health of the pancreas is vital as it helps with balancing our glucose levels as well as the absorption of vitamins and nutrients in food,” says Gert Coetzee, Pharmacist and Diet pioneer, who founded The Diet Everyone Talks About – a successful and established company that has been operating for the past 30 years.  Below he lists some hints and tips that will help keep the pancreas healthy:

Have a low-fat diet

One of the leading causes of pancreatitis is gallstones.  Gallstones can develop when too much cholesterol accumulates in your bile.  Bile is the substance produced by your liver to help the body digest fats.  A low-fat diet consists of foods such as whole grains and a variety of fresh fruits and vegetables.  Avoid fatty, processed or fried foods as well as sugary treats and beverages.


Increase your consumption of lean protein

Nutrition is important for treating patients with pancreatitis.  A diet that is high in lean protein sources such as eggs, beans, lentils, fish and nuts is good for the pancreas and the body as a whole.

Stay hydrated

Make sure that you drink water regularly as dehydration can have a negative impact on the functioning of the pancreas.  Limit your intake or alcohol as alcohol places extra load on the pancreas and causes dehydration.

Exercise regularly

Gallstones are more likely to develop in people who are overweight which increases the risks of pancreatitis.  Maintaining a healthy weight by exercising regularly and being on a healthy diet can help prevent gallstones from forming.

Quit Smoking

Research shows that smoking can increase the risk of acute pancreatitis.  Smoking also doubles the risk pancreatic cancer.