The pancreas is essential in both digestion and absorption of nutrients, since it secretes pancreatic enzymes that facilitate the breakdown of foods into smaller molecules allowing the body to actually use fats, vitamins, minerals, amino acids etc.
Certain medical problems can cause the pancreas to produce fewer enzymes than needed for digestion. Some of these problems include, but are not limited to, pancreatic cancer, large pancreatic cysts, chronic pancreatitis, pancreatic surgery or cystic fibrosis.
Digestive enzymes are now being taken by an increasing number of people to help treat health conditions like acid reflux, gas, bloating, leaky gut, irritable bowel syndrome, Crohn’s disease, ulcerative colitis, diverticulitis, malabsorption, diarrhea or constipation.
Digestive enzyme products are derived from several sources, with the most common being fruits (usually pineapple or papaya), and plants like probiotics, yeast and fungi. These can be used for general help with digestion they cannot be used as a replacement for pancreatic enzymes.
Foods that benefit the pancreas
High-antioxidant foods: This includes leafy green veggies; all berries; orange and yellow veggies like carrots, peppers, squash and sweet potatoes; tomatoes; artichoke; asparagus; broccoli; cauliflower, pineapple, papaya and kiwi. Ginger and other fresh herbs and spices.
Fermented/probiotic: Foods like sauerkraut, yogurt, kefir, and miso soup.
Healthy fats: Avocado, coconut or olive oil, grass-fed butter and ghee. Healthy fats are energy-dense, so they can be useful for adding calories to your diet and preventing weight loss.
MCT oil: MCT oil can be beneficial because it doesn’t require the same amount of digestion as other oils. MCT is easily absorbed and a good calorie/fat source for providing energy and preventing weight loss.
Nuts and seeds.
Clean proteins, including grass-fed meat, pastured poultry, wild-caught fish and free-range eggs.