“You are what you eat”. Everybody is familiar with this proverb. And many people take this saying to heart, trying to regularly eat nutritious foods so that they will stay healthy. But for optimal health it is necessary for a body to be able to digest and absorb the nutrients in food. If a person lacks the necessary pancreatic enzymes for digestion, then the body has difficult time digesting food and absorbing key nutrients.
Most digestion and absorption takes place in the small intestine and uses a mix of digestive enzymes from the pancreas and the liver bile. Digestive enzymes are comprised of amylase, protease, and lipase. Food cannot be digested properly if enzyme production is low. Similarly, individual digestive enzymes must be strong enough to digest anything that is eaten. Not enough enzymes or the creation of weak enzymes may inhibit proper digestion, which can lead to a variety of chronic disorders throughout the body.
A healthy pancreas is essential for optimal digestion and absorption. Without sufficient digestion good health is impossible.
Improper Pancreatic Exocrine Function
Before the small intestine begins digesting food, pancreatic enzymes and liver bile are mixed together in a small cavity called the Ampulla of Vater. These digestive enzymes are then released into the duodenum, or the first part of the small intestine, where they begin the work of digesting food.
The “exocrine function” of the pancreas describes the process of the pancreas producing enzymes. Pancreatic exocrine insufficiency occurs when the pancreas does not produce a sufficient amount of active digestive enzymes for proper digestion to take place. When food is improperly digested (indigestion), valuable nutrients are lost rather than being absorbed into the bloodstream. This lack of absorption can lead to malnutrition.
Pancreatic digestive enzymes can only function in an alkaline environment. But “chyme”, or the thick semi-fluid mass of partly digested food that moves from the stomach to the duodenum, is acidic from being immersed in stomach acids. To counteract the acid, the pancreas releases a large amount of minerals and bicarbonates, which neutralizes the chyme. If the pancreas cannot release enough bicarbonates and minerals to neutralize the acid, then the digestive enzymes lose their potency and are unable to adequately break up the food.
At this time, an estimated 58% of Americans suffer from some sort of digestive disorder. These huge numbers indicate that poor pancreatic exocrine function is not a hereditary problem, but a lifestyle problem. Many factors are known to contribute to the development of digestive issues, such as poor chewing of food, “eating on the run”, eating late in the day, and smoking after meals. Prolonged alcohol usage is an especially large factor in pancreatic problems. All of the above can result in insufficient enzyme production.
Certain dietary choices may also place stress on the body’s digestive capacity, such as the excessive consumption of alcohol, refined carbohydrates, sugars, and bad fats. Problems are also caused by eating a lot of meat, and eating a predominantly “cooked food diet”. Cooked and processed foods have lost most of their natural enzymes – enzymes that make it easier for the human digestive system to do its job. Eating foods that do not contain enzymes is a major factor contributing to improper exocrine pancreatic function and indigestion. Unfortunately, Americans have a tendency to eat foods that have been cooked or processed and to not eat enough healthy raw foods.
Dr. Edward Howell, a famous American nutritional researcher, looks at the problem of poor pancreatic function in his book “Enzyme Nutrition”. He cites numerous animal studies that show how animals fed diets, that are deficient in enzymes, suffer from an enlargement of the pancreas. Dr. Howell postulates that the pancreas must become larger to make larger amounts of digestive enzymes.
More enzymes help to compensate for the huge amounts of pancreatic enzymes necessary to digest foods that contain no naturally occurring enzymes. The pancreas of the modern man (or woman) is working equally hard and is becoming exhausted. It should come as no surprise, then, that it has become commonplace for elderly individuals to experience diminished digestive enzyme secretion as well as a decrease in hydrochloric acid production.
Acidity is another factor that affects exocrine pancreatic function and that can cause indigestion. Acidic food, an acidic lifestyle, and an acidic environment can cause an “acidic” pancreas. An acidic pancreas occurs when the body’s pancreatic juice does not have enough minerals and bicarbonates because the body is using them elsewhere in its struggle to maintain a healthy pH in the blood. Normally blood has a pH of 7.4, which is slightly alkaline. This slight alkalinity is necessary for the proper functioning of the brain, lung, and heart cells.
The pancreas is a particularly alkaline gland because digestive pancreatic enzymes only become active in an alkaline environment. Acidity literally kills pancreatic function, which leads to indigestion, deficiencies of vital nutrients, and deficiencies of vitamins, minerals and trace elements. Poor digestion caused by excessive acidity can be the underlying cause of many diseases and disorders.
Symptoms of improper exocrine pancreatic function include:
o Abdominal cramps
o Bloating and abdominal distending
o Fullness that lasts 2-4 hours after eating
o Alternating constipation and diarrhea
o Weakness, fatigue
o Food sensitivity, allergies, and more.
Ongoing improper exocrine pancreatic function can cause a state of pancreatic exocrine insufficiency. Pancreatic exocrine insufficiency is a condition caused by a shortage of digestive enzymes. It is commonly associated with diseases such as irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), Celiac Disease, and Candida-yeast overgrowth. Pancreatic exocrine insufficiency can also be caused by acute pancreatitis and chronic pancreatitis the two most common diseases affecting the pancreas. Prolonged alcohol usage can also cause fewer digestive enzymes to be produced.
Pancreatic exocrine insufficiency can be developed as a symptom of the chronic pancreatitis, after some abdominal surgeries, and hereditary disorders such as cystic fibrosis.
If improper exocrine pancreatic function and pancreatic insufficiency are not addressed at an early enough stage, the patient might experience pancreatic failure. Pancreatic failure occurs when pancreatic function falls below 10% and causes severe metabolic disturbances, abrupt weight loss, and malabsorption syndrome.
Treatment of Pancreatic Problems
Treating improper exocrine pancreatic function, pancreatic insufficiency, and pancreatic failure is complicated. Treatment can require several different treatment methods performed by several different health practitioners. Treatment will almost certainly include an overhaul of the patient’s lifestyle, beginning with examining eating habits and addictions.
To help people with pancreatic conditions we have been successfully used non-drug and non-surgical methods for 30 years. They include:
o A diet of healing foods
o Drinking healing mineral water made from the Genuine Karlovy Vary Thermal Spring Salt (it is available in US)
o Botanical Medicine
o Acupuncture and Point Massage
o Nutritional Supplementation
o In office hypnosis, or self-hypnosis at home with a customized CD
o Colon Hydrotherapies to restore friendly intestinal flora
The above treatments are safe and effective and can be combined with medications, surgeries, endoscopic procedures, physical therapies, etc.
Furthermore, European doctors have been using Genuine Karlovy Vary Thermal Spring Salt to prepare healing mineral water and treat patients with pancreatic disorders for 250 years. Many European books and articles scientifically confirm the effectiveness of the mineral water treatment, and it is easy to use at home – the salt simply needs to be dissolved in a glass of warm water.
An Internet search of “Scientific explanation how the Karlovy Vary Healing Mineral Water may help people with pancreatic disorders” can give you more information about this topic. Information is also available at .
Alternative therapy can improve the quality of life and the life span for sufferers of pancreatic insufficiency, and even patients with pancreatic failure.
The information on this article is presented for educational, informational purposes only. It is not intended as a substitute for the diagnosis, treatment and advice of a qualified licensed professional.
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Source by Peter Melamed Ph.D.