what athletes should know about pancreas organ

What is pancreas and what does it do inside our body?

This gland organ is about the size of your hands and located in your upper left abdomen. It is surrounded by other organs including the small intestine, liver, and spleen. It is spongy, about six to ten inches long, and is shaped like a flat pear or a fish extended horizontally across the abdomen.

The central section of the pancreas is called the neck or body and The head is the wide part of pancreas which is positioned toward the center of the abdomen. The head of the pancreas is located at the juncture where the stomach meets the first part of the small intestine. This is where the stomach empties partially digested food into the intestine, and the pancreas releases digestive enzymes into these contents.

The head of the pancreas is along the curve of your duodenum, the first part of the small intestine just beyond the stomach. Several major blood vessels surround the pancreas, the superior mesenteric artery, the superior mesenteric vein, the portal vein and the celiac axis, supplying blood to the pancreas and other abdominal organs.

You can live without a pancreas. If the entire pancreas is removed, there would be no insulin-producing cells to control the blood sugar levels. This can lead to diabetes, which may be hard to manage because it requires insulin shots. People may also have to take certain pancreatic enzyme pills to help them digest certain foods.

Intense pancreatic pain is usually associated with acute pancreatitis. It can be hard to identify pancreas pain and evaluate pancreas diseases because the organ sits deep in the abdomen, according to The National Pancreas Association. Other signs that the pain may be pancreatic include jaundice, itchy skin and unexplained weight loss. If you are experiencing pancreas pain, consult your doctor.

The pancreas has two main functions: help with digestion by making enzymes to digest proteins, fats, and carbs in the intestines and control blood sugar by producing the hormones insulin and glucagon. so pancreas has an endocrine function because it releases juices directly into the bloodstream, and it has an exocrine function because it releases juices into ducts.

Pancreas help with digestion by secreting enzymes into your digestive tract to digest fats, carbs and protein (Exocrine system).

Around 95% of pancreas consists of exocrine tissue that produces pancreatic enzymes for digestion. During digestion, your pancreas makes pancreatic juices called enzymes. Enzymes, or digestive juices, are secreted by the pancreas into the small intestine. There, it continues breaking down food that has left the stomach. These enzymes break down sugars, fats, and starches. Pancreatic hormones help regulate your blood sugar levels and appetite, stimulate stomach acids, and tell your stomach when to empty.

When food enters the stomach, these pancreatic juices are released into a system of ducts that culminate in the main pancreatic duct. The pancreatic duct joins the common bile duct to form the ampulla of Vater which is located at the first portion of the small intestine, called the duodenum. The common bile duct originates in the liver and the gallbladder and produces another important digestive juice called bile. a healthy pancreas normally makes about 2.2 pints (1 liter) of multiple enzymes each day.

Pancreas contains exocrine glands that produce three main enzymes

  • Protease(Trypsin and chymotrypsin): This enzyme breaks down proteins in your diet. It also helps protect you from germs that may live in your intestines, like certain bacteria and yeast. Undigested proteins can cause allergic reactions in some people.
  • Amylase: It helps to break down starch into sugar, which is then converted to energy to meet the body’s demand. Undigested carbohydrates can cause diarrhea.
  • Lipase: This enzyme works together with bile, which your liver produces, to break down fat in your diet. If you don’t have enough lipase, your body will have trouble absorbing fat and the important fat-soluble vitamins (A, D, E, K). Symptoms of poor fat absorption include diarrhea and fatty bowel movements.

Pancreas help with blood sugar equilibrium by secreting hormones, including the blood sugar-regulating hormones: insulin and glucagon (Endocrine system).

Only around 5% of pancreas consists of endocrine cells called islets of Langerhans. These clusters of cells look like grapes and produce hormones that regulate blood sugar and regulate pancreatic secretions. hormones are chemical messengers that travel through your blood.

pancreas produce 4 major hormones related to digestion

  • Insulin: This hormone is produced in the beta cells of the pancreas and helps the body to use sugar as the energy source. Lack of insulin can increase blood sugar levels in the blood and cause serious diseases such as diabetes.
  • Glucagon: Alpha cells produce the hormone glucagon. If blood sugar gets too low, glucagon helps to increase it by sending a message to the liver to release the stored sugar.
  • Amylin: A hormone called amylin is made in the beta cells of the pancreas. This helps in controlling our appetite (eating behavior).
  • Gastrin: it is primarily made in the G cells in your stomach, but some is made in the pancreas, too. It stimulates your stomach to make gastric acid.

Tips on How to keep our pancreas healthy

  • do not over consume on fats: Fats and cholesterol can contribute to the development of gallstones, which can lead to pancreatitis. A very high triglyceride level in the bloodstream can cause pancreatitis. Eat lots of whole grains, fruits, and vegetables, especially broccoli, cauliflower, or cabbage. Avoid eating too many fried foods or high-fat dairy products.
  • get to a healthy BMI number: Get regular exercise (20 to 30 minutes a day), and maintain a healthy weight to prevent diabetes mellitus and gallstones that may lead to pancreatitis as well as to improve your overall physical health.
  • do not do fad diets: Your liver may accumulate to much fat when you follow these extreme diet plans, which increases your risk of developing gallstones.
  • Don’t drink alcohol too often or too much: Alcohol is known to increase your risk of pancreatitis and pancreatic cancer.
  • Don’t smoke cigarettes: Any type of tobacco product can increase your risk of cancer throughout your body, including your pancreas. Between 20 and 30% of pancreatic cancer cases are linked to tobacco use.
  • stay active everyday: Pancreatic cancer is hard to detect in its early stages. If you’re found to be at higher risk, get your pancreas regularly screened for cancer at an annual physical to catch it early before the cancerous cells increase and spread.

foods to avoid for pancreas health

Foods rich in fats can cause pancreatitis. Constant intake of sugary foods is also known to affect the beta cells. Foods that may irritate the pancreas include:

  • Red meat
  • Organ meat
  • French fries
  • Potato chips
  • Mayonnaise
  • Margarine and butter
  • Full-fat dairy
  • Pastries
  • Sugary drinks

pancreatic supplementation

Many illnesses of the pancreas may cause it to function improperly. Most pancreatic supplements contain digestive enzymes. These aid the pancreas when it’s working insufficiently and not producing enough of its own natural enzymes to help with digestion. These are created as an alternative for more major mainstream approaches for treating pancreatic issues, like surgery, radiation therapy, and others. Other health issues might also interfere with the number of digestive enzymes the pancreas (or gallbladder, liver, or other organ) naturally produces. There are many pancreatic supplements on the market to improve pancreatic function.

The main diseases related to pancreatic malfunction are pancreatitis, pancreatic cancer, and diabetes.

  • Type 1 diabetes: an autoimmune disease. It occurs when the immune system attacks and destroys the beta cells in the pancreas so that they can no longer produce insulin. The exact cause remains unknown, but it may be due to genetic and environmental factors, including viruses.
  • Type 2 diabetes: The body becomes resistant to insulin, causing blood sugar rises. The pancreas eventually loses the ability to appropriately produce and release insulin, leading to a need for synthetic insulin.
  • Cystic fibrosis: A genetic disorder that affects multiple body systems, usually including the lungs and the pancreas. Digestive problems and diabetes often result.
  • Pancreatic cancer: The pancreas has many different types of cells, each of which can give rise to a different type of tumour. The most common type arises from the cells that line the pancreatic duct. Because there are usually few or no early symptoms, pancreatic cancer is often advanced by the time it’s discovered. The exact cause of pancreatic cancer is still unknown, but there are known risk factors that increase the risk of developing the disease. Cigarette smoking, a family history of pancreatic cancer or hereditary cancer syndromes, and chronic pancreatitis are some of these factors. In addition, certain pancreatic lesions such as Intraductal Papillary Mucinous Neoplasms (IPMNs) and Pancreatic Intraepithelial Neoplasia (PanIN) are considered precursors to pancreatic cancer.
  • Pancreatitis: Pancreatitis happens when the pancreas becomes inflamed. It is often very painful. In pancreatitis, the digestive enzymes your pancreas make attack your pancreas and cause severe abdominal pain. The main cause of acute pancreatitis is gall stones blocking the common bile duct. Too much alcohol can cause pancreatitis that does not clear up. This is known as chronic pancreatitis. Pancreatitis affects digestion because enzymes are not available. This leads to diarrhoea, weight loss, and malnutrition. About 90% of the pancreas must stop working to cause these symptoms.
  • Chronic pancreatitis: is a persistent inflammation (greater than three weeks) of the pancreas that causes permanent damage. The condition is often caused by routine alcohol consumption.
  • Hereditary pancreatitis: can happen if there is an inherited problem in the pancreas or the intestine. A person under 30 years of age may experience repeated acute pancreatitis, leading to a chronic condition.
  • Pancreatic pseudocyst: After a bout of pancreatitis, a fluid-filled cavity called a pseudocyst can form. Pseudocysts may resolve spontaneously, or they may need surgical drainage.
  • Islet cell tumour: The hormone-producing cells of the pancreas multiply abnormally, creating a benign or cancerous tumour. These tumours produce excess amounts of hormones and then release them into the blood. Gastrinomas, glucagonomas, and insulinomas are examples of islet cell tumours.
  • Enlarged pancreas: An enlarged pancreas is rare. It may be a harmless anatomic abnormality or it may be a sign of autoimmune pancreatitis.

how pancreas disease is treated

  • Insulin: Injecting insulin under the skin causes body tissues to absorb glucose, lowering blood sugar. Insulin can be created in a lab or purified from animal sources.
  • Pseudocyst drainage: A pseudocyst can be drained by inserting a tube or needle through the skin into the pseudocyst. Alternately, a small tube or stent is placed between either the pseudocyst and the stomach or the small intestine, draining the cyst.
  • Pseudocyst surgery: Sometimes, surgery is necessary to remove a pseudocyst. Either laparoscopy (multiple small incisions) or laparotomy (one larger incision) may be needed.
  • Pancreatic cancer resection (Whipple procedure): The standard surgery to remove pancreatic cancer. In a Whipple procedure, a surgeon removes the head of the pancreas, the gallbladder, and the first section of the small intestine (the duodenum). Occasionally, a small part of the stomach is also removed.
  • Pancreatic enzymes: People with cystic fibrosis or chronic pancreatitis often must take oral pancreatic enzymes to replace those that the malfunctioning pancreas doesn’t make.
  • Pancreas transplantation: An organ donor’s pancreas is transplanted into someone with diabetes or cystic fibrosis. In some patients, a pancreas transplant cures diabetes.
  • Islet cell transplantation: Insulin-producing cells are harvested from an organ donor’s pancreas and transplanted into someone with type 1 diabetes. The still-experimental procedure can potentially cure type 1 diabetes.
  • Pancreatic stenting/pancreatic endotherapy: A stent may be placed in a narrow or blocked pancreatic duct to widen it or to drain extra fluid. It is also used to relieve pain.
what is Artificial pancreas?

When a person’s pancreas isn’t functioning properly or has to be removed, doctors may replace or supplement it with an artificial pancreas. These devices that automatically monitor blood glucose and provide the appropriate insulin doses are often called closed-loop systems, automated insulin delivery systems, or autonomous systems for glycemic control, according to the Food and Drug Administration.

In a 2014 study published in the journal The Lancet Diabetes & Endocrinology, researchers found that an artificial pancreas offer people with type 1 diabetes a reliable way to keep glucose levels in check, when compared to other treatments. “Our study confirms that both artificial pancreas systems improve glucose control and reduce the risk of hypoglycemia compared to conventional pump therapy,” study author Ahmad Haidar, of Institut de Recherches Cliniques de Montreal, said in a statement.