ASK THE EXPERT: How to keep your pancreas functioning properly

Ask the Expert

GREENVILLE, S.C. (WSPA)– All organs have a part to play in keeping the body functioning. However, the heart, brain, lungs, stomach, and even the liver oftentimes steal the show– and are the most talked about.

As part of our “Ask the Expert” series, in partnership with Bon Secours St. Francis Health, 7NEWS’ Taylor Murray spoke with a primary care physician who shines a spotlight on the pancreas.

“The pancreas is a six-inch organ that lives in the abdomen near your liver and part of the small intestines. It’s nestled right behind and slightly below the stomach and in front of the spine.”

Dr. Steve Newman, Primary Care Physician, Bon Secours St. Francis Health

The pancreas plays an essential role in converting the food we eat into fuel for the body’s cells.

Primary Care Physician, Dr. Steve Newman, says your body can’t properly operate many vital systems without it.

“It plays a very important role in maintaining critical body functions, including, regulating glucose levels as well as assisting in the process of digestion.”

Dr. Steve Newman, Primary Care Physician, Bon Secours St. Francis Health

Sometimes accidents, injuries, or pancreatic cancer can lead to the removal of the organ. You can live without your pancreas, but only if you artificially replicate its functions.

“You’d have to be taking insulin, obviously, to prevent the blood sugar levels in your blood from becoming too high. You’d have to take pancreatic enzymes so that you could digest proteins, carbohydrates, and fats that you wouldn’t otherwise be able to,” Newman said.

Dr. Newman say’s there are things you can do to keep your pancreas functioning at full capacity, starting with a low fat diet & exercise.

“Eating lots of whole grains, fruits, and vegetables. Particularly broccoli, cauliflower, cabbage, and kale. All this helps with your pancreatic health… Get regular exercise. 20 to 30 minutes of exercise a day,” Newman said.

Also, limit how many alcoholic bevarages you consume.

“Alcohol is known to increase the risk for pancreatitis as well as pancreatic cancer,” Newman said.

Dr. Newman also says to put down the cigarettes and tobacco products.

“Matter of fact, about 20 to 30% of all pancreatic cancers can be linked directly to tobacco use.”

Dr. Steve Newman, Primary Care Physician, Bon Secours St. Francis Health

The most common conditions of pancreatic dysfunction are diabetes, pancreatitis or inflammation of the pancreas, and pancreatic cancer.

Doctor Newman reccomends a regular physical every year which will help to detect any pancreatic problems early on and lead to better outcomes.

To submit a health topic for our Ask the Expert series, click here.

Copyright 2021 Nexstar Media Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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