Pop quiz: Do you know where your pancreas is? Or what it does? Registered nurse Candice Rosen, author of The Pancreatic Oath, is on a mission to educate people about the often-overlooked gland located between the stomach and spine. The gland secretes digestive juices and releases hormones to help the body regulate the glucose it takes from food for energy. Because of its vital function, a healthy pancreas is the key to overall wellness, Rosen believes. “If people took the pancreas seriously and ate to protect it, there would be no need for World Diabetes Day,” she says. “Type 2 Diabetes is not a disease, it’s a consequence.” Protecting your pancreas, by eating in a way that doesn’t make it work overtime, may prevent diabetes and other life-threatening health conditions and can even help you reach and maintain your optimal weight, she explains.
Here are a few simple “self-health” steps Rosen recommends to start caring for your pancreas today:
- Eliminate sugar and artificial sweeteners. For example, swap sugary fruit juices and sodas for water or unsweetened iced tea. Treat dessert as a celebration and indulge only once a week, instead of after most meals, and share with a friend.
- Decrease alcohol intake. When you do have a cocktail, follow it with a glass of water or unsweetened ice tea before you have another.
- Eat whole foods instead of processed foods.
- Be sure to get plenty of leafy greens like kale, Swiss chard and spinach.
- Decrease or eliminate fast food.
- Know your body. Weight loss is not “one size fits all”—everyone’s body reacts differently to the foods they eat, Rosen says. She recommends eating meals that keep your blood glucose levels between 70 and 100, as measured on a glucometer.