The pancreas isn’t the sexiest organ, but it has a critical job producing insulin, and thereby regulating blood sugar levels. (It also creates enzymes that help your body metabolize all kinds of fats and proteins, but that’s not the function we’re concerned with here.)
When the pancreas begins losing its ability to produce insulin properly, it’s a problem for the body. The most common and familiar resulting condition is diabetes.
Luckily, there are lifestyle changes we can make to help boost the effectiveness of the pancreas. One of those changes is dietary. Here are seven superfoods recommended by Luke Coutinho, M.D. for boosting pancreatic performance.
Red cabbage is red because of its betalains, which are a natural boost for insulin production.
Okra, also known as Lady’s Finger, offers two simultaneous effects for assisting the pancreas. First, it is loaded up with dietary fiber. Dietary fiber helps stabilize blood sugar levels. It also make it easier for the pancreas to secrete insulin once it is produced.
The second effect comes from the seeds, which contain alpha-glucosidase inhibitors. These inhibitors don’t let starches become sugars.
Sometimes called karela or bitter melon, this vegetable has earned its name. Considered the most bitter of all fruits and vegetables, bitter gourd contains substances that stimulate the pancreas. Mix one tablespoon of its juice with one tablespoon of gooseberry juice to enable insulin secretion without medicine.
There are all kinds of alkaloids that regular people don’t know by name. One example is trigonelline, which can be found in fenugreek seeds. Trigonelline reduces blood sugar levels.
Soak seeds overnight so that they sprout and they can be added into salads. They can also be powdered and mixed into tea.
A natural extract found within Tumeric, curcumin stimulates beta cells directly. Because beta cells are the only ones that produce insulin, curcumin is like a switch for boosting insulin production. It works by shutting down phosphodiesterase activity.
Because it tastes so good, cinnamon is an easy spice to add into your diet. It helps your body by making cells more sensitive to insulin, allowing them to open up and accept the glucose in your blood. What’s more is that it acts similarly to insulin itself.
The insulin plant, scientifically known as costus igneus, boosts insulin production by jumpstarting the pancreas’ beta cells. Its leaves also have corosolic acid, another substance that naturally prompts the pancreas to create insulin.
There are actually other great benefits too. Chewing one or two leaves from the insulin plant each day can also have anti-cancerous, diuretic, antioxidant, and hypolipidemic effects!
Frequently Asked Questions about Insulin
What is insulin’s chemical structure?
Put simply, insulin is a peptide hormone that is flush with proteins. Wikipedia puts it more scientifically:
The human insulin protein is composed of 51 amino acids, and has a molecular mass of 5808 Da. It is a dimer of an A-chain and a B-chain, which are linked together by disulfide bonds. Insulin’s structure varies slightly between species of animals.
What is insulin’s physiological role?
Insulin helps control blood sugar (glucose) levels. It signals to the liver, as well as muscle and fat cells, that it’s time to “open up” and receive some of the sugar floating around in your blood. If they have enough, it tells the liver to stockpile the glucose as glycogen.
When sugar levels get too high or too low, an individual can experience dizziness, fainting, and even death. This is particularly concerning for diabetics.
Which cells produce insulin?
Insulin is produced in a very specific part of the body. It is created by the beta cells in the islets of Langerhans within the pancreas. Insulin production is the primary role of the pancreas.
What is liver insulin?
Because insulin and the liver have an important relationship, people sometimes conclude that the liver makes insulin, or that there is a specific “liver insulin” in your body. That’s not true.
The liver looks at your body’s insulin levels to determine which of its many functions to perform. If your muscle and fat cells have gathered up enough of the glucose in your blood, the liver starts collecting and storing it as glycogen. Glycogen can later be released as energy if you encounter a food shortage.
What kinds of insulin are there?
Some medical professionals say that there are three types of insulin, but it is safe to say that there are four. Here they are:
Each has an increasing window of time required to make its way into the bloodstream, and an increasingly long window of time during which it can continue to help control blood sugar. The slower the absorption rate, the longer it lasts.
Long- and intermediate-acting insulins are used as part of a daily regimen. Rapid- and short-acting insulins are supplementary, and usually taken before meals when blood sugar levels fluctuate.
What type of insulin is Lantus?
Lantus is a long-lasting, man-made form of insulin that can be used medicinally to help control blood sugar in people with diabetes mellitus.
What are the uses for Lantus?
Lantus is a long-acting form of man-made insulin that can be used to treat diabetes by helping to regulate blood sugar levels for 18-26 hours per dose. It can help establish a strong baseline of balanced levels when used properly.
What is another name for Lantus?
Lantus may be known generally as insulin glargine. It could also be known as Toujeo, Basaglar, or Abasaglar, some of the other names under which it has been marketed.
Where can I get short-acting Lantus insulin?
You cannot. There is no short-acting Lantus insulin.