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Caffeine & the Pancreas

author image Jill Corleone, RDN, LD
Jill Corleone is a registered dietitian and health coach who has been writing and lecturing on diet and health for more than 15 years. Her work has been featured on the Huffington Post, Diabetes Self-Management and in the book "Noninvasive Mechanical Ventilation," edited by John R. Bach, M.D. Corleone holds a Bachelor of Science in nutrition.
Caffeine & the Pancreas
One cup of coffee has about 85 milligrams of caffeine.

Most people are not aware of the importance of the pancreas until something goes wrong with it, according to Johns Hopkins Medicine. The pancreas is a vital organ that plays a role in the digestion of food and the regulation of blood sugar. If your pancreas cannot function properly because of pancreatitis or diabetes, you may need to limit your caffeine intake.

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Caffeine stimulates your central nervous system and may help relieve short-term drowsiness. It is also a diuretic. Your body does not store caffeine, and it leaves the body several hours after it is consumed. Consuming too much caffeine may decrease bone density and increase fibrocystic disease in women. However, moderate amounts of caffeine are considered safe. The caffeine in three 8-ounce cups of coffee or five caffeinated soft drinks is considered a moderate amount.

Pancreatic Function

The pancreas is a gland made up of two parts, exocrine and endocrine. The exocrine system of the pancreas makes and secretes enzymes into your digestive system to help you digest the food you eat. Pancreatitis is a medical condition that affects the exocrine system of your pancreas, causing pain and maldigestion. The endocrine system makes and secretes hormones into your bloodstream, including insulin and glucagon, to help regulate blood sugar. A problem with the endocrine system can lead to diabetes.

Caffeine and Pancreatitis

Pancreatitis, the inflammation of your pancreas, can be acute or chronic. Gallstones are the most common cause of acute pancreatitis, and alcohol abuse is the most common cause of chronic pancreatitis. While the condition can sometimes resolve on its own, making changes to your diet can help improve pancreatic function and symptoms. Both the University of Maryland Medical Center, and the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Disorders recommend limiting your intake of caffeine as a method of treatment for pancreatitis.

Caffeine and Insulin

Caffeine affects insulin sensitivity, which may protect you from developing Type 2 diabetes, but if you already have diabetes it can cause a rise in blood glucose. A 2011 cross-sectional study published in "Diabetalogia" investigated the effects of caffeinated and decaffeinated coffee on insulin sensitivity in a group of non-diabetics. The study showed a positive relationship between caffeine and insulin sensitivity. A 2004 study published in the "Journal of Nutrition" tested the effects of caffeine on insulin sensitivity and blood sugar in a group of men with Type 2 diabetes. This study found that while caffeine increased blood insulin levels, it did not improve blood sugars. In fact, blood sugars were elevated following the ingestion of caffeine.

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