What is the pancreas?
Like the spleen and appendix, the role and functions of the pancreas are not widely known and understood by the general public. However, this little gland organ is a critical part of your body’s endocrine and digestive systems. Learning its purpose can help you to better understand the functions of your body as a whole!
Your pancreas is a part of your endocrine system, which is responsible for making the hormones that control and regulate changes in your body. These hormones act as chemical communicators, giving your body signals so that it works the way it needs to.
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The pancreas is located right behind the stomach and surrounded by other organs including the liver, spleen, and small intestine. It releases important hormones and enzymes that play a big part in digestion and blood sugar levels.
What does the pancreas do?
Glucose, or blood sugar, is your body’s main source of energy and is derived from the foods you eat. The pancreas helps regulate your body’s blood sugar levels by secreting insulin and glucagon to raise or lower your blood glucose, respectively.
Your pancreas is also part of the exocrine system. The pancreas produces enzymes that work with bile from the liver and gallbladder to help with digestion and ensure nutrients are properly absorbed into the body. These enzymes are responsible for a number of tasks, including digesting protein, breaking down carbohydrates, and breaking down fats into fatty acids and cholesterol.
Problems with your pancreas can be serious, including pancreatitis and pancreatic cancer. Keep your pancreas healthy by following a healthy diet and avoiding smoking and excessive alcohol use.