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Pancreas

How do you think your body is able to take the food you eat and break it down into tiny nutrients and vitamins? Well, the pancreas produces enzymes that help break down foods into carbohydrates, fats, and proteins.

An illustration showing the pancreas in the human body.

The Pancreas is behind the stomach.

Where is the pancreas?

The pancreas is half a foot in length and located at the back of your abdomen behind your stomach. The head of the pancreas connects to your small intestine. 

As you can see, the pancreas is lodged behind your stomach.

What does the pancreas do?

An illustration showing the human liver system.

This shows the liver as well as the pancreas. They all work together.

The pancreas has two main functions: it acts as a gland and secretes digestive enzymes and hormones. Some hormones, which are chemical messengers, include insulin and glucagon. These two hormones help to control your blood sugar.
 
Insulin keeps your body from making too much sugar. Glucagon keeps your body from not producing enough sugar. This is extremely important because a lot of the major organs in your body rely on sugars to function.
 
As mentioned before, the pancreas helps you to digest your food. It releases enzymes which break down your food so that your body can take it in as energy. It also maintains your acid levels in your stomach. You need acid to break food apart, but excess acid is not healthy for you.
 

Diseases in the pancreas

Unfortunately, the pancreas may also develop serious problems throughout your lifetime. However, it is possible to live without a pancreas by taking regular doses of insulin and other supplements.
 

The pancreas can develop cancer, which is extremely difficult to treat and often discovered far too late. Pancreatic cancers can be cured with surgery if the patient is healthy enough. This is the fourth most fatal type of cancer in the United States.

An illustration showing a ribbon for pancreatic cancer.

Pancreatic cancer is another disease that affects this organ.

 

Diabetes

Lastly, an inability for the body to produce insulin, or a malfunction of insulin, causes diabetes. Diabetes is a common disease all over the world.
 
Type 1 diabetes is when the pancreas cannot produce insulin. This causes your blood sugar level to be very high, which leads to serious problems. People suffering from type 1 diabetes need to continuously take insulin shots to keep up their blood sugar levels.
 

Type 2 diabetes is when the insulin your pancreas produces just doesn’t work like it’s supposed to. Some people with type 2 can stay healthy by eating well and exercising, but there are also medications that you can take. These medications improve your tissues so that your body does a better job of using insulin.

An image of a woman checking her blood sugar levels.

You have to constantly check your blood sugar levels when you have diabetes.