The pancreas has two jobs
Emily B Austin was an intern with Nutrition4Kids and a student at University of Georgia when she wrote this series of articles on the pancreas.
Emily B Austin, Stan Cohen
The pancreas is perhaps one of the most important organs in the body. It makes and releases the hormone insulin, which controls the sugar that is used for energy in our body and brain. It also makes the enzymes and fluid that helps digest our food.
Making insulin and other important hormones is known as the pancreas' endocrine function. If the pancreas is unable to produce enough insulin to meet the body's needs, diabetes is the result.
Other cells in the pancreas produce a clear digestive fluid, known as pancreatic juice, containing enzymes that help digest your food. This is called the exocrine function of the pancreas. When there's not enough pancreatic enzymes, exocrine pancreatic insufficiency or EPI can result.
An enzyme is a type of protein that stimulates chemical reactions in the body. The enzymes in the pancreatic juice move into the small intestine, where they break down and digest specific substances in food. Without these enzymes, our bodies would not be able to properly breakdown food and absorb its nutrients.
A hormone is a molecule that promotes tissues into action. These include insulin, thyroid hormone, growth hormone and the sex hormones.
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