Understanding the pancreas

Understanding the pancreas

The pancreas is a flat, spongy gland that looks like a folded banana. It sits at the back of and on top of the stomach.

The role of the pancreas is to aid in digestion by making and releasing pancreatic juices and enzymes. When you eat, food in the stomach stimulates the pancreas to send juices into the intestine where food empties from the stomach. If fat is in the food, the juices mix with bile from the gallbladder before entering the intestine.  

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What is Digestion?

The first part of digestion occurs in the mouth when you chew food and mix it with saliva. This food mix enters the stomach where it is mixed with juices that break it down further, or digest, the food mix into smaller and smaller parts. After digestion in the stomach, the food moves into the intestine where nutrients from the food are absorbed.

Digestion starts when you eat, but digestion and absorption continue for hours afterwards. The food's nutrients cross from inside the intestine to inside the body, where the food becomes the fuel and building blocks the body needs to grow and live.