The Role and Anatomy of the Pancreas

The pancreas is an important organ in

the digestive system it is located in the upper abdomen directly behind the

stomach and next to the small intestine in most adults it is between six and ten

inches long and two inches wide the pancreas is comprised primarily of a

network of tubes or pancreatic ducts that release liquids into the upper

portion of the small intestine called the duodenum anatomically the pancreas

is divided into three regions the head the body and the tail

the pancreas has two functions endocrine and exocrine it's endocrine function is

to produce the chemicals or hormones that regulate blood sugar such as

insulin it's exocrine function is to produce enzymes

that help to digest food pancreatic amylase breaks down carbohydrates or

starches into glucose proteases break down protein into amino acids and

lipases break down fats because these digestive enzymes are so powerful they

are wrapped in a protective layer while they are in the pancreas to reach the

gastrointestinal tract the digestive enzymes travel through the pancreatic

ducts and are eventually released into the duodenum at the major papilla also

known as the ampulla of Vater once they are completely out of the pancreas the

protective layer is removed and the enzymes become active bile from the

gallbladder also enters the duodenum at the major papilla

bile breaks apart fat into smaller fat droplets which are easier for lipase to

digest when the pancreas is healthy it

contributes to a healthy digestive system

however when our pancreas does not function correctly and is unwell we can

have trouble digesting food properly or maintaining our blood sugar in a healthy

range the consequences of an unwell pancreas may include diarrhea bloating

flatulence oily and foul-smelling stool weight loss malnutrition poor blood

sugar control and diabetes heavy alcohol consumption high-fat diets

eating large meals being overweight and tobacco products can put stress on your

pancreas causing it to work less well there are also some genetic conditions

that affect the pancreas notably cystic fibrosis

to help keep your pancreas healthy eat a very diet that is rich in fruits and

vegetables include fish and white meats as favorite sources of protein limit

high-fat foods and alcohol to special occasions maintain a healthy weight and

watch your cholesterol and triglyceride levels