A Healthy Pancreas
A healthy pancreas produces chemicals to digest the food we eat.
The exocrine tissues secrete a clear, watery, alkaline juice that contains several enzymes. These break down food into small molecules that can be absorbed by the intestines.
The enzymes include:
- trypsin and chymotrypsin to digest proteins
- amylase to break down carbohydrates
- lipase, to break down fats into fatty acids and cholesterol
The endocrine portion, or islets of Langerhans, secrete insulin and other hormones.
Pancreatic beta cells release insulin when blood sugar levels rise.
- moves glucose from the blood into muscles and other tissues, for use as energy
- helps the liver absorb glucose, storing it as glycogen in case the body needs energy during stress or exercise
When blood sugar falls, pancreatic alpha cells release the hormone glucagon.
Glucagon causes glycogen to be broken down into glucose in the liver.
The glucose then enters the bloodstream, restoring blood sugar levels to normal.