What Does The Pancreas Do In The Digestive System?

The pancreas certainly warrants attention as far as diabetics are concerned, due to the connection that it has with the disease. But how many people really know what purpose the pancreas serves in relation to the digestive system?

There are two main functions of the pancreas. First, it is the organ that is responsible for producing and releasing the body's supply of insulin. Second, it produces powerful enzymes whose job is to break down foods such as carbs, proteins, and fats. It is also the second organ, after the stomach, that secretes a substance that helps to neutralize stomach acid.

The pancreas actually serves in two capacities: in the endocrine system and in the digestive system. In the endocrine system, it is responsible for producing four specific hormones that are used in various functions throughout the body.

In the digestive system it works by releasing liquids directly into the small intestine. They enter through the pancreatic duct which connects to the duodenum.

Once food reaches the duodenum, the pancreas receives signals that it is time to secrete enzymes. The three specific items that they go after, carbs, protein and fat, are crushed into trace elements that are then processed by the body.

Among these enzymes are lipase, carboxypeptidase, amylase, trypsin and chymotrypsin. Each enzyme has it's own targeted substance that it goes after. Carbs are attacked by amylase, protein is broken down by chymotrypsin and trypsin, and fat is left to the mercy of lipase.

Photo: Pexels

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