The Pancreas

The pancreas is a small but very important organ. It lives in your abdominal cavity tucked behind your stomach in the nook of the first part of the small bowel. It has two main roles within the body; it is both an exocrine and endocrine organ.

The exocrine role of the pancreas is part of the digestive system. When we eat a meal the pancreas will release digestive enzymes into the first part of the small bowel (the duodenum) to meet the food as it is transiting down the gastrointestinal tract. The enzymes include:
Amylase – to break down carbohydrates
Lipase – to break down fats
Trypsin – to break down proteins

If there is a problem with the exocrine pancreas then proper digestion of foods and nutrients may be impaired.

The endocrine function of the pancreas is to maintain normal blood sugar levels in the body. Insulin is a hormone which is released from cells called the ‘islets of Langerhans’ in the pancreas and helps to lower our blood sugar to keep the levels within a normal range. Glucagon is another hormone that is also released from the pancreas and helps to increase the blood sugars when they are too low.

Type 1 Diabetes occurs when the islet cells become damaged and cannot produce enough insulin to regulate the blood sugar levels. A person will need to take insulin injections to manage their blood sugar levels if they have Type 1 Diabetes.

Type 2 Diabetes occurs when the body becomes resistant to the insulin that the pancreas releases. As ‘insulin resistance’ occurs the pancreas tries harder to release more insulin to normalise the blood sugar. ‘Insulin resistance’ is part of the Metabolic Syndrome and Type 2 Diabetes. Some medications for Type 2 Diabetes can help the body to make more, and respond to, the natural insulin your pancreas is producing. In some instances, Type 2 Diabetics may progress to needing insulin injections as well.

At MedSurg Weight Loss we perform metabolic health assessments and can ascertain if you are at risk of Metabolic Syndrome or Type 2 Diabetes, and importantly, we can help you to treat these conditions if they are present.