The Basics of the Pancreas and Its Hormones

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The Basics of the Pancreas and Its Hormones

If you aren’t really into biology, then you may be surprised to hear that the pancreas is responsible for some very important hormones. It does not just help with digestive enzymes, but is also responsible for the production and release of insulin, the hormone responsible for the breakdown of sugar and other foods. If the pancreas is not working properly, it could lead to a lot of problems with blood  sugar control as well as digestive issues within the body.

What makes the pancreas unique is that it functions as both endocrine and exocrine organ. It works in the endocrine system by releasing hormones like insulin, glucagon, pancreatic polypeptide, and somatostatin. Located in the abdominal cavity, the  pancreas is one of the most vital organs of the body.

The pancreas is divided into four parts, the head of pancreas, the neck of pancreas, the body of pancreas and the tail of pancreas. Did you know that diabetes can occur because there is something wrong with the pancreas? Yes, if the pancreas isn’t  functioning properly, it can lead to an inadequate amount of insulin production or no insulin production at all.

The part of pancreas that is endocrine in nature and produces hormones is known as islets of Langerhans. These are grape-like cell clusters that are responsible for the production of pancreatic hormones like insulin that help to control  blood sugar. These islet cells contain four different types of cells:

  • The alpha cells: These are the cells that comprise 20% of the islets and produce the hormone glucagon. Glucagon regulates blood glucose and is released in the blood when there is low blood sugar.
  • The beta cells: The beta cells are the ones that create and secrete the hormone insulin. It comprises 75% of the islets. Whenever the blood sugar level is high, insulin is automatically released into the blood streams.
  • The delta cells: These cells make up 4% of the islet cells and produce the hormones somatostatin and peptide hormones. The somatostatin hormone released by the pancreas is an inhibiting hormone and stops the release of insulin as well as glucagon.
  • The PP cells: Making up about 1% of the islet cells, the PP cells secrete pancreatic polypeptide hormone. It is believed that this hormone is responsible for the appetite as well as regulation of endocrine as well as exocrine secretions. This hormone is released when a person fasts or when food consumption needs to stop.

The Role of Insulin and Glucagon

It is the job of insulin to help in moving glucose from the blood to other parts of the body like the muscles and tissues. It also helps in releasing energy so that the body can function properly. Insulin also lets the  liver absorb all excess glucose and convert it to glycogen and store in the body for use during stressful situations.

The more sugar there is in blood, the more your  insulin levels will rise.  From fat cells to blood cells and muscles, all of them absorb glucose while insulin helps in its breakdown. Keep in mind that glucagon will never be released in blood streams if insulin is already present. This is the beauty of the pancreas, it knows when to release which hormones.

Glucagon is the hormone that is produced by pancreas in order to increase the supply of glucose from the body. As soon as the blood glucose levels go down, larger amounts of glucagon is secreted in the blood streams so as to get the glucose level to normal ranges again. Glucagon helps the liver in releasing stored glucose so that blood sugar levels can be maintained.

There is one other purpose of glucagon, it induces the liver and some other muscles to create glucose out of nutrients like proteins.

In order to avoid any kind of pancreatic disorder, you need to make sure that the diet you consume is full of all the nutrients required to keep the pancreas and its hormones healthy. Here is some advice from the National Pancreatic Foundation:

  • Avoid consuming alcohol as that damages the production of hormones as well as enzymes
  • Daily intake of fats should be no more than 20 grams per day
  • Consume good amounts of water so that the body remains well hydrated
  • Avoid smoking as that damages the health of the pancreas

Studies show that pancreas tends to regenerate itself if a person goes on a diet. This means that you consume lower amounts of calories than you are used to each day. This is said to be extremely beneficial for people who suffer from diabetes. The National Pancreatic Foundation states that people who have pancreatic issues or pain in their pancreas should observe fasting as that would help in improving their condition.  Please contact Health Solutions Plus and see if you would be a candidate for The DNA Uprint, 716-773-4707.

The Foundation suggests that people who have diabetes or other pancreatic disorders should take a clear liquid diet for 1-2 days that consists of apple juice, cranberry juice, grape juice, broth and gelatin. Keep in mind thought that the fast should not be observed for too long as it could lead to severe nutrient deficiency.  Once the fasting days are up, the person should consume a nutrient rich diet that is customized for them.

Also keep in mind that before you decide to keep any fasts or go on any kind of liquid diets, you need to talk to your doctor. If you already have diabetes, you will need to continue taking your medication with food. If there is any other kind of pancreatic problem, do not try any kind of remedy on your own without proper diagnosis or without meeting with your doctor.   As you start to take care of yourself, your body will begin to heal.  This takes time and patience.  Some people are able to get off their medications in conjunction with their doctor who originally prescribed it in the first place.  Make sure to keep an open line of communication with your doctor.


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