The pancreas is both an endocrine and exocrine organ that can be found near your stomach and small intestine. As an endocrine gland, the pancreas is responsible for the production and secretion of two hormones, insulin and glucagon, that work together to regulate the level of glucose or sugar in the bloodstream.
When the level of blood sugar rises, insulin is secreted to lower it. On the other hand, when the blood sugar is low, glucagon is secreted to raise it.
Insulin has the added duty of converting glucose into energy which the body can use to function well. Without insulin, glucose remains in the blood stream making it impossible for the body to draw energy from it. As a consequence, energy levels may drop, the blood vessels may become damaged, and the health of the other organs such as the eyes, heart, liver and kidney may be compromised and diabetes may occur.
As an exocrine gland, the pancreas supports the digestive system by producing digestive enzymes. When you consume a meal, the central nervous system sends signals to the pancreas that food is about to be digested. The pancreas responds by producing inactive enzymes.
When partially digested food or chyme enters the duodenum, it stimulates the secretion of and activates pancreatic juices inside the small intestine. These enzymes are responsible for breaking down fatty acids, protein and carbohydrates before they enter the bloodstream.
Sometimes, due to alcohol abuse, the pancreatic enzymes are not secreted and attack the pancreas. This may lead to inflammation of the pancreas and the body's failure to absorb food nutrients. Depending on the duration and frequency of the inflammation, the condition could be an acute or a chronic case of pancreatitis.
Adjustments to one's diet and lifestyle may greatly help in the prevention of pancreatic dysfunction. These include: