It is a "silent," solid organ positioned behind the stomach in the upper part of the abdomen. The body's main digestive organ, the pancreas is composed of different cells that serve distinct functions. Some cells produce digestive "juices" or enzymes, while the others produce hormones. The pancreatic enzymes break down the three types of nutritional elements: Protease digests proteins; lipase digests fat; and amylase digests carbohydrates. Once manufactured, the digestive enzymes empty into channels (ducts), eventually draining into the first part of the small intestine, called the duodenum. Food that passes through the duodenum stimulates the pancreas to produce digestive enzymes. The most important hormone the pancreas produces is insulin, which controls the amount of glucose in our bloodstream. When an insufficient amount of insulin is secreted, the body's cells are unable to take in glucose, which raises glucose levels in the bloodstream and may ultimately lead to diabetes (though it is not the principal cause of diabetes). In addition to insulin, the pancreas makes other hormones, all of which pass into the blood that flows through the organ (not through the ducts used by the enzymes).
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