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  • Beneath your ribs, you'll find, among other things, the pancreas, an organ that works a lot like a personal health coach.

  • This organ controls your sugar levels and produces a special juice that releases the nutrients from your food to help keep you in the best possible shape.

  • The pancreas sits just behind your stomach, an appropriate home, as one of its jobs is to break down the food you eat.

  • It aids digestion by producing a special tonic made of water, sodium bicarbonate, and digestive enzymes.

  • Sodium bicarbonate neutralizes the stomach's natural acidity, so these digestive enzymes can perform their jobs.

  • Lipase breaks down fatty substances, protease splits up proteins, and amylase divides carbohydrates to create energy-rich sugars.

  • Most of those nutrients then get absorbed into the blood stream, and go on to enrich the body.

  • While all this is happening, the pancreas works on another critical task, controlling the amount of sugar in your blood.

  • It achieves this with the hormones insulin and glucagon, which are produced in special cells called the Islets of Langerhans.

  • Having too much or too little sugar can be life threatening, so the pancreas must stay on constant alert.

  • After a big meal, the blood often becomes flushed with sugar.

  • To bring us back to normal, the pancreas releases insulin, which makes the excess sugar move into cells, where it's either used as an energy source, or stored for later.

  • Insulin also tells the liver to shut down sugar production.

  • On the other hand, if blood sugar is low, the pancreas releases a hormone called glucagon that tells the body's cells and liver to release stored sugars back into the bloodstream.

  • The interplay between insulin and glucagon is what keeps our sugar levels balanced.

  • But a faulty pancreas can no longer coach us like this, meaning that this healthy balance is destroyed.

  • If it's weakened by disease, the organ's ability to produce insulin may be reduced, or even extinguished, which can trigger the condition known as diabetes.

  • Without regular insulin release, sugar steadily builds up in the blood, eventually hardening the blood vessels and causing heart attacks, kidney failure, and strokes.

  • The same lack of insulin deprives cells of the energy-rich sugar they need to grow and function.

  • People with diabetes also tend to have higher levels of glucagon, which makes even more sugar circulate.

  • Without this internal health coach, our sugar levels would go haywire, and we wouldn't be able to digest important nutrients.

  • But like any coach, it's not the pancreas' job alone to keep us healthy.

  • It needs our conscious participation, too.

Beneath your ribs, you'll find, among other things, the pancreas, an organ that works a lot like a personal health coach.

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B2 US TED-Ed pancreas insulin blood bicarbonate organ

【TED-Ed】What does the pancreas do? - Emma Bryce

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