How Does Pancreas WorkPancreas, O Pancreas! It's the coolest organ/gland in your entire body! It's an organ! It's a gland! It's an endocrine AND exocrine gland! It's a orgland! Or is it a glagan? Seriously, we need a new word here, people. Unless your pancreas is busted/retired, this is how it's supposed to work:

What Does Your Pancreas Do?

Your pancreas produces hormones (endocrine gland, meaning stuff that goes into your blood) that go into the bloodstream that help turn food into energy. The pancreas also makes fluids that go directly into your digestive system (exocrine gland, meaning stuff that squirts directly into the body) to help break down food. The excocrine stuff is pancreatic juice and enzymes and the endocrine stuff includes hormones like insulin, glucagon and somatostatins. Also the pancreas has a ton of really fun nooks and crannies with colorful ye olde names like the Duct of Wirsung and the Islets of Langerhans, named after a bunch of dead anatomists:

Pancreas Parts

And if we can geek out a bit more, here is how one of the pancreas' most famous hormones -- insulin -- works inside your body to help you transform lunch into energy.

How Insulin Works

Well, the pancreas is one complicated organ, as you can see. I haven't even gone into the different types of cells and the different stuff they make: to summarize: alpha cells make glucagon, beta cells make insulin, delta cells make somatostatins. These graphics here are a mere pancreatic sampling of the wonders that lie just beneath your skin! For a deeper understanding of your pancreas, crack open that anatomy textbook and take a deeper dive into this amazing organ! And if you need funny diabetes gifts, you know we bring the pancreas party with the best gifts for your Diabetes Warrior.

 

Happy hormones all together! New enamel pins, from left to right: Testosterone, Insulin and Estrogen.

Because we are total nerds, Testosterone boasts a molecular model beard and Estrogen is sporting the molecular structure for estradiol, one of three types of estrogen made by humans. We especially love the beautiful form of the amino acid chain that comprises Insulin. Get in on this nerdy fashion action!

Insulin - How Insulin WorksInsulin is a hormone that helps turn food into energy. Insulin is released by beta cells in the Islets of Langerhans -- there are about a million of these iselts, or islands inside your pancreas! After you eat, sugar from food goes into the bloodstream. Insulin unlocks body cells so they can accept a special delivery of sugar (aka glucose). The cell transforms glucose into energy for you to run and play. When these islets don't make insulin, that's called diabetes, and it's a big bummer to those folks who have it!
Diabetes Gifts Diabetic Gift GuideNeed something special for your favorite pancreas-loving person? Sweet dreams do come true, fun new pancreatic goodies just arrived at the I Heart Guts Threadless Artist Shop -- including pancreas pillows, bags, zippered pouches ideal for holding your monitor, insulin pen, test strips and glucose goodies. Or whatever your heart desires!