FACTS: The pancreas lies behind the stomach and has two distinct roles. As an endocrine gland, it makes the hormones insulin and glucagon to control sugar levels. As an exocrine gland, the pancreas produces powerful juices packed with enzymes for digestion of carbohydrates, proteins and fats. Each day 1.5 liters of pancreatic juice flow into the small intestine.
Pancreatic beta cells produce insulin. These cells are found in the islets of Langerhans, patches of tissue in the pancreas. When blood sugar levels rise, beta cells release insulin which causes fat and muscle cells to begin absorbing the excess sugar. As a result, glucose returns to healthy levels and the sugar is stored for later use as a cellular energy source.