What is a Pancreas.....?

Okay, I have Type 1 Diabetes.  My pancreas no longer produces insulin and I have to give myself injections anytime I want eat — but what does REALLY this mean?

I feel most people don't fully understand the function of the Pancreas — non-diabetic or diabetic. It's scary when someone is diabetic and is still clueless as to what the heck is going on with their body (or not going on with it). 

While I am still learning, here is my best overview of the: PANCREAS.

Because the pancreas isn’t seen or felt in our day to day lives we just accept the wonderful fact that it keeps our body functioning the way it is supposed to.

Lose that wonderful functioning, and it's importance is brought to light. 

The primary role of your pancreas is to make enzymes to digest proteins, fats, and carbs in the intestines, and produces the hormones insulin and glucagon.

Soooooooo what does this mean? 

If you are non-diabetic 👉 You eat. Your pancreas releases digestive enzymes to breakdown your food. Your glucose level in your blood rises  (based on how much/what you eat), which then triggers the pancreas to make insulin - which is then released into the bloodstream.  This is how your body transforms glucose into energy. 

 

  Non-Diabetic Blood Sugar Levels throughout the day (50-400mg/DL). 

Non-Diabetic Blood Sugar Levels throughout the day (50-400mg/DL). 

If your Type 1 diabetic 👉 You eat.  Your pancreas releases digestive enzymes to breakdown your food. Your glucose level in your blood rises  (based on how much/what you eat), but then the pancreas fails to make insulin. Glucose stays in the bloodstream (slow acting poison). Levels remain high until properly treated. If left untreated (i.e. if insulin is not injected), kidney failure, nerve damage, poor circulation, weakened immune system, or even death will/can emerge. 

  Type 1 Diabetic Blood Sugar Levels through out the day   (50-400mg/DL). 

Type 1 Diabetic Blood Sugar Levels through out the day (50-400mg/DL). 

The cause of Type 1 is unknown. The body's own immune system — which normally fights harmful bacteria and viruses — mistakenly destroys the insulin-producing (islet) cells in the pancreas.

As you can see from the charts, Type 1 diabetics face roller coaster blood sugar levels (next blog post!) quite frequently. This can be exhausting (mentally and physically).   It's almost impossible to keep well controlled blood sugars unless your fueling your body with foods that have minimal affect on your blood sugar.. As Type 1's, we cannot mimic the exact science of the pancreas. While this disease is considered controllable, it takes constant work and sacrifice to obtain semi-regular blood sugars. 

Without understanding the role of our Pancreas,  it is really hard to know why we should fuel our body with healthy choices.  If us Type 1 diabetics can't succumb to the full time job of properly controlling our blood sugar levels 24/7, we are inviting the short and long-term complications that will occur.

The better we understand our body's functions, the greater longing we will have to make it HAPPY.  

 

 

P.S. I can't forget about Type 2 Diabetes.  Type 2 diabetes is a metabolic disorder and accounts for the vast majority of people with diabetes (95%). Apart from genetics and other underlying illnesses and conditions, poor eating habits and physical inactivity are the primary causes of Type 2. 👉  Excess body fat, and the consumption of refined foods and drinks can cause inflammation in the body leading to insulin resistance. Type 2's still produce insulin, their body is just unable to use the insulin right away.  Changing diet and lifestyle can almost always reverse type 2 diabetes (depending on the severity).