Diabetic ManEveryone is well aware of the job done by your heart, lungs, and brain. But do you know the function of your pancreas?

The chief purpose of the pancreas is to help your body process and digest foods. When it is not working properly or you overwork it by consuming too much sugar, you are at risk for Type 2 diabetes. Perhaps you have seen all the warnings about this issue and have wondered how easy it is to develop Type 2 diabetes.

Why is the pancreas important?

Not surprisingly, since it helps with food consumption, the pancreas is a member of your digestion structure. A popular joke says that those with diabetes are not sick; they just have a lazy pancreas. This is only partially true.

Although less than 12 inches long, this little organ does big things. Positioned behind your stomach, its job begins when incompletely digested food moves from your stomach to your small intestines. The pancreas releases insulin to aid in the management of sugars. Further through the process, the pancreas also discharges digestive juices, which act to separate other food types such as proteins and fats.

The pancreas is responsible for the production of insulin, which is a hormone that helps your body handle the sugars you ingest. It is one of several glands in your body that manufacture the various hormones that regulate everything from your energy level to your reproductive system. Other types of hormones include testosterone and estrogen, adrenaline, and cortisol.

In addition to diabetes, a failing pancreas can cause a condition called pancreatitis, marked by the organ being swollen or blocked. It is also possible to develop pancreatic cancer. Both these diseases cause pain and complications impacted by an inability to properly digest food.

What is Type 2 diabetes?

There has been a lot of attention recently on the food pyramid and what it should really look like on your plate. The human body requires a variety of foods to operate at its peak performance. Besides the vegetables, meats, and grains, you also need sugars, which your body converts to use for energy.

When your pancreas is malfunctioning or you devour more than it can handle, the excess sugar then begins to accumulate in your blood instead of being converted for use by your cells. This causes the condition known as diabetes.

What we call Type 2 diabetes is known by some people as adult-onset diabetes, since it was once seen only in adults who developed diabetes as a result of diet and lifestyle. However, physicians report diagnosing the disease in many more patients that are not yet adults; young children and teenagers who eat an increasing amount of unhealthy foods and do not get enough exercise.

According to the American Diabetes Association, tens of millions of people have Type 2 diabetes and thousands more represent a growing portion of the population that soon will, making it more common than the Type 1 designation.

Is it easy to develop Type 2 diabetes?

While it is acknowledged that Type 2 diabetes is more likely to afflict those who are Asian, African, or Native American, that does not mean you can rest easy if you are not a member of these groups. There are numerous factors that can lead to the occurrence of Type 2 diabetes.

People who have a higher-than-normal body mass index, couch potatoes, and those who suffer from hypertension face a greater risk of Type 2 diabetes. This makes sense given that the sugars you ingest are to be used for activities; if they are not, your body has extra sugars that have to be dealt with somehow.

Additionally, if you have been told that your cholesterol level is too high or that close relatives suffer from this disease, it is more likely that you will experience the same fate.

You should be aware that your chances of acquiring Type 2 diabetes increase if you gave birth to a baby weighing ten pounds or more. Age is also a factor that can boost your likelihood of getting Type 2 diabetes.

What are the different types of diabetes?

Diabetes is not always the result of being overweight or living a sedentary lifestyle. Some people are born with, or discover at a very young age, a pancreas that does not manufacture any insulin, making it different from Type 2 diabetes. Therefore, they have to get insulin into their body every day through injection or medication. This condition is labeled Type 1 diabetes.

Many otherwise healthy women also experience a situation called gestational diabetes. This happens only to expectant mothers as a result of the effect of pregnancy hormones on insulin production. Surprisingly, the condition disappears when the woman is no longer pregnant, but it does create an increased risk that she will become a candidate for Type 2 diabetes diagnoses in the future.