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Cellular respiration

Breaking down glucose (food) without oxygen to provide available energy for the cells. The glucose reacts with oxygen to produce energy in the form of ATP with carbon dioxide and water as waste products

Islets of Langerhans

Groups of pancreatic cells which make the hormones such as insulin which control the blood sugar levels.

Digestive system

The organ system in the body which breaks down large insoluble food molecules into small soluble molecules which can be used by the body


Energy producing organic compounds which are made of carbon, hydrogen and oxygen. Examples of food containing carbohydrate are rice, pasta, bread and potatoes


The biochemical process by which the cells in the body releases energy


Breaking down the large insoluble food molecules into small soluble molecules


A polysaccharide, (C6H10O5)n, that is stored in the liver and in muscles and can be converted back into glucose when needed by the body.


An endocrine gland which produces insulin


A chemical messenger produced by a particular gland or cells of the endocrine system. Hormones are transported throughout the body in the blood stream but they produce a response only in specific target cells


The main organ of the central nervous system made up mainly of grey matter


A large organ in the upper abdomen which manufactures, stores and breaks down substances as required by the body


A structure with a particular function which is made up of different tissues.

Insulin and blood sugar control

Controlling the blood sugar levels

When you digest a meal, particularly one which is high in carbohydrate foods such as bread, pasta and cakes, the level of glucose in your blood rises. Glucose is important to the cells of the body, particularly the brain and the muscles, as an energy source for cellular respiration. If you don't eat for a long time or take a lot of exercise the blood sugar levels could fall dangerously low. It is important that the level of glucose in your blood (often called the blood sugar level) is controlled so that it does not rise too high or fall too low. This control is brought about by the pancreas, an organ which makes enzymes for the digestive system and hormones to control the blood glucose levels.


Eating food raises your blood sugar levels - and carbohydrate foods like these make it rise particularly quickly.

Your pancreas constantly monitors and controls your blood sugar levels using two hormones. The best known of these is insulin. When your blood sugar levels rise after a meal your pancreas releases insulin. Insulin allows glucose to be taken into the cells of your body where it is used in cellular respiration. It also allows soluble glucose to be converted to an insoluble carbohydrate called glycogen which is stored in the liver and muscles.

Cells in the pancreas

Cells in the pancreas make enzymes which help with digestion - but other pancreatic cells (known as the Islets of Langerhans) make the hormones which control your blood glucose levels too.

When your blood sugar levels fall below the ideal level your pancreas releases a different hormone called glucagon. Glucagon makes your liver break down glycogen, converting it back into glucose which can be used by the cells.

Question 1