Insulin: The Key to Blood Sugar Control
How Insulin Works
After you eat a meal, your blood sugar level rises. This triggers the pancreas to release insulin into the bloodstream. Insulin travels to cells throughout the body and binds to receptors on the cell surface. This binding activates a series of events that leads to the uptake of glucose from the bloodstream into the cell.
Effects of Insulin on the Body
Insulin has a number of effects on the body, including:
- Regulating blood sugar levels: Insulin helps to keep blood sugar levels within a normal range. After you eat a meal, your blood sugar level rises. Insulin helps to bring blood sugar levels back down to normal by signaling cells to take up glucose from the bloodstream.
- Promoting energy production: Glucose is the body's main source of energy. Insulin helps cells to take up glucose from the bloodstream and use it for energy production.
- Storing glucose for later use: When there is more glucose in the bloodstream than the body needs immediately, insulin helps to store glucose in the liver and muscles. This stored glucose can be used for energy later when needed.
- Promoting cell growth and repair: Insulin also plays a role in cell growth and repair. It stimulates the synthesis of proteins and other molecules necessary for cell growth and division.
Effects of Insulin Deficiency
When the body does not produce enough insulin or when cells do not respond properly to insulin, glucose levels in the bloodstream can rise to dangerous levels. This condition is known as diabetes.
There are two main types of diabetes: type 1 and type 2. Type 1 diabetes is an autoimmune disease in which the body's immune system attacks and destroys the beta cells in the pancreas that produce insulin. Type 2 diabetes is the most common form of diabetes and is caused by a combination of genetic and environmental factors.
Symptoms of Insulin Deficiency
Common symptoms of insulin deficiency include:
- Increased thirst
- Frequent urination
- Extreme hunger
- Unexplained weight loss
- Blurred vision
- Slow-healing sores
- Frequent infections
Complications of Insulin Deficiency
If left untreated, insulin deficiency can lead to a number of serious health complications, including:
- Heart disease
- Kidney disease
- Nerve damage
- Eye damage
- Pregnancy complications
Treating Insulin Deficiency
The goal of treatment for insulin deficiency is to lower blood sugar levels to a safe range. This can be done through a combination of lifestyle changes, supplementation, medication, and insulin therapy.
Lifestyle changes that can help to lower blood sugar levels include:
- Eating a healthy diet
- Maintaining a healthy weight
- Exercising regularly
Medication that can be used to lower blood sugar levels include:
- Oral medications
- Injectable medications
Insulin therapy is necessary for people with type 1 diabetes and for some people with type 2 diabetes. Insulin can be administered by injection or through an insulin pump.
Insulin is a vital hormone that plays a key role in blood sugar control. Without insulin, glucose levels in the bloodstream can rise to dangerous levels, leading to a number of health problems, including diabetes.
If you have any concerns about your blood sugar levels or if you are experiencing any of the symptoms of insulin deficiency, please see a doctor right away.