Have you been diagnosed with diabetes, or are you at risk for it? If so, you’ve probably heard the word “insulin” being thrown around.
Insulin is a hormone secreted by the pancreas, and it’s also used as part of diabetes management. Some diabetics produce too little insulin or don’t produce insulin at all, so they require insulin via shots.
Below, we asked Eberechukwu Nwaogu, our expert at iHealth Care Services, to explain the role of insulin in the body. Read on to learn how to ensure your insulin levels are stable, and find out what can be done when your pancreas doesn’t secrete insulin as it should.
Insulin is a hormone that’s primarily used to take glucose, one of the final products of digestion, from the bloodstream and use it as fuel for the body’s cells. Insulin works on fat cells, muscle cells, and liver cells.
When the pancreas doesn’t create enough insulin to meet the body’s glucose demands, as with Type 2 diabetes, or no insulin at all, as with Type 1 diabetes, blood sugar levels keep rising. Signs of high blood sugar levels include thirst, fatigue, frequent urination, unintentional weight loss, wounds that don’t heal, and recurrent infections.
In severe cases of Type 1 diabetes, there’s a risk of entering diabetic ketoacidosis, a state in which the body begins breaking down fat for fuel.
Diabetic ketoacidosis is different from ketosis, the state that dieters enter when they restrict carbohydrates. People who produce enough insulin don’t accumulate enough ketone bodies in their bloodstream to enter ketoacidosis, which can be life-threatening.
With Type 2 diabetes, the main danger related to not having enough insulin is severe dehydration, as the body attempts to eliminate excess glucose from the bloodstream via urination.
Fat cells have insulin receptors, and as insulin binds to these receptors, a few outcomes may arise. These include increased storage of lipids (fatty acids) in the cell, decreased lipid breakdown, increased protein synthesis, and increased glucose storage in the form of glycogen.
In other words, insulin is the fat-storing hormone. Carbohydrates are broken down into glucose by the body. The greater the amount of carbohydrates that are digested, the higher the body’s demand for insulin to store that excess glucose in fat cells.
Whether you or a loved one has recently received a pre-diabetes or diabetes diagnosis, learning more about insulin can be crucial to the long-term management of the disease.
Abnormal levels of insulin, whether too high or too low, impact every organ and tissue in your body and can lead to severe complications if left untreated. Get peace of mind by calling or messaging us to learn how your diet and lifestyle can contribute to better management of insulin and blood sugar levels.