Insulin and its effects on diabetes
Too many people who have or are at risk diabetes, the word “insulin” can be scary. Most believe that taking insulin can lead to weight gain, blindness or loss of limb which can consequently worsen diabetes. While these are beliefs are understandable, the truth is they are not true for everyone. In fact, insulin therapy is an important part of diabetes treatment and can often be a life-saving medication. Understanding the goals of insulin therapy and the role it plays in managing the blood glucose level can help in the prevention and management of diabetes and its complications.
What is insulin?
Insulin is a naturally secreted hormone made in the beta cells of the pancreas. It plays a major role in the regulation of the blood glucose level, and the body cannot function correctly without it. A lack of insulin or the inability of the body to make use of available insulin can lead to the development of the symptoms of diabetes.
What is the role of insulin in the body?
Insulin plays a number of key roles in the body’s metabolism. Understanding how insulin works and the role which it plays in the body can help to understand the importance of insulin therapy fully. There are two primary functions of insulin in the body:
It helps regulate blood sugar levels in the bloodstream
The primary role of insulin is to regulate the level of glucose in the blood. It helps keep the blood sugar level from getting too high (hyperglycemia) or too low (hypoglycemia). Most of the body cells depend on insulin to take glucose from the blood and transform it into energy.
After a meal, the carbohydrates in the food breakdown into glucose, a sugar that serves as the primary source of energy, which enters the bloodstream. The beta cells of the pancreas will then release insulin which allows glucose to enter the body cells where it would be converted into usable energy. Without insulin, cells are starved for energy; this can lead to life-threatening complications.
It helps store excess glucose for energy
Insulin also helps in the storage of excess glucose in the liver. After a meal, the glucose level in the body increases and are often in excess. As blood glucose level rise, the pancreas secretes more insulin. Insulin helps store the excess glucose in the liver in the form of glycogen. The glucose will later be released when the blood glucose level is low or if you need more glucose such as between meals or during physical activity. This help in maintaining the blood glucose level.
Insulin as a treatment for diabetes
Insulin therapy is an important part of diabetes treatment. Injections of insulin as a replacement or supplement to the body’s insulin can help treat both types of diabetes. In type 1 diabetes, the body cannot make insulin because the immune system has destroyed all insulin-producing cells in the pancreas. Without insulin, most of the body cells cannot take glucose from the blood; this can lead to serious complications into the body. People with type 1 diabetes will need insulin injections to compensate for their body’s lack of insulin.
Type 2 diabetes is a condition of insulin resistance in which the pancreas is producing insulin, but the body cells are unable to use it effectively. This means the body muscle, fat, and liver cells are resisting the insulin produced. People with type 2 diabetes will need insulin pump to assist in the processing of glucose and to prevent long-term complications from this disease.
There are four (4) types of insulin used in diabetes treatment depending on how fast and how long they work: the rapid-acting, short-acting, intermediate-acting, and long-acting. These can be administered through an insulin syringe, injection pen, or an insulin pump. The type and medium of insulin injection you’re to use will be based on your personal preference and health needs.