What is Insulin, and How Does It Work?

While dealing with or discussing diabetes, one of the most common words one would hear is insulin. People suffering from diabetes talk about injecting insulin, while others talk about the body’s inability to produce it adequately. But what exactly insulin is, and how does it work? Let’s answer these common questions revolving around insulin.

What is Insulin?

Insulin is a hormone that helps turn food into energy and manage an individual’s blood sugar levels. The pancreas generates insulin and releases it into the bloodstream. Insulin is responsible to help the body use sugar to fulfil the former’s energy needs and then keep the remaining. While suffering from diabetes, the body doesn’t produce sufficient amounts of insulin or loses its ability to use it appropriately. When you discuss what is insulin, especially in the context of diabetes, you should also know what insulin resistance is. So, here’s what insulin resistance is.

What is Insulin Resistance?

Insulin resistance takes place when the liver and muscle cells stop responding correctly to insulin. Pancreas initially responds to make more insulin to allow glucose to enter cells. However, it cannot continue producing more and more insulin to overcome the body’s insulin resistance. Thus, the insulin-producing cells of the pancreas begin burning themselves out, resulting in a rise in the blood glucose levels, called hyperglycemia.

Over a while, insulin resistance can lead to type 2 diabetes. It is because the body doesn’t have adequate insulin-producing cells. On the other hand, the remaining ones aren’t capable enough to function properly.

How Does Insulin Work?

Now, let’s understand how insulin works. So, after you have food, your intestines break down carbohydrates from food into glucose. The glucose travels to your bloodstream, resulting in a rise in the blood sugar levels.

The body consists of pancreas, an organ behind the stomach. It releases insulin to control blood glucose levels. Your body produces and releases insulin based on its blood sugar levels. High blood sugar triggers beta cells in the pancreas to release insulin. Higher glucose levels in the blood results in the pancreas producing more insulin.

Insulin helps transport glucose into cells that use glucose for energy. The body stores extra sugar in the fat cells, muscles and liver. Once glucose travels into the cells, the blood sugar normalizes. On the other hand, low blood sugar triggers another hormone, glucagon. It makes the liver break down the stored sugar, called glycogen, and releases it into the bloodstream. Insulin and glucagon keep alternating their release throughout the day to maintain steady blood sugar levels in the body.

Other Functions of Insulin

Insulin’s role isn’t limited to the above. Some other functions include the following.

  • Managing protein and lipid breakdown
  • Muscle building after sickness or injury
  • Managing lipid synthesis
  • Improving memory
  • Managing sodium excretion

We hope the above helped you understand what insulin is and how it works in your body. Call us at +91 – 20 – 24261530 to book an appointment with our doctors and get your specific answers and concerns clarified from us.

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