a diabetic person who relies on insulin

Insulin and Diabetes

Insulin plays a huge role in diabetes, affecting both the onset of the condition and its treatment. Understanding the role that insulin plays in diabetes can better help you to prevent the condition, manage diabetes if you already have it, and work with your doctor to encourage optimal health.

The Role of Insulin in the Body

Insulin plays an important role in the body when it comes to our daily eating habits. When we consume foods, especially those high in carbohydrates, the level of glucose our blood rises. As blood sugar levels rise, insulin is released into the blood stream by the pancreas in order to allow the body's cells to take in the sugar consumed and use it as an energy source.

The Insulin-Diabetes Connection

When the typical blood sugar intake and insulin release process is functioning optimally, the body functions optimally. We're able to get the energy we need, and the body stays balanced and healthy. However, when insulin release is off, glucose within the blood isn't taken in by the body's cells. It then cannot be used for energy and is left to float in the blood, raising the body's overall blood glucose and causing a myriad of symptoms. These can include fatigue, thirst, blurred vision, lack of concentration, and tingling in the limbs.

How Insulin Plays into Diabetes

There are two different forms of diabetes, type I, and type II. Additionally, there is pre-diabetes, in which you are at risk for type II diabetes. Insulin plays a huge role in each of these conditions.

Type I diabetes is the most cryptic of all the types of diabetes, because it is still not understood why exactly it occurs. However, in cases of type I diabetes, the insulin-producing cells of the pancreas are destroyed, leaving it unable to produce the insulin the body needs to process the sugars taken in during a meal.

Pre-diabetes can lead to type II diabetes, and both are caused by the same factors. Additionally, insulin's role is the same in both. In cases of pre-diabetes and type II diabetes, the cells of the body become resistant to insulin, requiring increasing amounts of insulin in order to encourage the uptake of sugar from the blood. This leaves the pancreas unable to produce the levels of insulin necessary to stimulate absorption, and thus allows for sugar to build up in the blood.

In both cases of diabetes, it is required that patients supplement insulin to allow the cells to absorb sugar in the blood and manage their blood sugar levels to ensure they are within a normal range. Following a lower carbohydrate diet and eating fewer simple sugars keeps blood sugar levels low and allows for lower insulin usage.

Pre-diabetes, if left unmanaged, can lead to type II diabetes. Both type II and pre-diabetes can be managed, and it may be possible to cease insulin supplementation. Type I diabetes patients will need to continue insulin use throughout life.

Last Updated: November 07, 2016