Learn to Think Like your Pancreas
Learn to Think Like your Pancreas: Understandig How Insulin Works
By Nina Nazor
Why do you need insulin?
Insulin is a hormone produced in the pancreas and its function is to
help metabolize carbohydrates, proteins and fats. When insulin is not produced in the right amounts or when it cannot function
properly by letting glucose and other nutrients enter the cells of your body, you are in trouble.
how insulin works and the important role it has to keep your blood glucose levels under control, you must learn to think like
Normal insulin release
Normal insulin production in the pancreas is
released in two different ways, basal and meal-stimulated. Let's see what it means.
Basal insulin secretion
means that a constant amount of insulin is released by the pancreas, usually between 0.5 to 1.0 units per hour. This helps
your body get the fuel needed for different activities you perform every day. Basal insulin is a constant production of very
small amounts of insulin.
Pulsatile insulin secretion (usually 1 unit of insulin per 10 g of carbohydrates) is
released after a meal and helps you body metabolize or use the food you eat. This allows glucose and other nutrients to reach
the cells to be used to produce energy or to be stored as fat. Every time blood glucose concentrations are over 100 mg per
dL, pulsatile insulin is released.
Normal insulin metabolism in people without diabetes works by balancing glucose
levels every time a meal is eaten, or whenever the liver or muscles release glucose to the bloodstream. Insulin production
usually reaches the highest levels one hour after having a meal, which makes blood glucose concentrations get back to normal
within 2 hours. This does not happen in people with diabetes.
Insulin balance in diabetes
The base of diabetes treatment is imitating this normal balance of insulin and glucose in order to keep blood
glucose levels as near as normal as possible. That's why the most common regimens of insulin mix short acting and intermediate
or long acting insulin, trying to mimic normal insulin production to have you covered through the day and at the highest glucose
peaks after eating a meal.
In case you have type 2 diabetes and you take pills, the treatment prescribed by the
doctor will also try to imitate insulin production with one pill, a combination of them, or a combination of insulin and pills.
So, no matter what medication you take, you must understand how they work by learning to think like