What IS Insulin?

As diabetics we’re told over and over to have good blood sugar control. This can be managed in a number of ways. A good diet, a sound training regime, reduction in stress but the biggest factor of them all is usually insulin.

But what even is this clear, weird smelling fluid that we artificially inject ourselves with multiple times a day?

As many of you will already know, insulin is a hormone that is produced within the pancreas (or at least a fully functioning one). The pancreas contains cells islets and within these islets Beta cells make insulin and release it into the blood stream. Insulin allows the glucose to enter the liver, muscle and fat cells a lot easier than without it.

Insulin’s primary roles in blood glucose control are:

– Helping muscle, fat and liver absorb glucose from the the blood stream therefore lowering levels of glucose in the blood.
– Stimulate the liver and muscle tissue to store excess glucose as glycogen.
– Reduces blood glucose levels by reducing glucose production in the liver.
– Inhibits fat oxidation, glycogen oxidation and augments muscle protein synthesis.

Insulin has a reputation of being a “storage” hormone – but this is only half the story as uptake can still occur without the presence of insulin. It’s most important job is restricting the amount of glucose and fatty acids within the blood stream.

In “non-diabetics” insulin is released is two ways – slow and fast acting – hence why many diabetics use long acting (not necessarily with Type 2 Diabetes) and rapid insulin injections (both types).

A common misconception with insulin is that only carbohydrates stimulates this hormone but in actual fact protein will also stimulate insulin therefore insulin is still required on a low-carb diet.

So, I hope that’s provided you all reading with a quick insight into this major hormone that as diabetics we inject into our bodies constantly.

Until next time…!

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Dan has been a Type 1 Diabetic for over 5 years and writes about his experiences with Type 1, nutrition, exercise and living an overall healthier life with diabetes on his blog and via his social media platforms.

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