How Insulin Works in Diabetes

Updated at: May 30, 2012
How Insulin Works in Diabetes

Insulin works in diabetes by converting glucose into energy while maintaining normal blood sugar level and preventing diabetic complications.

Gunjan Rastogi
DiabetesWritten by: Gunjan RastogiPublished at: Mar 27, 2012

How Insulin Works in Diabetes

The body of a  diabetic is incapable of producing enough insulin on its own. In type 1 diabetes, body completely fails to produce insulin. Therefore, type 1 diabetics depend on synthetic insulin injections that enable glucose to be absorbed by body cells to generate energy.  Synthetic insulin almost mimics the characteristics of natural insulin and one’s body can hardly figure out the difference.

In case of type 2 diabetes, the body is either unable to produce adequate insulin levels or the cells are not receiving it. Type 2 diabetics take oral medication to control their blood sugar level, but if the medication fails, they need require taking insulin injections or pens. Usually, most diabetics take insulin shots before bedtime because it is at night that the liver is most active in producing glucose into the bloodstream.

The primary function of insulin is to maintain the blood glucose (sugar) level within a normal range. Once the food is consumed, sugar and nutrients present in it enter into the bloodstream and the body starts digesting it. Nutrients such as carbohydrates, protein and fats influence blood sugar levels (with carbohydrates affecting the most). When the food gets digested, carbohydrates present in it break down into sugar and convert into glucose while entering into the bloodstream. The pancreas produces insulin in response to increasing glucose levels. The amount of insulin in the bloodstream is essential for letting sugar (main energy supply) into the body’s tissues.

Level of insulin in the bloodstream affects the liver, which functions to maintain normal blood sugar levels. Insulin levels are high after consuming food as the liver allows and stores extra amount of sugar in the form of glycogen. Between  meals, insulin levels are low. It is due to the release of extra sugar/glycogen by the liver into the bloodstream. This keeps blood sugar levels within a narrow and normal range. With proper diet planning and prescribed insulin injections, diabetics can keep an effective control on the shooting blood sugar (glucose) levels preventing diabetic complications like blindness, heart attack, obesity, kidney damage, neuropathy, nephropathy and foot damage.

Knowing how insulin works in diabetes can be of great help for diabetics in keeping an effective control on their soaring blood sugar levels. All those who suffer from type1 diabetes and some cases of type 2 need insulin injections. Women suffering from gestational diabetes (diabetes during pregnancy) are also given insulin shots. With well-balanced diet and exercise regime, insulin therapy works wonders for diabetics by preventing all diabetic complications mentioned above.


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