How does insulin work and why do diabetics inject it? What does insulin resistance mean and what diabetes therapies are there? You can read everything about insulin here.
Quite a few people associate insulin with injections and associate it with something pathological like Diabetes, a disease that is known to severely restrict the diet and lifestyle of those affected. The fact that insulin is initially something good, an endogenous hormone and regulator and vital for the human organism, is often overlooked.
But what is insulin, how is it made and what function does it perform in the body? What kind of disorder is insulin resistance, what types of diabetes and treatment options are there? You can find out all this and more about insulin here.
What is insulin and how is it made?
Insulin is a vital hormone that is produced by the human body in the pancreas itself. It is produced in the beta cells of the so-called islets of Langerhans, the islet organ of the pancreas, from which the name insulin (Latin “insula”, in English “island”) can be derived.
What is blood sugar?
Blood sugar is the percentage of glucose in the blood. Glucose is an important source of energy for the body. Many important organs and cells – brain and renal medulla or red blood cells – are dependent on glucose for energy production, since they do not take their energy from fat metabolism processes like other body cells.
How does insulin work in the body?: Blood sugar levels and insulin secretion
Insulin is an important hormone for metabolism in the human body. Above all, it serves as a kind of mediator to channel the glucose, which has been processed through food and finally through digestion, from the bloodstream into the cells, where it is urgently needed for energy conversion.
If the body releases insulin, also known as insulin secretion, the sugar content in the blood plasma is reduced at the same time. Insulin therefore has the important function of having a lowering and regulating effect on the blood sugar level in the body.
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Basically, the following applies: The higher the blood sugar level, the more insulin is released for regulation and further processing and the more the insulin level in the blood rises in order to regulate the blood sugar level.
In addition to the most important function of blood sugar level regulation, insulin in the brain influences appetite. The hormone also inhibits the breakdown of adipose tissue.
The antagonist of insulin: the hormone glucagon
By the way: In the alpha cells of the pancreas, the body also produces the hormone glucagon, the antagonist of insulin. This is because while insulin lowers blood sugar, glucagon promotes the formation and release of the sugar reserves in the blood, which are mainly stored in the liver, and consequently causes blood sugar levels to rise.
Insulin Resistance: What is Diabetes?
In the case of diabetes, which is correctly called diabetes mellitus in technical jargon and can be translated popularly as diabetes, the cells in the body no longer react sufficiently to the released insulin, which is why we speak of insulin resistance. Many of those affected must therefore also supply insulin from the outside in order to stabilize their sugar levels. Two types of diabetes are known:
- Typ-2-Diabetes: When by far most common type of diabetes the body cells speak worse Insulin on. The consequence of this insulin resistance is that not enough sugar from the blood is transported into the cells and the blood sugar levels increases. With much exercise and good nutrition can you counteract this diabetes disease.
- Typ-1-Diabetes: The much rarer dysfunction of the blood sugar balance occurs when the immune system, for reasons that have not yet been clarified Insulin producing beta cells of the pancreas attacks. Affected people therefore often have to live for life Insulin inject. This type of diabetes is often diagnosed in the childhood.
In Germany, around six million people are affected by type 2 diabetes. That is around 95 percent of all diabetes cases. The rest, around 341,000 cases of illness, are type 1 diabetes, according to “Deutsche Diabetes Hilfe”.
Diabetes therapy: what types of insulin are there?
In 1921, two physicians, Frederick Grant Banting and Charles Best, succeeded in isolating the vital insulin from a dog’s pancreas. A lot has happened since then. Most of the insulins used today are genetically engineered using bacteria or yeast cultures. Because the production in the laboratory makes it possible to directly influence the dosage and effect.
For example, there are insulins with which the blood sugar-regulating effect occurs more quickly than with others and at the same time only lasts for a short time. They have the function of curbing sudden increases in blood sugar after meals and stimulating the natural release of insulin. On the other hand, there are long-term insulins, also called basal insulins, which stay in the blood slowly and steadily throughout the day.
How is insulin injected?: Insulin syringe and insulin pump
The majority of diabetics on insulin therapy inject the insulin into the subcutaneous fatty tissue using a so-called pen. This contains a cartridge with a supply of insulin for up to several weeks. To inject, a fine needle is placed on the pen, dosed as required, and the insulin is released at the push of a button.
Many type 1 diabetics also use an insulin pump. This is a small device attached to the body with a thin tube through which insulin is continuously fed into the subcutaneous fatty tissue.