What’s Insulin?

What’s Insulin?

Insulin is a hormone produced by the Beta cells of the pancreas, a gland located behind the stomach. Insulin is necessary to aid a process called metabolism, in which digested foods are transformed into the energy the body needs.

Without insulin, glucose (a form of sugar produced through the digestion of carbohydrates and starches) can’t be properly used as a fuel source for cells. This leads cells not to have an adequate fuel supply for their daily activities, and also, glucose levels accumulate in the bloodstream at levels above normal. Therefore, a person with Diabetes, if unchecked, will have high glucose levels, both in the blood and urine.

Insulin is necessary to live

People with Type 1 Diabetes (insulin-dependent) don’t produce the insulin their bodies need. Therefore, they need to take one or more types of insulin every day. This is, so they can have the insulin they need to metabolize glucose, i.e., to allow glucose to enter the cells and be used as fuel.

Remember that insulin is like the key that opens the door to cells so it can be used as fuel. Because people with Type 1 Diabetes can’t produce insulin, the cells door cannot be opened, which is why, cells can’t use it as a proper fuel source. This gives rise to increasing glucose levels circulating in the bloodstream. For this reason, people with Type 1 Diabetes, need to take one or more types of insulin, several times a day.

Insulin has to be administered to the body through injections, because if it’s done orally (tablets), the digestive juices will destroy it. It’s important to mention that in addition to injections, there are other alternatives such as pens, infusers, and insulin pumps. By injecting insulin under the skin, it is slowly absorbed by the blood stream.

If you are insulin-dependent, you should let your doctor decide which type of insulin is best for you. However, it’s important for you to know and understand, as much as you can, about the insulin you use, why you need it, how it affects you, and what symptoms to watch for.

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