How does insulin work? Insulin, the hormone released by the pancreas, has several functions in the body, including lowering the blood sugar level and helping cells absorb glucose from the blood. Insulin works by allowing cells to transport glucose into the cell’s interior to be used for energy or stored as glycogen or fat. You can think of insulin as the key that unlocks cells to allow them to take in glucose from your bloodstream.
If you are interested to know how insulin work, here’s a simple explanation. The pancreas is an organ that secretes digestive juices into the intestine and insulin into your bloodstream. It does both these things under the direct control of nerve cells located in an area at its center called the islets of Langerhans. These specialized nerve cells are known as pancreatic islet cells or beta cells because they produce a hormone called insulin.
How Insulin Controls Blood Sugar
Whether you have diabetes or not, it’s important to understand how insulin works to control blood sugar. After a meal, your blood sugar levels are elevated, and your pancreas releases a hormone called insulin into your bloodstream. Your body uses insulin as a key to unlock cells that use glucose for energy. In doing so, excess glucose transfers from your bloodstream into these cells, where they can store it until you need more of it. This process helps keep your blood sugar stable throughout the day and night.
Testing Blood Sugar
By measuring your blood sugar at regular intervals, you can determine how well your insulin works. For example, if you test your blood sugar after eating and it’s lower than normal, you may be able to reduce or eliminate that insulin dose. Conversely, if you check your blood sugar a couple of hours later and it’s higher than normal, then you know that you might need a bit more insulin to keep your glucose levels within a healthy range throughout the day.
What Happens When You Eat?
First, digested food is absorbed into your bloodstream and raises your blood sugar levels. Then, depending on what you’ve eaten, one of two things happen: either your pancreas releases a hormone called glucagon or another hormone called insulin is released. These hormones travel in your bloodstream to all parts of your body. For example, glucagon tells cells in your liver to convert stored glycogen into glucose and release it into your bloodstream.
Understanding your Basal Metabolic Rate (BMR)
The basal metabolic rate, or BMR, is how many calories your body needs to function on a daily basis. The BMR does not factor in exercise and should be used as a baseline for determining how many calories you need to maintain your current weight.
Exercise and Blood Glucose Levels
Physical activity helps you lose weight and build muscle and boosts your insulin sensitivity. When your body becomes more sensitive to insulin, it can clear glucose from your bloodstream faster.
Causes of High Blood Glucose Levels
1. Eating Too Much Carbohydrate
2. Having a Low Level of Physical Activity
3. Taking Certain Medications
4. If You’re Pregnant or Recently Gave Birth
5. Having Diabetes
6. Being Overweight
When blood sugar rises too high, such as after a meal or during exercise, insulin helps convert extra glucose into glycogen storage in muscles and the liver. In patients with diabetes, however, a defect of one kind or another prevents it from doing its job correctly. That’s where Tandem Diabetes devices come in — they deliver precise doses of insulin based on just how much blood sugar is present.