What is insulin and how does it work?

Many people diagnosed with type 1 diabetes are afraid to start insulin therapy, looking for other ways to lower their blood sugar levels, hoping to be cured of diabetes forever. Unfortunately, to date, science has not known a single case when a person could get rid of type 1 diabetes. People with type 2 diabetes are also given insulin injections when the body stops producing it. The good news is that the ability to take insulin is a real salvation for a diabetic, a chance to stay healthy and prevent complications. Let’s understand why this is so.

Why does the body need insulin?

Insulin is a hormone. Hormones regulate the important functions of our body by “opening” various cells so that the substance they need from the blood gets into them. Insulin is produced by specialized beta cells found in the islets of Langerhans in the pancreas. Our body needs insulin because only it can “open the doors” of the cell so that glucose (sugar) enters it. And glucose is the main source of energy for cells.

When we see food or smell it, beta cells immediately receive the signal “start producing insulin!”. When food has entered the stomach and intestines, other hormones increase this signal. So the body itself produces exactly the amount of insulin that it needs to transfer glucose from food to cells.

In people with diabetes, glucose remains in the blood as a result of eating. In the case of type 1 diabetes, due to the fact that insulin has ceased to be produced by beta cells. And in people with type 2 diabetes, due to the fact that the insulin produced by the body does not cope with its task. The introduction of insulin has long ceased to be a difficult and painful procedure. You can choose convenient syringe pens for this, needles for syringe pens of the length and thickness you need, insulin syringes, or even opt for an insulin pump.

How does insulin work?

The blood carries insulin to the right cells in the body. On the surface of cells, insulin binds to special receptors – so the cell becomes permeable to glucose. This is especially important for two types of tissue – fat and muscle. They in our body provide such functions as breathing, movement, blood circulation.

Insulin also affects the metabolism in all tissues. It activates the key enzymes of glycolysis (necessary for processing glucose), increases the permeability of the cell surface, enhances the synthesis of proteins and fats, stimulates the formation of glycogen in the liver and muscles. Insulin also inhibits the activity of enzymes that break down fat and glycogen.

But not all cells in our body need insulin to make glucose. Insulin -independent are cells in the brain, nerve fibers, retina, kidneys and adrenal glands, as well as in the vascular wall and blood elements – erythrocytes.

Insulin -independent cells are needed for situations when there is no insulin or little glucose – so that the most important organs can still receive energy in the first place. But that’s the whole point of diabetes.

When a person has a high blood glucose level, non-insulin-dependent cells absorb more glucose than they need, and as a result, this leads to damage to cells, blood vessels and organs.

Insulin was discovered in 1922 by Frederick Banting and Charles Best. This was a breakthrough in the treatment of diabetes. Prior to this, people diagnosed with type 1 diabetes, and among them there were many children, medicine could not help. Today we know for sure that the ability to inject insulin is an opportunity to live for people with diabetes.

Be healthy and good sugars to you!

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