Function Of Insulin

Facts about the Function of Insulin

The function of insulin is critical to having a healthy body. Insulin is produced by the pancreas, specifically by a group of cells known as the islet cells. The pancreas is a vital organ whose placement is behind the stomach. The pancreas produces all types of digestive enzymes and hormones designed to breakdown the food we eat into glucose.




Insulin is both a protein and a hormone, and the function of insulin is to regulate the amount of blood sugar that is in each of your cells. Whenever you eat, the food is converted into glucose, which is a simple sugar. It is what people are talking about when they use the phrase “blood sugar level.”

The carbohydrates you eat are broken down into glucose and then travel through the walls of the intestines into the bloodstream. Once this glucose enters the bloodstream, it causes a rise in your body’s blood sugar level. Simple carbohydrates, such as a candy bar, are absorbed quickly and cause blood sugar levels to rise and remain high for a short period of time. Complex carbohydrates are absorbed more slowly, causing blood sugar to rise slowly as well.

Once the blood sugar level starts to rise, the pancreas secretes insulin. Every cell in the body actually has insulin receptors which take in the insulin and bind it to the cell. Once the insulin is attached to a cell, that cell is able to absorb glucose from the bloodstream and draw it into the center of the cell where it turned into energy.

The function of insulin, then, is to process glucose (a type of sugar) into energy. This energy helps us to move, to grow new cells, and to repair all types of cell breakdown which occur every day. In a normally functioning body, the pancreas produces exactly the right amount of insulin for it to do its job and move glucose from the bloodstream into our cells.

But, there are a couple of situations where there is a problem with insulin production and function. The first one of these is when the pancreas produces no insulin at all. This is the case with type 1 diabetes. This type of diabetes is usually diagnosed in childhood or the teenage years and not as often in adults. Without any insulin, you can eat plenty of food, but then no insulin can be released so there is no conversion of glucose into energy. That’s why people who have type 1 diabetes need to take insulin injections every day--to supply the bloodstream with the insulin it needs to break down glucose.

Another kind of problem with insulin occurs in people who develop type 2 diabetes. These people are mostly adults, and here the function of insulin is interrupted in a different way. Here, type 2 diabetics have a rise in their blood sugar levels when they eat just like everyone else. But because the cells have an insulin resistance, the insulin does not get into the cell to produce energy. And, because insulin doesn’t enter the cells, the body keeps calling for it over and over again. But because the glucose in the bloodstream doesn’t enter the cells, it remains in the bloodstream, making a type 2 diabetic’s blood sugar level higher than it should be.

Type 2 diabetics often end up taking insulin injections themselves, if as they get older, they are unable to control or lower their blood sugar levels through diet and oral medications. There are many prescription medicines that try to make the body’s own insulin work better and others that lower blood sugar levels more directly.

The long-term effects of both types of diabetes are blindness, heart disease, kidney problems, and foot diseases that can be so bad that the lower limbs might have to be amputated in the worst cases. People who are at risk for type 2 diabetes or have type 2 diabetes can benefit greatly by eating a proper diabetic diet and exercising at least three times a week.