Insulin plays a big role in our health and wellbeing. It is a hormone released by the pancreas whenever our blood sugar rises above the normal level, which sometimes happens when we eat too much food. The normal diet for humans typically includes carbohydrates, protein, and fat, and the food we consume requires to be broken down into basic nutrients in order for our body to metabolize them. Protein breaks down into amino acids, fats turn into fatty acids, and carbohydrates transform into glucose. All of these elements or substances make their way into the bloodstream.
After they get to the bloodstream, the nutrients must then be transferred from the blood into the muscle and fat cells for use or storage, and this procedure is facilitated by insulin. The rise in sugar levels in the blood stimulates the beta cells found in the pancreas to release insulin. The insulin will then signal the fat cells, muscles, and liver to absorb the nutrients, although they usually focus on absorbing glucose. The insulin level in the body drops once the nutrients are absorbed and are able to maintain a normalized level. This process is a constant cycle when we eat food. Every time we consume food, the pancreas releases insulin that is essential in the regulation of our blood sugar levels. The glucose stored in cells turns into glycogen.
Insulin has an important role in controlling the storage of body fat. As said before, insulin discourages the breakdown of fat cells, and it rather enhances the creation of body fat. If we consume more amounts of calories than what our body can burn consistently, it gradually results in insulin resistance. This means that the muscles and liver will stop responding to the pancreas’ release of insulin. Since the liver and the muscle tissues have only a limited capacity to store glucose and send the nutrient to the fat cells, our body creates more and more fat.
The resistance in insulin prompts the pancreas to release more insulin, as it is programmed to keep producing more in order for the liver and the muscles to respond. As the level of insulin rises, the cell will fail to respond to the pancreas. This leads to pancreas giving up and stopping the release of insulin, which makes the blood sugar levels go high and cause type-2 diabetes.
Considering its functions in the body, insulin tends to take the blame for making people overweight. But the problem lies in the eating habits of those who are obese. It is also possible that the excess amount of glucose that is stored as body fat should take the blame, and excessive glucose can be gained by excessive eating. So, the simplest way to regulate body weight is to have a controlled and balanced diet.
What are the Other Functions of Insulin?
Besides regulating the movement of carbohydrates, protein, and fat in our body, insulin has other purposes as well, particularly in the field of medicine. For those with diabetes, insulin shots via injection are effective in increases the amount of insulin in the body. Since the pancreas is unable to produce a normal amount of insulin for those who are diabetic, taking insulin shots allows their body to have a normalized insulin level, although it uses biosynthetic insulin.
However, there are some side effects in taking insulin shots, and one of them is that the user will have low blood sugar. Having low blood sugar or hypoglycemia may cause fatigue, headaches, hunger, and seizures. If the person with diabetes is constantly experiencing low blood sugar levels, he or she may eventually develop other severe illnesses like kidney failure, diseases to the liver, and tumors. The best way to balance blood sugar levels while taking insulin shots is by taking glucose tablets, eating fruits, or consuming yogurt.
Another side effect of the insulin shot is that the user may develop changes in the skin or the areas where the shot is injected, which can produce long-lasting pain. The most unfortunate side effect is that the user may develop allergic reactions to the shots, making the injection potentially dangerous to his or her health.
All in all, insulin is not necessarily bad, but it does cause harmful effects in the body, although not intentionally. The only way for you to control your body’s insulin levels is to have a proper diet that consists of fruits, vegetables, and a minimum amount of red meats and sugary food products.