Insulin is a hormone and is found in even single-celled organisms and has been around for several billion years. Insulin is also a protein just like many other hormones. The pancreas has a group of cells called islet cells. It is the islet cells that secrete insulin.
The pancreas is an organ that sits behind the stomach and has many functions in addition to insulin production. The pancreas also produces digestive enzymes and other hormones.
When you eat, the food is digested and then broken down into glucose. Glucose is the simple sugar that is the body’s main source of energy, otherwise known as blood sugar. Carbohydrates are broken down into glucose and are absorbed from the intestines into the bloodstream after you eat.
The pancreas then secretes insulin in response to the increase in blood sugar. Most cells of the body have insulin receptors which bind the insulin to the cell. When a cell has insulin attached to it, the cell then is able to activate the other receptors. These receptors are designed to absorb glucose from the blood stream and move the glucose into the inside of the cell for energy.
Without insulin, the cells in our bodies would not be able to process the glucose and therefore have no energy for movement, growth, repair, or other functions. Insulin is key to unlocking the door of the cell to allow the glucose to be transferred from the bloodstream into the cell.
Ordinarily, when glucose enters our blood, the pancreas automatically produces the right amount of insulin to move glucose into our cells.
There are two types of insulin errors that the pancreas makes. The first is type 1 diabetes which produce no insulin. The second is type 2 diabetes. The pancreas in people with type 2 diabetes does not always produce enough insulin.
With the type 1 insulin deficiency, you can eat lots of food but your body can be actually in a state of starvation. This happens because without insulin our cells can not be easily opened in order to be able to extract the energy contained in the glucose that came from the food that was eaten.
This is why Type 1 diabetics who do not make insulin can become very ill without insulin shots. If the body’s cells do not get fed, they become sick. Insulin is a necessary hormone for survival. Those who develop a deficiency of insulin must have it get into the body somehow. With type one diabetes, insulin can be added into the body through shots or pumps.
Type 2 diabetes is more common. According to the World Health Organization, over 90% of diabetic cases worldwide are type 2.Type 2 people will develop what is known as insulin resistance. This is not a true insulin deficiency. When this happens the levels of insulin in the blood are similar or even a little higher than in normal, non-diabetic bodies. The body’s cells become resistant to the insulin almost like type 1 diabetes, but what happens is that because the body is resistant to insulin the body over secretes insulin in order to try to feed its cells. It can become an ever increasing cycle that can escalate out of control.
The main problem with Type 2 diabetes is that the cells respond sluggishly to the insulin and that means the cells cannot absorb the glucose molecules well. This makes blood sugar levels run higher than they should be. When the body can no longer get the energy from the glucose into the cells, the body stores the extra energy in fat cells. This is why diabetics tend to gain weight easily and find it difficult to lose it. Most of the time this condition will correct itself, but sometimes type 2 diabetics will have to have an insulin shot.
Based on information from the World Health Organization, some of the effects of type 2 diabetes on the body are blindness and visual disability a long with heart disease and diabetic foot disease which often ends in amputation of the lower limbs. Diabetes is also the leading cause of kidney failure.
The first line of defense against type 2 diabetes is diet and exercise. Just half an hour of walking a day will dramatically reduce the risk of developing type 2 diabetes.