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What is the role of insulin in diabetes?

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To understand why insulin is important in diabetes, it helps to know more about how the body uses food for energy. Your body is made up of millions of cells. To make energy, these cells need food in a very simple form. When you eat or drink, much of your food is broken down into a simple sugar called "glucose." Then, glucose is transported through the bloodstream to the cells of your body where it can be used to provide some of the energy your body needs for daily activities.

The amount of glucose in your bloodstream is tightly regulated by the hormone insulin. Insulin is always being released in small amounts by the pancreas. When the amount of glucose in your blood rises to a certain level, the pancreas will release more insulin to push more glucose into the cells. This causes the glucose levels in your blood to drop.

To keep your blood glucose levels from getting too low (hypoglycemia or low blood sugar), your body signals you to eat and releases some glucose from storage kept in the liver.

People with diabetes either don't make insulin or their body's cells are resistant to insulin, leading to high levels of sugar circulating in the blood, called simply high blood sugar. By definition, diabetes is having a blood glucose level of 126 milligrams per deciliter (mg/dL) or more after an overnight fast (not eating anything).

From: Diabetes Basics WebMD Medical Reference

SOURCES: 

National Diabetes Educational Program: "I Have Diabetes."

National Diabetes Information Clearinghouse: "Introduction to Diabetes."

JAMA Patient Page: "Diabetes."

 

Reviewed by Michael Dansinger on February 17, 2019

SOURCES: 

National Diabetes Educational Program: "I Have Diabetes."

National Diabetes Information Clearinghouse: "Introduction to Diabetes."

JAMA Patient Page: "Diabetes."

 

Reviewed by Michael Dansinger on February 17, 2019

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What are four things someone with diabetes should do every day?

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