Have you ever known someone with diabetes who had to take insulin intravenously? Insulin is an essential chemical that keeps our blood-sugar levels at a healthy level. Read on for more about insulin and its effects on the body.

Insulin Overview

Insulin has rightfully earned the reputation of being the ‘body’s regulator’ because this substance, produced by the pancreas, has the responsibility of keeping the blood sugar within a normal range. Insulin is the regulator that allows the sugar from the foods we eat (be it a piece of cake or a stick of celery) to enter our tissues and become part of the metabolic process.

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The Effects of Insulin

Let us stop for a moment and consider the importance of insulin in the regulation of our body’s function. For example, if you eat a piece of chocolate candy, there will be a large amount of sugar immediately released into the body. If there is no action performed by the body to help offset this immediate release of sugar into the system, the consequences could be dangerous. This is where insulin comes into play.

The Pancreas

Insulin is made by the Islets of Langerhans, which are found in the pancreas of every person. As we previously mentioned, insulin is released when needed to keep the body regulated and help keep the blood-sugar balance in check. Once that piece of chocolate begins to be metabolized by the body, the pancreas releases enough insulin to offset the amount of sugar that will be introduced into the body so that there will be no negative outcomes (such as problems with high blood sugar).

When Insulin Does Not Function Properly

There are times, however, when insulin is not released from the pancreas to counter the introduction of sugar into the blood and keep the body within its normal balance. This happens either if a person is born with a pancreas that doesn’t function properly (Type I diabetes) or if a person has become resistant to the amount of insulin needed to keep the amount of sugar stable in the body (Type II diabetes).

How to Cope With Insulin Ineffectiveness

If you or a loved one has ever experienced a problem with blood sugar due to not having enough insulin in the body, you most likely have seen one or more of the treatment options for helping with this problem. Most of the time, people will need to take medication, such as pills or insulin shots, to keep their insulin and blood-sugar levels in balance.

A modern insulin injection device
Example of a modern insulin injection device

Lesson Summary

Insulin is extremely important for the regulation of the body. Without insulin, the body is not able to function properly and cannot rid itself of the excess sugar that is taken in through food and beverages, even those we often consider to be healthy. Insulin is essential for life; therefore, a person must either have a pancreas that works normally or take medication to make sure he or she is receiving enough of this substance to keep his or her blood-sugar levels in balance.

Learning Outcomes

Following this lesson, you should have the ability to:

  • Identify the function and importance of insulin
  • Differentiate between Type I and Type II diabetes
  • Recall where insulin is made
  • Describe the treatment for insulin ineffectiveness