Insulin – a series part II: What exactly does it do?
Insulin lowers your blood glucose level by promoting cellular uptake of glucose. This means that the glucose goes inside your cells, instead of hanging out in the blood stream.
Did you know?
Diabetes type one and type two are COMPLETELY DIFFERENT… as in the body works in opposite ways in these two disease pathologies. Some people argue that they are so entirely different that they cannot figure out why we still call them both diabetes.
Lock and Key
There are receptors (think of them as locks 🔒) on the outside of cells. Insulin is like the key 🔑. The receptors open the gate for the glucose to enter the cell when the key is in place. Sometimes, there are not as many locks on a cell as there should be. Sometimes the locks are sticky (I hate it when that happens). In both of these cases, we call this insulin resistance, and this is the issue in Diabetes type 2 only.
In diabetes type 1, there is not enough insulin circulating. So if there are no keys, or not enough keys, the glucose can’t get in. In this disease, the problem lies in the beta cells of the pancreas. These cells are attacked by the immune system. This is referred to as an autoimmune disease.
How does it get in?
This part is interesting and understanding this can help you understand the difference between insulin resistance in Diabetes type 2, and lack of insulin in Diabetes type 1.
When you have a key (insulin) fit into the lock (receptors), the gate opens and glucose moves inside your cell.
So… essentially in diabetes type 1, the locks and the keys on your body’s cells are all working fine. Unfortunately, there are not enough keys (insulin) to open the gates, and let all the glucose in. This requires intense medical management and taking prescribed insulin. It is an autoimmune disease.
And in diabetes type 2, there are not enough locks (receptors) or the locks (receptors) are not working too well… ie. the sticky lock. So frustrating! So you have enough insulin (keys) but when there are not enough locks to open gates or the locks don’t work correctly, the gates don’t open. This is helped with diet and exercise. Weight, lifestyle, and environment are considered significant factors.
Once inside, your cell can use the glucose as energy to perform vital cellular functions.
Normal Blood Sugar?
Around 70-90… but you might have a specific goal set by your PCP, depending on a multitude of things.
This Post was written by Critical Care RN, Carolee V. Nevulis