Articles on Insulin

Insulin and its functions

Insulin is one of the most important hormones in the human body. Having both too much and too little of it can cause a myriad of diseases.

This essential hormone is produced in the pancreas, and its main function is to drive in the glucose from the blood into the cells, where it can be used for energy. Without insulin, glucose can't enter the cells of most organs and tissues in the body. As a result, blood sugar builds up and gradually damages the blood vessels, nerves, and other structures.

In a nutshell, insulin regulates your blood sugar levels so you don’t go into hyperglycemia (too high blood sugar) or hypoglycemia (too low blood sugar).

How does insulin work?

Glucose is the main energy source of the cells in your body. However, it can't be absorbed directly by the cells. It needs the help of insulin.

Insulin is often referred to as the ‘key’ because it unlocks body cells so that they allow sugar to be absorbed and then utilized for energy.

It works this way: when you eat food, the level of sugar in your blood rises. The beta cells in your pancreas are then triggered to release insulin into the bloodstream. Insulin attaches to the cells and signals them to absorb the sugar from your bloodstream.

If there is more than enough sugar in the body than what it requires, insulin then helps in storing the excess sugar in the liver. This stored sugar will then be released when your body needs more sugar such as when engaged in strenuous physical activities or in between meals.

Insulin balances out the levels of blood sugar in your body, keeping them within the normal range. The release of insulin by the pancreas is triggered by a spike in blood sugar levels in the blood.

Improving insulin sensitivity

It can't be denied that insulin is essential for the body. However, there are cases when the body fails to appropriately respond to insulin.

In people with insulin resistance, the cells are unable to absorb blood sugar effectively, so it stays in the bloodstream. This is why problems with insulin sensitivity contribute to the development of diseases like diabetes.

The good news is that there are reliable ways to improve insulin sensitivity, including the following strategies:

  • Regular exercise. You've probably heard how important it is to exercise regularly. It can improve almost all your health markers, including insulin sensitivity. Exercise enhances the uptake of insulin-stimulated glucose in your skeletal muscle. High intensity interval training (HIIT) works best in maximizing insulin-related benefits.
  • Get enough sleep. Another good reason to go to bed early. Getting enough sleep keeps the body running smoothly. Regular, deep rest has been proven to stimulate and regulate hormone production, including insulin.
  • Eat less carbs. Eating too much carbs leads to spikes in blood sugar and insulin, and that's always terrible for insulin sensitivity. Your diet should be low in processed and simple carbs, especially sugar, to optimize insulin response. Instead, eat complex carbs that take time to be digested, thus reducing insulin spikes.
  • Fast. Intermittent fasting has been proven to reduce the risks for cardiovascular diseases, diabetes, and other illnesses. Go 16 hours without any calorific foods, and eat within the following 8 hours. Repeat.
  • Drink green tea. The Chinese had it right when they said you should drink green tea regularly. It’s been proven to lower blood sugar levels significantly. Don’t put in milk, though, as it negates the tea’s benefits.
  • Get leaner. However you want to achieve it, a lean body rarely has problems with insulin sensitivity.

Articles about Insulin