There is so much in the news about Diabetes these days, especially since Type 2 Diabetes is on the rise and the number of new cases seems to be sky rocketing. Since yesterday was American Diabetes Alert Day , I wanted to learn a bit more about the disease. I thought I should start at the beginning, go to the source as they say, and figure out what insulin is and what it does.
First off, insulin is a hormone that is produced in an area of the pancreas known as the Islets of Langerhans hence its name - insulin is derived from the Latin word insula meaning island. Hormones are chemical messengers bringing "information" from one cell to one or more other cells. Inuslin helps move glucose (aka energy) around our bodies, from the bloodstream to individual cells. Cells require glucose for movement, growth, repair, and other functions. It acts as a messenger between the bloodstream and cells, helping the cells absorb energy.
Insulin also regulates carbohydrate metabolism, the breakdown of carbs primarily into glucose. It effects fat metabolism as well.
When glucose enters our blood, the pancreas should automatically produce the right amount of insulin to move glucose into our cells. Type 1 diabetes (previously called juvenile diabetes or insulin-dependent diabetes) is a disorder of the body's immune system that results from the pancreas not producing any insulin. Type 2 diabetes (previously called adult onset diabetes) results when the body doesn't respond appropriately to insulin, a condition called "insulin resistance."