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The Role of Insulin in Your Overall Health

The Role of Insulin in Your Overall Health

Insulin isn’t just an injection for people with Type 1 diabetes. Insulin is a hormone that transports glucose (energy from food) from your bloodstream and into each and every cell in your body. Like with Type 1 diabetes, insulin plays a role in the development of prediabetes and Type 2 diabetes. 

At East Side Primary Medical Care on New York City’s Upper East Side, our experienced primary care physician, Dr. Daniel Klein, is a diabetes specialist who believes in the power of preventive healthcare.

In this month’s blog post, we want to talk about insulin’s role in your overall health.

About insulin

Insulin is a hormone made in the pancreas. Hormones are your body’s chemical messaging system, directing many body functions like your mood and heart rate. Your pancreas releases insulin when glucose enters your bloodstream, helping move the glucose into the cell.

Glucose, which comes from the food you eat, is the main source of energy for all of the cells in your body. Insulin helps keep your cell energy levels up and blood glucose numbers within normal range. 

Without insulin, the glucose stays in your blood. Too much glucose in the blood damages the blood vessels and organs. It also drains your energy and leaves you with an insatiable appetite and excessive thirst. 

Insulin and health

Insulin is essential for life. If you have Type 1 diabetes, your body doesn’t make any insulin at all and you must take insulin injections to survive. This is an autoimmune disorder that most often appears during childhood or adolescence.

Insulin is also involved in the development of prediabetes and Type 2 diabetes.

Prediabetes

If you have prediabetes, your blood glucose numbers are higher than normal, but not high enough to have diabetes. With prediabetes, your cells are resisting the actions of the insulin, causing an increase in glucose in the blood.

In response, your pancreas makes and releases more insulin, trying to get the blood glucose within normal range. Over time, your pancreas can’t keep up and blood glucose levels continue to rise, leading to Type 2 diabetes.

Type 2 diabetes

Type 2 diabetes is a chronic disease, which means it’s with you for life. You develop this type of diabetes because your cells are resistant to insulin and your pancreas can’t produce enough of the hormone to keep blood glucose levels within normal range.

Insulin and overall health

Currently, there’s no known way to prevent Type 1 diabetes, and there are factors you can’t change that put you at risk of developing prediabetes and Type 2 diabetes, like genetics. 

However, there are factors in your control that may help lower cell resistance to insulin and delay or prevent the onset of prediabetes and Type 2 diabetes, such as maintaining a healthy weight and getting regular exercise. 

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), if you have prediabetes and you’re overweight or obese, losing 5% to 7% of your current weight lowers your risk of developing Type 2 diabetes. 

Regular exercise also improves blood glucose levels, decreasing the need for extra insulin from the pancreas.

Problems with insulin cause diabetes. Understanding how insulin works and how to make it work better, benefits your overall health. 

If you have diabetes and need help getting your blood glucose under control, give us a call or book an appointment online. We also offer telemedicine appointments and concierge primary care for our patients who want more one-on-one support.

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