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Understanding Glucose and Insulin


Insulin is a chemical known as a hormone, meaning that it's made in an organ, which in this case is the pancreas, and carried around the body in the bloodstream. The function of insulin is to act as a key to the "door" in each cell of the body that opens to allow glucose in. However, not every cell requires insulin to get its glucose; some cells and organs take up glucose without using insulin. These include

--The brain
--Nerve fibres
--Red blood cells
--The retinas of the eyes
--The kidneys
--Blood vessels

The insulin-producing and insulin-storing pancreas cells, called B or beta cells, are found in groups called islets of Langerhans throughout the pancreas.

Other cells present in the islets of Langerhans include A cells, which produce glucagon, a hormone that's very important to patients with diabetes because it raises blood glucose when it gets too low; and D cells, which make somatostatin, a hormone that blocks the secretion of other hormones but doesn't have a use in diabetes because it causes high blood glucose.

In people who don't have diabetes, the presence of insulin helps control the conversion of glucose into energy in the body. People with diabetes, however, experience triggering events that lead to a lack of insulin in the body, which in turn leads to having uncontrolled glucose.


Glucose and insulin need to be balanced in order to avoid diabetic complications and achieve optimal health. Frequent testing with a reliable glucose meter and inexpensive glucose test strips will help you to monitor your blood sugar and adjust your insulin doses to match the changing demands of your body.

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