You’ve probably heard of the hormone insulin, but you may not fully understand what it is or how it affects your body.
Because insulin plays an essential role in your health, it’s worth taking a few minutes to learn about it.
Our primary care providers at Princeton Sports and Family Medicine, P.C., located in Lawrenceville, New Jersey, would like to explain the role insulin plays in your body, as well as the steps you can take to help insulin work efficiently.
Insulin: a crucial hormone
Insulin is a hormone secreted by your pancreas — an organ located in your abdomen. Insulin has several essential jobs, including helping to move glucose (blood sugar) from your blood to your cells and organs, which use it for energy.
After you eat, digestive enzymes break down the food in your stomach causing a release of glucose (sugar) into your bloodstream. Your pancreas responds by releasing insulin. Insulin ushers glucose from your bloodstream into your cells to be absorbed. Therefore, insulin reduces the amount of glucose in your bloodstream.
When insulin doesn’t work as it should
In some people, insulin doesn’t do the job your body needs it to do. Instead of escorting glucose into your cells, it remains in your blood, leading to high blood sugar.
Insulin may fail to do its job because your pancreas doesn’t make enough of it or because your body becomes resistant to the action of insulin — a condition known as insulin resistance.
In addition to high blood sugar, insulin resistance can cause high LDL (“bad”) cholesterol, low HDL (“good”) cholesterol, and high triglycerides (another kind of fat in the blood that can be harmful at high levels).
Health conditions linked to insulin resistance
When insulin doesn’t remove glucose from your blood as it should, your blood sugar rises and remains high, putting you in danger of two conditions: prediabetes and type 2 diabetes.
Fasting Blood Glucose
99 mg/dl or below
100 mg/dl - 125 mg/dl
126 mg/dl or above
Another type of diabetes, type 1 diabetes, occurs when autoimmune damage to the pancreas prevents it from making insulin properly. People living with type 1 diabetes must take insulin to stay alive.
Responding to insulin resistance
If our primary care providers tell you that you have insulin resistance, prediabetes, or type 2 diabetes, be sure to follow our guidance on managing your insulin and blood sugar. Some lifestyle changes that can help make you more sensitive to insulin include:
- Weight loss
- Eating a healthy diet
- Physical activity
- Managing blood sugar if you have type 2 diabetes
- Managing stress
- Getting enough sleep
How’s your insulin health?
If you don’t know whether you have normal blood sugar or insulin resistance, our primary care providers can order blood tests to determine how well insulin is working in your body.
To schedule an appointment with one of our care providers, call our office at (609) 248-6520 or request an appointment online.