Addiction A-Z

Insulin

Insulin is one of the most important hormones in the human body. It controls how our bodies use and store carbohydrates and fat and directs liver, muscle and fat cells to grab excess glucose from the blood, where it will be stored as glycogen or triglyceride. Without insulin, glucose would build up in our blood and we would not be able to survive. Insulin is made in the pancreas and contains over fifty amino acids. The part of the pancreas that creates insulin was discovered in the late 1800’s by a researcher in Germany; shortly thereafter other researchers figured out that the cells produced in that part of the pancreas play a role in the digestion of food. Research has shown that insulin is only released from the pancreas after a particular action has taken place, such as when the person eats protein or glucose (including carbohydrates). When this happens, insulin will cause the body to remove glucose from the blood and store it in order to avoid a fatal buildup of sugar. Because our bodies require more energy during stressful situations, however, noradrenaline prevents the release of insulin so that more glucose will be available to cells via the blood stream. By blocking the release of glucagon, insulin stops our bodies from being able to use fat as a fuel source. Since the amount of insulin we have at any given time should remain constant, issues with insulin levels can result in things like diabetes or metabolic disorders. Although insulin in responsible for ensuring that our bodies do not have too much glucose in the bloodstream, too little of the substance forces our bodies to use sugar, previously stored as glycogen in the liver or muscles, as energy.

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