Insulin is a hormone which gets produced in your pancreas, according to Healthline. The pancreas is a gland located behind your stomach. Once the insulin gets produced, it helps your body create energy by absorbing glucose into your bloodstream.
The production of insulin in our bodies is essential for day-to-day life and functionality. Certain unhealthy lifestyle choices cause people to develop problems creating insulin, which leads to type 2 diabetes. In rare cases, people develop type 1 diabetes due to an attack on their immune system.
If you or a family member has recently been diagnosed with diabetes, you probably have lots of questions about insulin. We’ll cover your questions below.
Insulin and Diabetes
With both types of diabetes, patients need to use prescribed insulin injections to treat their conditions. We’ll outline and describe how insulin affects people with type 1 and type 2 diabetes.
Type 1 Diabetes
According to WebMD, only 5% of diabetics suffer from type 1 diabetes. Although the condition is rare, it’s important for patients to understand the effects of insulin in their system.
Type 1 diabetes develops when your immune system destroys beta cells in your pancreas. These are the cells producing insulin, and once they get terminated the glucose can’t move through your bloodstream. Your body can’t create energy without glucose in your blood, so it builds up and starves the cells, which causes high blood sugar levels.
In most cases, type 1 diabetes in patients before the age of 20, but it can develop in older patients as well. According to the Kids Health Organization, type 1 diabetes cannot be prevented.
When the body can’t produce insulin due to an immune system attack, the following symptoms become prevalent:
- Stomach Pain
- Blurred Vision (see Diabetic Retinopathy)
- Weight Loss
- Frequent Urination
- Increased Appetite After Eating
If your symptoms go untreated, you can suffer from more severe side effects such as loss of consciousness. You also have an increased risk of developing other immune system complications such as celiac disease, according to the Celiac Disease Foundation.
Type 2 Diabetes
Unlike type 1, type 2 diabetes can be prevented. People develop type 2 diabetes from unhealthy lifestyle choices. However, genetics also play a role in this condition, according to Lisa M. Leontis RN, and Amy Hess-Fischl MS, RD.
If one of your parents has type 2 diabetes, you have an increased chance of suffering from the same condition, but you can still make healthy lifestyle choices to prevent this from happening.
Eating a high-calorie diet with lots of carbohydrates and sugar put you at risk for this condition. Type 2 diabetes is prevalent in people who or overweight or obese, according to the UK Diabetes Organization. A sedentary lifestyle with little physical activity, chronic stress, and prolonged steroid usage also increase the chances of type 2 diabetes.
These risk factors cause your body to inefficiently create and manage insulin levels. When this happens, your body creates insulin resistance or prediabetes before your official type 2 diabetes diagnosis. If you have this condition, you may experience:
- Trouble concentrating
- Extreme tiredness
- Intense hunger
- Belly fat
- High cholesterol
- High blood pressure
Type 2 diabetes is more common in people over the age of 45, but you can take preventative steps in your youth to limit your chances of getting this disease. Diabetics have a 50% higher chance of death than people without the condition, according to the American Diabetes Association. It’s the seventh leading cause of death in the United States.
Treating Diabetes with Insulin
Since diabetics cannot produce insulin naturally, they use injection treatments to regulate their blood sugar levels. Depending on the severity of your type 2 diabetes, you may not need regular injections. If you make changes to your diet, lifestyle, and take oral medications, you can potentially maintain healthy blood glucose levels.
Insulin cannot be administered orally; it can only enter your system through an injection with a pen, pump, or syringe. Your doctor will determine which type of insulin best fits your medical condition and circumstances. There are four different types of insulin:
- Long-acting insulin
- Short-acting insulin
- Rapid-acting insulin
- Intermediate-acting insulin
Long-acting insulin takes about two hours to start working and lasts for about 24 hours. Short-acting activates within an hour of the injection and lasts for up to eight hours. Rapid-acting insulin only lasts for a few hours, but it starts working 15 minutes after injections.
You administer short acting and rapid acting before eating a meal. Intermediate-acting insulin lasts for about eight hours and activates about 30 to 60 minutes after it gets injected into your bloodstream, according to the Joslin Diabetes Center.
Managing Insulin Levels
Diabetics need to check their blood sugar levels on a regular basis to determine if they are within a healthy range. In order to limit your amount of insulin injections, you can eat a healthy diet and exercise regularly.
Carbohydrates and Protein
Starch, sugar, and fiber are the three types of carbohydrates. Your body breaks down carbohydrates and turns them into sugar in your bloodstream. According to Diabetes Self Management, you should eat 15-30 grams of carbohydrates for a snack and 30-60 grams of carbs during each meal.
Protein is also an essential diet staple for diabetics who want to manage their insulin levels. Fish is a great source of protein and should be consumed two or three times per week. In addition to fish, you can eat lean meats such as sirloin beef, ribs, tenderloin, lamb, veal, or pork.
Staying fit is a great way to lose fat, which is a major contributing factor to diabetes. High blood pressure and high cholesterol levels are also present in diabetics with a weight problem. If you make a conscious effort to avoid being sedentary and increase your physical activity, you’ll be able to manage your insulin levels more efficiently.
If you’ve never exercised before, make sure you start slow.
Try going for a walk around the block or on a treadmill 30 minutes each day until you feel more comfortable doing more vigorous actives.