What is the Connection Between Insulin and Blood Sugar?

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  • Written By: J.M. Densing
  • Edited By: R. Halprin
  • Last Modified Date: 24 October 2016
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There is a direct connection between insulin and blood sugar. Insulin is a hormone that regulates the levels of sugar, or glucose, in the blood by helping the cells to utilize it for energy. In a healthy individual, insulin is secreted by the pancreas, and more is released when blood sugar levels are high. When sugar is at low levels in the bloodstream, less insulin is released. Malfunctions of this system occur in those with diabetes, leading to potentially dangerous blood sugar levels if left uncontrolled.

The relationship between insulin and blood sugar is that insulin is responsible for keeping blood sugar at a healthy level. When a person eats, food is converted into glucose by the digestive system and released into the bloodstream. The blood sugar is then absorbed by the cells all over the body and used for energy. The hormone insulin is necessary for the blood sugar to enter the cells.

Large amounts of sugary or carbohydrate rich foods are converted to blood sugar more easily than other foods. This can cause higher-than-normal blood sugar levels. When this occurs, the connection between insulin and blood sugar causes extra insulin to be released by the pancreas. The additional insulin allows the cells to quickly absorb the extra sugar from the blood. This returns blood sugar to normal levels quickly, which is important because high blood sugar levels for an extended period can be very unhealthy.


If a person hasn't eaten for a few hours, blood sugar levels can dip lower than normal. When this happens, due to the relationship between insulin and blood sugar, the pancreas will slow down the rate of insulin secretion. This helps the remaining blood sugar to be taken into the cells much more slowly while the cells utilize stored glucose for energy instead.

In some individuals, there is a malfunction of the relationship between insulin and blood sugar called diabetes. A person with diabetes lacks the appropriate insulin response to elevated blood sugar levels. This may occur because of the following reasons: the pancreas is unable to make and secrete the necessary insulin; the body does not respond correctly to the insulin; or it isn't released in the correct amounts. Diabetes is a potentially dangerous disease that requires careful monitoring and treatment that can include lifestyle changes and medication. There is no cure for diabetes, but diabetic individuals can often live long healthy lives if they are vigilant about controlling their blood sugar.


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Post 3

@clintflint - Even the researchers who think that underlying genetics causes type two diabetes also concede that sticking to a tailored diet can help a person to reduce the damage.

It's no different from a person with type one diabetes needing to stick to a particular diet as well. Trying to stay in a normal blood sugar range is just a fact of life for them.

Post 2

@Iluviaporos - I don't like calling them diets, but I do think that a person who understands this stuff is better off and can choose their foods with more confidence.

The thing is though, I don't think it's a good idea to reinforce that preventing diabetes is entirely within an individual's power. There is a lot of research now that diabetes is genetic and that bad eating habits are caused by the blood sugar spikes, rather than the other way around. Diabetes and blood sugar have a complicated relationship.

Post 1

Diets which directly take this relationship into account seem to be among the few that actually work in my opinion, particularly when they work with GI.

Because eating foods with a low Glycemic Index means that insulin will be released slowly, over a longer period of time and will make you feel satiated for longer. It's also a lot healthier for you in the long run, because keeping your blood glucose levels too high can lead to diabetes and other problems.

A lot of diets are hit and miss when it comes to this kind of thing. They talk about substituting carbohydrates for protein, which can help, but only to a point.

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