Whenever you hear about type I or type II diabetes you will no doubt hear the word insulin mentioned in the same breath. So what exactly is insulin and what part does play in the smooth running of your body?
Firstly insulin is a hormone which basically impacts upon the metabolism of your body and several other body systems including your heart. In simple terms insulin encourages your body’s cells to drain glucose from your blood and store it as glycogen in the liver and muscles of your body. This is then used as an energy source for your body as and when required and stops the body burning fat to create energy. If insulin levels are low or insulin is non-existent the body will start to use fat as an energy source which can then impact upon other areas and other functions of the body as well as encouraging the condition of diabetes.
As we know there are two types of diabetes, type I and type II, and insulin plays a different part in each of these.
Type I diabetes
In type I diabetes the body has literally stopped producing insulin and sufferers require regular injections of insulin to control and regulate the body’s metabolism. At this moment in time there is no long-term cure other than the continued injection of insulin at regular intervals to try and control the condition.
Type II diabetes
Sufferers of type II diabetes are insulin resistant, have low production levels or both and will require some form of meditation to control blood glucose levels in the body. Eventually sufferers of type II diabetes may well require regular injection of insulin as and when the impact of available medicines on the body starts to reduce.
The structure of insulin
Insulin is present in all life forms and while the structure between animals and humans does differ in strength it is known that insulin from a pig is perhaps the closest to the human equivalent. Commonly known as a peptide hormone, insulin is composed of 51 amino acid residues, is produced in the pancreas and comes from the Latin word for an “island”.
Even though insulin from a pig is known to be the closest match to the human variant, the difference across the species is very small and in some circumstances insulin from fish has been known to have a medical impact on diabetes sufferers. Unlike many other hormones and elements of the body, the insulin that we know today has changed very little over the centuries which many scientists believe reflects its importance to the animal and human kingdom in relation to the metabolic control system.
Insulin is vital to the overall efficiency of the human and animal body and without it, as we see in diabetic sufferers, it can have serious side effects. The ability to balance the metabolism of the body is vital and research into why some sufferers produce less insulin and why some produce none continues to this day. Scientists have made much progress with regards to the production of synthetic insulin although a cure for type I and type II diabetes would appear to be some way off.