With so much written about diet versus exercise and exercise versus diet, it’s easy to overlook the role hormones play in our health and wellbeing, but they can make all the difference. In honor of American Diabetes Month, we’ve decided to take a closer look at the hormone insulin: What is it, and how does it relate to diabetes? Can we manipulate insulin to help us lose fat and live longer? As it turns out, we can — and pretty easily, too.
What Is Insulin and How Does It Relate to Diabetes?
Insulin is a super important hormone that helps us absorb nutrients from our food. Whenever we eat carbs (and a little bit when we eat protein), the amount of sugar in our blood increases, and the pancreas releases insulin to help take the sugar out of the bloodstream and into our organs (mostly the liver and muscle cells) where it can be used for energy.
Diabetes is a disease that occurs when that insulin response doesn’t work properly and sugar piles up in the blood with nowhere to go. This can result in a whole lot of problems, including vision loss, hearing loss, high blood pressure, and gum disease.
There are two main kinds of diabetes: Type 1 occurs when the pancreas produces little or no insulin. Type 2 occurs when insulin is produced, but the body doesn’t respond to it the right way. What causes Type 1 is often hard to pinpoint. Type 2 diabetes is increasingly common — some have estimated that a third of Americans born in 2000 will develop the disease — and a lot of the time, it can be prevented. How? Let’s talk insulin sensitivity.