What is insulin for: main functions

After the dangerous increase in cases of type 2 diabetes (also known medically as diabetes mellitus), which especially have been registered in recent years, especially in young people and children, the role of insulin It has allowed us to know and discover a little more about the important functions that this hormone carries out.

Insulin consists of a hormone that our body produces naturally. Specifically, it is produced by the pancreas, to be precise for the beta cells of the islets of Langerhans that we find in this important organ. The islets of Langerhans are also known as pancreatic islets, and are a cluster of cells responsible for producing different hormones such as glucagon and insulin itself.

Thus, every time there is an increase in glucose levels - sugar - in the blood the pancreas releases more insulin. As a rule, blood sugar levels tend to increase especially after eating, as a result of our body taking the food we have eaten and converting it into sugar.

The important functions of insulin

Allows body cells to use glucose as energy

It is probably one of the most important functions carried out by insulin. In other aspects, provides the possibility that the cells of our body use glucose as energy, so that the pancreas will tend to produce a greater amount of insulin in response to a high peak in blood sugar level.

This peak will be much higher when we consume certain foods or foods with a greater caloric and energy intake, especially those that cause high and rapid spikes in blood glucose. This is what happens with foods rich in simple carbohydrates, including white flour, pastries and sweets, foods with a high sugar content ...

The reason is that insulin acts as a kind of "key" that opens the lock of the doors of the cells of our body, so that glucose can enter and be used precisely as energy.

In fact, in people who do not have diabetes, insulin is continuously secreted depending on the ingested food and the needs of each person's organism, being able to use glucose to transform it into energy or store it when there is an excess of sugar in the body. blood.

Helps the formation of muscles

Did you know that insulin helps to heal or heal the muscles? It is a lesser known quality, but when we have had an accident or had surgery, this hormone carries the amino acids (the material that is fundamental for the formation of the muscles) to the affected muscles, repairing muscle damage and helping them to recover both their size and their strength.

Other important functions of insulin

But insulin is not only responsible for being the "key" that allows glucose to enter the cells and be used as energy. It also participates in other functions, and presents the following equally important effects:

  • It stimulates the synthesis of glycogen, a polysaccharide of energy reserve that is stored in the liver, which the organism degrades into glucose and is finally available for energy metabolism, especially when we are stressed or when we are very hungry.
  • It promotes glycolysis, the metabolic function that oxidizes glucose in order to obtain energy for the cell.
  • It increases the retention of sodium in the kidneys.
  • Decreases glyco-secretion in the liver.
  • Increases cellular re-uptake of amino acids and potassium.
  • Increases glucose transport in adipose tissue and skeletal muscle.

The Role of Insulin in the Human Body (February 2024)