The recent medical history of the world is concerned with an epidemic. Diabetes has risen to the top in recent years due to its pandemic nature and has taken the attention of many that have been researching on this topic. The world aims to properly understand this disease first so they can find a proper cure for a better prognosis. Although incurable and irreversible as it may seem right now, the only hope lies in properly controlling it. But to properly understand diabetes, we must first delve into the root causes, mainly due to irregularities of two known hormones called insulin and glucagon. We will be discussing on the extent to which both insulin and glucagon together can regulate blood sugar throughout the article.
Why homeostasis for blood sugar?
Homeostasis is our body trying to regulate its temperature by discharging various pancreatic hormones. Among which includes glucagon that raises blood glucose level, as well as insulin for keeping the level under control.
Furthermore, we get nutrients for energy in three forms mainly,
- Amino acids, which come from proteins like meat and fish
- Carbohydrates, which come from sources like bread or ice cream
- Lipids, which are fats absorbed through oils and other fatty foods
Out of these, carbohydrates are responsible for direct energy release through the breakdown of the glucose content in them.
Further insights on insulin and glucagon:
Insulin and glucagon are hormones secreted by our body responsible for homeostasis. The hormones are secreted by cells in our pancreas when triggered. Insulin is the hormone released to lower blood sugar level, usually following a meal consumption. If not secreted in the right amount, blood sugar will rise causing hyperglycemia. Glucagon, on the other hand, is a hormone discharged to bring back up blood sugar levels during a shortage of glucagon. Thus, protecting our bodily system by preventing the blood sugar level to drop below a dangerous level causing hypoglycemia.
What are the dangers of blood sugar levels?
Both hyperglycemia and hypoglycemia can affect the body in several ways, and knowing this beforehand could help you figure out how to properly maintain your bodily systems.
Hyperglycemia or too much sugar in the blood may trigger symptoms such as
- Irregular weight loss
- Excessive thirst with excessive urination
- Blurred vision
Hypoglycemia or low blood sugar can be fatal since it causes low energy levels along with
- Hunger with nausea
- Coma and even death in some cases.
Insulin and its importance:
When blood sugar levels spike, the pancreas secretes insulin to control it. But that’s not all, insulin is responsible for more than just storing blood sugar. Insulin causes three different reactions in our blood upon release.
- The first and most commonly known reaction it causes is glycolysis. In this reaction, the insulin converts glucose into ATP molecules which basically serve as energy for cells.
- The second reaction, known as glycogenesis causes the insulin to turn glucose from the blood into glycogen, which is then stored in tissues and muscles for short term usage.
- The third reaction it causes is lipogenesis. This reaction converts glucose to lipids or fats which is then stored in adipose tissue or fat depots inside the body for long term use.
What about glucagon?
Glucagon is the hormone released when blood sugar levels drop below a certain point or whenever the system is starving. Glucagon itself is further responsible for energy release in times of need. This hormone also causes three different reactions in blood.
- Glycogenolysis is the first most common reaction caused by glucagon in the bloodstream. This process takes the stored glycogen in our body to release glucose into the bloodstream as an energy supply.
- The next important reaction glucagon release can cause is gluconeogenesis. This is when glucagon takes amino acids from proteins to combine with a few other essential additives to create glucose for the blood. This process is reversible and by utilizing amino acids for energy release in times of shortages for building and repairing of tissues and cells.
- Ketogenesis is the third reaction caused by glucagon during times of starvation. It is when glucagon converts fatty acids, or lipids into ketone bodies. Ketone bodies are an energy supply only for the heart and the brain. This energy cannot be used anywhere else which is why ketogenesis is done in extreme starvation cases.
To sum it all up, insulin and glucose both help in maintaining the perfect blood sugar levels, but oftentimes get dysfunctional due to diabetes. To live a healthy lifestyle, the body requires regular exercise while maintaining proper consumption pattern.