What are Insulin And Glucagon?
Insulin and glucagon are hormones that help regulate the body’s glucose levels. These hormones work in a negative feedback loop to maintain equilibrium. In other words, the effects are counterbalanced by a decrease in function. This helps to maintain stability in the system.
When the body digests food rich in carbohydrates, glucose is released into the bloodstream. This leads to an increase in blood glucose levels in the body. Consequently, the pancreas sends signals that direct all the cells in the body to take in the glucose. Most of this glucose is used up to provide energy to the cells. The excess glucose in the bloodstream is converted into glycogen and absorbed by the liver and muscle cells to be used later.
Several hours after a meal, the blood glucose levels in the body are low. This signals the pancreas to secrete glucagon, which signals the liver and muscle cells to convert the glycogen back to glucose, which is then readily absorbed by the other cells to produce energy. This loop continually functions, ensuring that the body’s glucose levels never drop too low.
Regulating the body’s blood sugar mechanism is quite a feat; however, when this balance is lost, certain metabolic disorders arise. These include type 1 and type 2 diabetes.
When the body produces too much insulin, the cells end up absorbing too much glucose. It can also cause the liver to produce too little glucose. Consequently, it leads to a condition called hypoglycemia, where blood sugar levels are dangerously low.
On the other hand, too little insulin can lead to a condition called hyperglycemia, which is characterised by high blood sugar. If left untreated, it can lead to a potentially dangerous condition known as diabetic coma.