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November 18, 2023

Insulin: The Traffic Light for Your Body’s Car

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In this episode, we look at the crucial role of insulin in our bodies using the analogy of a traffic light. Insulin helps glucose enter cells for energy, just like a traffic controller guides cars through an intersection. In type 2 diabetes or prediabetes, insulin may not work effectively, leading to high blood glucose levels. We discuss medications like Glyburide, Glipizide, Glimepiride, and Metformin as potential solutions that will initially be used to help and why. Lifestyle changes, such as a balanced diet and exercise, also contribute to better diabetes management.

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What Does Insulin Do for Our Body?

Today, I want to pivot a little and give a brief understanding of what Insulin does for our body and help you understand why some medications may be necessary for you to help get your numbers in a state that does no danger to your body. 

Insulin production declines with age. There are also other factors that make insulin not as effective inactivity, medications (such as steroids and some psychiatric medications), stress, pain (both emotional and physical), and a diet that is high in land-based animal fat.

Imagine your body is like a car, and insulin is the traffic controller that keeps everything running smoothly.

Let’s Compare Insulin to a Car

Car (Your Body): Your body needs energy to work properly, just like a car needs fuel to move.

Fuel (Glucose): When you eat, your body turns the food into glucose, which is like the fuel that powers the car.

Traffic /light (Insulin): Insulin is like the traffic controller at a busy intersection. It’s a hormone that helps glucose get into your body’s cells, so they can use it for energy.

Keeping Traffic Moving: When you eat, the traffic controller (insulin) signals the cells to open up and let glucose in. It’s like the traffic light directing cars to move smoothly through the intersection.

Fueling the Car: Once inside the cells, glucose is used as energy, just like fuel makes a car go.

What Happens to Insulin in Type 2 Diabetes?

In type 2 diabetes or prediabetes, there’s a problem with that traffic light (insulin). It either doesn’t work well or isn’t produced enough. So, the glucose has trouble getting into the cells, and it piles up in the bloodstream.

When there’s too much glucose in the bloodstream, it’s like traffic getting jammed up at the intersection. This can lead to health issues if not fixed.

To fix the problem, people with diabetes may need to take medicine or make lifestyle changes, like eating healthier and being more active. This helps the traffic light (insulin) do its job better, allowing glucose to move into the cells smoothly.

Medication to Support Insulin Production

Now, a provider might assess how effectively your body directs glucose or sugar into your cells. This process can be likened to a traffic light managing an intersection, ensuring a fair flow of everyone through it. You know how frustrating it is when one side of the intersection always gets the green light, leaving your side congested. Similarly, insufficient insulin production in your body can result in inadequate “green lights” to allow glucose into your cells. Therefore you would need medication to help your pancreas release more insulin and some of the common medications would be Glyburide, Glipizide and Glimeperide.

You may have heard about insulin resistance, which acts like a traffic controller blocking any cars from passing through the intersection, leading to a buildup of traffic (blood sugar). This situation occurs when your body’s insulin struggles to function properly. However, there are ways to improve insulin’s efficiency such as increasing your movement routine. Medications such as Metformin might be prescribed to improve insulin sensitivity. 

Supporting Insulin Production Through Lifestyle When Living with Type 2 Diabetes or Prediabetes

Furthermore, just like a busy intersection demands a harder-working traffic light to manage all the cars, a similar concept applies to your diet. By combining protein, fats, whole grains, and carbohydrates in a balanced manner, you can ease the burden on your body, preventing excessive congestion caused by consuming too many carbs at once. 

In all, depending on your current A1C and blood sugar trends a combination of these therapies might be recommended.