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What Is The Role Of The Hormone Glucagon In Getting Your Blood Sugar Back To Normal?

Homeostasis - Blood Sugar And Temperature

Homeostasis - Blood Sugar And Temperature

Your pancreas constantly monitors and controls your blood sugar levels using two hormones. The best known of these is insulin. When your blood sugar levels rise after a meal your pancreas releases insulin. Insulin allows glucose to be taken into the cells of your body where it is used in cellular respiration. It also allows soluble glucose to be converted to an insoluble carbohydrate called glycogen which is stored in the liver and muscles. When your blood sugar levels fall below the ideal level your pancreas releases a different hormone called glucagon. Glucagon makes your liver break down glycogen, converting it back into glucose which can be used by the cells. Continue reading >>

Homeostasis Of Glucose Levels: Hormonal Control And Diabetes

Homeostasis Of Glucose Levels: Hormonal Control And Diabetes

Homeostasis According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, there are almost 26 million people in the United States alone that have diabetes, which is 8.3% of the total U.S. population. With so many Americans suffering from diabetes, how do we treat all of them? Do all of these people now need insulin shots, or are there other ways to treat, or prevent, diabetes? In order to answer these questions, we must first understand the fundamentals of blood glucose regulation. As you may remember, homeostasis is the maintenance of a stable internal environment within an organism, and maintaining a stable internal environment in a human means having to carefully regulate many parameters, including glucose levels in the blood. There are two major ways that signals are sent throughout the body. The first is through nerves of the nervous system. Signals are sent as nerve impulses that travel through nerve cells, called neurons. These impulses are sent to other neurons, or specific target cells at a specific location of the body that the neuron extends to. Most of the signals that the human body uses to regulate body temperature are sent through the nervous system. The second way that signals can be sent throughout the body is through the circulatory system. These signals are transmitted by specific molecules called hormones, which are signaling molecules that travel through the circulatory system. In this lesson, we'll take a look at how the human body maintains blood glucose levels through the use of hormone signaling. Homeostasis of Blood Glucose Levels Glucose is the main source of fuel for the cells in our bodies, but it's too big to simply diffuse into the cells by itself. Instead, it needs to be transported into the cells. Insulin is a hormone produced by the panc Continue reading >>

Insulin Vs Glucagon

Insulin Vs Glucagon

Insulin and glucagon have both similarities and differences. Both are hormones secreted by the pancreas but they are made from different types of cells in the pancreas. Both help manage the blood glucose levels in the body but they have opposite effects. Both respond to blood glucose levels but they have opposite effects. Each of us has insulin and glucagon in our systems because it is a strict requirement that the blood sugar level in the body is kept in a narrow therapeutic range. You need both insulin and glucagon to respond to various levels of glucose in the bloodstream. While insulin responds and is secreted by the pancreas upon having high glucose levels in the bloodstream, glucagon responds and is secreted by the pancreas upon having low glucose levels in the bloodstream. This maintains homeostasis in the body and keeps the blood sugar stable at all times. Function of Insulin Insulin is a protein-based hormone that is secreted by the beta cells inside the pancreas whenever the pancreas senses that the blood sugar is too high. Low levels of insulin are constantly being secreted into the bloodstream by the pancreas, even when blood glucose levels are normal. After you eat a meal, the glucose from the food you eat is taken up by the gastrointestinal tract, increasing the level of glucose in the blood. When this happens, the beta cells get activated and more insulin is secreted to help decrease the glucose levels, primarily by helping the glucose enter the cells to be used as cellular fuel. When the glucose level in the blood decreases, insulin levels by the islet (beta) cells of the pancreas return to a baseline status. In response to the elevated insulin level, the various cells of the body bind to insulin and the insulin facilitates the transfer of glucose from t Continue reading >>

Turning Diabetes Upside Down

Turning Diabetes Upside Down

I have written about diabetes quite a few times. Thus far, I must admit, I have kept the discussion relatively conventional. Anyone who has read my previous blogs may not think so, but compared to what I really believe, everything has taken place close to the middle ground. Time, I believe, to start turning diabetes upside down, give it a good shake, and see what it looks like from a completely different angle. Some of you may have watched Professor Unger’s fascinating YouTube lecture on type II diabetes. If not, here it is. I recommend it1. To keep things as simple as possible, his view is that the key hormone that drives diabetes is glucagon, not insulin. Indeed, by focussing almost entirely on insulin and sugar/glucose, we cannot understand what is going on with type 2 diabetes, as we are only looking at a small part of the picture. In addition, we are looking at it the wrong way round. He is, of course right. Now, stop, stand on your head… Ready, here we go. The critical requirement of human metabolism is to ensure that there is a high enough level of glucose to power the brain. Without sufficient glucose the brains shuts down and dies. Not all the cell types in the brain need glucose and all brain cells can also metabolise ketone bodies, to an extent. (Ketone bodies are synthesized in the liver from fatty acids). However, the bottom line is this. If your blood sugar level drops below about 2mmol/l, and stays there, you will enter a hypoglycaemic coma and die. Which means that it is absolutely critical that this does not ever occur. In order to prevent this happening we have a hormone that keeps blood sugar from dropping this low. It is called Glucagon. It is produced in alpha-cells in the pancreas (right next to where insulin is produced). How does it work? Her Continue reading >>

Low Blood Sugar Levels In Diabetes

Low Blood Sugar Levels In Diabetes

No matter what we're doing — even when we're sleeping — our brains depend on glucose to function. Glucose is a sugar that comes from the foods we eat, and it's also formed and stored inside the body. It's the main source of energy for the cells of our body, and it's carried to each cell through the bloodstream. The blood glucose level is the amount of glucose in the blood. When blood glucose levels (also called blood sugar levels) drop too low, it's called hypoglycemia (pronounced: hi-po-gly-SEE-me-uh). Very low blood sugar levels can cause severe symptoms that need to be treated right away. People with diabetes can have low blood sugar levels because of the medicines they have to take to manage their diabetes. They may need a hormone called insulin or diabetes pills (or both) to help their bodies use the sugar in their blood. These medicines help take the sugar out of the blood and get it into the body's cells, which makes the level of sugar in the blood go down. But sometimes it's a tricky balancing act and blood sugar levels can get too low. People with diabetes need to keep their blood sugars from getting too high or too low. Part of keeping blood sugar levels in a healthy range is having good timing, and balancing when and what they eat and when they exercise with when they take medicines. Some things that can make low blood sugar levels more likely to happen are: skipping meals and snacks not eating enough food at a meal or snack exercising longer or harder than usual without eating some extra food getting too much insulin not timing the insulin doses properly with meals, snacks, and exercise Also, certain things may increase how quickly insulin gets absorbed into the bloodstream and can make hypoglycemia more likely to occur. For example, taking a hot shower Continue reading >>

How Insulin And Glucagon Work To Regulate Blood Sugar Levels

How Insulin And Glucagon Work To Regulate Blood Sugar Levels

The pancreas secretes insulin and glucagon, both of which play a vital role in regulating blood sugar levels. The two hormones work in balance. If the level of one hormone is outside the ideal range, blood sugar levels may spike or drop. Together, insulin and glucagon help keep conditions inside the body steady. When blood sugar is too high, the pancreas secretes more insulin. When blood sugar levels drop, the pancreas releases glucagon to bring them back up. Blood sugar and health The body converts carbohydrates from food into sugar (glucose), which serves as a vital source of energy. Blood sugar levels vary throughout the day but, in most instances, insulin and glucagon keep these levels normal. Health factors including insulin resistance, diabetes, and problems with diet can cause a person's blood sugar levels to soar or plummet. Blood sugar levels are measured in milligrams per decilitre (mg/dl). Ideal blood sugar ranges are as follows: Before breakfast - levels should be less than 100 mg/dl for a person without diabetes and 70-130 mg/dl for a person with diabetes. Two hours after meals - levels should be less than 140 mg/dl for a person without diabetes and less than 180 mg/dl for a person with diabetes. Blood sugar regulation Blood sugar levels are a measure of how effectively an individual's body uses glucose. When the body does not convert enough glucose for use, blood sugar levels remain high. Insulin helps the body's cells absorb glucose, lowering blood sugar and providing the cells with the glucose they need for energy. When blood sugar levels are too low, the pancreas releases glucagon. Glucagon forces the liver to release stored glucose, which causes the blood sugar to rise. Insulin and glucagon are both released by islet cells in the pancreas. These cells Continue reading >>

What Organ Regulates The Amount Of Glucose In The Bloodstream?

What Organ Regulates The Amount Of Glucose In The Bloodstream?

Glucose in the bloodstream provides the primary fuel for all body tissues. Blood glucose levels are highest during the digestive period after a meal. Your blood sugar is lowest when the stomach and intestines are empty. Under normal circumstances, the body tightly controls the amount of insulin in your blood. An organ called the pancreas, which is tucked behind the stomach releases the hormones insulin and glucagon to regulate blood sugar levels. Blood sugar regulation is crucial because high and low blood glucose can cause health problems. The pancreas is an elongated organ wide on one end and slender on the other end and measures about 25 centimeters in length. It has dual functions: it releases digestive enzymes, which plays a role in digestion, and it secretes hormones. Prevents High Blood Glucose Insulin plays an integral role in preventing high blood sugar. After you eat a meal and your blood-glucose rises, your pancreas senses your blood-sugar level. When the glucose in your bloodstream becomes high, the pancreas releases insulin into your bloodstream. A small clump of pancreatic cells called the ''islets of Langerhans,'' manufacture insulin. Once the insulin is in your bloodstream, it allows your cells to absorb and use glucose as a fuel source. Mediates Low Blood Sugar When you consume more carbohydrate than your body needs at the time, your body stores the extra glucose as glycogen in the liver. The pancreas continuously monitors your blood sugar levels. When glucose is low, the pancreas releases the hormone glucagon. The glucagon triggers the liver to break down glycogen and converts it back to glucose. The stored glucose enters the bloodstream and raises blood-glucose levels. This allows the body to keep blood sugar levels stable in between meals. Blood Gluc Continue reading >>

Regulation Of Blood Glucose: Importance & Nutrient Conversion

Regulation Of Blood Glucose: Importance & Nutrient Conversion

Blood glucose levels are closely regulated and maintained within a narrow range. Learn how the pancreatic hormones, insulin and glucagon, maintain normal blood sugar levels and how other nutrients can be converted to blood glucose in this lesson. If you drink a 12-ounce can of soda, did you know that you are consuming almost ten teaspoons of sugar? So, what does your body do with all of that sugar? Well, refined sugar is handled like any other simple or complex carbohydrate that you consume, which means it gets converted to glucose. Glucose is a simple sugar that is used as energy by your body and brain. Now, just because every cell in your body uses glucose doesn't mean you should start eating more sugar. Your body only allows a certain amount of glucose to be present in your bloodstream at one time. If there's too much, the extra is sent to storage, and as we will discover, one of your body's favorite storage places is your fat cells. In this lesson, we will take a look at how the amount of glucose found in your blood, referred to as blood glucose or blood sugar, is regulated and how nutrients other than carbs can be converted into glucose. When you stop by a fast food restaurant and enjoy a double cheeseburger, fries, and a soda, the carbohydrates in your meal get broken down into glucose within your digestive tract. These molecules are small enough to pass into your bloodstream causing your blood glucose level to rise. Your pancreas is not happy about this rising blood sugar. In fact, your pancreas acts somewhat like a bouncer at a nightclub; there is too much sugar crowding your bloodstream, so your pancreas tells some of it to leave. To do this your pancreas secretes insulin, which is a hormone that moves glucose out of the blood and into the cells. In other words Continue reading >>

Balancing Your Blood Sugar Levels On A Vegan Diet

Balancing Your Blood Sugar Levels On A Vegan Diet

Getting your blood sugar levels correct can easily be managed through a vegan diet. Alessandra Felice shows us how it’s done… Glucose (the sugar in our blood) is essential to health because it’s required for the formation of ATP, the energy molecule in our bodies, which is necessary for every organ and cell to function. The two key hormones for blood glucose regulation are insulin and glucagon. When blood sugar is high, such as after a meal, insulin is released and helps to bring glucose circulating in the blood from the breakdown of food into the tissues for use and storage; when blood sugar is low, glucagon is released to break down glycogen (stored form of glucose in the tissues), causing the blood sugar to rise again. The body tries to maintain a constant balance between the two to function properly. But a state of continued elevated blood sugar can have a very negative effect on it as the body must release a consistent stream of insulin into the bloodstream to maintain healthy sugar levels. This will cause the tissues to become what is known as “insulin resistant”, due to the constant exposure to insulin, which causes more and more insulin to be released to remove circulating sugar that keeps rising as tissues are not responding to insulin anymore. Besides potentially contributing to diabetes, heart disease and other chronic metabolic diseases, long-term blood sugar imbalance may contribute to other conditions like increased fat storage in the abdomen, which is also dangerous for heart health and also cause inconsistent and poor energy. Balancing blood sugar is essential for our mental and physical health! Let’s take a quick look at what items or habits are best to reduce or eliminate to avoid blood sugar spikes. Avoid refined sugar and refined carbohyd Continue reading >>

Insulin And Glucagon: Essential Hormones For Normal Blood Sugar

Insulin And Glucagon: Essential Hormones For Normal Blood Sugar

When it comes to regulating blood glucose levels there is an important interplay between two hormones in your body, insulin and glucagon. These two hormones counterbalance each other and allow for normal blood sugar balancing. When they are not working correctly people can develop insulin resistance and diabetes. Here are the major players. Glucose is a simple form of sugar that is used by our cells as fuel. When you eat a meal your food is broken down in your digestive system into its building blocks and ultimately converted into glucose. Glucose is then released into your blood stream so that your cells can use it for fuel to do their jobs in your body. When there is extra glucose in the blood stream it is taken up into the liver and muscle cells to be stored as glycogen for in between meals. Insulin is a hormone that is released from your pancreas in response to high amounts of glucose circulating in your blood. The purpose of insulin is to help the high glucose levels leave your bloodstream and enter your cells. Insulin acts as a key to open the cell membranes of the cells so glucose can enter. This causes the blood glucose levels in the blood to drop and become lower. Glucagon is a hormone that is also released from your pancreas but this time in response to low levels of glucose in your blood. It causes the stored glycogen to be broken down back into glucose. It's then released into the bloodstream to raise blood glucose levels during times when you are not eating. For example when you are sleeping or in-between meals. When insulin levels are high, glucagon is not released. When glucagon levels are high then insulin levels are not released. The interplay between insulin and glucagon keeps your blood glucose constant between 90-100ml/dl throughout the day. When som Continue reading >>

Beware The Perils Of Severe Hypoglycemia

Beware The Perils Of Severe Hypoglycemia

Over 80 years ago, famed diabetologist Elliot Joslin said about the treatment of patients with type 1 diabetes: “Ketoacidosis may kill a patient, but frequent hypoglycemic reactions will ruin him.” Unfortunately, hypoglycemia continues to be the most difficult problem facing most patients, families, and caregivers who deal with the management of type 1 diabetes on a daily basis. Frequent hypoglycemia episodes not only can “ruin,” or adversely impact the quality of life for patients, but also, when severe, can cause seizures, coma, and even death. A Tragic Case Recently, our group published a case report in the journal Endocrine Practice describing a tragic death from hypoglycemia that occurred while the patient slept in his own bed. Our patient, a 23-year-old man with type 1 diabetes who had a history of recurrent severe hypoglycemia, was using an older model insulin pump and wearing a separate, non-real-time continuous glucose monitoring (CGM) system. He was given the CGM in 2005 for the purpose of tracking his nocturnal (nighttime) blood glucose values and making further insulin pump adjustments. After he was pronounced dead in the emergency room, our diabetes nurse removed the pump and CGM to help us understand what happened. His insulin pump was found to have been working correctly. What we learned was that after supper, he had a heavy workout at a gym, followed by a late snack. Between 8 pm and midnight, he “stacked” five boluses of insulin, totaling 7.35 units (33% of his basal dose), in an attempt to keep his glucose values in “tight” control. The downloaded sensor demonstrated that his glucose values fell from about 200 mg/dL at midnight to under 50 mg/dL by 2:00 am, and to under 30 mg/dL by 5:00 am – three hours before he was found by his pare Continue reading >>

Understanding The Processes Behind The Regulation Of Blood Glucose

Understanding The Processes Behind The Regulation Of Blood Glucose

Full, instant access to all stories Customised email alerts straight to your inbox 5,000+ practice articles in our clinical archive Online learning units on fundamental aspects of nursing care Continue reading >>

Insulin And Glucagon

Insulin And Glucagon

Acrobat PDF file can be downloaded here. The islets of Langerhans The pancreatic Islets of Langerhans are the sites of production of insulin, glucagon and somatostatin. The figure below shows an immunofluorescence image in which antibodies specific for these hormones have been coupled to differing fluorescence markers. We can therefore identify those cells that produce each of these three peptide hormones. You can see that most of the tissue, around 80 %, is comprised of the insulin-secreting red-colored beta cells (ß-cells). The green cells are the α-cells (alpha cells) which produce glucagon. We see also some blue cells; these are the somatostatin secreting γ-cells (gamma cells). Note that all of these differing cells are in close proximity with one another. While they primarily produce hormones to be circulated in blood (endocrine effects), they also have marked paracrine effects. That is, the secretion products of each cell type exert actions on adjacent cells within the Islet. An Introduction to secretion of insulin and glucagon The nutrient-regulated control of the release of these hormones manages tissue metabolism and the blood levels of glucose, fatty acids, triglycerides and amino acids. They are responsible for homeostasis; the minute-to-minute regulation of the body's integrated metabolism and, thereby, stabilize our inner milieu. The mechanisms involved are extremely complex. Modern medical treatment of diabetes (rapidly becoming "public enemy number one") is based on insight into these mechanisms, some of which are not completely understood. I will attempt to give an introduction to this complicated biological picture in the following section. Somewhat deeper insight will come later. The Basics: secretion Let us begin with two extremely simplified figur Continue reading >>

What Is Glucagon?

What Is Glucagon?

Blood sugar levels are an important part of overall health. When blood sugar levels drop, an individual may feel lethargic. If they drop too low, the individual may become disoriented, dizzy or even pass out. Blood sugar control involves a complex system of hormones, and one of those hormones is glucagon. Glucagon is a hormone that works with other hormones and bodily functions to control glucose levels in the blood. It comes from alpha cells found in the pancreas and is closely related to insulin-secreting beta cells, making it a crucial component that keeps the body’s blood glucose levels stable. What does glucagon do? Although secreted by the pancreas, glucagon directly impacts the liver as it works to control blood sugar levels. Specifically, glucagon prevents blood glucose levels from dropping to a dangerous point by stimulating the conversion of stored glycogen to glucose in the liver. This glucose can be released into the bloodstream, a process known as glycogenolysis. Secondly, glucagon stops the liver from consuming some glucose. This helps more glucose to enter the bloodstream, rather than being consumed by the liver, to keep levels stable. Finally, glucagon works in a process known as gluconeogenesis, which is the production of glucose in the amino acid molecules. In each of these processes, glucagon and insulin work together. Insulin will prevent glucose levels from increasing to a point that is too high, while glucagon prevents it from dropping too low. Glucagon production is stimulated when an individual eats a protein-rich meal, experiences a surge in adrenaline, or has a low blood sugar event. Potential problems with glucagon function Glucagon function is crucial to proper blood glucose levels, so problems with glucagon production will lead to problems Continue reading >>

Glossary Of Words Related To Diabetes

Glossary Of Words Related To Diabetes

A1C (also called HbA1c or glycated hemoglobin) – A test that gives you a picture of your blood sugar control over the previous 2 to 3 months. The results help show how well your diabetes care plan is working. Beta cells – Cells in the pancreas that make and release insulin. In people with type 2 diabetes, the beta cells gradually stop releasing enough insulin to help bring sugar into cells, causing higher levels of blood sugar. Biguanides – A group of oral medicines for the treatment of type 2 diabetes. They lower blood sugar by reducing the amount of glucose released by the liver and helping the body respond to insulin. Metformin is a biguanide. GLP-1 – GLP-1 (glucagon-like peptide-1) is a hormone produced in the gut that helps the pancreas release the right amount of insulin to move sugar from the blood into the cells. It stimulates the beta cells in the pancreas to release insulin when blood sugar is high after you eat. It also helps to lower the amount of sugar produced by the liver. Glucagon – A hormone that is released by the pancreas when blood sugar decreases (such as between meals or when you exercise). Glucagon tells the liver to release glucose into the bloodstream to bring your blood sugar level back to normal. Glucose – Sugar. Blood glucose is another way to say blood sugar. Hormone – A chemical messenger produced by the body that signals a reaction or function. Hyperglycemia – High blood sugar (above your individual blood sugar target). Hypoglycemia – Low blood sugar (usually less than 70 mg/dL). Insulin – A hormone made by beta cells in the pancreas that helps sugar move from the blood into the cells. Insulin is also used to treat diabetes by helping to control the level of sugar in the blood. Metformin – A type of oral medicine for Continue reading >>

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