What Is Insulin?
Insulin is the primary hormone that responds to what we eat. Insulin is released from the pancreatic beta cells when carbohydrates are ingested, and, to a lesser degree, protein. Insulin is also secreted when the stomach stretches, regardless of food type. Insulin signals for the storage of sugars, and the making and stockpiling of fats. It also assists cellular uptake of amino acids and magnesium. The goal is to refuel and repair. Realize that we do not eat to fuel our future activity; rather, our body uses meals to restore and rebuild from the activity that recently occurred.
People often keep close watch on their glucose numbers. But how many of us know our insulin level?
Our bodies need some circulating insulin at all times, even when we don’t eat. Otherwise, our livers keep making glucose and dumping it into the blood. Livers do this to prevent blood glucose from going too low. So a fasting insulin level should never be 0, which it might be in a person with untreated Type 1. It shouldn’t go below 3. But a high insulin level is just as problematic. A high insulin level is a sign of insulin resistance or prediabetes. It can also signify early-stage Type 2. Too much insulin promotes weight gain by storing fat. It promotes insulin resistance, lowers magnesium levels, and increases inflammation. It also tends to lower HDL (“good”) cholesterol and raise levels of LDL (“bad”) cholesterol.
Why we need to test insulin level?
If you already have diabetes, why should you know your insulin level? Mainly, it helps diagnose what is happening with you. Your blood glucose may be high, but how much of the problem is too little insulin? How much is insulin resistance?
A fasting insulin level test is valuable in several situations
Diagnosing prediabetes and metabolic syndrome. “Prediabetes” is one result of insulin resistance. Insulin resistance causes high cholesterol, high glucose, and high blood pressure. A high level of fasting insulin indicates insulin resistance and can encourage a person to make changes to lower it.
- Separating Type 2 from LADA (latent autoimmune diabetes of adults). A person with Type 2 might have a normal or even high fasting insulin level. A person with LADAis typically low. Why does it matter? A person with LADA is more likely to benefit from insulin injections. He may be able to avoid years of oral medications that don’t help him much.
- Seeing if a person diagnosed with Type 1 is still making some insulin. A recent study found that about three quarters of adults with Type 1 actually produce small amounts of insulin. Knowing you have some good beta cells can affect therapy and give some hope of improvement. So an insulin level test could show you if you have some.
Fasting Insulin Test
An Insulin Fasting Lab test is done to evaluate insulin production by the Beta cells in the pancreas. It is also practiced to help determine the cause of low blood glucose, which is a disease known as Hypoglycemia. It is also performed to help diagnose the presence of an insulin-producing tumor in the Pancreas called Insulinoma which in fact causes Hypoglycemia, and also to identify the insulin resistance or to help determine when a type II diabetic might need to start taking insulin to supplement oral medications.
It is advisable to take the insulin fasting test when you have low blood glucose levels with symptoms such as
- When you have diabetes and your insulin production needs to be monitored
- Sometimes when it is suspected that you have insulin resistance.
Normal, High And Low Insulin
Insulin helps transport glucose, the body’s main source of energy, from the blood to within cells.
If a person makes too little insulin or is resistant to its effects, cells starve. If someone makes too much, then symptoms of low blood glucose emerge.
A normal fasting blood insulin level is below 5
How to lower insulin level
Lowering insulin levels seems pretty similar to lowering glucose. The key is to reduce intake of sugar and grains. Those foods stimulate insulin production. Refined grains and fructose-sweetened drinks are the worst. Better to eat fats and proteins.
Increase your intake of fresh fruits and vegetables, whole grains and lean proteins. Avoid processed and fast foods, which are high in sugar, fat, and salt.
Exercise also lowers insulin levels and insulin resistance.
So ultimately, testing for insulin levels is good idea. It’s mainly important for diagnosis, especially of LADA. It’s also a powerful screen for risk of Type 2.
Since most people with or without diabetes have never had the test, it may be worth asking for. You’ll get a better idea of what’s happening with you. But for day-to-day monitoring, glucose testing is just as good as insulin testing.
Best Advisable Insulin Testing
When insulin is measured in a fasting state – with an overnight fast typical of any blood draw that contains glucose and lipid profiles – the test result indicates the body’s baseline resistance or sensitivity to the message of insulin.
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