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Fasting Insulin and its significance for Diabetic patients

Abstract

A fasting insulin test is done to measure the amount of insulin present per unit volume of blood while nothing has been consumed for at least eight hours. Insulin is the hormone responsible for the regulation of blood sugar (glucose) levels. This test reveals important information about the pancreas and its health. It is of more importance for diabetics because they need closer monitoring of their blood glucose levels, which insulin is responsible for. This article explains what insulin is and what role it has to play in healthy individuals as well as those who are likely to develop diabetes or abnormal blood sugar levels.

Introduction – What is Insulin?

All the sugars and carbohydrates we eat become simplified into glucose upon entering our body. Insulin is the hormone that is compulsory for the body to regulate the level of glucose in the blood. It is manufactured in the pancreas, the gland situated close to the junction of the stomach and the small intestine. It helps the body to store the glucose in the liver, in the muscles, and in the fat stores. If insulin is not produced properly or as much as required, the body wouldn’t be able to make any use of all the carbohydrates we eat; the glucose storage would be impossible and it won’t be converted to fat fuel for supporting the body’s energy requirement. This can lead to fatal conditions.

The glucose levels in our blood rise when we eat anything. In response to this rise, the pancreas produces insulin and releases it into the bloodstream. The insulin in the blood deals with the glucose levels by absorbing glucose from the blood and supplying it to the cells throughout the body where it is used for metabolism. Insulin is essential for our body. The individuals, whose pancreas does not produce enough insulin, are considered to have diabetes. Those people have to take artificial insulin by means of injections.

Fasting Insulin

Problems with Insulin and its Relation with Diabetes

The immune system of some people may start attacking the cells that make up the pancreas, thinking of them as malignant even while they are not. As a result, the cells are not able to make as much insulin or make it at all. Then the glucose coming from food is not regulated i.e. absorbed by any insulin and the glucose levels are highly elevated in such people. This is how one develops Type 1 diabetes and can pass on through generations. On the other hand, individuals whose body insulin is produced but is not able to function effectively in all parts of the body because they are overweight or obese, and do not do enough physical activity, develop insulin resistance. The pancreas then becomes inefficient to overcome insulin resistance and it makes the individual have Type 2 diabetes.  In both Type 1 and Type 2 diabetes, insulin injections or shots are used to assist the body’s glucose level maintenance.

What is Insulin Test, Why is it important?

Insulin test, also known as fasting insulin test, is done to measure the quantity of insulin per unit volume of blood. The normal values of insulin are summarized as under

Time of the Test

Insulin
in international Units

Insulin
in SI Units

At Fasting

< 25 x 10-3 IU/L

< 174 x 10-12 mol/L

after  30 min

30 – 230 x 10-3 IU/L

208 – 1597 x 10-12 mol/L

after  1 h

18 – 276 x 10-3 IU/L

125 – 1917 x 10-12 mol/L

after  2 h

16 – 166 x 10-3 IU/L

111 – 1153 x 10-12 mol/L

Detection of the value of insulin reveals the following information about the level of glucose circulating in the blood

1. Too Low Insulin

lower than normal values of insulin in the blood means that blood glucose cannot be metabolized properly. This is a sign of hyperglycemia or diabetes.

2. Too High Insulin

Higher than normal values of insulin in the blood reveals that the pancreas is over secreting it and as a result, too much glucose is metabolized and the blood glucose levels are low as a result. This is called hypoglycemia.

Significance of Fasting Insulin for a Diabetic Person

As we have seen in the above table that the test is conducted at fasting, and after some duration, it is done again, what should be noted is that the ‘after’ values are recorded after glucose is administered to the patient. This is to see if the pancreas is functioning normally or not. Therefore the fasting insulin test is a very important parameter of the diabetic individual’s health because it reveals the severity of pancreatic abnormality of the patient. As we can see from the table, the normal values are the lowest at fasting and then they increase immediately after glucose administration; and they start falling after an hour.

This should be the normal range of insulin in a person’s blood.

  • Fasting insulin reveals information about the cause of hypoglycemia in the person.
  • Fasting insulin helps monitor insulin resistance in a pre-diabetic person.
  • Fasting insulin points towards the health of the pancreas.
  • Fasting insulin tells that the health of the pancreas has improved if it was not optimum previously.
  • It also tells if the pancreas has any tumorous growth on it.
  • It can help get information about pancreatitis.
  • It also reveals if the adrenal glands are working fine or not.

Who needs to take the Fasting Insulin Test

If you feel any or more of the following symptoms, you should consider getting your fasting insulin levels tested.

  • Frequent episodes of headache
  • Tremor in the limbs
  • Dizziness and confusion
  • Extreme feeling of hunger
  • You already have vision defects that now worsened
  • Blurred vision
  • Irregular heart rate
  • More sweating that previously experienced
  • Frequent urination
  • Pain in the legs
  • Throbbing pain in feet
  • Injuries don’t heal fast
  • If you know that you have blood sugar level fluctuations
  • You have diabetes

Conclusion

Insulin is the hormone that is required by each and every cell of the body to carry out their own metabolism by absorbing and breaking down fats, proteins and carbohydrates. The hormone insulin is a metabolic hormone and is secreted by small cells or ‘islets’ of the pancreas. Insulin values decrease or increase depending on how much carbohydrates are eaten. The pancreas of diabetic people does not produce enough insulin. Fasting insulin is tested for measuring the amount of insulin in the body. It reveals information about abnormal insulin levels and also about insulin resistance, therefore it also tells whether the person is diabetic or pre- diabetic.

DR Vikram Chauhanhttp://www.planetayurveda.com
This article is written by DR. Vikram Chauhan (MD - AYURVEDA). He is an expert Ayurvedic practitioner based in Chandigarh, India and doing his practice in Mohali, India. He is spreading the knowledge of Ayurveda (Ancient healing treatment), not only in India but also abroad. He is the CEO and Founder of Planet Ayurveda Products, Planet Ayurveda Clinic and Krishna Herbal Company.

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