Insulin is a hormone made by the beta cells in the pancreas.
Insulin’s job is to regulate blood glucose (blood “sugar”) so that it remains in a narrow range. When we eat carbohydrates, it is insulin that allows glucose, a sugar, to leave the blood stream and enter our body cells for use as energy. When we eat more than we need at that moment, it is also insulin that tells our liver to store energy for future use. The pancreas releases insulin in perfect synergy with our body’s needs.
Type 1 diabetes is a disease of the pancreas where insulin is no longer made because the beta cells are not working. People with Type 1 diabetes are reliant on artificial insulin given via an injection or a pump. While this insulin is lifesaving to people who need it, it lacks the communication that it needs with the body to keep the blood glucose perfectly level. A child with Type 1 diabetes needs his or her blood sampled upwards of 10 times each day so that a parent can calculate how much insulin needs to be given.
Reviewed by Dr. Sara Connolly, January 2020