Last updated: February 24, 2019

What Does Insulin Mean?

Insulin is a hormone produced by the body's pancreas. Among its many jobs in the body, insulin is essential for the processing of glucose. Glucose is an energy-storing sugar that travels through the bloodstream to individual cells. Glucose cannot pass through the cell's membrane for processing into cell energy. Insulin attaches to the cells and acts as a receptor for glucose, allowing its passage into the cell where it can be metabolized. In addition to glucose management, insulin is also important for protein synthesis and the storage of lipids in the body. Insulin failure is often associated with and can lead to the development of diabetes.


WorkplaceTesting Explains Insulin

Insulin plays a key role in the body's management of glucose levels. The production of insulin is triggered by a rise in blood sugar levels after a meal. Once insulin is produced and released by the pancreas, it travels through the blood stream and attaches to insulin receptors on the cells of the body allowing those cells to absorb glucose. Insulin also facilitates the storage of excess glucose in the liver and muscle tissue. When a person's blood sugar drops, insulin triggers the release of this stored energy.

Under normal conditions, insulin assists the body in maintaining healthy blood sugar levels. However, in some instances, a body's cells may become insulin resistant. In this situation, the body produces insulin, but it does not attach to the cells effectively. In other instances, the body does not produce enough insulin to process the glucose in the blood. Whether due to ineffective insulin use or insufficient insulin production the resulting high blood glucose or hyperglycemia can lead to serious health consequences including prediabetes and diabetes.

In rare instances, the body may overproduce insulin causing hypoglycemia or low blood sugar. Hypoglycemia is more often caused by the use of synthetic insulin to treat diabetes or by other unrelated conditions.

The National Diabetes Education Foundation reports that annual diabetes treatment and related costs total nearly $245 billion. Indirect costs such as disability payments, premature death, lost productivity and absenteeism account for $69 billion in annual costs. A workplace wellness program that encourage a healthy lifestyle can help reduce the instances of diabetes in the workforce which can save both lives and money.


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