Regulating Blood Sugar- How Does Your Body Do It?

To prevent low blood sugar, known as hypoglycemia, our body uses several mechanisms-

1. Glucagon - Glucagon is a hormone that signals the body to release stored glucose from the liver.

2. Catecholamines- This is a group of substances in your body that stimulate the sympathetic nervous system. You all know the sympathetic nervous system by the phrase, "Flight or Fight." A drop in blood glucose is a threat to your body and your body responds by secreting catecholamines to raise blood glucose.

3. Growth Hormone- Promotes protein synthesis in all cells, increases fat mobilization and use of fatty acids for energy, and decreases use of carbohydrate. Amazingly more than one half of the total daily amount is released during early sleep.

4. Glucocorticoids- Most of us know glucocorticoids as simply STEROIDS. You may have even taken some Prednisone for a bad allergic rash before. Glucocorticoids are famous for their anti-inflammatory actions. They push down our immune system in large doses and reverse what ever inflammation that may be bothering us. But they also have the ability to cause your body to release stored glucose. This causes the blood glucose to increase.

To prevent high blood sugar, known as hyperglycemia, your body has another whole set of mechanisms-

1. Insulin allows the glucose to get inside the cell where it can be used for fuel. Insulin also helps to promote glucose storage which takes it out of blood circulation for use at another time.

2. Incretin GLP-1 is secreted from the small intestine when we eat food. GLP-1 increases the amount of insulin secreted, decreases appetite which reduces food intake and also stimulates the storage of the blood glucose.

3. Gastric inhibitory polypeptide (GIP)- Diabetics have been found to be less responsive to this incretin. It, like GLP-1 is secreted in the mucosa of the small intestine. It results in the release of insulin by the pancreas and inhibition of gastric acid secretion.