Diabetes is a disorder in which levels of blood sugar or glucose are above normal. In the five liters of blood that the average human has, only about a teaspoon of glucose is necessary to ensure proper function and regular health. Excess amounts of blood sugar hinder circulation and cause greater health problems over time. Abnormal amounts of the hormone insulin, which diabetics must also monitor, can also potentially cause problems.
What are Insulin and Glucose?
The body absorbs glucose from foods high in sugar, such as pasta, grains, cakes, starchy vegetables and pastries. This blood sugar is the main source of energy for the body's cells, as noted by EndocrineWeb. Glucose is derived from the breakdown of ingested carbohydrates, and then moves from the liver and intestines to the bloodstream. The blood takes glucose to most of the cells of the body. In order for it to enter these cells, the hormone insulin is required. Insulin is a hormone produced primarily in the pancreas. Insulin is responsible for causing muscle, liver and fat cells to absorb excess glucose out of the bloodstream. Once in these organs, glucose is either used for energy or stored for future use. Therefore, insulin is responsible for reducing the concentration of glucose in the blood.
How Insulin and Glucose Relate to Diabetes
Diabetes develops when the pancreas fails to make enough insulin, or when liver, muscle and fat cells use insulin improperly, or both, according to the National Diabetes Information Clearinghouse. This leads to energy starvation in body cells, along with an excessive amount of glucose in the blood. This high blood sugar, or hyperglycemia, damages blood vessels and nerves. Over time, this translates into kidney disease, heart disease, blindness, stroke, gum infections, nerve disorders and amputation.
Proper Glucose Levels
Serum glucose levels are measured in millimoles per liter, or mmol/l. Though they fluctuate after meals and in the morning, blood glucose levels don't normally go beyond a narrow range of 4 to 8 mmol/l.
However, diabeteic patients have levels that go beyond these limits. The main objective of diabetes treatment is to maintain glucose within acceptable levels. The ideal numbers are 4 to 7mmol/l before meals; less than 10mmol/l an hour or so after a meal; and around 8mmol/l before bedtime, according to NetDoctor.
Proper Insulin Levels
Excessive amounts of insulin are associated with excess amounts of glucose in the system. High levels of insulin are known to cause weight gain, water bloating, high blood pressure, magnesium deficiency and an increase in the amount of inflammatory compounds in the blood, which causes blood clots and blood vessel damage. The ideal amount of insulin is under 10 IU/mL. Any level above 10 IU/mL means that the patient should reduce the amount of food stimulating excess insulin production, according to the National Diabetes Information Clearinghouse.
Measuring Insulin and Glucose Levels
A patient's insulin level can be measured by asking a health provider or laboratory for a fasting insulin test, according to Lab Tests Online. This involves analyzing a blood sample that is taken after the patient has fasted for at least eight hours. Glucose levels can be measured easily using a home blood sugar test kit. These kits require a small amount of blood to be placed on a sampling strip, usually obtained by pricking a finger with a sterilized lancet. The strip is placed into a measuring device that displays the blood glucose level.