Insulin is an essential hormone. It regulates the body’s energy by maintaining a balance in micronutrient levels. It is critical for intracellular glucose transportation and prevents us from deadly diseases. If you are eager to learn more about these chemical messengers, read on for some amazing insulin facts.
1. The Lock and Key Analogy Can Help Better Understand Insulin and Diabetes
To help people understand the difference between type 1 and type 2 diabetes, experts use the “lock and key” analogy. It says insulin (the key) must unlock to let the sugars in for the human cells to have energy.
Type 1 diabetes results from insignificant insulin (key) levels, so patients require injections. On the other hand, type 2 diabetes means “the keyholes are rusty.” People with this condition can fix it through medicine, weight loss, and other best practices.
2. Scientists Who Discovered Insulin Didn’t “Benefit” From It
Sir Frederick Banting, along with Charles Best, Invented Insulin. Interestingly, they refused to put their name on the patent. Frederick thought profiting from a discovery meant to save lives was unethical. They sold the insulin discovery rights to the University of Toronto for a dollar.
3. A Coin Toss Determined the Co-founder of Insulin
Before discovering insulin, Sir Frederick Banting had to choose one of two medical students (Charles Best and Clark Noble) to work with on the project. They resorted to a coin toss, and Charles Best won. This was in 1922.
Fast forward 20 years later, Clark Noble discovered that a packet of leaves from Jamaica had some interesting medical prospects. Because he did not have the resources to conduct further research, Noble passed the opportunity to his brother, Robert Noble. As it turns out, the leaves contained vinca alkaloids, necessary agents for cancer chemo. Robert took the credits for the discovery.
4. Pigs’ Parts Were Used to Produce Insulin For Human Use
Since the discovery of insulin, scientists tried different insulin production experiments to the genetic modifications used today. At some point, they needed more than 1800kgs of pig parts to develop about 0.23kgs of insulin suitable for human use.
5. The Pancreas Produces Insulin
Among other duties, the pancreas generates insulin through its beta cells. Patients with problematic pancreas (pancreatitis) don’t have enough insulin hormone and may have to rely on prescriptions.
6. A Fan Won a $10,000 Lottery After Delivering An Insulin Dose
Boosie Badazz, a rapper known for his hit “Wipe Me Down,” was performing in Duval Area when he requested someone to bring him an insulin dose. A remotely-watching fan drove for about 3 hours to deliver the much-needed dose. Surprisingly, she refused payment and asked for a photo with the celebrity.
While on her way home, she bought a lottery ticket from a store, scratched it, and behold, she had won $10,000.
7. Insulin Dictates Blood Sugar Levels
Along with another hormone known as glucagon, insulin helps control the blood sugar levels. It improves glucose uptake from the blood across cell membranes and eventually into the body cells where they are stored.
When someone takes a meal, the carbohydrates are broken into glucose, which is absorbed into the bloodstream. In turn, the pancreas releases insulin to remove excess glucose from the blood cells. On the other hand, when a patient’s blood sugar drops, the body automatically reduces insulin release. This allows the blood cells to absorb more glucose.
8. Lack of Insulin Causes Hyperglycemia and Diabetes
If a person takes a meal full of carbohydrates, resulting in more glucose in the bloodstream, insulin must take away the excesses and store them somewhere else. If the pancreas doesn’t release enough of this hormone, the blood cells will be flooded with glucose.
This results in high blood sugar, commonly known as hyperglycemia. In extreme cases, high blood sugar results in diabetes. Diabetes results when the pancreas can’t produce enough insulin or the body doesn’t use it properly.
9. Insulin Helped Save Children’s Lives in 1922
While in its early stages, insulin helped save the lives of children suffering from diabetic ketoacidosis. Upon arrival at the medical facility, scientists injected them with the hormone from bed to bed. Before reaching the last comatose patient, the first ones regained consciousness. This underlined the effectiveness of the drug.
10. Too Much Insulin Can Cause Hypoglycemia
Insulin levels need moderation. Otherwise, too much of the hormone can cause low blood sugar, professionally known as hypoglycemia. This may result in weight gain and other complications.
11. Eva Saxl Used Water Buffaloes to Make Insulin During The WWII
During World War 2, Eva Saxl, a home chemist, used the pancreas from water buffaloes to create insulin for herself and others. Experts can develop insulin from most animal parts, including cows, calves, and dogs.
12. Cone Snails Use Insulin to Hunt
Though not the same as the one used in humans, cone snails have specialized insulin that they use to hunt their prey. Once they release the highly concentrated hormone, the target loses a lot of blood sugar, making it too weak to evade capture.
13. A Doctor Can Prescribe Insulin
Upon diagnosis, a healthcare provider can prescribe insulin if the patient’s pancreas doesn’t release enough. Fortunately, we now have insulin drugs similar to naturally processed human insulin. Usually, patients take insulin shots. However, insulin pumps and inhaling powders are also viable options.
14. Before The Invention of Insulin, Diabetes Was A “Catastrophe”
Insulin invention ranks up there with some of man’s greatest discoveries. Before its existence, diabetes patients relied on minimal carbohydrate diets. They were so strict that they only allowed about 450 calories a day. In the end, most patients died of starvation. It was a “lose-lose” situation.
15. Alzheimer’s Disease Results From Resisted Insulin
One of the contributing factors to Alzheimer’s disease is the brain’s inability to recognize insulin. There are talks of classifying it as type 3 diabetes.