How is insulin related to blood sugar?

The body works almost like a thermostat. When there is too much glucose in the blood, insulin is released and reduces the amount of glucose in the blood. Then, when glucose levels drop, insulin is no longer secreted. The body balances the amount of insulin and glucose to keep glucose at a fairly even level throughout the day. It keeps a little bit of insulin ready to go to work at a moment’s notice. For meals, it releases the right amount of extra insulin in time to clear glucose from the blood before the glucose levels climb too high.
William Lee Dubois
Endocrinology Diabetes & Metabolism

In two words: inversely proportional. Picture insulin and blood sugar like two children on a teeter-totter on a playground. By moving forward or backwards on the balance beam, the two children can both hover above the ground, even if they don’t weigh the same.

Likewise, in your body, if the blood sugar goes up, the body releases insulin from the pancreas. Insulin moves sugar from the blood where it really does very little good, into your cells, which all use sugar for food. When blood sugar drops the body stops releasing insulin. If the blood sugar drops too much, the liver will release some sugar to balance things out.

If you take too much of some diabetes meds, like insulin or a class of drugs called the sulfonylureas, your blood sugar can go very much too low, more than the liver can handle. A low blood sugar can be life threatening, and is treated simply by adding sugar to the system to “soak up” the extra insulin.

If you have a low blood sugar, which is called hypoglycemia, drinking half a regular soda, or eating several hard candies can give you enough sugar to restore balance.

Now, let’s go play on the merry-go-round instead….

Dr. Mehmet Oz, MD
Cardiology (Cardiovascular Disease)
Insulin is a hormone normally produced by the pancreas in response to blood sugar, which is sugar from digested foods circulating in the bloodstream. The animation shows more about blood sugar and insulin.

Continue Learning about Diabetes


Diabetes mellitus (MEL-ih-tus), often referred to as diabetes, is characterized by high blood glucose (sugar) levels that result from the body’s inability to produce enough insulin and/or effectively utilize the insulin. Diabetes ...

is a serious, life-long condition and the sixth leading cause of death in the United States. Diabetes is a disorder of metabolism (the body's way of digesting food and converting it into energy). There are three forms of diabetes. Type 1 diabetes is an autoimmune disease that accounts for five- to 10-percent of all diagnosed cases of diabetes. Type 2 diabetes may account for 90- to 95-percent of all diagnosed cases. The third type of diabetes occurs in pregnancy and is referred to as gestational diabetes. Left untreated, gestational diabetes can cause health issues for pregnant women and their babies. People with diabetes can take preventive steps to control this disease and decrease the risk of further complications.

Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.