The One Drop Guide to Insulin 💉

One Drop Guide to Insulin


Everyone (everyone!) needs it to survive. For those of us living with diabetes, it is liquid gold. But why? What exactly is insulin?

When there’s an abundance of glucose in the bloodstream, the pancreas secretes insulin: a hormone produced by the beta cells, which live inside the islet cells, that live inside the pancreas. For every person on the planet, insulin is the key to getting glucose out of your blood and into your cells.

The Keys to Glucose Success 🔑

The insulin, once released, acts like a key (raise your hand if you, too, were given the lock & key analogy upon diagnosis! 🙋‍♀️🙋‍♂️): it opens the door to cells throughout the body so that the cells can take in the glucose (the sugar) and use it later as an energy source.

But where is all this glucose coming from? We need it for energy, but how do we get the glucose, the energy, in the first place? FOOD. Quite literally, just about anything we put into our mouths is broken down into energy. What we don’t use immediately as an energy source, we store in cells throughout the body for later use. That energy storage is only possible through… you guessed it! Insulin.

When the Keys Don’t Fit 🔒

None of this works properly (the locks, the keys, the energy storage) when you’ve got diabetes. Having diabetes means your body can’t make insulin and/or use it properly. Either insulin is not produced at all, or cells in the body have difficulty absorbing insulin. Without insulin production or absorption, glucose can’t properly be stored in bodily cells. Instead, the glucose remains in the bloodstream and glucose levels start to rise. While we need glucose to live, too much of it can be a very bad thing. To the point of death. ☠

Insulin: A Brief History

The discovery of injected animal insulin in 1922 to stabilize blood glucose levels was the ultimate game-changer. And using breakthrough rDNA (recombinant DNA) technology in 1973, scientists produced synthetic (human) insulin. It’s these synthetic (both human and analog) insulins that we use today to keep blood sugars stable.

The Ultimate Guide to Insulins

Thanks to human and analog insulins, we now have a plethora of options available when it comes to blood glucose management. There are lots of different types of insulin used to treat diabetes. But how are they different? What do they do? And how exactly do they work?

Check out the One Drop Guide to Insulin [PDF version here] to learn the answers to these questions and feel more empowered and informed about your diabetes. It covers all the basics: how insulin lowers blood glucose, how it relates to diabetes, and onset, peak, and duration data for 19 popular brands: Afrezza, Apidra, Humalog, Novolog, Humulin R, Novolin R, Humulin N, Novolin N, Lantus, Toujeo, Basaglar, Levemir, Tresiba, Humalog Mix 75/25, Humalog Mix 50/50, Novolog Mix 70/30, Humulin 70/30, Novolin 70/30, and Ryzodeg 70/30.

After you’re done, check out the One Drop Guide to A1C to learn everything you need to know about this core diabetes metric.




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Rachel Sánchez-Madhur
Rachel Sánchez-Madhur

Living with T1D for 23+ years. Low-carb foodie, wine enthusiast, yogi, and dog-lover. Consumer Marketing, Strategy, and Customer Success at One Drop.