10 Factors That Affect How Insulin Works

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Maintaining a stable level of blood sugar can be a battle, especially if you are diabetic, and sometimes you can do everything right and your blood sugar will still be too high or too low. Sometimes things simply get out of hand due to causes which are not so easily identifiable sometimes. Realizing what these factors are can help you understand your body better, and achieve better control over your sugar levels, which will lead to your better health and overall well-being. Some of these factors are the following:

1. Carbohydrates. Of course, not all carbohydrates are the same, and therefore not all of them have the same effect. We are talking about starchy carbohydrates here. They are the source of energy that significantly affects how insulin works, and if you don’t count your carbs right, your blood glucose levels might rapidly increase.

2. Insulin – the amount. This is a drug which controls the same-named hormone in charge of controlling blood sugar. But there are a number of factors that can affect the ability of this drug to control your blood sugar levels. For instance, if you accidentally take too much, your blood sugar can go too low. To make figuring out what the right amount is easier, you can use a glucose monitor.

3. Insulin – the time of injecting. The best time for taking insulin is usually just before a meal, because it starts working when the glucose from the food you ate gets to your blood. This is the best time because, according to Christine Tobin from the American Diabetic Association, then it reaches its peak when your body digests the food you ate. Experts believe that 20 to 30 minutes before a meal is the best time for injecting. But check with your medical expert before deciding on your own, because this may depend on the type of diabetes.

4. Fat. Generally, fatty foods can make a diabetic person more resistant to insulin, which means that a higher dose will probably be needed to control the blood sugar than your body would need if you ate foods that are not rich in fat. This also depends on the amount of fat you take in at once. Your blood sugar level will be more stable if you eat the same amount of fat over the entire day than if you eat it all at once.


5. Caffeine. According to a study published in the Journal of Caffeine Research in 2011, research evidence shows that consumption of caffeine, whether it is in the form of coffee or tea could increase the risk of developing T2DM (Type 2 diabetes mellitus). According to this, and several other studies, caffeine increases insulin resistance.

6. Alcohol. According to the American Diabetes Association, if you are diabetic and decide to drink alcohol, never do it on an empty stomach when the levels of blood glucose are low. Following this rule is particularly important if you are using diabetes pills that lower blood glucose by producing more insulin. If alcohol is taken on an empty stomach, blood sugar levels can drop significantly.

7. Exercise.  Exercise makes you less insulin resistant, which means that if you exercise regularly you may need a smaller dose. But this doesn’t have to be the case always, because sometimes if you exercise aggressively, your blood sugar levels may increase and then you will need a higher dose. Keep track of your levels to see what exercising does for you.

8. Stress and illness. When you are stressed or ill, your body releases adrenaline, cortisol and growth hormone, thus releasing more glucose from the liver and causing insulin resistance. According to the American Diabetes Association, “long-term stress can cause long-term high blood glucose levels”. The same goes if you are sick for a long time.

9. Menstruation. During your period, your blood sugar levels may either go high or low, depending on your hormones, so recording your levels of blood glucose will help you control these changes. According to, different stages of the menstrual cycle can affect blood glucose levels differently, and it can significantly vary from person to person.

10. Smoking. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), smokers are at a 30-40% greater risk of developing type 2 diabetes in comparison to non-smokers, and those who do smoke have more trouble dosing insulin and establishing control over their condition. Smoking can make you more insulin resistant and create complications with controlling your blood glucose levels.