Scientists have discovered that people with diabetes not only make too little insulin for their bodies’ needs, but there are also other hormones they help balance blood sugar. Some of these hormones are glucagon, amylin, and GLP-1.
Glucagon is a hormone produced by the alpha cells in the pancreas. It raises blood glucose. An injectable form of glucagon, available by prescription, may be used to treat severe hypoglycemia.
Amylin is a hormone formed by beta cells in the pancreas. Amylin regulates the timing of glucose release into the bloodstream after eating by slowing the emptying of the stomach.
GLP-1 is a hormone in your gastrointestinal tract that increases the insulin made by your pancreas, decreases glucagon, helps you feel full and slows the emptying of your stomach.
Together, when released in the right amounts, these hormones, including insulin help balance blood sugar levels. When not released in the right amounts, your blood sugar may be off balance.
Your pancreas (an organ in your body) makes both insulin and amylin. If you have diabetes, your pancreas is producing too little insulin to meet your body’s needs. This can be caused by several factors, one of which is related to the hormone amylin. Without enough amylin or if the amylin your body does produce gets deposited as clumps around insulin producing cells, your blood sugar levels may go too high.
Insulin lowers blood sugar, but taking more and more insulin may not solve the problem. It may even cause another problem – low blood sugar (hypoglycemia) hours after you eat. Insulin lowers blood sugar levels by moving sugar from your blood into your cells to be used for energy. Taking too much insulin could cause your blood sugar level to go too low. Together with insulin, there are other ways to keep your blood sugar levels from going too high after meals. First make sure your blood sugar is not too high before eating. If it is too high before, it will most likely be too high after you eat, no matter what you eat. Learning how certain foods affect your blood sugar and cutting back on those that raise it the most can help as can being more active. There are also some medicines that may help after meal blood sugars such as amylin and GLP-1 agonists that slow stomach emptying
Feeling hungry after meals is not something you just need to get used to. It could be that your blood sugar is low. Low blood sugar increases hunger. The type of food you eat can affect how your feel after eating. Foods high in carbohydrates and low in protein and/or fat can cause you to get hungry sooner. Work with your dietitian/nutritionist/CDE to help you come up with a plan to help you feel more satisfied. Both amylin and GLP-1 agonists help some people decrease their appetite and eat less which can also prevent blood sugar rises after eating and for some, lose weight.