What Is the Role of Glucose in the Body?

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One of the most important aspects of maintaining a healthy and active body is keeping blood sugar levels consistent. Glucose plays a vital role in maintaining those levels and providing your body with the energy it needs to get through the day. Everything from the food you eat to your inner mechanics can play a role in how your body produces and uses glucose every day.

TL;DR (Too Long; Didn't Read)

After you consume foods rich in carbohydrates and sugar, your body produces glucose and uses it to power your cells and brain, providing you with the energy you need to get through the day.

Glucose Production

Your body produces glucose from foods that contain carbohydrates and sugars such as white bread, rice, pasta, potatoes, fruit and honey. After you consume a meal, the acids in your stomach break down the meal and turn the sugars and starches from the food into glucose, which is also referred to as blood sugar. Your intestines then absorb the glucose and pass it to your bloodstream. Once it makes its way into your bloodstream, insulin pumps into gear to help transfer glucose to your cells, allowing your body to immediately use glucose for energy or store it as reserves for later use.

Maintaining Energy Levels

Most of the cells in your body rely at least partly on glucose to function. Red blood cells require glucose to make energy. The liver is always on the lookout for glucose. It acts as a reservoir, storing glucose and then distributing it to muscles, neurons and cells to keep blood sugar levels consistent.

The most important and demanding organ that needs glucose is the brain. The human brain is full of neurons that constantly consume glucose as they perform jobs such as thinking, learning and remembering. When your brain doesn’t get enough glucose, its neurons don’t have the fuel they need to communicate with the rest of your body and perform their jobs well. In the short term, such as when you miss a meal or two, you may become irritable and have a tough time concentrating or remembering things. People with inconsistent levels of glucose in the brain over a long period, such as those with diabetes, could develop serious problems such as cognitive difficulties or dementia.

Healthy Glucose Levels

Maintaining consistent blood sugar levels is a critical part of overall health and wellness. People with bodies that don’t produce insulin, such as those with Type 1 diabetes, have to do more to maintain consistent glucose levels. Their daily routines might include insulin injections so that their bodies have the resources they need to carry glucose to their cells and brains.

In a body that can produce insulin, a balanced diet is the key to maintaining blood sugar levels. Skipping meals or denying yourself the sugars and carbohydrates you need to keep your body functioning could lead to an inability to focus or mood swings. On the other hand, consistently consuming meals that are high in sugars or processed carbohydrates could lead to headaches, fatigue and dehydration.

Understanding the foods your body needs to produce the right levels of glucose can go a long way toward maintaining a healthy, active lifestyle.

References

About the Author

Rachelle Dragani is a freelance writer based in Brooklyn with extensive experience covering the latest innovation and development in the world of science. Her pieces on topics including DNA sequencing, tissue engineering and stem cell advances have been featured in publications including BioTechniques: the International Journal of Life Science Methods, Popular Mechanics, Futurism and Gizmodo.

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