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Why is glucose regulation important?

Maintaining a certain level of glucose is a matter of life and death. Read more about blood sugar (glucose) regulation in homeostasis.
Maintaining a certain level of glucose is a matter of life and death.

Some tissues can use a range of energy sources such as fats and amino acids, but several important tissues in the body can only use blood sugar (glucose). These tissues need a constant supply of glucose to function properly.

Key cells, tissues and systems that rely on glucose to function properly are:

  • immune cells (eg Macrophages, lymphocytes)
  • red blood cells
  • brain and nervous system (Note: when blood glucose levels fall below about 2.5nM, people get seizures and can go into a coma as the brain doesn’t function properly. nM, or nanomolar, is a measurement of amount-of-substance concentrations).

What factors increase and decrease blood sugar?

There are some key things we do that increase and decrease blood sugar. Let’s take a look:

Increase Decrease
Eating food Exercising
Drinking a fizzy drink Not eating for several hours
Having a malfunctioning pancreas that doesn’t produce enough insulin Having a liver that does not release glycogen effectively

The liver

Note: You may recall from week 2 (Step 2.4 What is the liver’s function in homeostasis?) that the liver has a central role in carbohydrate metabolism including:

  • the production of glucose from non-carbohydrate sources
  • the interconversion of glucose and glycogen.

Revisit Step 2.4, for fuller information about liver function.

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Finding the Body’s Balance: Understanding Homeostasis

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