Diabetes & Carb Counting For Dummies
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Human bodies need fuel to function. Glucose is the primary fuel source for the brain and red blood cells. It is also the preferred fuel source for muscles. Carbohydrate-containing foods provide glucose through the process of digestion and absorption. Glucose travels throughout the body via the bloodstream to all awaiting organs, tissues, and cells.

When all systems are working properly, a hormone called insulin helps the glucose move from the bloodstream into the cells where it's burned for energy. The pancreas is the organ that makes and secretes insulin. Think of insulin as a "key" that has to unlock the cells to allow the glucose in. Insulin is supposed to bind to an insulin receptor on the surface of the cell. Once the insulin and the receptor are coupled, then the glucose may enter the cell.

Insulin allows glucose to enter the cell.

If you have diabetes, it means either you don't make enough insulin, or the insulin you make simply doesn't work effectively.

About This Article

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Sherri Shafer, RD, CDE, is a senior registered dietitian and a certified diabetes educator at the University of California San Francisco Medical Center. She teaches diabetes self-management workshops and provides nutrition counseling for individuals with type 1 diabetes, type 2 diabetes, prediabetes, and gestational dia-betes. She is also the author of Diabetes Type 2: Complete Food Management Program.

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