Health: The Body's Sugar Factory

The body regulates the amount of glucose in the blood like a finely tuned machine. Here's how the process works--and what can go wrong

1 FOOD IS DIGESTED Carbohydrates are broken down into glucose--energy blocks for the cells. Glucose is absorbed from the intestines into the blood, where it travels to the liver and other organs

2 GLUCOSE IS RELEASED The liver is programmed to release a certain amount of glucose into the blood and save the rest for future use

3 AS THE PANCREAS RELEASES INSULIN Rising levels of glucose in the blood trigger the pancreas to secrete insulin into the bloodstream

4 AND CELLS RECEIVE ENERGY The insulin "key" must fit into the cell's insulin-receptor "lock" for glucose to get inside the cells

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