It ain’t necessarily so

Digging to China? Finding crabs? Learning about diabetes?

In Diabetes 101 I was taught that:

  • cells of my body have a ‘lock’ on them
  • insulin is the ‘key’
  • without insulin to ‘unlock’ the cells, no glucose can enter the cell where it is used as fuel
  • my pancreas stopped secreting insulin
  • dietary glucose ‘dams up’ in the bloodstream and rises to very high levels
  • I must inject insulin to drive blood glucose down by allowing the cells to access glucose from the bloodstream
  • the brain MUST have enough glucose at all times, if not, it shuts down and dies (me too)
  • when blood glucose drops too low, the pancreas secretes the hormone glucagon, which causes the liver to release it’s glucose store and to start making new glucose (gluconeogenesis) from protein or fat

Insulin is the master hormone that controls the uptake of glucose by the body. Glucagon is merely an emergency standby.

It would appear that since the 1970s Professor Roger Unger and others have shown this model of insulin action to be incorrect.

In actual fact:

  • insulin is not needed to enable uptake of glucose by the cells
  • the brain MUST have enough glucose at all times, if not, it shuts down and dies (me too)
  • in order to ensure enough glucose for the brain, the glucagon hormone is always ‘on’, causing the liver to always make glucose via gluconeogenesis
  • when blood glucose rises too high because of dietary glucose or homebrew glucose, the pancreas secretes insulin to turn glucagon ‘off’
  • mine secretes no insulin, therefore my body has no way to turn glucagon off
  • gluconeogenesis becomes a runaway process, flooding my bloodstream with my own homemade glucose
  • I must inject insulin to turn off this runaway process by suppressing glucagon

Glucagon is the master hormone. It is always on as an evolutionary measure protecting the brain. Insulin turns it off when required. Not the other way around.

A complete 180° reversal of what is taught as gospel truth to new diabetes. G-d knows why, maybe.

I’m trying to get my head around how I can put this glucagon-centric model to good use, to better my management of diabetes.

Please leave a comment if you have already worked this out. Other comments welcome too, of course! 🤩



About the author Rien

dutch by birth 🇳🇱 | australian by choice 🇦🇺 | type 1 diabetic 💉 | married ❤️⚭ | grandfather 👴🏻 | fujifilm photographer 📷 | boat builder and sailor ⛵️ | seeker no more 🚫📖

All posts by Rien →


  1. Consider this an “other” comment. That’s all news to me. I just want my Libre to make a straight line.

    Liked by 1 person


    1. Thanks, Alana. I think you are doing a better job of flatlining your Libre than I am!



      1. 😂😂 Think again! I’m riding the rollercoaster just like everyone else. I’ve just had a few more years of rolling with the punches and I’m well aware that perfectionism and t1d are not friends.


  2. If anyone can crack it, it will be you Rien.



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