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What does a healthy pancreas, without diabetes, do?

A healthy pancreas releases a tiny bit of insulin regularly throughout the day and night, in very small amounts (< 0.05 units per minute). This is called the basal or background insulin.

When we eat or drink something that becomes glucose (mostly carbohydrate-containing foods), the pancreas gives just the right amount of extra insulin to match the glucose in the food. This is called the bolus or meal time insulin. The pancreas constantly senses the amount of glucose being released into the blood stream and matches it with an incredibly precise amount of insulin.


The goal of diabetes therapy is always to deliver insulin as the pancreas would, if it could, or as closely as possible. That means we need to replace both basal insulin needs (about ½ to 1 unit of insulin per hour!) and meal insulin (depends on what you eat or drink) in constantly changing situations, since no two days are usually the same. A major challenge!!!

While there is no true artificial pancreas yet, we now have several major types of insulin preparations available to replace the body’s natural insulin.