Glucagon --
“Batman” to Insulin’s “Robin”

What is glucagon?

It is a hormone made in the alpha cells of the pancreas; it’s comprised of a polypeptide chain of over three dozen amino acids.

When does the pancreas secrete it?

The hormone is released in response to low blood sugar (hypoglycemic) conditions as opposed to high blood sugar conditions. It kind of behaves like insulin’s evil (or should we say good?) twin: the two hormones affect opposite biochemical processes. What role does it play in low carb diets?

Essentially, the compound stimulates the liver to let go of glucose and to encourage the degradation of proteins into glucose. This process, known as gluconeogenesis, gets kick started when the body runs out of carbohydrate fuels (namely, glycogen).

How does the hormone interplay with insulin?

The average person’s body seeks to maintain an even blood sugar level of 70 to 115 milligrams per DL of glucose. If your blood sugar levels drop below this, you get a condition known as hypoglycemia, which can be dangerous. Whereas insulin stimulates the creation of glycogen; glucagon stimulates the breakdown and consumption of glycogen.

Return from Glucagon to Glossary

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