While I’ve heard this several times, is it the insulin that is causing the weight gain, or could it be something else? Perhaps a hormone that as type 1 diabetics we also stop producing since our beta cells have died off.
Have you ever heard of Amylin? Could the lack of this hormone be the reason why she is seeing an increase in her weight? What is amylin anyway, and is it something we should be concerned with if we are no longer producing it?
These are all great questions and honestly this was news to me as well as I’ve never heard of it. So lets take a closer look at what this little hormone does and if it has a direct impact on our overall health as type 1 diabetics!
Function Of Amylin?
So what is amylin? Or as its also called, pramlintide, and how can it help us? Amylin is a peptide hormone (insulin’s partner in crime) which is released by the beta cells in response to ingesting food. This hormone, is also released at the same time as insulin, but in different quantities and its primary function is to help aid in the digestive process by helping to control the rate of digestion.
The complete range of functions of amylin is still not fully known, but its main function has been determined to be to help to slow the speed at which food is digested and glucose is released into the bloodstream after a meal. Essentially, amylin keeps too much glucose from appearing in the blood in the first place.
Amylin accomplishes this in a number of ways. It decreases appetite by promoting a feeling of fullness, hence reducing food intake. It slows gastric emptying and inhibits the secretion of digestive enzymes, all of which slow the appearance of glucose in the blood after a meal and it also slows the secretion of glucagon, which otherwise causes additional glucose release by the liver at mealtimes.
In short, the release of amylin minimizes glucose spikes that often occur after meals. I know, frustrating right! I mean this disease is already hard enough, now this. Fortunately for us, we do have another option to replace this important hormone that has also died off with our beta cells so go ahead and keep on reading.
Can We Replace Amylin?
Well, your in luck! Welcome to the world of symlin, the equivalent to amylin. Symlin minimizes the blood glucose rise that occurs after we eat. We have all dealt with the dreaded post meal spikes which can make us feel as though we are drudging through concrete. Post meal spikes can have a negative impact on our A1C as well as progress the development of complications further down the road, so symlin is a viable option to help prevent this from happening.
To good to be true, right? Well, symlin can also be a valuable weight loss tool. Users of symlin lose an average of 6.6 pounds over the first six months of use, mainly by consuming smaller portions at meals and snacking less often. Given that many people with type 1 diabetes have difficulty controlling their appetite (likely due to lack of the amylin hormone), adding symlin to one’s treatment has obvious lifestyle benefits.
Symlin, like insulin, is taken by injection in a fixed dose typically before meals (I can also be taken post meal). The FDA has approved symlin for use by adults with type 1 or type 2 diabetes who take rapid-acting insulin at meals. The bad news: Symlin has not yet approved for use in children but several studies have shown that symlin is safe and effective when used in a supervised manner by adolescents.
Side Effects Of Symlin:
The most common side effects of Symlin include:
- severe hypoglycemia
- severe ongoing nausea
- vision problems
- fast heart rate
- feeling jittery
More common side effects may include:
- loss of appetite
Its always a good idea to chat with your medical team if you have any side effect that bothers you or that does not go away, particularly if your finding yourself having constant hypoglycemic episodes.
If you feel that you’ve done everything in your power, including revamping your diet and your still finding difficulty controlling your post meal numbers, this is definitely something that you should discuss with your doctor.
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