Type 2 Diabetes 101

diabetes type 2

Today, On The Blog, I am excited to breakdown type 2 diabetes. Not only because I could talk diabetes ALL day EVERY day but to help you and your loved ones fully understand the condition.

Being honest, diabetes is complicated and confusing. With all the information floating out there about diabetes – what it is, signs/symptoms, what to eat, etc.. it is hard to not be overwhelmed.

That is why I am here to provide you the education, resources and support you need to begin your journey toward not only understanding but also preventing the progression of diabetes.

Whether you have been diagnosed with prediabetes, type 2 diabetes or are simply seeking more information due to family history, this blog is for you.

Let this be your chance to sit back, relax and actually enjoy learning about diabetes. Let’s get started!

hand holding phone next to diabetes care items on table

What is Type 2 Diabetes?

Diabetes mellitus (Type 2) is a condition where you do not have enough insulin production to control your blood sugars within normal limits for optimal health.

It is the role of your pancreas to produce insulin for your body that moves into your blood stream when your blood sugars are elevated (like after eating a meal or a stressful situation).

With type 2 diabetes, your body is not able to move this insulin into your blood stream to reduce elevated blood sugars. However, your pancreas continues to produce the insulin because your blood sugar remains elevated.

Eventually, the cells of the pancreas wear out due to high insulin production and stop producing insulin. When this happens, you cannot reverse the damage and other methods of managing blood sugars are needed.

Shocking Facts About Diabetes

My passion for diabetes care lies in the statistics. They can be staggering! As you read each fact, think about which ones surprise you the most. Each statistic truly sheds light on how serious diabetes can impact lives. 

  • Diabetes was the eighth leading cause of death in the United States in 2020 (1).
  • About 37.3 million people (or 11.3% of the US population) had diabetes (diagnosed or undiagnosed) in 2019 (1).
    • 37.1 million of these people are adults 18 or older (14.7% of all US adults)
    • 28.7 million of these people have been diagnosed (28.5 million adults, 0.2 million children)
    • 8.5 million of these people are undiagnosed
  • An estimated 96 million adults aged 18 years or older had prediabetes in 2019 (1).
  • The total cost of diagnosed diabetes in the United States in 2017 was $327 billion (2).
  • The prevalence of diabetes (type 2 diabetes and type 1 diabetes) will increase by 54% to more than 54.9 million Americans between 2015 and 2030 (3). 

I have lived in the Carolinas for most of my life, in the heart of where diabetes is the most prevalent, and I have seen people’s lives cut short and made so difficult because of diabetes.

Not only can regular doctor visits and simple lab tests detect diabetes early, but many of the adverse effects are also preventable when treated early. That is why I do what I do to help prevent the progression.

diabetes care items

Understanding Type 2 Diabetes

Whether you are newly diagnosed with type 2 diabetes or caring for a family member, these are a few of the most common words associated with diabetes care.

Understanding these concepts will allow you to have a greater understanding of diabetes and can lead you to ask the right questions to your diabetes care team.


A hormone that helps glucose get into your cells to give them energy. It is the hormone that brings elevated blood sugar down to normal levels.


Carbohydrates are the sugars we eat that make blood sugar go up. 

Blood glucose

Blood glucose or blood sugar is the amount of sugar in our blood stream at any given moment. 


An organ that makes insulin and other hormones needed to regulate blood sugar levels. 


An organ that stores sugar and can affect blood sugar by putting sugar into the blood stream if there is not enough.


Hypoglycemia (also known as low blood sugar) occurs when there is not enough glucose in your bloodstream for your body to optimally function. Blood sugar is under 70mg/dL.


Hyperglycemia (also known as high blood sugar) is a condition when there is too much glucose in the bloodstream. Blood sugar is over 180 mg/dL.

Fasting Plasma Glucose (FPG)

A blood test to measure a person’s blood sugar level after fasting for at least 8 hours.

Hemoglobin A1c

A hemoglobin A1c is a blood test to determine what your average blood sugar has been over the past 2-3 months. This is an insight into how your blood sugars have been controlled and your risk for adverse effects of diabetes.

person testing blood sugar

Diagnosing Type 2 Diabetes

A blood test is needed for proper diagnosis of diabetes. Your health provider will take a Fasting Plasma Glucose (FPG) test and a Hemoglobin A1c test. The results of these tests can indicate diabetes.

Signs of diabetes

Being mindful of your health and how you are feeling on a daily basis is extremely important. Here are a few common signs that could indicate the need to see your health provider for a FPG or A1c blood test.

  1. Any random blood sugar over 200 mg/dL
  2. Any fasting blood sugar over 126 mg/dL
  3. A1c > or = 6.5%
  4. Frequent urination
  5. Excessive thirst
  6. Unintentional weight loss
  7. Blurry Vision
  8. Fatigue


Start screening at age 45 for anyone with BMI >25 and 1 or more of the following risk factors:

  1. First degree relative with diabetes
  2. Member of a high risk ethnic population
  3. Habitual inactivity
  4. Pre-diabetes
  5. History of heart disease
  6. HTN or BP >140/90
  7. HDL<35
  8. Triglycerides >250
  9. History of GDM
  10. Polycystic ovarian syndrome
  11. Acanthosis nigricans

Related: Type 2 Diabetes Risk Factors: What You Need To Know

Myths and Facts About Diabetes

FACT: When your blood sugar is normal and your A1c <5.7%, you have full function of your pancreas.

FACT: When you are diagnosed with prediabetes, you only have about 50% of your pancreas working.

FACT: When you are diagnosed with diabetes, you only have about 20% of your pancreas working!

FACT: It is not your fault that you have diabetes!

MYTH: Diabetes develops only because of genetic factors.

FACT: Diabetes can develop because of both genetic and lifestyle factors

MYTH: You can be cured of diabetes with well controlled with meds, diet and/or lifestyle

FACT: Diabetes is a PROGRESSIVE DISEASE. Once you have it, you have it. This right here is why I have and will continue to help patients prevent the progression.

diabetes care team

Managing Type 2 Diabetes

There is no one-size-fits-all treatment. You need a personal approach and a team who can help you as an individual! Everyone is on a different stage of the diabetes journey, you cannot expect that everyone will have the same treatment, medication or lifestyle plan.

Diabetes Care Team 

A diabetes care team is essential for diabetes management as it is this group of providers that should be working to support you each and every day. This team may include:

  • Endocrinologist
  • Nurse(s)
  • Registered Dietitian/Certified Diabetes Educator
  • Dentist
  • Podiatrist
  • Counselor
  • Ophthalmologist
  • Social Worker

Your diabetes care team should know your routine and challenges in life and be there to support you in finding your approach to diabetes management.  

Treating Diabetes with Medication

Type 2 diabetes can be treated with or without medication. Your health care professional should be the one advising the best option for you based on your lab values and other comorbidities.

There are many classes of medications for diabetes. Different classes of medications work in different parts of your body to control blood sugar. A medication review can help you understand the specific medication you have been prescribed and how it is impacting your body.

Treating Diabetes with Lifestyle Changes 

It is no secret that exercise, and proper nutrition are important for health. However, it is extremely important that you work with your diabetes care team to determine the level of exercise needed for your body and the specific nutrition you need for blood sugar management.

Exercise can be very effective in some people and not as effective with others. Just like some people do very well with a moderate amount of carbohydrates each day, other people may get low blood sugars from the same amount of carbs.

Again, this is more evidence that there is not a one-size-fits all approach to diabetes management. Together with your diabetes care team, you can truly understand the steps you need to take to live a fulfilling life with diabetes!

Explore More

Springtime Nutrition, LLC was founded on my passion to partner with individuals to eliminate the stress, frustration and overwhelm of changing their nutrition lifestyle. I am committed to supporting you at every step of your journey. Ready to transform your life? Get started today!


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Kari Garner- Springtime Nutrition


Registered Dietitian & Certified Diabetes Care and Education Specialist

Kari has a passion for helping others and has a mission to help prevent and delay illness through diet and lifestyle changes. She lives in Summerville, SC and see patients virtually that live in North and South Carolina. For more about Kari, click here.

Kari is a licensed Registered Dietitian in North Carolina and South Carolina. She is nationally licensed with the Commission on Dietetic Registration. Her diabetes speciality certification is with the Certification Board of Diabetes Care & Education. 

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