Diabetes (Type 2)

Background Information/Biology

Type 2 diabetes is the most common form of diabetes. It is caused by a combination of factors, including insulin resistance (a condition where the body’s muscle, fat, and liver cells do not use insulin effectively). Other likely causes include genetics and environmental factors. Type 2 diabetes develops when the body can not produce enough insulin/the right insulin. Symptoms of type 2 diabetes may develop gradually and can be small or even unnoticeable, and some people with type 2 diabetes remain undiagnosed for years. It is most common in middle-aged or older people who are overweight/unhealthy, but type 2 is also becoming more common in children.

(This shows how insulin is supposed to enter the cell vs what happens in a diabetic's cell)

Dietary Habits

When people are diagnosed with type 2 (or 1) diabetes, their entire lifestyle changes, especially in their amounts of exercise and eating habits. Dieting is extremely important for diabetics, and carbohydrate counting can be useful. That means you keep track of the carbohydrates you eat each day. Counting grams of carbohydrates and splitting them evenly between meals will help control your blood sugar. A diabetic should consume about 250 grams of complex carbohydrates per day, and roughly 45 to 60 grams of carbs per meal (15 to 30 grams for snacks). If you eat more carbohydrates than your insulin supply can handle, your blood sugar level goes up, and if you eat too little, your blood sugar level may fall too low. A dietitian can help a diabetic figure out a carbohydrate counting plan that meets their specific needs. Carbohydrate counting is most useful for people who take more than one daily injection of insulin, use the insulin pump, or want more flexibility and variety in their food choices.

Exercise and Lifestyle

Exercise is extremely important for the lifestyle of type 2 diabetes. Any type of exercise can be useful for diabetics, and can help their body use insulin better. It makes your heart and bones strong, relieves stress, improves blood circulation, and (most importantly for diabetics) lowers blood sugar. Although exercise is very beneficial, type 2 diabetics still must check their blood sugar before and after exercising to make sure it doesn't get too high or low. When exercising, your muscles need more glucose to supply energy. In response, your liver increases the amount of glucose it releases into your bloodstream. But to be used by the muscles, the released glucose needs insulin. And since diabetics do not produce this insulin, blood sugar levels can actually increase at dangerous rates right after exercise. Before exercising, your blood sugar should be around 100 mg/dl, and should not rise any higher than 250 mg/dl. If a diabetic's blood sugar levels are significantly above or below these levels, they should stop exercising.

Monitoring Blood Sugar/A1C Test

Diabetics must test their blood sugar levels every day. Blood glucose (blood sugar) monitoring is the main tool you have to check your levels, and diabetics test daily by pricking their finger, getting a blood sample, and holding the edge of the test strip to the drop of blood to get the result. This check tells you your blood sugar at any time.

(This shows someone performing their daily glucose-moitoring test)

In the last few years, various tests have been developed to diagnose diabetes in patients before it is in effect. For example, the A1C test is a blood test that provides information about a person’s average levels of blood sugar over the past 3 months. It is the primary test used for diabetes management and diabetes research. Recently, the A1C test was recommended as one of the tests available to help diagnose type 2 diabetes. Testing for diabetes is especially important because early in the disease, diabetes has no symptoms. An A1C level/result below 5.7% is considered normal, and a result between 5.7% and 6.4% signals pre-diabetes. Type 2 diabetes is diagnosed when the A1C result is over 6.5%. Once diagnosed, diabetics must go to check-ups with their doctors where they will be tested again (doctors want diabetics' A1C levels to stay at a percentage lower than 7%). Although no test is perfect, the A1C test is one of the best tools available to diagnose/keep track of diabetes.

Diabetes Success Story

My grandparents have type 2 diabetes, and their lifestyles are extremely modified by it. They both must check their blood sugar daily, go to the gym/exercise, and watch what they eat. My grandma in particular, has to be on a glucose-free, 2000 calorie-a-day diet. They both struggle sometimes with maintaining all this, but overall they do a good job with keeping up with/monitoring their health/diabetes.


Checking Your Blood Glucose. (n.d.). Retrieved December 05, 2016, from http://www.diabetes.org/living-with-diabetes/treatment-and-care/blood-glucose-control/checking-your-blood-glucose.html

The A1C Test and Diabetes | NIDDK. (n.d.). Retrieved December 05, 2016, from https://www.niddk.nih.gov/health-information/diabetes/diagnosis-diabetes-prediabetes/a1c-test

Understanding Type 2 Diabetes. (n.d.). Retrieved December 06, 2016, from http://www.healthline.com/health/type-2-diabetes

Created By
Caroline Brown

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