Understanding Diabetes with Kimberly Ellis

Understanding Diabetes with Kimberly Ellis

Understanding diabetes and how it affects the patient is essential. Diabetes is a long-lasting health condition that affects how the body turns food into energy. The food you eat is broken down into sugar and turns into glucose. It is then released into the bloodstream.

When the blood sugar goes up, the pancreas is signaled to release insulin, which is the key to letting the blood sugar into the body’s cells and used as energy. 

When you have diabetes, your body does not make enough insulin. It cannot use insulin well, either. Too much blood sugar stays in your bloodstream when insulin isn’t enough or if the cells stop responding to it.

It could lead to serious health problems like loss of vision, heart disease, and even kidney problems.

In this episode, we welcome our guest, Kimberly Ellis. She is a Family Nurse Practitioner specializing in diabetes education and management, chronic disease prevention & management.

She is also an expert in patient and provider engagement and culturally responsive care in marginalized communities. Kim also has a decade of experience and knowledge in Primary Care, Long Term Care, Medically Assisted Weight Loss Clinics, and Community Health.

Her consulting firm, Ellis Diabetes Education & Consulting, LLC., assists health organizations in developing Clinical Initiatives, Strategies, and Implementation aligned with the Quadruple Aim of Healthcare to improve health outcomes in their unique demographic.


The questions below are some we’d like to tackle. We go off-topic all the time so we don’t expect to hit them all. If you have any ideas please let us know. Looking forward to our conversation!

  • Can you give us a little background about yourself? 
    • What got you into nursing? 
    • Is there a reason why you pursued the nurse practitioner route? 
    • What made you specialize in Diabetes education?
  • With diabetes and even nondiabetics, we pay attention to the Hgb A1c.
    • What is it?
    • How do we use it to predict diabetes?
  • How is diabetes developed over time?
    • What is prediabetes? 
    • “According to the CDC, more than one-third of American adults are categorized as “pre-diabetic.”  That’s 88 million people!  The sad part about it is that a large number of people do not even know that they have prediabetes.” [1] 
  • We love talking about prevention. 
    • Illnesses affect everyone individually, and the only way to prevent them is for the individual to do something about it. No one can help you better than you can help yourself. Good health is our own responsibility. 
  • Key risk factors
  • Age 45 or older
  • Overweight/Obese
    1. How does being overweight lead to diabetes? Can we touch base on the physiological process of how obesity leads to diabetes?
    2. How does insulin resistance fit into this picture?
      • Obesity causes stress in a system of cellular membranes called the endoplasmic reticulum (ER), which in turn causes the endoplasmic reticulum to suppress the signals of insulin receptors, which then leads to insulin resistance.
      • The endoplasmic reticulum is a network of membranes found inside cells. It is responsible for processing proteins and fats.
      • As you enter a state of overnutrition, as we often do living in our supersized society, all of those nutrients that come in need to be processed, stored, and utilized. The ER factory is overworked and starts sending out SOS signals.
      • These SOS signals, he said, tell cells to dampen their insulin receptors. Insulin is the hormone that converts blood sugar to energy for the body’s cells.
      • When there’s too much going on, the cell knows that insulin is out there but doesn’t want insulin receptors signaling for more insulin because there’s already enough on board. This has a downside because insulin soon loses its ability to help clear sugar from the body [2].
  • A sedentary lifestyle (physical activity <3x/wk)

Questions About Diabetes

  1. How does a sedentary lifestyle contribute to diabetes/prediabetes? 
    • Is it because it leads to obesity or is there a different underlying reason?
    • A low amount of activity leads to more circulating glucose and metabolism change. Activity leads to an increasing amount of work on our muscles and body leading to a higher demand for nutrition, our body uses up and needs the circulating glucose [3].
  • First-degree relative with Diabetes Type 2
  • A personal history of gestational diabetes

When someone develops gestational diabetes, does that just show that the person is more likely to develop diabetes based on a genetic predisposition? 

  • A personal history of Polycystic Ovary Syndrome (PCOS)
      1. How does PCOS play a role in a higher likelihood of diabetes? 
      2. Is it directly related to PCOS causing insulin resistance?
  • Racial Group: African American, Hispanic/Latino, American Indian, Pacific Islanders
  • Is diabetes reversible? 
  • What are the keys to proper diabetes management and something everyone should know?


Before we end the show, we have one last question we like to ask all our guests. If you had the opportunity to have a Cup of coffee with anybody one last time, who would it be & why? 

Catch more on Kimberly through her socials, and connect with her on Instagram at @thediabetesNP. Visit her Facebook page at Kim E., the Diabetes NP, or check her YouTube channel, Kim E., the Diabetes NP here.

For more information on diabetes management, you can visit her website at https://www.ellisdiabetes.com/. Or check out her LinkedIn profile at https://www.linkedin.com/in/thediabetesnp/.

Want to learn more about diabetes? Click on our full episode here 👇


00:00 Intro
02:03 About Kimberley
04:00 Common Problems In Communities
08:18 What Made Kimberly Specialize In Diabetes Education?
10:17 The Difficulty In Educating People About Diabetes
12:44 The Physiology Of Diabetes
16:14 Does Glucometer Really Help Detect Diabetes?
18:33 Why Is It Crucial To Prevent Diabetes?
20:28 When Is The Ideal Time To Check Your Blood Sugar?
23:01 What Should A Person With Prediabetes Do?
26:23 Is Diabetes Reversible?
30:10 Frequent Misdiagnosis of Diabetes
32:51 Ethnic Groups And Cultures Susceptible To Diabetes
34:47 About Gestational Diabetes?
38:09 Diets To Help You Avoid Diabetes
42:34 Improving Eating Pattern
44:23 Kimberly’s Role As A Healthcare Provider
47:11 How Can We Raise Awareness About Diabetes?
48:55 What healthcare professionals are lacking?
54:06 Wrapping up the episode

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