November is Diabetes Awareness Month, and NY1's Jill Urban filed the following report on what to do to decrease your risk of getting the disease.
Close to 25 million Americans suffer from diabetes, making it the seventh-leading cause of death in the U.S. November is Diabetes Awareness Month, a time when we are all reminded what we can do to help minimize our risk.
"You have a certain predisposition towards developing diabetes, and some people will get diabetes no matter what they do. So that's the deck that's stacked against you," says Dr. Ronald Tamler, the clinical director of the Mount Sinai Diabetes Center. "But on the other hand, there's what you can do to change your destiny."
Tamler says that while genetics play the biggest role in determining our risk for diabetes, making a few key changes to our lifestyle can diminish that risk significantly.
"Clinical research has shown that there are two very powerful things that people at risk for diabetes can do," he says. "One is eating more healthfully. The other one is initiating more physical activity."
He typically recommends 30 minutes of physical activity each day. As for your diet, registered dietitian Abigail Kennedy-Grant says that you should not only eat more well balanced foods, but you should also watch your portion size.
"Today, our portions are probably double the size that they were back in the 1980s, 1950s," she says. "So just by eating our regular foods and going about our regular sedentary lifestyles, we're putting ourselves at risk for diabetes."
Another way to help change your diet is to not only focus on your plate, but also your cup. It's a good idea to cut out those sugary juices, sodas and those lattes that can run up to 1,000 calories.
Eliminating smoking and too much alcohol consumption can also decrease risk.
Tamler says that diabetes is a silent disease because most people don't know they have it until they are tested or until complications, such as heart disease or nerve problems, occur. So it's important to understand your risk. Weight, family history and ethnicity are big factors.
To help determine your risk level, you can take a risk assessment at the American Diabetes Website at diabetes.org.