July 10, 2008 -- More than 23 million Americans have diabetes, and up to a quarter of those do not even know they have it. A new report found that children are at greater risk of developing the disease.
ABC News' medical contributor Dr. Marie Savard appeared on "Good Morning America" today to share five tips on reducing you and your family's risk for type 2 diabetes
1. Determine if You are at Risk
Find out your family history. If there is diabetes in your family, then you are at greater risk. If you had pregnancy gestation diabetes, you are at risk. If you are African-American or Hispanic, you are at greater risk.
Check on blood sugar level. Your blood sugar should be under 100; 100 to 126 is prediabetic, which means you are well on your way to trouble, but diabetes is still preventable at this stage.
2. Rule of 100s
Blood sugar under 100. As previously mentioned, check your blood sugar level, and if it is higher than 100, you are on your way to trouble.
LDL Cholesterol under 100. This is the bad kind of cholesterol. As opposed to HDL, the "good" kind of cholesterol, high levels of LDL can put you at serious risk for diabetes.
Mean blood pressure under 100. The average of two blood pressure tests ought to be under 100. It will tell you where you stand and how much you need to work at lowering your numbers by changing your lifestyle.
Walk 30 minutes every day. The No. 1 way to cut down your risk of diabetes, or to manage the disease if you already have it, is to exercise. Several studies say that exercise can lower your risk of diabetes by nearly 60 percent and as much as 70 percent in the elderly.
Lose 2 inches from the waist. You need to lose weight to get the effects. So get out a pedometer and your tape measure and start taking 10,000 steps a day. That's about 30 minutes of walking and you can do it in increments of 2,000 steps. The benefit is cumulative, even if you stop and start.
4. Eat High Fiber Foods and Healthy Fats
Eat more fruits and vegetables. Diet is another big lifestyle change that has a major impact on preventing diabetes.
Olive oil and Omega 3 fish oil are the right kind of fat. Fish such as salmon or tuna are good for you. You can even take supplements if you cannot get enough fish.
Drink a touch of alcohol. This may surprise some people, but a little bit of red wine can improve insulin activity.
5. Avoid Artificial Sweeteners
A good, in-depth study has found that just one can of diet soda a day can increase your risk of becoming prediabetic. The study suggested that the sweet taste of the artificial sweeteners may actually confuse the brain and cause us to gain weight.