PORT ST. JOE, Fla. (WMBB) — Diabetes and diabetes-related illnesses kill about 2 million people a year, worldwide. Many of those deaths could be prevented through diet and education.

Ascension Sacred Heart in Gulf County is using National Diabetes Awareness Month to help people understand the disease and how to stop it.

John Griggs is a Certified Diabetes Care and Education Specialist. Every month he teaches a free class to help people learn how to spot the signs of diabetes, prevent the disease, and manage its complications.

“Some of the most common signs of having Type 2 diabetes or even Type 1 diabetes are increased urination, thirst, and hunger,” Griggs said.

He said people experiencing those symptoms should see their primary care provider to be tested.

His monthly class informs people about other risk factors associated with diabetes like heart disease, high blood pressure, and high cholesterol.

He teaches individuals about portion control and healthy diet practices. He also emphasized the importance of this so that the patients can understand the importance of taking care of this disease now before it gets out of control.

They meet at the Eastpoint Public Library in Franklin County. Each class is personalized to the needs of those attending. The critical thing to remember is that, when properly diagnosed, diabetes can be managed through diet, medication, or both.