CENTRE COUNTY, Pa. (WTAJ) – Diabetes is plaguing Pennsylvania. According to the United Health Foundation, PA ranks #25 in the nation for people diagnosed with the chronic disease.

Endocrinologist Dr. Brian Jameson says Geisinger Health System alone, is swamped with these patients.

“We have over 150,000 people with prediabetes, and 50,000 people with Type 2 diabetes,” said Dr. Jameson.

Type 2 diabetes, is when the body doesn’t make enough insulin to control it’s blood sugar levels.

“Tends to happen with age. Tends to happen as we gain a little bit more obesity we tend to get heavier in our stomachs,” said Dr. Jameson.

Historically he says that they’d see this type in older patients like their senior citizens, but now those walking into his office are getting younger and younger.

“As the population has become obese, there are more and more young patients. Very young patients, some not even in their teens that have type 2 diabetes,” said Jameson.

Dr. Jameson says that the pandemic could have played an indirect role in the recent spike.

“There’s been an issue with people not being as active because we’re supposed to stay socially distanced, so people did tend to gain some weight. And with each 5 or 10 pounds of weight gain your risk of developing type 2 diabetes definitely goes up,” said Jameson.

Fortunately, Clinical Nutritionist Mary Kate Gowdy at Purely Rooted Nutrition and Wellness says diabetes is a diet and lifestyle related illness; meaning it can be prevented.

“Really you want to try to make sure that you’re balancing your meal plans. You want to have breakfast, you want to have lunch, you want to have dinner. You don’t want to be snacking in between,” said Gowdy.

According to Gowdy, people should make sure they’re eating enough protein.

“You know poultry, seafood, pork, nuts and seeds, beans and lentils. As well as healthy sources of fat like extra virgin olive oil, avocado, fish, walnut, flaxseed. And then you need fiber, which is most of your vegetables and good sources of fruit,” advised Gowdy.

Gowdy says that following this diet, will naturally balance out one’s blood glucose level.

“And you won’t have those spikes that will cause that diabetes down the road,” said Gowdy.

Foods she advises staying away from are candy and baked goods, as well as too much bread and pasta.

“You also need to make sure you’re getting at least 30 minutes of exercise each day,” said Gowdy.

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