We live in a world where people are overfed and undernourished. People often turn to highly processed foods for their convenience, flavor, or simply put – addiction. The vast selection of unhealthy/processed foods being sold has caused a rise in adult obesity to roughly 40% of the US population (1). This has led to a near-epidemic in the United States, with food-based lifestyle diseases taking the front seat. One condition that has been on the rise over the past decade is Diabetes.
Diabetes is a chronic disease related to how the body processes carbohydrates and how it processes energy. In a healthy individual, after eating, the body breaks down food into various molecules. Carbohydrates are broken down into glucose (aka sugar), which causes blood sugar to rise. This increase in blood sugar signals the pancreas to release a hormone called insulin – this hormone acts as a key that “unlocks” the cells in the body to allow the glucose inside to be utilized for energy. For a person with diabetes, however, the body either cannot produce insulin or becomes resistant to its own insulin, meaning cells in the body no longer recognized it when it is circulating.
There are two common forms of diabetes. Type I diabetes is an auto-immune complication where the body does not create insulin, and it is typically developed in childhood (2). Type II diabetes, however, is a lifestyle disease where the body becomes selectively resistant to the insulin produced, which causes the cells in the body to become unable to utilize the blood sugar for energy. What is interesting is that nearly 90% of people with diabetes have type II (3). In both of these cases, after eating, the diabetic’s blood sugar remains high. This can lead to other related health issues such as retinal damage in the eyes, kidney failure, and chronic fatigue.
Another large portion of the US is considered prediabetic, which is where the body is beginning to form a resistance to insulin. The pancreas must produce higher than normal levels of insulin to return the blood sugar levels to normal after a meal. More than a third of adults in the United States are prediabetic, and of that, nearly 84% don’t realize they have it (4).
For those with diabetes, maintaining a healthy diet is more important than ever. Specialists recommend eating foods with a low score on the glycemic index (GI). A food’s GI score is a ranking of how the carbohydrates found int hat food will impact blood sugar levels in the body. A score below 55 indicates a lower chance of a spike in blood sugar, which is crucial for people with diabetes. Although fruits are full of essential vitamins, minerals, and fiber, they also tend to be high in sugar and have a high GI score, making them problematic for diabetes people.
That is why most specialists recommend people with diabetes turn to vegetables, which are often lower in sugar. One vegetable that they usually suggest is the carrot. This veggie has many health benefits, but for diabetics, it is seen as a diamond in the rough - literally! Here are some of the reasons they are a perfect diabetic pick!
Carrots are an excellent source of fiber. Most of us value fiber because it keeps digestion regular, but there is another reason it is so good for us. Fiber, specifically insoluble fiber, slows the process of digestion. Slowing digestion means that the carbohydrates in the food are broken down at a slower rate – meaning that less glucose is sent into the blood at a time. Therefore, fiber is essential to reducing spikes in blood sugar 5.
Carrots contain unique pigment molecules called carotenoids. These molecules are found in most yellow/orange fruits and vegetables. They are especially important for eye health because they protect the retinas from damage (6). High levels of blood sugar, something common in diabetics, can damage the retinas over time. That is why carrots are especially useful for those suffering from this disease!
A common health complication diabetics often face retinal damage within the eyes. Consistent high blood sugar levels can damage the retinas over time. Additionally, the excess activity the pancreas takes on to maintain stable blood sugar levels in diabetics can cause organ damage. Research shows that low vitamin A levels are also associated with developing diabetes 7. This is because vitamin A actively protects retinas and pancreatic health. Carrots have a higher than average concentration of bioavailable vitamin A, which means incorporating them into your diet will protect your eyesight and pancreas!
Carrots are one of the key ingredients in our healthy candy, FAVES. Their seemingly endless health-benefits provide our candy with so many functional benefits, especially for people with diabetes. Our candy is also free of added sugars, which means it won’t significantly spike blood sugar like in traditional candy. We want every individual to enjoy our product and reap the health benefits it offers – especially those living with diabetes!