Dangers of Diabetes and Lack of Preventative Care
Diabetes, a group of metabolic diseases that prevents the body from regulating blood sugar levels with normal insulin production, is a massive health concern that has crept into every corner of the world. The build-up of blood sugars damages the tiny blood vessels in your kidneys, heart, eyes, and nervous system, eventually leading to stroke, heart disease, kidney failure, blindness, and severe nerve damage in the hands and feet if left untreated. From the mountainous highlands of South America to the coastal lowlands of Eastern Asia, there is no population that has not felt the debilitating effects of diabetes in their community.
The International Diabetes Foundation recently estimated that roughly 8% of the world’s population has some form of diabetes and that this number may rise to 10% by 2030. Over the years, a myriad of medications (e.g. insulin, alpha-glucosidase inhibitors, biguanides, and dopamine agonists) have been created to help regulate abnormal glucose levels, but these medicines don’t come cheap. In the United States alone, the average per capita health care spending in 2013 for the 29 million people with the disease was almost $15,000. This doesn’t include the other medical expenses of treating diabetes related diseases, like kidney failure.
Diabetes in the Pacific Islands
People in less developed countries are even less likely to have money to spend on expensive treatments. In the Pacific Islands, a cluster of thousands of islands with a combined population of over 10 million, inhabitants of these small developing nations do not have the same access to medical resources and medications that Western nations do. Yet, these people are more in need of ways to fight diabetes than almost any other region in the world. According to the World Health Organization, “Diabetes prevalence among adults in the Pacific Island Region is among the highest in the world; 47% in American Samoa compared with 13% in mainland USA, and it ranges from 14% to 44% elsewhere in the region.”
Not only is there a lack of medicine to help those already saddled with the disease, but more and more children in the region are developing diabetes due to the poor food choices. Reliance on imported and processed foods combined with little in the way of healthcare has created an environment where diabetes grows rampantly. To put it in perspective, 9 of the 10 most obese countries in the world are Pacific Islands. Health experts insist that in the Pacific Islands especially there is an urgent need to properly educate youth about making wise diet decisions. Otherwise, the numbers of those with diabetes will only continue to rise.
Breadfruit Offers Natural Solution
People are seeking nature-based solutions. Breadfruit provides a way to fight diabetes naturally. Studies have proven that fiber can lower the amount of “bad” cholesterol (LDL) while simultaneously raising levels of “good” cholesterol (HDL) in people with Type 2 diabetes. A small, 100-gram breadfruit is packed with almost 5 grams of fiber alone. Incorporating breadfruit into daily diets has shown to be an effective natural means for decreasing your susceptibility to diabetes.
Breadfruit is also a nutritional powerhouse—it’s a gluten-free, low-glycemic index superfood—that is packed full of vitamins, amino acids, omegas, niacin and more, and can be eaten at all stages of ripeness. These healthful qualities mean that breadfruit can help control blood sugar spikes in your body that cause so much damage. Less mature breadfruit tastes like a nutty potato, and offers the same food applications as the traditional spud. Riper breadfruit is sweet and creamy, providing an alternative to unhealthy sugar-heavy desserts. Breadfruit flour also has better structure, taste and nutritional value than other gluten-free alternatives out there. This versatile food can be used in an endless variety of cuisines from curries to salads, breads, cakes, pies, and even ice cream.
Boosting Breadfruit Access and Awareness
Breadfruit is valuable tool for those threatened by diabetes, especially for peoples in hot, tropical areas like the Pacific Islands where the trees thrive abundantly. While some people of the Pacific Islands have been using this humble food source for millennia, many take its value for granted. Increased access to this nutritious food promotes breadfruit as an important part of a delicious, healthy, and affordable diet that helps address the root causes of obesity, diabetes, and related diseases. Once awareness of breadfruit grows, more people can benefit by reintroducing or adding breadfruit to their regular diet.
Recently, breadfruit has received a big boost from the endorsement of celebrity chef Sam Choy. Over the past few years, the Hawaiian cook has used his fame to champion all the nutritional benefits the breadfruit has to offer. He has put breadfruit on restaurant menus and created delicious recipes to showcase breadfruit’s versatility. Just recently, he even gave a speech and served on the panel “Inviting Local Breadfruit Culinary, Food Product Entrepreneurs and Home Chefs” at the 2016 Hawai’i Pacific Global Breadfruit Summit. After slimming down from a whopping 405lbs to a modest 210lbs, Chef Choy is a strong advocate for fighting obesity, especially in children. As Chef Choy is always quick to point out, the versatility of breadfruit is what makes it so wonderful. It’s easy to fit breadfruit into a meal. It can be whipped into porridge, fried into chips, roasted into cubes, baked into loaves, and prepared any other number of ways. The battle against diabetes in the Pacific Islands is certainly a long and challenging one, but adding new tools, like breadfruit, into their food arsenal goes a long way in aiding the fight.