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Vitamin C

You might wonder why ordinary stew can help with diabetes or lower blood glucose (sugar). There is something in bell peppers that can help those with diabetes or prevent diabetes. Bell (red, green) peppers are a great source of vitamin C. Yes! Vitamin C! For so long we have learned that vitamin C is a good way of preventing infections or fighting infection. Little did we know that Vitamin C is also good for controlling, treating and preventing diabetes or lowering blood glucose. We’ve been told also to eat citrus fruits such as oranges, tangerine, grapefruit, etc. with the reason being that it has vitamin C, which it does, however, a cup of bell peppers have almost two to three times the amount of vitamin C compared to an orange. 

Diabetes

Diabetes is when a person’s blood sugar (scientific name glucose) is too high. Glucose (sugar) is needed in your body. It is what the body uses to give it the energy to do work. Without glucose (sugar) it is impossible to do work. Glucose is mostly found in the food we eat specifically carbohydrates (carbs). Too much sugar found in the blood can result in developing diabetes. 

Insulin

Insulin is a hormone found in the body made by an organ in the body called the pancreas. Insulin’s task is to get the glucose (sugar) in the blood into the cell so that it can be used as energy (ATP). If the pancreas produces little or no insulin, or  If a cell is resistant to insulin, the cell can not use insulin properly, therefore causing insulin to not move sugar from your blood to the cell. This causes the blood to contain a high amount of sugar which can lead to diabetes. 

Research on Vitamin C and Diabetes

Scientists have found a link between vitamin C and diabetes. Scientists believe that eating food that has high amounts of vitamin C or taking vitamin C supplements can help to control blood glucose (sugar). Scientists performed research with patients with diabetes and added vitamin C supplements as part of the treatment and found that it helped to balance diabetic patient’s blood glucose (sugar) levels. 

Researchers also believe that a dose of vitamin C in diabetics or patients who are deficient in vitamin C will improve their insulin sensitivity. Insulin sensitivity means that the cell will become more responsive to insulin, therefore, allowing insulin to bring glucose into it, instead of resisting it. As mention before if the cell resists insulin, it will not move sugar into the cell which puts an individual at risk for diabetes. However, if the cells in the body are sensitive to insulin they would allow insulin to bring sugar from the blood into it. This will reduce and balance the sugar levels in the blood. Excess and prolonged sugar in the blood can lead to organ and nerve damage.

Most of the vitamin C in the body is flushed out of the body through urine. Therefore it is good practice to incorporate it into one’s daily meal. Vitamin C is not only good for controlling blood glucose levels, but it also helps strengthen one’s teeth, it helps to prevent and fights infections and also cancer. 

Food with Vitamin C & Dosage

Below is a list of some foods that have high levels of vitamin C. Adult males need about 90mg of vitamin C daily, whereas females need 75mg daily. Pregnant adult women need about 85 mg whereas breastfeeding adult women need about 120mg of vitamin C daily. Individuals trying to lower blood sugar levels might need a higher intake of vitamin C daily. The highest daily amount that one can have is 2000 mg.  A megadose of vitamin C supplements can cause diarrhea. This is why vitamins from food are safer than those from supplements. Talk to a doctor, a nutritionist or dietician if one wants a higher dosage.

FoodsMgServing
Guava206 1 fruit
Bell peppers121 – 132½ cup
Papaya94½ fruit
Kiwi fruit84large
Orange59-831 medium

One can balance blood sugar by having one fruit after a meal or eating meals with high amounts of vitamin C. As you can see in the table above, guava has the most vitamin C. Having 1 guava fruit a day is good enough to get in your daily amount. For those who are not into or can not access foods such as guava, they can incorporate bell peppers in most of their meals. Most of the stews or meals I make all consist of bell peppers. Bell peppers can be found in salads, jollof rice, fried rice, yam porridge, designer (Ayamase) stew, stir fry, red stew, pepper sauce and even spinach stew (efo riro). Check out my recipe book to learn different ways of using bell peppers. If you prefer supplements in a higher dosage speak with your doctor or your nutritionist to see how it helps your blood sugar. 

Sources:

Santosh, H. N., & David, C. M. (2017). Role of ascorbic acid in diabetes mellitus: a comprehensive review. Journal of Medicine, Radiology, Pathology and Surgery, 4(1), 1-3.

Dakhale, G. N., Chaudhari, H. V., & Shrivastava, M. (2011). Supplementation of vitamin C reduces blood glucose and improves glycosylated hemoglobin in type 2 diabetes mellitus: a randomized, double-blind study. Advances in pharmacological sciences, 2011.

Zhou, C., Na, L., Shan, R., Cheng, Y., Li, Y., Wu, X., & Sun, C. (2016). Dietary vitamin C intake reduces the risk of type 2 diabetes in Chinese adults: HOMA-IR and T-AOC as potential mediators. Plos one, 11(9), e0163571.

Clinical Trials.gov, An Exploratory Study of the Effects of Oral Vitamin C Administration on Insulin Sensitivity and Vascular Reactivity in Subjects With Type 2 Diabetes: https://clinicaltrials.gov/ct2/show/NCT00001870

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