Tofu helps to suppress the elevation of blood sugar levels and contains nutritional elements that strengthen blood vessels to protect against diabetes complications.
There are 6.9 million people with diabetes in Japan, and the total, including those who have yet to fully develop diabetes but are potential diabetics with high blood-sugar levels, is estimated at around 13.7 million. The “Healthy Japan 21” project currently being promoted by the Ministry of Health, Labor and Welfare estimates that the number of diabetes patients will increase to 10.8 million by the year 2010. However, the number of people actually receiving treatment for diabetes is currently between 2.2 to 2.5 million, which shows that the number of people who are not yet aware that they are diabetic and are receiving no treatment is greater than the number receiving treatment. This is indicative of the extent to which noticeable symptoms do not appear in the early stages of diabetes, and there are many cases where diabetes is detected belatedly as diabetes complications emerge.
Diabetes is a disease in which levels of blood-sugar (glucose in the blood) become abnormally high. It develops when insulin secretion from the pancreas becomes deficient or when cells become unable to take in sufficient amounts of glucose even when insulin levels are normal. Although some say that diabetes is not fatal, approximately 12,000 to 13,000 people die of diabetes every year. Moreover, one in ten diabetics dies from infectious diseases as a result of diminished immunity caused by diabetes.
The majority of these succumb to diabetic nephropathy, a complication of diabetes. Other than diabetic nephropathy, complications of diabetes include retinopathy and neuropathy, and these are collectively known as the “Three major complications of diabetes”. These complications emerge as damage occurs initially in the smaller blood vessels when blood vessels are weakened and lose their elasticity due to exposure to concentrated blood-sugar levels resulting from prolonged high blood-sugar conditions. To prevent or alleviate the symptoms of diabetes, the reduction of glucose rich carbohydrates, the conversion of glucose to energy, and the strengthening of blood vessels are required. To this end, tofu is a very expedient food as it is low energy and contains the nutritional constituents needed for the job.