Finding natural solutions for those seeking to maintain healthy blood sugar levels is needed now more than ever before.
According to the National Institutes of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases, an estimated 30.3 million people have diabetes, while another 84.1 million adults ages 18 and older are prediabetic. And at a time when the world is laser-focused on their health due to the COVID-19 pandemic, it is those with certain medical conditions that need to be extra careful. Among them are people with blood sugar issues including metabolic syndrome and diabetes.
According to Rob Brewster, president of California-based Ingredients by Nature (IBN), across the world, the number of people considered to be prediabetic or type-2 diabetic continues to increase. Further, in the U.S. alone, nearly half of the population falls into one of the two categories.
“A large concern right now is that heightened blood sugar levels can impair the immune system’s functionality, leaving people more susceptible to various illnesses, including coronaviruses,” Brewster said. “Word is also getting out that type-2 diabetes isn’t the only time when immune system complications from glucose levels can occur. Blood glucose levels that put someone into the prediabetes range is also of concern, and one in three Americans are prediabetic. This puts a large portion of the United States into a group that needs to worry about their blood sugar levels and the eventual consequences of not taking action.”
While there are a number of factors that can cause insulin resistance, increasing the development of type 2 diabetes, a major factor is diet and lifestyle. The Dietary Guidelines for Americans states that the average American diet consists of excess sodium, saturated fat, refined grains and calories from solid fats and added sugars. The guidelines also state that Americans eat less vegetables, fruits, whole grains, dairy products and oils than recommended. And according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) almost 35 percent of adults in the U.S. are obese, and it is estimated that this statistic will increase to almost 50 percent within 15 years.
“The average U.S. consumption of added sugar in foods and beverages consumed is 58.7 pounds. Type 2 diabetes is a global epidemic with 280 million people according to the World Health Organization (WHO),” said Guy Woodman, general manager for Euromed USA, Inc. (Bridgeville, PA). “In the U.S., there are 89 million Americans with pre-diabetes who should take action to avoid higher glucose levels by losing weight, improving their diet and increasing their level of exercise to avoid being diagnosed later in life with type 2 diabetes.
And as the number of people with blood sugar issues grows, so does the category. “We can gauge the significant potential for supplements marketed for health blood sugar by the $825 billion market for drugs and devices for diabetics,” Woodman added. “Diabetes is one of the fastest growing diseases globally. Since 1980, the number of people with diabetes has increase 400 percent. If the current trend continues, the number of people with diabetes in the world is expected to reach 640 million by 2040.”
Ingredients for Blood Sugar Support
Among the ingredients that have been recognized to support healthy blood sugar levels include cinnamon, berberine and chromium. “In a review of dietary supplements for blood sugar support in Nutrition and Diabetes1 earlier this year, minerals were cited as the most widely studied category. This includes minerals such as chromium, potassium, selenium, sodium and zinc,” said James Komorowski, MS, CNS, chief science officer for Nutrition21 in New York. “Chromium, they said, is particularly well studied in relation to diabetes. In fact, one notable review highlighted the potential association between chromium deficiency and hyperglycemia and impaired glucose tolerance.”
Nutrition21 offers Chromax chromium picolinate, which is backed by 35 clinical studies, eight of which focus specifically on its role in blood sugar support. According to the company, Chromax has been shown to: promote carbohydrate metabolism; improve blood sugar metabolism; enhance insulin sensitivity and improve blood sugar metabolism; help reduce food intake; reduce caloric intake; help manage hunger levels; and increase satiety.
“Chromium has been shown to play an important role in glucose, lipid and amino acid metabolism by its potentiating effects on insulin action,” said Komorowski. “But the typical dietary intake of chromium is suboptimal as few diets contain even the minimum of 50 mcg. Chromium, in the form of Chromax chromium picolinate, has significantly enhanced absorption. Combining picolinic acid with chromium enhances the bioavailability of chromium, and by doing so, improves insulin utilization and efficiency. Improving insulin utilization can positively influence body composition because of the role insulin plays in the endogenous synthesis of fatty acids and triglycerides, as well as in increasing muscle protein synthesis.”
Morris Zelkha, CEO of Israel-based TriNutra Ltd. agreed that chromium picolinate is one of the most widely recognized and used ingredients for healthy blood sugar support. “Latest developments have been to create combinations of chromium picolinate with other ingredients—such as berberine, cinnamon, gymnema, vitamin D and other—to enhance its effects,” he said.
According to Hannah Ackermann, head dietitian & communications manager for Comet Bio (Schaumburg, IL), fiber is also a long-standing ingredient for maintaining blood glucose metabolism. “Recently, there has been a greater emphasis on prebiotic dietary fiber,” she said. “Prebiotics are soluble fibers often found in grains, vegetables and fruits and are non-digestible, meaning human enzymes cannot break them down. Prebiotics work symbiotically with probiotics serving as food for the good bacteria helping to promote a healthy microbiome.”
Comet Bio is a food technology start-up that upcycles crop leftovers into unique, healthy and innovative supplements. The company’s ingredient, Arrabina is a prebiotic dietary fiber that promotes gut health, helps maintain healthy blood glucose levels and supports immunity.
IBN’s Brewster noted that “citrus bioflavonoids have commonly been used for their synergy with vitamin C, but certain ones—such as eriocitrin and hesperidin—also provide potent support to the body’s ability to maintain proper blood sugar levels.”
IBN’s lemon flavonoid blend Eriomin is the company’s most successful and most recent ingredient innovation. Through its research, IBN discovered that “eriocitrin is a much more powerful citrus bioflavonoid than previously considered and is able to provide ample support to the body to help maintain normal levels of blood glucose, he said. “Eriomin is the first ingredient to take a tri-pronged approach to blood glucose support by addressing insulin resistance, oxidative stress and the inflammatory response.
“Eriomin is able to effectively help improve blood glucose levels because of the cyclical effect of its interrelated benefits. Improved antioxidant activity influences a decrease in inflammatory cytokines and an increase in insulin sensitivity,” Brewster explained. “Likewise, the decrease in cytokines helps decrease insulin resistance and helps to improve the antioxidant activity. All of these actions work together to help increase to glucose tolerance and so help normalize fasting glucose levels. One ingredient, multiple functions that deliver a more powerful benefit.”
Abalife from Euromed USA, is a new patented extract from fig fruit containing a standardized amount of a compound, abscisic acid (ABA). “This substance is produced in our bodies in the vitamin A pathway and naturally present in many fruits and vegetables. The main role of ABA in human health has been only recently clarified: It induces metabolic signals that promote glucose and inflammatory homeostasis,” noted Woodmand. “ABA is also produced endogenously by some cells in our bodies but is largely influenced by dietary intake. In fact, it has been shown that after glucose intake, plasma ABA does not increase in diabetic people, but it does in healthy subjects, where it has a beneficial effect on the glycemic and insulin responses, without affecting insulin release.
“The mechanism of action, researched in-vivo and in-vitro and confirmed with molecular docking, has been identified in the metabolic changes induced by the binding to a receptor named lanthionine synthetase C-like 2. The net effect is to increase the production of the protein, Glut-4 that carries glucose from the bloodstream into the cell, reducing the level of glucose in the bloodstream.”
According to Zelkha, black seed oil is an ingredient rich in history and potential—including for healthy blood sugar support. TriNutra offers ThymoQuin 3%. “Our ThymoQuin 3% black seed oil is a powerful source of blood sugar support. We spent years developing our unique cultivation of black seed that could be standardized to 3 percent thymoquinone,” he explained. “The oil is obtained via a proprietary cold-press extraction that delivers a very pure and potent ingredient that has less than 2 percent fatty acid. Studies have shown that in addition to helping improve blood glucose levels and insulin sensitivity, ThymoQuin is a safe and effective way to support blood pressure, mitochondrial functionality and help the body against fatty liver.”
Delivery Options & Access to Research
The delivery options for dietary supplements have moved far beyond a simple tablet or a capsule, as today’s consumers want a variety of options. “Having ingredients that can be formulated into various delivery formats is more appealing and can meet the demands of different demographic groups that need blood sugar support,” noted Brewster. “Tablets and capsules are convenient. Gummies, powdered drink formulations and liquid supplements have also seen an increase in interest. That’s why IBN has made it possible for Eriomin to be tailored to a diverse selection of delivery systems.”
It is also no secret that some ingredients have flavors that may not agree with consumers, so companies need to make sure that products they create are pleasant. “As a manufacturer of fruit and vegetable concentrates, we know some products have an astringent or bitter taste that may be unpalatable for consumers,” Woodman said. “ABAlife has a pleasant mild sweet taste that is well suited for gummies, dry drink mixes or ready to drink products. ABAlife is also self-affirmed as GRAS (generally recognized as safe) for numerous food and beverage applications and low-calorie sweeteners.”
In addition to a plethora of delivery options, shoppers today want proof that the products they spend their hard-earned money deliver on their claims. And with the ability to look this information up in a matter of minutes means companies need to have this information easily accessible. “The science is key to being heard. Listing benefit claims is important but backing them with displayed results from clinical trials takes those claims and puts them on a pedestal,” said Brewster. “Consumers continue to become more aware and educated about the products they use, and some solid research can go a long way to bring in new customers and keep them loyal. Research shouldn’t be a once-and-done effort either. Each additional study has the power to build up a strong foundation of data that the claims are viable and realistic, setting the product ahead of its competition.”
IBN’s first study on Eriomin “provided significant evidence to support its ability to help the body maintain proper blood glucose levels. All the subjects that consumed Eriomin were able to experience drops in blood glucose levels via improved insulin sensitivity, reduced inflammatory cytokine levels and increased antioxidant capacity, among other relevant biomarkers,” Brewster explained. “Even more importantly, an average of 24 percent of subjects were able to return to normal fasting glucose levels and showed a successful increase in glucose tolerance. We are currently doing additional research on Eriomin to provide additional support for these findings.
“Our current research on Eriomin is published and available for both product manufacturers and consumers who visit our Eriomin website. When we publish our other studies, those will become available as well.”
Euromed USA’s Woodman added that U.S. customers prefer two human clinical studies to support their structure-function claims for their products. “Euromed has published one human efficacy study on ABAlife and an animal study that was published, ‘Abscisic acid enriched fig extract promotes insulin sensitivity by decreasing systemic inflammation and activating LANCL2 in skeletal muscle’ in the prestigious journal Nature, earlier this year. Once the studies are published, we provide the information to the news media, including that for health professionals, so they aware of positive studies on nutraceutical products.”
As for TriNutra, the company is constantly on the lookout for more opportunities to establish clinical studies and then get them published in recognized scientific journals. “There is also more effort put towards public relations and social media to provide more education within the industry, but also for consumers,” Zelkha explained. “Building consumer awareness of our products will help them to better understand the benefits of ingredients like ThymoQuin and will get them to start demanding higher quality supplements.”
As the number of people that are prediabetic or diabetic continues to rise, the need for natural ingredients that cater to stabilizing blood sugar levels will continue to grow. “Given the widespread prevalence of diabetes, metabolic syndrome and obesity—all of which are underpinned by blood sugar dysfunction to some degree—there will continue to be a lot of activity in this market,” said Komorowski.
“The category has started to look into some of the reasons for increased blood sugar levels and addressing the cause in addition to the effect,” concluded Zelkha. “Weight challenges are very prevalent in the U.S. resulting in many consumers experiencing metabolic syndrome. Providing more holistic approached will not only help blood sugar levels but facilitate overall wellness and better health.” NIE
1 Hannon, B.A., Fairfield, W.D., Adams, B. et al. Use and abuse of dietary supplements in persons with diabetes. Nutr. Diabetes 10, 14 (2020). https://doi.org/10.1038/s41387-020-0117-6.
For More Information:
Comet Bio, https://comet-bio.com
Euromed USA, Inc., www.euromedusa.com
Ingredients By Nature, http://ingredientsbynature.com
TriNutra Ltd., www.trinutra.com