Consumers look for the most effective supplements to maintain healthy blood sugar levels.
Supermarkets are weird in a way, now more than ever. More foods and beverages are on shelves that are healthier, featuring natural ingredients, strong macro- and micronutrient profiles, no added sugars (or other chemicals), and reasonable calories per serving.
And then there are the mouthwatering junk foods, high in calories, high in carbs, high in sugar. More of these, too. For example, for years, there was only one type of Oreo cookie. Now, this classic offering has a large extended family, including mint, limeade, fruit punch, root beer float and salted caramel, among many others.
It takes tremendous self-discipline to pretend all these indulgent unhealthy foods don’t exist. And many people who are learning how to support healthy blood sugar while navigating the supermarket need to have a glycemic-support Sherpa.
More attention is being paid to how diet impacts the blood sugar/insulin cycle. According to Rhonda Witwer, vice president of marketing and business development, International Agriculture Group (IAG) of North Carolina, the CDC (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention) has intensified its focus on prediabetes within the last few years.
Major campaigns are underway to help people identify if they have higher than normal blood sugar levels and are pre-diabetic. For example, she explained, there is a growing resistance to the processed carbohydrates (Atkins, Paleo, low-carb). The U.S.’s Dietary Guidelines have encouraged high carbohydrate foods for more than 30 years, without adequate scientific evidence. “We are learning that continuing scientific studies have not shown disease prevention benefits from adherence to a low-fat diet (as has been promoted and promised by The Dietary Guidelines),” she asserted. “In short, our dietary recommendations have failed and Americans are now suffering from the ill effects of high-carb/low-fat diets in epidemic proportions. Insulin resistance is the underlying factor why low-carb diets would be beneficial for half of all Americans.”
The Nutrition Coalition, founded in 2015, is endeavoring to change that by encouraging the government to develop dietary policies based on rigorous science, by abandoning low-fat and promoting low-carb/high fat diets. The coalition is, said Witwer, challenging the exclusion of approximately 70 clinical trials on low carbohydrate diets that were omitted from the Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee Report. According to the Nutrition Coalition website (www.NutritionCoalition.us), “the cumulative evidence shows that low-carb diets are safe and effective for combating obesity, highly promising for the treatment of Type 2 diabetes, and they improve most cardiovascular risk factors.”
Processed foods and high sugar/fructose intake as common contributing factors to glucose intolerance and increased risk of type II diabetes, and a 2016 paper co-authored by Mohamed Rafi, PhD, founder of New Jersey-based Bioactives American Corp. goes into new territory of the etiology of hyperglycemia.
Hyperglycemia occurs when glucose “is stranded in the blood after each meal if the body fails to store it as glycogen in muscle and liver tissue, the storage tissues,” he explained. The review revealed a new theory that glucose uptake is not insulin dependent in most tissues, and that a key role of insulin in the liver is its inhibition of gluconeogenesis and glucose production, which controls post-prandial glucose. “Insulin is necessary, but alone will not suffice in glucose control,” he said.
The applications of more precise research technologies such as in silico molecular docking, to identify and study novel applications of food components to safely improve and perhaps reverse, insulin-resistance within a preventative dietary approach have been driven by two things: the understanding of different issues involved with glucose homeostasis and also the clearer clustering of metabolic syndrome abnormalities caused by insulin-resistance, leading to increased inflammation, according to Andrea Zangara, MS, scientific marketing manager, Euromed SA of Spain.
Despite the spate of rollouts and reformulations of foods and beverages with no added sugar, and grain and other slower carbs, recent data shows that the typical diet still contains carbs and sugar in high proportions, observed Jocelyn Bérubé, executive vice president, scientific & regulatory affairs, InnoVactiv Inc, Canada. Estimates show that sugar consumption is reaching slightly more than 140 pounds per person annually, while simple carb consumption (including other forms like starch, maltodextrins and HFCS) rose from nearly 44 percent of daily calories in 1971-75 to an average of approximately 50 percent over the last seven NHANES surveys (i.e. after the 1977 publication of “Dietary Goals in the U.S.” which ushered in the low-fat era).
Putting those stats into current context, Berube asserted, “High-carb intake means that every meal pushes our blood glucose to high levels, triggering the release of large amounts of insulin and forming dangerous free radicals and glycated end products. Constantly high insulin levels also pave the way to insulin resistance. No surprise then that nearly 34 percent of U.S. adults are prediabetic!”
He added, “True innovation in the category of blood sugar support should target mechanisms of action that safely support blood glucose in a broad spectrum of individuals, including healthy, prediabetics and diabetics alike.”
Numerous suppliers are investing in research and development of natural ingredients that are shown to help the body regain balance in blood sugar and insulin sufficiency. Ingredients range from botanical roots used in traditional medicine systems, to polyphenols and antioxidants, to fibers and fruit extracts.
LJ100 Tongka Ali (Eurycoma longifolia), long known as the king of men’s health and virility supplements and long history of traditional use in Malaysia, has now been shown through a new in vitro study to help manage blood glucose. Specifically, researchers focused on a compound contained within the patented ingredient, a 4.3kDa peptide—known to provide stamina enhancement and energy release as well as to act as an anti-hyperglycemic—on insulin secretion and glucose uptake.
Specifically, according to Annie Eng, CEO of HP Ingredients, the researchers incubated cultured cells (3T3-L1, L6, BRIN-BD-11 and Caco-2 cells) with concentrations of E. longifolia water extract or the peptide then determined their viabilities after 24 hours. After this time period, higher doses of both were used to determine glucose uptake into 3T3-L1 and Caco-2, and L6 cells, while insulin secretion was assessed from BRIN-BD-11 cells.
After 30 minutes of incubation with the water extract and the peptide, insulin secretion from BRIN-BD-11 cells increased by up to 200 percent and 2,800 percent, respectively. Glucose uptake was increased by up to 23 percent (LJ100) and 31 percent (peptide) in 3T3-L1 cells, and 54 percent and 68 percent also respectively in L6 cells. In both cases, glucose uptake was significantly augmented in the presence of insulin. There was marginal reduction in glucose uptake in Caco-2 cells. The researchers concluded that the results suggest that LJ100 is a candidate for enhancing glycemic control.
Another root botanical comes from Bioactives American Corp. Salsulin is a self-affirmed GRAS (generaly recognized as safe) ingredient from Salacia oblonga root, which contains various beneficial nutraceuticals, including anthocyanidins, catechins, phenolic acids, quinones and triterpenoids, according to Rafi. The primary bioactive compounds in Salacia oblonga are xanthanoid (mangiferin), and two unique sulphur compounds, salacinol and kotalanol.
S. oblonga has been the subject of several clinical studies since 2005 that, said Rafi, “demonstrate its strong efficacy in supporting healthy blood glucose metabolism.” One study noted that the presence of S. oblonga extract tended to lower post-prandial glycemia and significantly reduce postprandial insulin response. Another randomized, double-blind crossover study concluded that S. oblonga has the potential to support healthy blood glucose metabolism after a high-carbohydrate meal.
“This present-day research, coupled with the ancient wisdom and documentation of ayurvedic medicine, makes Salacia oblonga an emerging nutritional solution to address post-prandial glucose and insulin response, especially in combination with diet and lifestyle changes,” he summarized.
Horphag Research’s Pycnogenol, described Sébastien Bornet, vice president, global sales and marketing, is an antioxidant shown in numerous studies to support healthy blood sugar levels. Pycnogenol may help normalize blood sugar levels by slowing the absorption of carbohydrates, which results in reduced blood glucose. It is shown to significantly delay the uptake of complex sugars and inhibit the digestive enzyme α-glucosidase to help normalize post-prandial blood glucose. It has been shown to play a role in metabolic syndrome, which impacts blood sugar. For example, provided Bornet:
A 2013 study found Pycnogenol may reduce metabolic syndrome factors (waistline obesity, high cholesterol, high blood pressure and high blood sugar).
• A 2015 study found that Pycnogenol naturally improves circulatory and endothelial function while improving fasting glucose levels in individuals with borderline high glucose.
• Pycnogenol has also been found to reduce cardiovascular risk factors in diabetics like high blood sugar, LDL cholesterol and blood pressure.
• One study shows that Pycnogenol naturally supports kidney function in patients with metabolic syndrome. This study showed Pycnogenol’s benefits for managing blood pressure, reducing blood sugar and lowering body mass index.
Resveratrol is a polyphenol that is found in grapes and other plants and is mainly known for its antioxidant properties. However, pointed out Sally Aaron, senior vice president of health ingredients and marketing, Evolva (California and Kentucky), clinical studies have revealed benefits such as efficacy in reducing blood sugar and improvement in insulin sensitivity. “Studies have shown that resveratrol seems to support a healthy blood glucose homeostasis and affects prediabetic and diabetic patients but not healthy subjects. Resveratrol has also been presented to ameliorate diabetic foot syndrome and to accelerate wound healing,” she explained.
Evolva’s Veri-te resveratrol is produced through a fermentation process to create high purity trans-resveratrol (>98 percent), according to Aaron. The ingredient is featured in a variety of products such as chewing gum to liquid shots and functional beverages. “One of the latest innovative delivery technologies we have seen are dissolvable oral film strips,” she related. The oral filmstrip technology is currently being researched to determine if the uptake of resveratrol via the oral mucosa is radically different from the absorption of traditional applications that absorb via the gut. It is hypothesized that resveratrol may be more bioavailable when delivered to the lining of the mouth and exposed to plasma. This increased bioavailability of resveratrol can lead to many new applications and novel products.”
InnoVactiv’s InSea2, Bérubé described, is a polyphenol extract derived from two species of wildcrafted brown seaweeds. The ingredient’s polyphenols act upon digestive enzymes α-amylase and α-glucosidase, which convert dietary starch and sugars into simple glucose allowing its uptake in the bloodstream. When these enzymes are functioning optimally, they effectively convert all carbs into glucose in the 15 to 30 minutes after eating. InSea2 has been shown to help individuals across the spectrum of metabolic profiles, reported Bérubé. In several clinical trials, healthy subjects who took one dose of InSea2 saw significant improvements in their post-prandial blood glucose and insulin responses to starchy and sugary foods. In another trial with one dose of InSea2, healthy subjects felt improvement in focus and attention following a high-carb meal, which is “a sign of improved glucose and energy management after meal,” he noted. “Lastly, InSea2 was shown effective in improving glycemic and inflammation markers in a group of prediabetic subjects after six months.”
Ancient grains continue to be sought after by health-conscious consumers not only for meals but also for specific health attributes in supplements such as powders for smoothies.
One such fiber is chia seed (Salvia hispanica L.), a rich source of highly viscose soluble dietary fiber. “Since viscose fiber has been proven to reduce the glycemic index in food, and thus postprandial glycemia, recent research was targeted to show the influence of chia fiber in reducing glycemic index,” explained Carolina Chica, ND, head of nutrition and regulatory department, Benexia of Chile.
Chia fiber may lower postprandial plasma glucose plasma insulin, while improving insulin sensitivity in healthy individuals. “Chia’s naturally occurring combination of functional nutrients found in large quantities, including the high amounts of omega-3, magnesium, polyphenols and soluble fiber, may be responsible for its blood glucose-lowering response,” she described.
According to Chica, several studies have shown chia’s ability to support parameters of metabolic syndrome, such as reducing conventional and emerging heart disease risk factors in patients with type 2 diabetes, as shown in one study. Another study showed that taking 45 grams of chia (25 g of chia fiber) daily for one month resulted in reduction in blood pressure, triglycerides and smaller waist circumferences, or less abdominal fat. A study on obese rats with metabolic syndrome showed chia fiber reversed insulin resistance, lowered triglyceride levels and reduced abdominal fat compared to control.
A newly launched product featuring Benexia combined with chromium picolinate and ginger powder is formulated to help control blood sugar response and insulin resistance, Chica reported. “This product was designed to help manage weight control and the prevention of metabolic disease. This product is a one sachet daily dose, easily dispersed in cold water, with a great taste. This product is clean label and designed for the new generation of consumers looking for natural ingredients,” she said.
Sunfiber soluble guar fiber, also PHGG, from Minnesota-based Taiyo, has been shown in studies to decrease glycemic index of a variety of foods, decrease post-prandial glucose levels and lower hemoglobin A1C, according to Derek Timm, PhD, RDN, Sunfiber’s technical sales director. He noted that Sunfiber works in two ways—by slowing the gastric emptying time, which in turn slows the digestion and absorption of carbohydrates and sugars that results in decreased glycemic response and peak glucose levels, and can decrease glycemic index when added in products to displace to some glycemic carbohydrates.
“Sunfiber resulted in significant reductions in the insulin resistance index as well,” he added. “Not only does it helps decrease postprandial blood sugar levels, over time, it helps improve the body’s ability to utilize insulin.”
IAG’s NuBana RS65 Green Banana Flour contains a minimum of 60 percent resistant starch, and according to Witwer, it significantly improves insulin sensitivity and helps to maintain healthy blood sugar levels, especially in individuals that are insulin resistant and/or prediabetic. Resistant starch feeds the beneficial bacteria in the large intestine and changes the expression of more than 200 genes, some of which control insulin resistance, within the large intestine.
“Clinical trials have shown that resistant starch’s fermentation improves insulin sensitivity (reducing insulin resistance) as fast as the next day,” she said. “It does not require exercise or weight loss for these benefits to be seen. In fact, the FDA (U.S. Food and Drug Administration) approved a qualified health claim that resistant corn starch may reduce the risk of Type 2 diabetes. Thus, resistant starch delivers an important new tool for individuals trying to maintain healthy blood sugar levels.”
Euromed’s Abalife is a new patented extract from fig, a fruit containing a standardized amount of abscisic acid (ABA), which is naturally produced in the human body in the vitamin A pathway, according to Zangara. ABA’s key role in human health has been only recently clarified: It induces metabolic signals that promote glucose and inflammatory homeostasis. ABA is largely influenced by dietary intake. Research has shown that after glucose intake, plasma ABA increases in healthy people but does not increase in diabetic people. In non-diabetic individuals ABA has a beneficial effect on the glycemic and insulin responses, without affecting insulin release.
Research has identified ABA’s mechanism of action lies in the metabolic changes occurring when it binds to the receptor lanthionine synthetase C-like 2. Additionally, binding to this receptor induces anti-inflammatory effects, through a PPARγ-dependent action. “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,” Zangara commented.
New research presented at the 2018 meeting of the American Diabetic Association showed that 200 mg of ABAlife extract consumed by healthy individuals in a glucose solution reduced overall levels and peaks in their blood glucose and insulin after both 30 minutes and two hours after consumption. “It also significantly improved glycemic index (GI) compared to a reference glucose solution without ABAlife,” Zangara reported.
Although not a fruit, fiber, polyphenol or botanical root, the trace mineral chromium is a powerhouse partner in many blood sugar support formulas, as it has years of clinical trials demonstrating efficacy as it is essential for carbohydrate, fat and protein metabolism. Insufficient chromium levels can have a negative impact on blood glucose and insulin, as well as triglyceride and total cholesterol levels. As an insulin co-factor, chromium increases insulin-stimulated glucose metabolism increasing the ability of excess glucose to enter cells.
“Because of its efficacy in lowering elevated fasting blood sugar, lowering insulin levels, and helping insulin to work better, chromium picolinate should be considered by individuals interested in maintaining healthy blood sugar levels,” said James Komorowski, chief science officer, Nutrition 21, LLC, New York. “With over 60 patented uses, Chromax chromium picolinate is the only form of clinically efficacious dietary chromium that has been reviewed extensively for safety and efficacy,” he stated. “Chromax can also help improve body composition as part of a healthy diet and exercise program.”
More than 30 million Americans now have diabetes and while prevalence of this disease is highest among those who are 65 and older, according to the National Diabetes Statistics Report for 2017, 4.6 percent of U.S. adults between age 18 and 44 are also diabetic. And, many are seeking natural ways and dietary changes to support the medical protocol they are on.
“Sugar is definitely on the radar for a growing number of consumers. Data from the Foodinsight.org 2018 Food and Health Survey shows about one-third of American consumers now see sugar as the source of calories that are most likely to cause weight gain and 77 percent said they are actively avoiding or limiting sugars in their diet,” reported Rafi.
By formulating effective blood sugar support products, you can help guide them through the alluring high-sugar/high-carb terrain with the occasional stop to indulge in gustatory bliss. NIE
For More Information:
Bioactives American Corp., http://bioactivesamerica.com
Horphag Research, www.pycnogenol.com
InnoVactiv Inc, www.innovactiv.com
International Agriculture Group, www.iagnubana.com
Nutrition 21, www.nutrition21.com