Blood sugar health and weight management are becoming even more important as a whole in the journey toward a healthier future.
Maintaining healthy blood sugar levels is a continuous struggle for many Americans, and with the number of people dealing with poor blood sugar increasing over the years, the demand for healthy solutions is also growing. “Insulin is one of the most actively studied hormones in modern medicine,” said Pete Maletto, president and senior scientist for PTM Food Consulting in New Jersey.
According to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), in 2014, there were a total of 29.1 million people (approximately 9.3 percent of the population) with diabetes in America. On top of those staggering numbers, the American Diabetes Association said that approximately 8.1 million diabetics in the U.S. don’t even know they have diabetes.
Additionally, in 2014, the International Diabetes Federation, reported that there were 387 million people world wide living with diabetes, and 39 million of those people live in North America and the Caribbean, an 11.4 percent prevalence.
According to Maletto, because of the spike in diabetes, the healthy blood sugar supplements that have been utilized for years by the life extension crowd have made their way into mainstream public.
Blood sugar levels can be a rough aspect of health for people to monitor, considering the average American diet includes about 20 teaspoons of sugar each day, according to a report from the 2005-10 NHANES (National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey) database. The American Heart Association reported that teens and men consume the most added sugars, men: 335 calories, women: 230 calories, boys: 362 calories and girls: 282 calories. These extra sugars can be hard to avoid if consumers aren’t aware of the unhealthy sugars in juices, drinks and snacks that they are ingesting.
According to BENEO Fiber Research 2013, “consumers are increasingly looking for more natural and non-GMO (genetically modified organism) products: 65 percent consider natural products as better, 47 percent actively look for natural products and 45 percent consider non-GMO as better.”
“They are searching for product information that helps them to feel comfortable with their purchase decision, so it is important for manufacturers to be proactive with the information about origin,” said Jon Peters, president of New Jersey-based BENEO, Inc.
Even though consumers may be paying more attention to what they are ingesting, the fast-paced setting of today’s world leads consumers to grab-and-go, often times making poor choices and selecting products that are sweet carbohydrates or fats with high calories that can lead to high blood glucose levels.
That doesn’t mean consumers should avoid carbohydrates altogether. Carbohydrates are an essential food within daily diets and are recommended by the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) and World Health Organization (WHO) to provide 40-55 percent of the total energy intake by each individual, while the Dietary Guidelines for Americans recommends between 45 and 65 percent.
Carbohydrates are initially seen as bad, particularly by dieters, however not all carbs are the same. Fiber-rich fruit and vegetables, whole grains, low-fat dairy products, beans and legumes, and limiting the amount of added sugar to a diet can help keep the body balanced, according to the Mayo Clinic.
“Consumers are becoming more and more aware of the negative impact of high glycemic carbohydrates and sugars on their health and well-being and start to differentiate between ‘good’ and ‘bad’ carbohydrates,” Peters said.
Consumer research commissioned by BENEO (BENEO Fiber Research 2013) shows that 53 percent of the U.S. population is concerned about healthy blood sugar levels and 55 percent about preventing diabetes. These results have been confirmed by insights from the International Food Information Council Foundation in 2014 saying that Americans are considering less sugar and/or high quality carbs as part of a healthy lifestyle in order to prevent a future health condition, Peters said.
Between 2013 and 2014 the low glycemic product launches worldwide grew 51 percent, according to Innova Market Insights. Mintel revealed that in the U.S., one in five product launches carried “low glycemic” claims in 2014.
Ingredient manufacturer, Sensus, based in The Netherlands, said, “there is a distinct opportunity for products, programs and services to target and help the growing population of diab-etics cope with and manage their condition.”
“For those not following carbohydrate-restricted diets, supplementation of clinically studied herbal extracts and natural compounds that can easily prevent deadly advanced glycation end products (AGEs) associated with an aging endocrine system that cause cellular damage has been bigger than ever,” Maletto said. AGEs are created through the Maillard reaction, the interaction of glucose and the unfolding proteins through a specific kind of chemical reaction that is similar to overcooking steak in the kitchen, Maletto continued. “These reactions are very dangerous in human tissues, where AGEs produce powerfully destructive oxidative stress and inflammatory conditions that lead to atherosclerosis [plaque buildup in the arteries] and fatal diseases.”
By “cross-linking” with collagen and other tissue proteins in the body, AGEs oxidative effects reduce the elasticity of all tissues, particularly blood vessels where these proteins reside; as a result the reactions induced by AGEs also damage DNA, which besides diabetes, and together with inflammation, can promote the development of cancer, Maletto elaborated.
People with diabetes have lower than normal antioxidant levels due to the stress of the insulin/blood sugar management. As general management of health and life extension, specific antioxidants should be an important part of everyone’s supplement program to prevent AGE.
Marie Peytavy-Izard, product manager at France-based, Dialpha, said there are several natural options to help maintain healthy blood sugar levels. “Starch blockers are beneficial for anyone wishing to control both blood glucose and body weight. They are particularly recommended for people consuming excess starch, which is known to have a profound impact on blood glucose response,” she said.
According to the University of California, San Francisco’s Diabetes Teaching Center, starch blockers lower blood sugar by delaying how fast starch and carbohydrates (CHO) are absorbed from the intestines.
Starch blockers can be used as supplements in capsule, table, sachet or stick formats as well as incorporated into both functional food and beverage form, Peytavy-Izard said.
Supplementation with antioxidants is a strong aid in maintaining healthy blood sugar. R alpha lipoic acid has been well documented in preventing and treating diabetes, Maeltto said. Another antioxidant is alpha lipoic acid, which studies suggest helps lower blood sugar levels. “Its ability to kill free radicals may help people with diabetic peripheral neuropathy, who have pain, burning, itching, tingling and numbness in arms and legs from nerve damage. Researchers have also seen that it helps improve insulin sensitivity, which can bring sugar levels down a notch or two,” he continued.
Other supplementation can be found in EGCG (epigallocatechin gallate), from green tea, a phenol that is an antioxidant that can help the body to prevent damage from AGEs, benofotiamine, a fat soluble version of B1, which blocks three of the major AGE producing biochemical pathways through which high blood sugar promotes tissue damage without known side effects, and MHCP (methylhydroxychalcone polymer) a critical compound of cinnamon that can mimic the effects of insulin, according to Maletto.
MCHP also increases the sensitivity of aging insulin receptors, making insulin work better and thereby lowering blood sugar. MCHP stimulates glycogen synthesis, just like insulin does, as it shows the two substances work similarly with blood sugar reactions, it has been found to lower blood pressure in lab animals, and it has antioxidant properties, Maletto explained. “The preferred type of cinnamon extract is Cinnulin PF, a patented, water-soluble extract of cinnamon that contains Type-A MHCP polymers that have clinically proven to provide a significant 8 percent decrease in fasting blood sugar after just consuming 500 mg a day.
Other ways to reduce the impact of food on the glycemic response includes replacing flour by resistant starch or fibers, replacing sugar with stevia or adding proteins to foods, as well as products that aid in the uptake of glucose and increase insulin production. “Chromium has been shown to increase blood sugar uptake and decrease insulin levels and insulin resistance,” Peytavy-Izard said.
Sensus manufactures Frutafit Inulin and Frutalose oligofructose, soluble dietary fibers that are well suited for replacing sugar in a range of food products, the company said. By using products like this, food manufacturers can lower the glycemic response of the food.
“Carbohydrates that are not broken down or digested into simple sugars by the upper human digestive tract will not affect the blood glucose level,” Sensus said. “Inulin and oligofructose are such types of carbohydrates, which instead reach the large intestinal tract where they are fermented by the gut microbiota, meaning their building blocks of mainly fructose is not released into the blood stream like sugar. Because they don’t release the fructose they do not affect the glucose level and only trigger a minimal glycemic response.”1
Seaweed extracts also have health benefits according to clinical studies. One particular extract, InSea2 produced by Canadian nutraceutical company InnovActiv, has been shown to block the action of glucosidase and amylase, which are enzymes your body uses to break down carbs into glucose and facilitate its transport into the blood stream, Maletto revealed.
“Derived from brown seaweed and bladderwrack, a single 500 mg dose of this proprietary compound triggered a 48.3 percent decline in after-meal blood sugar spikes in a recent double-blind, placebo controlled trial,” Maletto explained.
While generic plant extracts like green coffee bean, gymnema sylvestre and fenugreek, bring limited scientific data to substantiate their efficacy, other products standout with their significant clinical results, Peytavy-Izard said.
A scientific evaluation was done from an expert group, looking at carbohydrate quality on the outcome of blood sugar management and reduced glycemia in health, with some important and relevant results, Peters said. Leading scientists and academics in the field of GI, GL and GR research worldwide concluded in their consensus statement that convincing evidence exists that reducing the postprandial glycemic response has health benefits in the management and prevention of diabetes mellitus, coronary heart disease and with probable evidence also in weight management.2
In addition to in vitro and in vivo data, research and development departments of suppliers and manufacturers need to evaluate the protocols and end points form human clinical studies, Peytavy-Izard said. “More specifically, when the ingredient is marketed for a chronic treatment targeting blood glucose, data on fasting glycemia, fasting insulinemia and HbA1c should be analyzed.
“Additionally, data on postprandial glycemia and insulinemia should be analyzed for any active ingredient claiming a reduction of blood glucose response to meals, such as carb blockers,” she continued.
BENEO noted several human intervention studies supporting the beneficial effect of chicory root fibers and functional carbohydrates from beet sugar (isomaltulose and isomalt), Peters revealed. Isomalt’s very low blood glucose response has been tested and verified in at least 10 human intervention studies with healthy as well as type 1 and type 2 diabetes populations.3
The low blood glucose response of Palatinose was also assessed and verified in more than 30 trials in various population groups4 and chicory root fibers were verified in six studies within a total of nine trials to have a blood glucose response-lowering effect as a sugar replacement.5
“In the U.S., claims referring to the low/reduced glycemic properties of foods are considered structure/function claims. In Europe, the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) also acknowledged the comprehensive scientific body: BENEO’s chicory root fibers inulin and oligofructise and their scientific substantiation to reduce the blood glucose response of foods,” Peters said. In January 2014, the EFSA released an evaluation confirming that inulin and oligofructose reduce the post-prandial glycemic response of foods when it replaces sugar.
There are two options to minimize a food’s glycemic effect. First is to modify the glucose supply by choosing a fully available, low-glycemic and slow release carbohydrate, such as Palatinose. The second, Peters continued, is to reduce the glucose supply by replacing fully available carbohydrates by prebiotic fibers such as oligofructose and inulin or sugar replacers (polyols) such as ISOMALT.
BENEO offers a range of functional ingredients from natural sources with nutritional and technological benefits. “With its functional carbohydrates from beet sugar ISOMALT and Palatinose and its chicory root fibers inulin and oligofructose the company provides ingredients that allow for the production of great-tasting products with a reduced blood glucose response.
Palatinose, is the only fully, yet slowly digestible and low-glycemic carbohydrate that provides balanced and sustained energy. It is derived from beet sugar and has a very mild sugar-like taste, and according to the company is also tooth friendly. It can be utilized in options such as sports nutrition, functional and wellness foods and beverages because of the slower, steady and sustained energy supply. It also increases fat oxidation and can be used in applications such as chocolate, dairy and baked goods.
ISOMALT is another one of BENEO’s products, it is the only sugar replacer made from pure beet sugar, which gives it a natural taste and sweetness. It has half the calories of sucrose and offers a very low glycemic response.
“It is the global leader in sugar replacement for sugar-free hard candies and is also famous for its positive effects in chewing gum coatings or centers,” Peters said. “Additionally, it serves as a sugar replacer in chocolate, cereals and baked goods.”
MealShape, distributed by HORN, is a next generation starch blocker clinically proven to instantly reduce carb absorption by more than 20 percent. “By inhibiting enzymatic digestion of dietary starch, MealShape helps prevent glycemic spikes and sugar crashes, thus aiding the body to reduce conversion of excess sugar into fat,” Peytavy-Izard said.
The Global Diabetes Community said that more than 90 percent of newly diagnosed type 2 diabetics are classified as being above their ideal weight. MealShape is the first and only cinnamon extract, Cinnamomum zeylanicum, working as a starch blocker, and is suitable in any nutraceutical applications from dietary supplements and functional foods, beverages and pet food, Peytavy-Izard said.
“The market for managing healthy blood sugar continues to grow aggressively highlighting the ballooning diabetes epidemic,” Peytavy-Izard concluded. “Nutraceutical products targeting healthy blood glucose will not only address this market, but also the market for weight loss.” NIE
For More Information:
BENEO, Inc., (973) 867-2141
Dialpha, +33 (0)4 67 40 44 19
PTM Foods, (888) 736-6339
Sensus, +31 165 582 500
1 Meyer (2007). Inulins for product development of low GI products to support weight management, p. 257-270 In: Dietary fibre components and functions (Salovaara et al., eds.) Wageningen Academic Publishers, Wageningen, the Netherlands.
2 Augustin et al (2015): Glycemic index, glycemic load and glycemic response: An International Scientific Consensus Summit from the International Carboyhrdrate Quality Consortium (ICQC). Nutr Metab Cardiovasc Dis 25(9):795-815. www.nmcd-journal.com/article/S0939-4753(15)00127-1/abstract.
3 Holub et al (2009): Improved Metabolic Control After 12-Week Dietary Intervention with Low Glycemic Isomalt in Patients with Type 2 Diabetes Mellitus. www.thieme-connect.com/products/ejournals/abstract/ 10.1055/s-0029-1234107.
4 Holub et al (2010): Novel findings on the metabolic effects of the low glycemic carbohydrate isomaltulose (Palatinose). http://journals.cambridge.org/action/ displayabstract?frompage=online&aid=7807683&fileld=S0007114509993874.
5 Kellow et al. (2013): Metabolic benefits of dietary prebiotics in human subjects: a systematic review of randomized controlled trials. http://journals.cambridge.org/ action/displayabstract?frompage=online&aid=9205035$&fileld=S0007114513003607.