With metabolic syndrome and diabetes becoming more of a danger than ever, ingredient suppliers and manufacturers are working together to help Americans maintain healthy blood sugar levels.
It has been said that metabolic syndrome and diabetes may be the largest epidemics of the 21st century. In fact, 1.5 million Americans are diagnosed with diabetes every year, and it is projected that one in three Americans will have diabetes by the year 2050.
With unhealthy lifestyle factors, including the standard American diet (SAD) and a lack of exercise, the risk of developing unhealthy blood sugar levels can cause a downward spiral to a number of major health issues. “The lack of physical activity, increase in body weight, unhealthy diet, smoking and consumption of alcohol have been associated with a higher risk of diabetes, and those practices continue to result in more people with diabetes, and the early stages of it,” said Shaheen Majeed, president worldwide, Sabinsa Corporation, New Jersey. “Elevated blood sugar levels can be effectively managed during the initial stage. When left untreated, it can lead to potential complications that include heart disease, stroke, kidney damage, cataract, nerve damage, dry and cracked skin. Research indicates that the prevalence of diabetes (type 2 and type 1) will increase by 54 percent (19.6 million to 54.9 million Americans) between 2015 and 2030; annual deaths attributed to diabetes will climb by 38 percent (62,000 to 90,640); and total annual medical and societal costs related to diabetes will increase 53 percent ($408 billion to $622 billion) by 2030.”1
Consumers have a real reason to be worried. “Thirty-four percent of consumers report being concerned about type 2 diabetes,” said Diana M. Nieto, senior manager, strategic marketing, starch-based texturizers U.S./Canada for Ingredion Incorporated in Illinois. “Diabetes concern is up from 30 percent in 2014.2 They are focusing on maintaining a healthy weight, limiting their sugar intake and increasing fiber intake.
While severity of the issue is unfortunate, the opportunity for natural solutions is growing rapidly. “The market for healthy blood sugar supplements is rather large and it keeps growing. Currently, almost one in 10 adults in the U.S. have been diagnosed with type-2 diabetes and one in three people are prediabetic,” explained Rob Brewster, president of Ingredients by Nature in California. “With such a large number of prediabetics, it is estimated that by 2030, 13.9 percent of U.S. adults will be diagnosed with diabetes, which will grow to nearly a fifth of our population by 2060.3”
“We can gauge the significant potential for supplements marketed for healthy blood sugar by the $825 billion market for drugs and devices for diabetics. Diabetes is one of the fastest growing diseases globally,” added Guy Woodman, general manager for the Pennsylvania-based Euromed USA, Inc. “Since 1980, the number of people with diabetes has increased 400 percent. If the current trend continues, the number of people with diabetes in the world is expected to reach 640 million by 2040.”
As health care practitioners educate their patients about the dangers of high blood sugar levels, consumers will be looking for answers. And while OTC (over-the-counter) medications and prescriptions may have once been the only acceptable answer, today’s consumers want natural options as well.
“Fortunately, the CDC (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention) is pushing consumers to become better educated and to ask their doctors about prediabetes. As awareness increases, consumers will seek to pair supplements with improved diet and exercise habits to help normalize to healthy blood sugar levels,” said Brewster. “An obstacle in the category is that many of the current ingredients used for blood sugar management have unwanted side effects and often require high dosages to be efficacious.”
“According to USPharmacists.com, more than 30 million individuals are diabetic and 84 million are prediabetic,” added Andrew Downey, marketing manager for Xsto Solutions in New Jersey. “Those with diabetes are more likely to use dietary supplements than their healthy counterparts. For this reason, it is one of the fastest growing nutraceutical markets. “Supplement products generally support healthy natural metabolic functions, which is why the claims are related to structure and function of a normal healthy person,” he continued. “Consumers are seeking products that will support their health and in this case, healthy glucose level. Drugs typically shut down or limit metabolic processes to address symptomatic relief, oftentimes not addressing the underlying condition or cause of the problem.”
Beyond Blood Sugar
While getting control of blood sugar levels used to be the main focus of the issue, research shows that there are a multitude of factors to consider. “If a consumer has a cold, he or she might think about vitamin C or other immune boosters,” said Dan Lifton, president of New York-based Maypro Ventures. “Healthy blood sugar, on the other hand, is about so many different areas (positive and negative) that are all powerfully connected, and need to be balanced or addressed in specific ways, for example, but not limited to, adipose hormones, obesity, leptin resistance, blood lipids, blood sugar, insulin sensitivity and metabolic health in general.”
“Just lowering blood sugar, without any other effects, is becoming less important than increasing insulin sensitivity and metabolic health,” he added.
Brewster agreed, noting that as suppliers and manufacturers innovate new branded ingredients, he believes that single MOA (method of action) ingredients, which only address blood sugar levels, will begin to fall behind the curve. “This will fit with the demand for more personalized nutrition among consumers, who will want a single supplement that supports the multiple facets of blood sugar management, improving both efficacy and convenience,” he said.
Ingredients by Nature, offers Eriomin, the company’s first ingredient that specifically promotes healthy blood sugar levels. “We are taking a triple-pronged approach to prediabetes management, such as supporting blood sugar level and normal insulin sensitivity, maintaining a healthy inflammation response and promoting strong antioxidant activity,” Brewster explained. “In other words, we are addressing multiple interdependent functions of the prediabetic condition. As manufacturers continue to develop more personalized ingredient solutions, we should be formulating solutions that reach further to help support interrelated symptoms, which will do more for the consumers overall wellbeing.”
There are a number of ingredients that have been long-standing to help regulate blood sugar levels. Among them include cinnamon, bitter melon, chromium, fenugreek, ALA, benfotiamine, guggulsterones, magnesium, Gymnema sylvestre, Phylanthus emblica, berberine and polyphenols. Lifton added that some newer entries in the category include mushroom extracts, high-amylose starch, probiotics and maqui berry.
“Consumers are looking for safety and efficacy in blood sugar support supplements. Actives from specific plants can act at various levels in the body to control blood sugar levels viz., enteric carbohydrate digestive enzyme inhibition, glucose uptake inhibition, insulin mimetic agents, insulin releasing agents, insulin sensitizing agents and glucose synthesis inhibition in the liver,” Majeed explained. “Currently the trend, which follows traditional herbalist practices, is to blend the bioactives from different plants into a formulation so as to get optimum benefits through synergic action.”
Sabinsa offers a number of ingredients from natural sources to support healthy blood sugar levels. “Silbinol, PteroSol, Curcumin C3 Complex, Fenumannans, Cinnamon Extract, Fabenol, Fabenol Max, Salaretin, Momordicin, Saberry and GS4 Plus are some of the long-standing ingredients to support healthy blood sugar,” said Majeed. “Two in particular are derived from the traditional ayurvedic remedy for diabetes using the Indian Kino tree (Pterocarpus marsupium). Pterosol is a water soluble extract (polar fraction) of Pterocarpus marsupium. The non-polar fraction, which contains a potent blood sugar support molecule pterostilbene (Silbinol), and backed with clinical studies is the latest new ingredient in this list.”
Xsto Solutions has been a distributor of BenfoPure, a GRAS (generally recognized as safe) form of benfotiamine, for 15 years. Downey noted that BenfoPure has been shown to assist the body in responding to the toxic breakdown compounds of excess sugar and reduce elevated levels of intracellular glucose and the potential for AGE (advanced glycation endproducts) formation.
According to Nieto, fibers are one of the most relevant ingredients that can help people manage blood sugar. “Fiber is one of the most sought-after nutrients. It is indigestible in the small intestine and has been shown to have beneficial impacts on many areas of health, including smoothing out blood sugar spikes and supporting overall blood sugar management. By consuming foods higher in fiber and lower in carbs, we can help manage high blood sugar levels.”
Ingredion also offers fibers as well as sweeteners that can help contribute to the development of food and beverages that have reduced sugar, lower calories, lower carbohydrate levels and higher amounts of fiber. HI-MAIZE 260 is a resistant starch is a clinically substantiated, low calorie fiber. It is a high amylose maize (corn) resistant starch from conventionally bred corn hybrids. The fiber resists digestion in the small intestine and is clean label and Non-GMO (genetically modified organism) Project verified.
Ingredion’s Versafibe 1490 modified potato starch and Novelose 3490 modified tapioca starch are resistant starches suitable for bakery applications. Nieto noted that these starches are characterized by their bland flavor, process tolerance and that allow manufacturers to reduce calories and net in the final product. Both of the Versafibe and Novelose dietary fibers just received low FODMAP (fermentable oligo-, di-, mono-saccharides and polyols) Certification from Monash University (Australia) to help make it easier for manufacturers and consumers to identify ingredients and products that help support digestive health while following a low FODMAP diet.
Oligonol is Maypro’s flagship anti-aging ingredient that also boasts benefits for blood-sugar-health. Glucodia and Sirtmax are the company’s newest innovative ingredients. Glucodia is a proprietary mung bean (vigna radiata) isolate ingredient that is geared to improved insulin response and body composition.” Mung bean’s protein and fiber content make it an excellent choice for blood-glucose support and weight management.,” explained Lifton. “Clinical studies using chewables in Japan and the U.S. demonstrated that Glucodia significantly improves measures of fasting glucose, fasting insulin and the homeostatic model assessment of insulin resistance (HOMA-IR).”
Sirtmax is a proprietary ingredient derived from the rhizome of black turmeric (Kaempferia parviflora) that is rich in polymethoxyflavonoids and which is believed to enhance aspects of the SIRT1 (longevity gene) pathway—SIRT1 recharges mitochondria. In addition, research shows that Sirtmax is five times more powerful than resveratrol, Lifton said. Euromed’s Abalife is a new patented extract from fig fruit containing a standardized amount of a compound, abscisic acid (ABA). According to the company, 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. ABA is also produced endogenously by some cells in our bodies but is largely influenced by dietary intake,” said Woodman. “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.
ABA, the active ingredient in ABAlife, is found in fresh fruits and vegetables. “A dietary survey found 92 percent of Americans do not consume the 4.5 serving of fruits and vegetables necessary to obtain the optimal level of ABA,” Woodman added. “These individuals would benefit from a dietary supplement containing ABA in ABAlife.”
Patience Is a Virtue
While the category is growing to keep up with the need for ingredients that help regulate blood sugar levels and other metabolic functions, there is the challenge of getting people to stick with the program. Because the effects take time, consumers need to be made aware that results are not immediate. “The challenge for natural products is to deliver the benefit in a short period of time. We are sometimes at a disadvantage to OTC products that only address the symptoms,” noted Downey. “It generally takes time for a supplement to improve the underlying condition, but it provides better long-term health.”
“One of the challenges facing this category is the apparent lack of an immediate, ‘feelable’ effect when blood sugar is under control,” added Jocelyn Bérubé, executive vice president, scientific & regulatory affairs for Canada-based innoVactiv Inc. “In fact, poor blood sugar control is often felt as a feeling of sluggishness after a meal, referred to as ‘food coma’ or other similar terms. Improving post-meal blood glucose metabolism can thus translate into an attenuation of ‘food coma,’ helping people stay sharp-minded throughout the day.”
InnoVactiv offers InSea2, a brown seaweed extract, rich in polyphenols, that acts within the GI (gastrointestinal) tract to slow down the release of glucose from the carbs (starch, sugar) ingested as part of the diet. According to Bérubé, “it does so by inhibiting two enzymes, α-amylase and α-glucosidase, that normally break down dietary starch and sugar into glucose so they can be absorbed into the bloodstream. Head-to-head comparison of the inhibitory activity of InSea2 with competing ingredients show it performs at least six times better on each enzyme, making it a superior option when comes time to control the glycemic stress created by our modern diet.
“Recent randomized, double-blinded, placebo-controlled studies show that InSea2 can help reduce the normal post-meal rise in blood glucose and insulin immediately after the first intake,” Bérubé continued. “Upon repeated use over a six-month period, prediabetic subjects saw their blood glucose metabolism improve significantly with the use of InSea2, as well as reducing levels of CRP and TNF-α. This shows how improving glycemic response on a meal-per-meal basis can help support optimal glycemic health over the long run.”
With phones that are as powerful as computers, consumers can quickly check if the claims made on a nutritional supplement box have validity. Today, ingredient suppliers and manufacturers must offer access to educational material and research on their ingredients and finished products.
“Today’s consumer is a lot more educated and can find the latest research with the click of a button. As such, they are looking to purchase the products that are proven to most efficaciously meet their needs,” said Brewster. “Companies are meeting this demand by developing educational websites and performing studies that thoroughly present information on their particular ingredients. As for Ingredients by Nature, we have put a concerted effort into revealing more of the scientific iceberg with our citrus flavonoids for various clinical end points. We consider ourselves to be a leader in citrus bioflavonoid research. Our goal is to invest in the necessary research and extraction capabilities to be able to offer clinically backed, branded ingredients that meet the personalized health needs of current supplement consumers. Eriomin has already undergone one successful clinical trial with two additional trials underway, researching its efficacy upon vital biomarkers associated with blood glucose levels, inflammation and oxidative stress.”
Woodman agreed, noting 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 a second one will be completed in the next month or two,” he said. “Once the studies are published, we provide the information to the news media, including that for health professionals, so they are aware of positive studies on nutraceutical products.”
As there is advancement on how to get a handle on metabolic syndrome and the diabetes epidemic, health care practitioners, ingredient suppliers and manufacturers will work to offer preventative measures for those with a predisposition and solutions for those with metabolic syndrome or diabetes.
“The future will bring identification of genetic predisposition to prediabetes and emphasize the importance of taking preventative action,” said Woodman. “The use of wearable devices that monitor blood sugar levels will expand to individuals with pre-diabetes. One will be able to rapidly gauge the influence of diet and dietary supplements on their blood sugar levels.
“Globally, an estimated 422 million adults were living with diabetes in 2014, compared to 108 million in 1980. The global prevalence (age-standardized) of diabetes has nearly doubled since 1980, rising from 4.7 to 8.5 percent in the adult population,” concluded Majeed. “Clearly blood sugar support supplements will be in demand, and it will increase in coming years.” NIE
1 Rowley et al., 2017. Diabetes 2030: Insights from Yesterday, Today, and Future Trends. Population Health Management. 20(1): 6-12.
2 Health Focus International, 2016
For More Information:
Euromed USA, Inc., www.euromedusa.com
Ingredients by Nature, http://ingredientsbynature.com
Ingredion Incorporated, www.ingredion.com
InnoVactiv Inc., https://innovactiv.com
Maypro Ventures, www.maypro.com
Sabinsa Corporation, www.sabinsa.com
Xsto Solutions, www.xstosolutions.com