New research in the blood sugar management market shows promise for widely applicable ingredients like chicory root fibers and antioxidants.
In a relatively short amount of time, the blood sugar nutraceutical space has gone from a very specialized market targeted towards diabetics and prediabetics to a more holistic arena targeted towards anyone interested in maintaining a healthy lifestyle. Why? The effects of added sugar intake stretch far beyond the body’s ability to produce and manage insulin to include high blood pressure, inflammation, weight gain, and more—areas that appeal to a wider swath of consumers than just diabetics.
The COVID-19 pandemic only increased consumer interest in blood sugar management products as consumers became more invested in their overall health. In fact, according to a global survey from Beneo (Parsippany, NJ), almost half of U.S. consumers (45%) are very or extremely concerned about high blood glucose levels, and 40% say they have plans to address their blood sugar levels over the next year.
Interest Heightens in Low-GI Products
As trends generally move towards healthy living, consumers are reading labels more carefully than ever before. “As such, companies are developing and launching foods with a low glycemic index (GI), low sugar content, or with no added sugar,” says Ariati Aris, scientific affairs specialist at PhytoGaia Sdn Bhd (Malaysia). “Without doubt or hesitation, low GI, low sugar content, or no added sugar will be the eye-catching headings on packaging, labels, and websites.”
To that end, Beneo’s line of chicory root fibers plays a role in supporting low-glycemic claims while also enriching foods and beverages with prebiotic dietary fibers. New research published in 2022, conducted by Perfood GmbH (Germany) in collaboration with the University of Lübeck (Germany), demonstrated that the combination of Palatinose (Beneo’s isomaltulose) and OraftiSynergy1 (Beneo’s oligofructose-enriched inulin), independently of each other, support blood glucose management under real-life conditions.1 In comparison to sucrose, Palatinose showed a lower blood glucose response, a lower and more balanced blood glucose profile for the day, plus a slow release and sustained glucose supply. In addition, and independently of the carbohydrate consumed, OraftiSynergy1 supplementation resulted in a significant decrease in glycemic variability over time. The study design also demonstrates that both Beneo’s Palatinose and OraftiSynergy1 deliver health benefits in the context of personalized nutrition by addressing individual dietary needs, a diet approach that is appreciated by more and more consumers when it comes to topics such as weight management and ensuring a healthy body and mind.
To appeal to a wider clean-label audience, Beneo recently launched organic options of its chicory root fibers. Grown and harvested by certified-organic farmers in Belgium, these ingredients offer natural prebiotic fiber and improved taste and texture while enabling fat and sugar reduction in a variety of products.
New research is emerging that confirms the benefits of antioxidants for blood sugar management.
“Citrus flavonoids are beginning to make more headway due to their multifunctional approach and numerous published clinical studies,” says Rob Brewster, president of Ingredients by Nature (Montclair, CA). The company’s proprietary ingredient, Eriomin, is a specialized blend of lemon-derived bioflavonoids composed primarily of eriocitrin. “Eriomin takes what we call a triple-pronged approach to prediabetes management,” Brewster explains. “It helps to improve insulin sensitivity for direct blood glucose management and offers indirect support through its potential antioxidant activity and robust inflammation regulation.” In fact, a new double-blind, randomized, placebo-controlled crossover study showed that 200 mg per day of Eriomin reduces blood glucose by 5%, by increasing glucagon-like peptide 1 (GLP-1) by 17% and decreasing systemic inflammation.2
At PhytoGaia, vitamin E is front and center because its antioxidant properties can decrease oxidative stress and inflammation. One new study showed that supplementation with palm tocotrienol for a period of 12 months could slow the progression of diabetic kidney disease (DKD), particularly in those with stage III chronic kidney disease (CKD) or positive urine microalbuminuria. In this study, supplementing with 400 mg of tocotrienol daily improved renal function, measured by a significant decrease in serum creatinine and an increase in estimated glomerular filtration rate (eGFR).3 PhytoGaia produces a natural and sustainably sourced full-spectrum palm tocotrienol/tocopherol complex under the brand name TocoGaia.
At Sabinsa (East Windsor, NJ), amla-derived Saberry standardized beta-glucogallin showed incredible promise for controlling blood sugar in subjects with dyslipidemia when compared to metformin in a 2022 study. In this particular study, daily supplementation with Saberry significantly decreased fasting blood sugar and postprandial blood sugar levels, hemoglobin A1c levels, and lipid levels.4
Going forward, experts expect to see more supplement products taking into account these and other blood sugar management ingredients, whether they’re designed for blood sugar or not. “I believe blood sugar management products will take a more holistic approach to overall health and wellness,” says Brewster.
What’s ahead for the blood sugar management market? Ingredient suppliers took out their crystal ball and provided some insight.
Crossover products. According to Kalyanam Nagabhushanam, PhD, of Sabinsa, blood sugar products would do well to appeal to a wider swath of consumers. “While people don’t usually think about their blood sugar until their doctor tells them they need to, they do think about their weight,” he says. “Products for heart health and weight management can also have blood sugar support benefits, which we at Sabinsa think is an opportunity.”
Low-GI claims. The diabetic population is growing, and so are healthy-living trends overall. “Knowing sugar intake is one of the causative factors [for diabetes] and is widely known among consumers,” says Aris. “I expect more companies will focus on and launch new products with low-GI and low-sugar content, without sacrificing taste.”
Esports on the rise. Gamers spend lots of time sedentary, often into the wee hours of the morning, consuming sugary drinks and snacks. As a result, they’re a population at risk for dangerously high blood glucose levels, says Brewster. “People are looking for personalized nutrition but also want clinically backed products to show various health benefits,” he says, and the esports market is ripe for blood glucose management ingredients and products.