For decades, conventional medical practitioners haven’t sugar-coated the message: Diabetes is incurable. The best people with type 2 diabetes can hope for, they say, is to take a drug that increases the body’s insulin levels or lowers blood glucose, often with a host of side effects. Forget trying to reverse diabetes with diet, exercise or supplements, they warn.
That’s why a small clinical trial published in June by the journal Diabetologia is so revolutionary. Researchers put 11 adults with type 2 diabetes on a 600-calorie-a-day diet. After two months, all of the subjects had reversed their diabetes, and 64 percent remained diabetes free after three months. Researchers believe slashing calories reduced fat levels in the liver and pancreas, allowing the pancreas to once again produce optimum levels of insulin. “[The study]carries major implications for information to be given to newly diagnosed patients, who should know that they have a potentially reversible condition and not one that is inevitably progressive,” researchers concluded.
This study adds to the growing body of research linking nutrition choices to diabetes management. But not everyone can or wants to subsist on 600 calories a day, opening the door for ingredients that are scientifically proven to help maintain healthy blood glucose and insulin levels even after a croissant or chocolate binge.
“Diabetes is the biggest area of unmet market need—the number of potential users of supplements and the actual number is the greatest gap we have in our industry,” says Scott Steil, president of NutraBridge, which distributes innoVactiv’s InSea2 blood glucose management ingredient. A whopping one-third of the U.S. population either has type 1 or type 2 diabetes or is in danger of developing it—18.8 million are diagnosed, 7 million are undiagnosed and 79 million have prediabetes, according to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention’s National Diabetes Fact Sheet, 2011.
Diabetes-related ingredients traditionally target either sugar or starch metabolism in the body, but some of the newest entrants in the category either go after both of these glycemic-index no-nos or tackle insulin resistance head on. Here’s a look at the latest science-backed innovations.
Carb buster: InSea2
InSea2, made from the polyphenols found in two different types of wild brown seaweed, targets the enzymes amylase and sucrase that help the body digest carbohydrates. “Rather than focusing on fasting levels of blood glucose, it helps you avoid a spike in blood glucose following a high sugar or starch meal,” Steil says. In a randomized, double-blind trial, 32 subjects took either a placebo or a 500 mg InSea2 capsule half an hour before eating three pieces of white bread. Those who took InSea2 had a 48 percent drop in blood sugar, which resulted in a 12 percent dip in insulin production and an 8 percent increase in insulin sensitivity.
InSea2, which is also available as a powder that can be added to drinks or foods, is the only product on the market that targets both starch and sugar digestion, Steil says. “We’re not positioning this as a ‘get out of jail free’ card or a magic bullet, but it allows you to enjoy a white baguette and trick your body into thinking it’s a piece of wheat bread,” he adds.
Sweet success: Chromium
Chromium, which has been shown in studies to help control blood glucose, accounts for about $155 million of the $566 million retail diabetes-related supplement sales, says Paul Dijkstra, CEO of InterHealth Nutraceuticals. That puts chromium in fourth place, he notes, mainly because “there has not been much innovation over the last 10 or more years in this area.”
InterHealth hopes its new chromium ingredient Zychrome will help jump-start the category. Zychrome contains chromium, niacin and L-cysteine, and published preclinical research shows it’s twice as effective as chromium picolinate—a combination of chromium and picolinic acid—in maintaining normal insulin function and healthy insulin levels. Subjects in the randomized, double-blind study took 400 mcg of Zychrome, chromium picolinate or a placebo daily. After 12 weeks, the Zychrome group had a 30 percent reduction in fasting insulin levels and insulin resistance.
“Decreasing these markers ultimately increases insulin control and increases glucose transport into cells,” Dijkstra says. “Ingredients that have been shown to affect insulin and insulin resistance will start to increase in popularity as a greater understanding of insulin’s role in regulating blood sugar increases.”
Nutrition 21’s Chromax chromium picolinate ingredient has been demonstrated in studies to be more bioavailable than other forms of chromium in insulin-resistant people. Chromax recently became a reference standard for the European Food Safety Authority, which is concerned about low-purity, potentially carcinogenic chromium from Asia flooding the market. The ingredient received GRAS status for US food products in 2002, and has been the subject of more than 35 published clinical trials.
Condition Specific Directory
A full-calorie, low-glycemic sweetener, ideal for use in foods where a balanced energy or blunt glucose response is desired. Sucromalt has a lower glycemic response than sugar and glucose. It is 70 percent as sweet as sugar.
866 456 8872
Minneapolis, Minnesota, USA
A natural ingredient from carob juice that contains D-Chiro-Inositol (> 95% D-Chiro-Inositol), an important secondary messenger for insulin. Published studies have demonstrated that D-Chiro-Inositol may provide benefits related to insulin management, type 2 diabetes and metabolic syndrome.
Irvine, California, USA
Gencor Nutrients, Inc.
InterHealth Nutraceuticals, Inc
National Starch Food Innovation
Hi-maize resistant starch, Hi-maize whole grain corn flour
Nutra Bridge Corp
Chromax® Chromium Picolinate
Pharmachem Laboratories, Inc.
Phase 3 Sugar Controller
A specialty ingredient that helps control weight and blood sugar levels by reducing the body’s ability to absorb and utilize sugar. Phase 3 combines the glucose absorption benefits of L-arabinose, and the insulin control capability of Pharmachem’s patented Food-Bound® Chromium.
Kearny, New Jersey, USA
A natural pterostilbene from the heartwood of Pterocarpus marsupium. Pterostilbene is better absorbed and more biologically active than resveratrol. It has the highest induction of Peroxisome proliferator-activated receptors (PPAR) a nuclear receptor protein significant in lipid metabolism in a comparative study with resveratrol and other stilbenes. Pterostilbene induces release of insulin from the existing cells of the pancreas and significantly increases the serum HDL cholesterol level.
East Windsor, New Jersey, USA
Salba Smart Natural Products, LLC
Salba (Sahi Alba 911 & 912 Registered varieties of Salvia hispanica L. – chia)
Soft Gel Technologies, Inc.
A fast-acting, clinically studied banaba leaf standardized extract for the maintenance of healthy blood glucose levels. Banaba leaves contain significant amounts of corosolic acid, shown to possess anti-diabetic properties. A clinical trial demonstrated significantly reduced blood glucose levels in diabetics and supported small, but significant weight loss.
800-360-7431 or 323-726-0700
Los Angeles, California, USA
XSTO Solutions, LLC
A branded and trusted source of Benfotiamine, a unique fat-soluble form of Thiamin, a common B Vitamin. As a potent anti-oxidant, BenfoCare™ has novel nutritional properties that support healthy blood sugar profiles and micro vascular circulation by reducing advanced glycosylation end products and reactive oxygen species.
Morristown New Jersey, USA