The blood sugar category is potentially staggering as millions struggle with diabetes worldwide.
Blood glucose is an essential measure of your health and has a direct impact on diabetes. Millions of Americans are struggling with managing their blood sugar levels. In fact, according to the American Diabetes Association, the prevalence of diabetes in the U.S. is staggering as follows:
• Total number of people with diabetes in the U.S: Almost 30 million children and adults or 9.3 percent of the population, have diabetes.
• Diagnosed: 21 million
• Undiagnosed: 8.1 million
• Prediabetes: 86 million
• New Cases: 1.7 million new cases of diabetes were diagnosed in people aged 20 years and older in 2014.
• The Future: As many as one in three American adults will have diabetes by 2050 if present trends continue.
On the world stage, led by India and China, the International Diabetes Foundation estimates that 371 million people globally struggle with diabetes. In 2010, 22.7 million U.S. households had a member coping with diabetes, according to Symphony IRI’s 2010 “OTC (over-the-counter) Medication Report,” which estimated the annual sales potential for diabetes related OTC drugs and supplements at $3.4 billion.
Furthermore, the CDC (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention) estimates that there are 18.8 million Americans who have been diagnosed with both types of diabetes. Those people, along with the estimated seven million who are undiagnosed cost $116 billion annually to treat.
Additionally, in the first major national analysis of diabetes trends among American youth, researchers reported an alarming 23 percent rise in type 1 diabetes incidence over an eight-year period ending in 2009. The surprising increase is on the heels of similar growth of type 2 diabetes in children. But unlike type 2 diabetes, which is linked to the high prevalence of obesity in youth, researchers have no explanation for why the autoimmune form of the disease is growing at such a clip.
Blood Sugar Category Potential
According to Sloan Trends’ TrendSense, a respected food, beverage and supplement industry trend tracking and forecasting organization, diabetes reached Mega Market status in 2006 and remains among the largest and fastest growing nutraceutical market opportunities in 2016. Medical counts have accelerated at an explosive rate throughout the decade as evidenced by the aforementioned data with more than 180,000 new research studies published in 2010. Diabetes and children impacted by diabetes is currently a very large and highly desirable mass market and health food store channel opportunity for nutraceutical companies.
All four of the following diabetes-precursor/risk factors outlined below are experiencing significant growth in Medical Counts, showing strong and growing scientific support for their relationship to diabetes. They include:
• Insulin resistance
• Metabolic syndrome
• Blood sugar control/management
Each of the above is experiencing a different degree of marketability and is currently at different levels and lifecycle stages. However, each remains viable. All are now positioned to attract health food store shoppers and health conscious and condition-specific consumers.
Blood Sugar Ingredient Innovation
Maintaining optimal blood sugar levels is not only important for people with diabetes but for the general population as well. The body utilizes insulin to maintain a range of healthy blood sugar levels. When those levels fluctuate, serious conditions such as diabetes and hypoglycemia can occur. People with blood sugar disorders must learn how to maintain healthy blood sugar levels to remain healthy.
Foods that contain carbohydrates raise blood glucose. People that monitor carbohydrate consumption and set limits typically have healthy blood glucose levels. There are three main types of carbohydrates:
• Starches (also known as complex carbohydrates)
When stocking their shelves, retailers should be suspicious of terms such as naturally occurring sugar, added sugar, low-calorie sweetener, sugar alcohol, reduced-calorie sweetener, processed grain, enriched grain, complex carbohydrate, sweet, refined grain, and whole grain. All of these are part of the marketing game and can be misleading.
Furthermore, there are many beneficial nutrients that can be found in blood sugar management formulas, including the following, among others: Alpha Lipoic Acid: A compound found naturally inside every cell in the body. It’s needed by the body to produce the energy for our body’s normal functions. ALA improves insulin function by helping to burn glucose for energy. It also offers antioxidant protection to all cells of the body. Additionally, ALA is thought to work as an antioxidant in both water and fatty tissue, enabling it to enter all parts of the nerve cell and protect it from damage. In fact, preliminary studies suggest that ALA may help with diabetic neuropathy. In one of the largest studies on the use of ALA, 181 people took 600 mg, 1,200 mg or 1,800 mg of alpha lipoic acid a day or a placebo. After five weeks, alpha lipoic acid improved symptoms.
Chromium: The body uses it to metabolize sugars and fats, and it is the perfect partner to insulin, increasing the hormone’s efficiency in transporting blood sugar into the cells, where it can be used for energy. Chromium also appears to be involved in the metabolism of carbohydrate, fat and protein. Two forms are commonly available as supplements: glucose-tolerance factor (GTF) chromium and chromium picolinate. Chromium enhances the actions of insulin and is necessary for maintaining normal metabolism and storage of fats, proteins and carbohydrates. Inadequate intake of chromium has been linked to the development of glucose intolerance, a condition seen in type 2 diabetes.
Prebiotics/Probiotics: Has a great upside for blood sugar management. In fact, in January 2013, a Netherlands study showed a direct relationship between gut microbiota and diabetes. Researchers saw that kids with type 1 diabetes had abnormal gut flora, versus kids without diabetes. The primary difference between kids with diabetes and kids without was in their microbiota composition. Kids with beta cell autoimmunity, meaning type 1 diabetes, had low levels of particular microbes. Two specific microbiota were lacking in children with type 1 diabetes: lactic acid-producing and butyric acid-producing bacteria. This seems to be a potential marker for kids with diabetes. While the study was very small, just 18 children, it caught everyone’s attention due to the clarity of the results, and it circled back to a 2006 study from New York Academy of Sciences where they looked at food that specifically helped those with type 1 diabetes. Foods containing rich sources of prebiotics and probiotics showed significant benefits in children with diabetes.
What Does the Future Hold?
With the obesity epidemic raging on at an alarming rate and the health care system in the midst of an overhaul, consumers and retailers are becoming more aware of natural solutions to health and prevention. And this philosophy applies to the blood sugar category as well.
As previously mentioned, given that 79 million U.S. adults are currently pre-diabetic and a high percentage of these people develop type 2 diabetes, the country is facing a diabetes epidemic on par with the obesity epidemic. Moreover, according to The International Diabetes Federation, the costs of caring for the enormous number of diabetics worldwide could have a catastrophic impact on governments and economies far and wide. In fact, according to the American Diabetes Association, in 2014, $245 billion was attributable to diagnosed diabetes, including $176 billion in direct costs and $69 billion in indirect costs (disability, work loss, premature mortality).
The future may be bright for the blood sugar management category, but many health professionals are quick to point out that many of the herbs and ingredients that are currently used in blood sugar management formulas do not have legitimate third-party science showing efficacy. Retailers should consider stocking products with compounds that have a significant body of research before considering other products with new ingredients.
Living with a chronic disease of any type isn’t easy. And diabetes is no exception. The 371 million people who struggle with the disease worldwide is a staggering number. But many are living with diabetes successfully. Interestingly, in a failing health system, many are addressing their blood sugar challenges with innovative dietary supplement formulas and functional foods. And these products contain groundbreaking ingredients proven efficacious by legitimate science generated by brilliant researchers, many of who are vital players in the natural products industry. Retailers and marketers are also incentivized by the annual $3.4 billion sales potential for diabetes and related dietary supplements. Whatever the motivation, blood sugar management poses very compelling challenges moving forward. VR
American Diabetes Association.
Ziegler D, Ametov A, Barinov A, Dyck PJ, Gurieva I, Low PA, Munzel U, Yakhno N, Raz I, Novosadova M, Maus J, Samigullin R. Oral treatment with alpha-lipoic acid improves symptomatic diabetic polyneuropathy: the SYDNEY 2 trial. Diabetes Care. 19.11 (2006): 2365-2370.
Mark Becker is an account manager for Vivion, a raw materials distributor, based in Vernon, CA. He has worked as a natural products sales and marketing executive for 15 years. Becker has written more than 300 articles and has hosted or been a guest on more than 500 radio shows. He obtained a bachelor’s in journalism from Long Beach State University and did his master’s work in communications at Cal State Fullerton. For almost 30 years he has participated in numerous endurance events, including more than 150 triathlons of Olympic distance or longer, 102 marathons and numerous other events including ultramarathons and rough water swims from Alcatraz to the mainland. He has relied on a comprehensive dietary supplement and homeopathic regimen to support his athletic, professional and personal endeavors. Follow Mark Becker on Facebook at Facebook.com/marklbecker and on twitter at Twitter.com/becker_mark. For more information, visit www.vivioninc.com or www.energyatlast.com.