This year’s World Diabetes Day (14th November), initiated by the International Diabetes Federation (IDF), is raising awareness about the importance of knowing one’s risk of type 2 diabetes to help delay or prevent the condition. It is also focused on highlighting the impact of diabetes-related complications and the importance of having access to the right information and care to ensure timely treatment and management.
Getting older is one of the major risks for developing type 2 diabetes, as it often goes hand in hand with being overweight and having insulin resistance, impaired glucose tolerance, metabolic syndrome, pre-diabetes, as well as having an increased cardiovascular disease risk. The good news is that in many cases, nutrition can be key in delaying or preventing type 2 diabetes and its complications. In fact, within a consensus statement, leading scientists agreed that there is convincing evidence that low glycaemic diets reduce the risk of type 2 diabetes and coronary heart disease, help to control blood glucose for diabetics, and can also help to manage weight.
As well as following a low glycaemic diet, even little dietary adjustments can support blood glucose management. For example, this has been shown in a two-week citizen science study that adopted a real-life conditions approach. That means that participants kept to their usual diet and eating habits. The only difference was that they consumed BENEO’s ingredients, namely a drink with a functional carbohydrate (isomaltulose), as well as prebiotic chicory root fibers. At the end of the study, the results showed that both functional ingredients, independently of each other, supported blood glucose management, promoting improved metabolic health.
Foods and drinks that support a low glycaemic diet and have a proven low blood glucose response need to be easily recognizable to consumers. On-pack claims are an effective way to achieve this as they both inform and educate consumers. With aging a major risk for developing type 2 diabetes, it is interesting to note that having a ‘lower and more gentle impact on sugar levels’ is the on-pack phrasing that is preferred by 68% of 65- to 74-year-olds. According to a BENEO consumer survey, two-thirds of consumers aged between 55 and 64 are willing to try new products and ingredients when there is an attached health benefit. This shows the potential for new low glycaemic product development that comes with the right on-pack messaging.
Ingredients such as BENEO’s prebiotic chicory root fibres, inulin and oligofructose, alternative sugar isomaltulose (Palatinose™) and sugar replacer ISOMALT, as well as the dietary fibre barley β-glucan (Orafti®β-Fit), can help to lower the blood glucose response and the insulin response – and all have approved health claims in the EU related to this effect.
It is never too early or too late to make healthy choices. The important thing is to take the first step towards more healthy nutrition – and one decisive pillar to promoting a healthy lifestyle is through blood glucose management. By making better use of relevant claims on packs, manufacturers and retailers alike can encourage consumers to choose products that will help them prevent or delay the onset of diabetes, as well as support the management of the disease.
- Author: Anke Sentko, VP Regulatory Affairs and Nutrition Communication at BENEO