The British life science company took home the healthy ageing Ingredient of the Year during last week’s NutraIngredients-Asia award ceremony.
Its white mulberry leaves extract ingredient trademarked Reducose was competing against AquaCelle-Q10 from Pharmako Biotechnologies and Olive Fruit Maslinic acid from Nippon Flour Mills.
Reducose, which the company had spent 10 years developing, has been shown to lower the Glycaemic Index (GI) in foods as well as reducing blood glucose level.
“Ageing is a very broad category and one of the things is age-related diseases, so the main age-related diseases tend to be metabolic disorders, so cardiac, blood disorders, diabetes,” said Andrew Gallagher, director of business development (APAC).
Controlling blood glucose is crucial as sugars, when bonded to the DNA and RNA, will increase oxidative stress. This was also why many anti-ageing products are antioxidants, Gallagher said.
In addition, cognitive diseases, such as dementia, are also linked to insulin resistance.
The ingredient was commercialised last February and was launched in China, US, Europe, and recently received the novel food status in Singapore as well.
Opportunities in Asia
The company has identified heightened awareness about diabetes from the government and technological improvements as key drivers driving the demand for GI-lowering foods in Asia.
Citing the ‘War against Diabetes’ in Singapore, Gallagher said with the governments creating awareness of the problem, consumers would be more conscious of their diets.
Moreover, continuous glucose monitors will aid the uptake of diets and foods that can control glucose levels.
Since diabetes is linked to other conditions, such as visceral fats in the abdominal area, the company sees weight management and pre-diabetic management as some of the key product categories which their ingredient can be incorporated in.
Next year, one of the companies which have incorporated Reducose into its product, will be launching the product in Malaysia.
“A lot of the initial interest in Reducose has come from APAC…and some of the new product development with Reducose has started with different companies in APAC.
“So, we do see that APAC is going to be one of the most important markets for Reducose going forward, mainly as an ingredient in foods,” CEO Robert Miller said.
Last year, the company also signed a global distribution agreement with DSM.
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In China, where the company also has a R&D centre, the ingredient has been incorporated into cookies, chewable tablets, and beverages.
For instance, China brand Tang Xiao Tian had made it into chewable tablets, Zhi Feng Tang and Yang Cheng had made it into a powder sachet.
Most of the applications are in foods as the ingredient has achieved the food ingredient status in China, which Gallagher said was the only white mulberry leaves extract to have gained the status in the country.
Miller revealed that there were about 40 to 50 companies in China developing products using the ingredient.
In the US, the ingredient was launched in GNC’s “Healthy Blood Sugar Formula” and recently by the brand Sugarbreak.
Other applications in which the ingredient could be used in include fortified rice, congee, bread, and supplements such as tablets, capsules, gummies, sachets, and liquid shots.
Aside from controlling blood glucose level, the ingredient can also bring about a cascade of benefits, such as controlling the appetite and acting as a prebiotic.
The active compound that Reducose is standardised to is 1-deoxynojirimycin.
“Because it looks like glucose, the enzyme will try to break it down, but doesn’t do anything, and so the real carbohydrate carry on moving.
“Once the food passes the small intestine, there is no further opportunity to digest it. So, what we are doing is tricking the enzyme to think that they are trying to break a carbohydrate,” Gallagher explained.
The undigested nutrients, when passed down to the small intestine, also creates the satiety effect, hence controlling the appetite.
In addition, the microbiome in the colon can also ferment the undigested carbohydrates into compounds with prebiotic effects.
So far, six human clinical trials involving the ingredient have been conducted in China, India, and UK.
To date, two papers on the human clinical trials on have been published.
One of the studies, published in PLOS, showed that it could improve glucose tolerance and decrease insulin concentrations in adults with normal blood sugar level.