Known as Kiss & Tell, the saliva-based glucose monitor is the brainchild of Hong Kong firm eNano Health.
The test kit (also known as a test cassette) is about the size of the index finger. Just by placing the round tip of the test cassette under the tongue for two minutes, one will be able to measure his/her blood glucose level.
A light pink colour on the test cassette represents a normal blood glucose level. The darker the shade, the higher the blood glucose level.
The test could be conducted before a meal or two hours after the start of a meal to monitor changes in the blood glucose level.
For a healthy individual, glucose would have been absorbed by the body within two hours of a meal, while the opposite is true for diabetic or pre-diabetic individuals, which is why the test is conducted two hours post-meal.
In Hong Kong, the test kit is sold in Watsons, as well as e-commerce sites Amazon, health.ESDlife, and Happy Retired.
It recently caught the eye of Sugarbreak, a US start-up which focuses on developing dietary supplements for glucose control.
Since mid-September, Sugarbreak has gifted two Kiss & Tell test kits with every order purchased.
Co-founder and CEO of Sugarbreak, Scarlett Leung told NutraIngredients-Asia that the kit has attracted a lot of consumer attention.
“We had seen an increase in sales when people saw that this was an included perk and we have a lot to do, we basically ‘sold out’ [the testing kits] within the first two weeks when we released it in the middle of September and we are trying to replenish our stock.
“I think a lot of the consumers are curious [about the testing kit] and there is also that bit of novelty of monitoring the blood glucose level without having to prick themselves.
“I also think that there is a population of consumers who know that they are at risk of diabetes and they want to be able to monitor their blood glucose level, beyond just having it measured when they visit the doctor,” Leung said.
Sugarbreak, which started about a year ago, specialises in developing dietary supplements for glucose management for adults and kids.
There are currently three SKUs in both its adults and kids range.
One of the products, Sugarbreak Resist, which comes in dissolvable strips, claims to curb sugar cravings by blocking the taste of sugar.
The other product, Sugarbreak Stabilize, claims to block carbohydrates and sugar absorption, as well as minimising post-meal glucose spikes and supporting healthy insulin sensitivity and production.
The third product, Sugarbreak Reduce, is said to support healthy blood sugar levels, promote healthy insulin production, boost metabolism, and support a healthy weight.
Both Sugarbreak Stabilize and Sugarbreak Reduce come in the form of vegan capsules.
Leung believes that blood glucose monitoring will become the “next big thing” as technology advances and consumers become more interested in keeping track of their health.
“I think there has been a shift in consumer thinking and people are now more aware of health biomarkers.
“I also think that wearables, such as the Apple Watch, have really led the charge because people are starting to monitor their health closely.”
With diabetes identified as a co-morbidity factor of COVID-19, she believes that more consumers would start to take note of their blood glucose levels.
“I think people are aware [of the importance of controlling their blood glucose level] but they don’t know how to figure it out. And so, we are trying to encourage that by including two free testing kits for every order.
“November is the Diabetes Awareness month and so we will be doing this as well.”
Prior to introducing Kiss & Tell, the company was in talks with telehealth companies that measure glucose levels using continuous glucose monitors.
“Obviously with a continuous glucose monitor, you will be able to see the impact of using our supplements immediately. However, they are expensive. They are also hard to come by because there is a shortage in the US,” she said.
Making changes in time
On the other hand, eNano Health pointed out that the beauty of the test kit was to help users control their blood glucose by adopting lifestyles changes in time.
“The saliva-based glucose test is not for diagnosing diabetes, but to help you understand how your lifestyle could affect your glucose levels. It will help you become more aware and sensitive to what you are eating,” CEO and co-founder of eNano Health, Winnie Leung, told us.
“It is about understanding what one can do and eat, instead of just telling one not to do this or not to eat that.”
She added that the test kit could also be used by diabetic patients to reduce their use of glucometers which require needle prickling.
Aside from glucose monitoring, the company has also launched a saliva-based insulin test.
Insulin is responsible for helping to body absorb glucose. As such, it is produced in large amounts by the body after a sugar-laden meal.
Having high amounts of insulin in the body for the long-term is an important cue for an individual to start adopting lifestyle changes, Leung pointed out.
"Insulin is a good marker to help identify the pre diabetic population.
"If your body keeps pumping more insulin to help you put away the extra glucose, you wouldn't see extra glucose in your body, but you will see a lot of insulin hanging around.
"So if you see this overage of insulin in your body, that means your body is already developing a situation or is trying to fight a situation," she explained.
The insulin test by eNano Health is conducted in the same way as the blood glucose test. However, users will need to send the results back to the company for analysis.
Kiss & Tell is the company’s bestseller, alongside its COVID-19 saliva test kit.
The company has also developed a host of other saliva-based test kits for detecting essential amino acid levels, cortisol levels, folic acid levels, condition of the immune system by measuring the amount of neopterin – an immune activation marker, and heart attack and stroke risk by measuring the levels of trimethylamine N-oxide (TMAO).