Sparkling water dietary supplement with amino acids and chromium can facilitate healthy lifestyle change.


The epidemic rise in prediabetes and type 2 diabetes in USA results in enormous suffering and sky rocketing costs for both individuals and society. The underlying lifestyle factors are well known, but it is obvious that knowledge alone is not enough to achieve sustainable change. This calls for new approaches making it easier for people in the risk zone to move towards a healthier lifestyle. Research has shown a clear connection between a high intake of rapidly digestible – fast – carbohydrates and the risk of developing type 2 diabetes. Recurrent high blood glucose spikes strain

the body’s ability to use insulin to metabolize the carbo- hydrates. At the Food for Health Science Centre at Lund University, Sweden, scientists have shown that the intake of a mix of five specific amino acids and chromium before and with a meal rich in carbohydrates could lower the blood glucose spike following the meal by 20–30%. The findings have been further developed and included in a clinically tested dietary supplement.

Diabetes is growing at an epidemic rate in the United States. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), approximately 30 million Americans have diabetes. Over 90 percent of those have type 2 diabetes mellitus (T2DM) – a form of diabetes that can be prevented and/or delayed through lifestyle changes.

Today there is nothing to suggest that the negative trend
is about to be broken. According to figures from the CDC and the American Diabetes Association (ADA), over 36 percent of the US population suffers from obesity (body mass index ≥30), which is the single best predictor for T2DM. Over 86 million Americans have prediabetes – a condition that greatly increases the risk of developing T2DM and, by extension, serious cardiovascular disease. Statistics show that between 15 and 30 percent of the prediabetics will develop T2DM within five years; yet, the progression can be halted by relatively small lifestyle changes. Healthier eating habits, more exercise and moderate weight loss are factors that greatly reduce the risk.

Research has shown a clear connection between a high intake of rapidly digestible – fast – carbohydrates and the
risk of developing T2DM. Recurrent high blood glucose
peaks strain the body’s ability to use insulin to metabolize
the carbohydrates from the food we eat. The body responds
by increasing the production of insulin, which starts a vicious cycle, where both insulin as well as blood glucose levels rise. This state is a perfect formula for risk factors such as elevated blood lipids, increased inflammation, increasing blood pressure, obesity, and a pre-diabetic state, the latter defined as Impaired Glucose Tolerance (IGT).

Measures to counteract the rapid rise of T2DM are of strong interest to both individuals and society. In 2014, total medical costs and lost wages for people with diagnosed diabetes exceeded $245 billion dollars, according to
the CDC. These numbers become even more frightening, considering that calculations do not include the costs incurred by a third of the American population who have prediabetes in different phases, or a quarter of all diabetics who are still undiagnosed. Added that diabetes is one of the dominant risk factors behind cardiovascular disease and dementia, the costs become astronomical.

This background underpins a number of powerful public and private initiatives and programs sponsored by the CDC, ADA, corporate wellness programs etc., to break the diabetes trend.

The lifestyle factors underlying prediabetes and T2DM are well known. We know how lifestyle changes can reduce the risk. So – what is the problem? It should actually be pretty easy. Eat right, excercise a bit and lose some weight if you are overweight! However, it has repeatedly been shown that increased knowledge is not enough when it comes to changing people’s lifestyle. The permanent breach of established patterns in such areas as eating habits are difficult for most people.

One important factor behind this is heredity. Our digestive system and our brains are essentially the same
as thousands of years ago. In the old hunting communities sugar was rare and we were programmed to eat as much as possible when the opportunity arose. Today, the avail- ability of processed foods packed with fast carbohydrates
is completely different and we certainly do not need to
hunt for them. The result is too high an intake of fast carbo- hydrates, which exposes our metabolism to immense stress. The power of sugar remains strong. We know we should avoid it, yet the statistics point in the wrong direction, both in terms of consumption of fast carbohydrates and the diseases they cause.

Facts and trends are discouraging and call for effective initiatives to help people to move towards a more healthy lifestyle. Perhaps, however, this requires a new approach. Change is not done in a jiffy. There are no quick fixes but a way to help would be to support the preventive incentives and programs that currently exist with truly functional and scientifically proven foods and beverages that fit into established and attractive lifestyle patterns. Today there are many products on the market that want to be associated with a healthier life but few have any real, powerful and proven effect.

In the long run, it is not sustainable to continue spending tremendous financial resources to cure and treat diseases that we know how to prevent. It is therefore hopeful that we now see several examples where research and commercial interests join forces to develop attractive products and concepts with real and documented effects on, for example, blood glucose regulation and obesity.

The Food for Health Science Centre (FFSC) at Lund University, Sweden, is a public/private research center committed to developing and verifying knowledge, concepts and foods with diabetes-preventive properties. The center has been widely acknowledged for its so-called multifunctional meal studies, showing remarkable results, in some cases comparable to the effects of pharmaceuticals, when combining different anti-inflammatory food concepts into a diet. A natural focus area for the FFSC is to examine mechanisms involved in blood glucose regulation and to develop concepts that may help individuals keep blood glucose within a healthy range.

Based on university research and clinical studies estab- lishing the connection and findings relating to postprandial effects of milk intake, scientists at the FFSC found that the intake of whey before and with a meal rich in fast carbo- hydrates could substantially lower the blood sugar spike following the meal.

Significant for the effect appears to be the presence of five essential amino acids in whey. Further clinical studies confirm that serving a drink containing a proportion of the five essential amino acids before, and with the meal could mimic the glucose regulating effect of whey.

As an additional development of the concept, a small proportion of chromium was added. Even though the mechanism is not fully understood, chromium is well known by science to have a role in blood glucose regulation, by improving insulin sensitivity. Taken together, it was hypoth- esized that a combination of amino acids and chromium would have a synergistic effect that would further improve the effect on blood sugar rise.

With an aim to apply the findings to benefit consumers, a “sparkling water” concept has been developed in collab- oration between the Food for Health Science Centre and Aventure AB, a research-based company specialized in bringing healthy food concepts to the market. The efficacy of the concept has been evaluated in a series of clinical studies. These consistently show a reduction of 20–30% in blood sugar rise following a meal rich in carbohydrates, compared to placebo, without increase in insulin levels.

The best effect was obtained, when half of the volume (100–150 ml) was consumed a few minutes before the carbohydrate rich meal. This supports – and is supported by – the well-established observation that a small propor- tion of certain proteins before a carb-rich meal seem to have the ability to “prime” the metabolism to handle the carbohydrates more effectively. Interestingly, this might be part of the explanation behind the supposed health effect of the Mediterranean diet, which often includes a small portion of protein before the main meal – a sardine, a small portion of antipasti or a plate of tapas.

Further clinical studies are underway, including a meal study in USA.

The sparkling water concept has been further developed into a dietary supplement with the structure-/function claim “May help those with normal blood sugar levels handle the sugar spike following a meal”. The ambition is to be a piece of the puzzle, supporting and facilitating people’s efforts to live a healthier lifestyle by avoiding high blood sugar spikes after meals.