May 18, 2022

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Children and adults around the world crave for sweet foods that taste good but also trigger weight gain and high blood sugar rates.  It is for a good reason that supermarkets place candy and other sweets at the checkout counters to tempt children and adults while they wait on line. 


Your body doesn’t need to get any carbohydrate from added sugar. That’s why the Healthy Eating Pyramid says sugary drinks and sweets should be used sparingly, if at all. The average American consumes 22 teaspoons of added sugar a day, which amounts to an extra 350 calories. While we sometimes add sugar to food ourselves, most added sugar comes from processed and prepared foods.  Sugar-sweetened beverages and breakfast cereals are two of the worst offenders.


Now, two Israeli women – one a psychologist who spent almost a decade researching the link between nutrition and psychology and the other a professional nutritional instructor – joined together to invest a line of patented, botanical-infused chewing gums designed to stop sugary treat cravings in their tracks.


The result was a company named Sweet Victory Ltd.  in the town of Ramat Yishai southeast of Haifa. Its product works within two minutes by safely blocking the sugar receptors on the tongue, with its effect lasting up to two hours. Some people have reported that even after the effect has lessened or completely stopped, they often still have no desire for sweets or carbohydrate for a few more hours. 


During that time, sweet foods, including chocolate or beverages like ice cream sundaes that normally excite the senses taste bland or even sour, and the impulse for eating them passes.  


According to the 2021Innova Market Insights’ global Health and Nutrition Survey, 37% of global consumers indicated they decreased their sugar intake over the past year because they were aware that high sugar consumption is behind a range of harmful health conditions, including dental cavities, weight gain and diabetes. 


Research has suggested a role for sugar in activating the opiate receptors (the reward centers) in the brain, which explains why it is so popular.  Even newborn infants prefer a sweet taste to any other. The American Heart Association recommends that women limit added sugar to no more than six teaspoons per day (24 grams), and men limit added sugar to no more than nine teaspoons per day (36 grams) – but most of us go way beyond that. 


“Most of us battle with sweet cravings on a daily basis,” said Gitit Lahav, the psychologist and co-founder of the company with Shimrit Lev, the nutritional instructor. “Even as awareness of the impact of overindulgent sugar consumption on personal wellbeing grows, kicking the sugar ‘habit’ is a real struggle for most of us. This is what spurred us to seek a solution that would help consumers take better control over their nutritional choices.”


With their background in botanicals, Lahav and Lev turned to the ancient Indian botanical gymnema, (Gymnema sylvestre) known from Ayurvedic tradition for its positive effect on glucose metabolism. In India, it is known as “gurmar,” Hindi for “sugar destroyer.” It was said to inhibit sugar absorption beyond its effect on the tongue. 


“The atomic arrangement of bioactive gymnemic acid molecules is actually similar to that of glucose molecules,” explained Lev. “These molecules fill the receptor locations on the taste buds and prevent activation by sugar molecules present in the food, thereby curbing the sugar craving.”


In India, gurmar leaves are chewed to elicit the effect. “We were startled by how quickly this works,” recalled Lev. “We sought a more effective, fun and convenient delivery method for this herb, and so set out to overcome its characteristic bitter flavor.” The two women experimented with homemade chewing gum recipes at first, using home gum-making kits. 


Then they combined the techniques with their nutritional knowledge to derive an ideal recipe using a few select natural sweeteners. The formula was further perfected with the help of a leading Israeli confectionary manufacturer. Today, following sourcing of organic gymnema leaves in India, the start-up company manufactures its plant-based gum in a facility in Italy approved for producing functional supplements and is available in two flavors – peppermint, lemon and ginger.


The gum has undergone a successful pilot study at the Obesity Research Center of the Sheba Medical Center at Tel Hashomer (near Tel Aviv). One of the participants said: “I chew the gum twice a day when I get the urge for something sweet, and I feel that the sweet I eat is tasteless. I even tried a chocolate mousse and it tasted sour! Most surprising is that I have no desire to eat.” If you eat chocolate after chewing the gum, it will just taste like butter. 


Sweet Victory has received all necessary GMP food supplement approvals and is manufactured in a leading dietary supplement factory. 

Children and pregnant women should consult with their physician prior to using the gum. 


“The gum works on both a physical and a psychological level,” added Lahav “Most people crave something sweet at certain times of the day, usually after lunch and at night. Over time, it becomes an automatic instinct that makes the habit even harder to break. Chewing Sweet Victory gum at those challenging moments can slowly break bad habits and help build better, healthier habits.” Further clinical trials to determine its effect on blood sugar levels in persons with diabetes are in the pipeline.


Sweet Victory is available commercially in Panama, France and Israel and will soon reach the US. From there, the start-up will gradually proceed with a global roll-out.