Israeli gum business Sweet Victory releases series curbing sweet treat cravings

Israeli start-up Sweet Victory has unveiled a key line of botanical-infused chewing gums that are designed to stop sugary treat cravings, which it has developed for European and US markets, writes Neill Barston.

As the innovative business explained, the gum’s formulation works within two minutes by blocking the sugar receptors on the tongue, and its effect can last up to two hours. During that time sweet foods or beverages that normally excite the senses will taste bland or even sour, and the impulse for a sweets binge can be abated, lasting even longer than the physical effect.

Moreover, according to Innova Market Insights’ global Health and Nutrition Survey, in 2021, 37% of global consumers indicated they decreased their sugar intake over the past 12 months. These efforts reflect the widely held view that high sugar consumption is a causative factor for a range of conditions, including dental caries, weight gain, and diabetes.

Research has suggested a role for sugar in activating the opiate receptors (the reward centres) in the brain, which could explain its attractive nature. 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).

“Most of us battle with sweet cravings on a daily basis,” notes Gitit Lahav, a psychologist who spent almost a decade researching the link between nutrition and psychology. Lahav co-founded Sweet Victory with Shimrit Lev, a professional 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,” explains 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,” notes Lev. “We sought a more effective, fun, and convenient delivery method for this herb, and so set out to overcome its characteristic bitter flavour.”

As the company noted, the duo 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 manufactures its plant-based gum in a facility in Italy approved for producing functional supplements and is available in two flavours: peppermint, lemon and ginger.

The gum has undergone a successful pilot study at the Obesity Research Centre of the Sheba Medical Center in Israel. One of the participants stated: “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.”

He added that the way in which the gum works is that over time it helps people break unhealthy habits of snacking, with the gum also set for trials to determine its effect on blood sugar levels in those with diabetes.


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