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Quest products

Diabetes care goes beyond medical devices

Special foods, beverages and foot care products are making an impact in the diabetes category.
Debby Garbato

Innovation is impacting more than CGMs and injection equipment, with special foods, beverages and foot care products becoming better tasting and more comfortable for diabetics.

Over the past five years, The Simply Good Foods Company, marketer of the Atkins and Quest lines of low-carb, low-sugar products, has been using more natural, better-tasting cane sugar substitutes. “There’s more natural alternatives than before that don’t spike blood sugar,” said Colette Heimowitz, vice president of nutrition communication and education.

Substitutes include monk fruit, stevia and, more recently, allulose, said Jonathan Clinthorne, director of nutrition. “They’re more widely accepted and taste profiles have improved. For a long time, sugar substitutes had an aftertaste or you could tell they were artificial.” Approved by the Food and Drug Administration in 2020 for food use, allulose is a rare sugar occurring in raisins and figs. Unlike xylitol or erythritol, it does not cause stomach upset.

[Read more: Mindful snacking: Consumers are seeking out flavorful and nutritional options]

Not every sugar substitute works well with everything. For example, allulose caramelizes well and keeps food moist; stevia does not. “It’s a proposition of what you’re trying to do,” Clinthorne said.

In foot care, Skineez is revolutionizing diabetic socks with a product impregnated with a 24-hour skin protectant containing shea butter, retinol, apricot, rose hip oils and vitamin E. The moisturizing socks help prevent blisters and skin breakdowns, which are problematic for diabetics. The domestically made, FDA-approved socks also wick moisture and resist odors. Every 10 washes, socks should be remoisturized with Skineez’s Garment Spray (sold separately for $19.99 at 50 sprays per bottle). Skineez also offers compression socks of varying firmness.

“Average diabetic socks are scratchy and dry,” said Michelle Moran, founder and CEO. “You put these on and they start working. There are many copycat brands, but not much innovation.”

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