Their solution: a fast-acting, first-of-its-kind chewing gum that co-founder and psychologist Gitit Lahav said “works on both a physical and a psychological level.”
She explained in a release that “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.”
But she says chewing Sweet Victory gum “at those challenging moments can slowly break bad habits and help build better, healthier habits” thanks in part to its key ingredient, gymnema, which goes to work within two minutes of chewing.
Also known as gurmar, Hindi for “sugar destroyer,” the botanical physically blocks the perception of sweet because its atomic structure is similar to glucose, allowing it to fill the same receptor locations so that sweet foods taste bland, sour or just off enough to stop people from giving into their sugar cravings.
The effect lasts for roughly two-hours – long enough to help people push through challenging moments during which they might rely on sugar as an emotional crutch – but without altering their taste perception long-term.
Flipping the script on sweet
While the gymnema leaf is often chewed in India for this benefit, it is “very bitter and unpleasant,” Sweet Victory COO and co-founder Shimrit Lev told FoodNavigator-USA.
Recognizing that most people wouldn’t reach for something bitter when they wanted something sweet, Lev said that she and Lahav worked for two years “to reach the right formulation that masked the bitterness of the herb without derogating its effectiveness.”
This includes “a few select natural sweeteners” to balance organic gymnema leaves which were carefully blended with other ingredients with help from a leading Israeli confectionary manufacturer.
As a result, people who tried the gum, which is available in peppermint and lemon & ginger, said it tastes “normal” or like a typical spearmint gum.
After chewing the gum, however, most people agree that sweets taste far from “normal,” with reactions in a taste test video ranging from comments that chocolate consumed after chewing the gum was “tasteless” to something so vile they couldn’t help but spit it out – even on camera.
This negative experience will further reinforce the idea that sugar isn’t a panacea – helping to break the psychological component as well as the physical drive behind cravings.
A tool for fighting obesity, diabetes
Anecdotal results from a pilot study at the Obesity Research Center of the Sheba Medical Center in Israel also suggest the gum could help patients battling obesity and diabetes “cut the sweets,” Lev said. “We gave the patients gum from one week and we did a follow-up via WhatsApp. We found that the gum helps dramatically to maintain a sugar-free diet.”
Other research shows that when gymnema is ingested over longer durations it could block absorption of sugar in the intestines, but this is the not the intent or use of Sweet Victory, Lev added.
Currently, Sweet Victory is available in Panama, France and Israel, but Lev said the company is “eyeing” the US, which it sees as a key market for the product and plans to introduce it “shortly.”