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Vol 24, No. 02, February 2020   |   Issue PDF view/purchase
COLUMNS
Low Glycaemic Index Foods for Healthier Diets
by Deborah Seah

Singapore-based company, Nuvojoy offer low glycaemic index alternatives to favourite Asian desserts. Clinically-tested products such as premixes for soy pudding, kueh bahulu, and kueh lapis were developed by Nuvojoy in their journey to provide healthy alternatives for the Asian palate.

Based on the report by International Diabetes Federation in 2017, Singapore had a prevalence of 13.7 percent of diabetes in adults accounting to a total of 606,000 cases. Globally, 9.3 percent of adults aged 20 to 79 years have diabetes which is a staggering 463 million people. These trends have been projected to increase to 578 million in 2030 if measures are not taken.1

Globalisation, and urbanization that cause changes in diets with processed foods high in sugar, fat and starch. Coupled with that is the increasing ageing population, adding on to the number of people having diabetes.

Diabetes is a chronic disease that can lead to further complications such as cardiovascular disease, macular degeneration, and even kidney disease. Promoting the consumption of healthier options can thus provide a fighting chance against the onset of diabetes. Also, ensuring that patients currently with diabetes have alternatives to local favourites that have less impact on blood sugar levels will help them to be able to enjoy foods without worry.

Glycaemic Index and Carbohydrates

The glycaemic index (GI) of a food is a numerical number used to represent the relative ability of a carbohydrate content food to increase the level of glucose in the blood. An arbitrary number is assigned through a test where participants are given 50 grams of carbohydrate after fasting the night before. Samples of blood from the volunteers are then drawn at different time intervals to assess the blood glucose level. A maximum GI of 100 is given to the reference food (i.e. glucose or white bread) while other food are given GI values anywhere from one to 100 based on its effect on increasing blood glucose.

Studies have shown that the glycaemic index of food affects the blood glucose level especially in patients with Type 2 Diabetes.2 Also, particularly foods with low glycaemic index have shown to be beneficial for overweight or obese children and adolescents.3

“Low GI means that when consumed, it will not cause a spike in blood glucose. For example, glutinous rice which is one of the foods with high GI and it is not good for the body even though it is delicious. This increase in blood glucose due to high GI will cause the insulin in your body to work overtime to maintain homeostasis.” Lau Kum Yee, CEO of Nuvojoy explains about the benefit of low GI foods.

Local Singaporean Desserts with a Healthier Edge

Singapore launched food company, Nuvojoy, is revolutionizing the food industry through their low GI options for local favourites such as soy pudding, kueh bahulu, and kueh lapis. The Nuvojoy team comprise of food scientists and nutritionists who will develop the products and ingredients through a scientific approach.

Nuvojoy first began with products with low glycaemic index (GI), which were developed by year three students of the polytechnic where Lau Kum Yee was previously a food science lecturer. The products were initially tested and marketed by Lau Kum Yee and two other colleagues at Temasek Polytechnic.

Testing was done during this stage by to determine the GI of the products. After moving on to Singapore Polytechnic, Kum Yee continued to work on the products and began commercializing them.

Their products mainly aimed to target at diabetic patients and the health-conscious hoping to be able to allow them to continue to enjoy Asian desserts without having the side effect of rapid increases in blood glucose.

“When people are not well, their diets tend to be restricted. That’s why we started this company to provide them with an opportunity to enjoy food despite dietary restrictions.” Shares Lau Kum Yee

Besides diabetic patients, Nuvojoy’s products also cater to the elderly, health-conscious, as well as parents with young children and even athletes.

“With low GI foods there is a gradual release of glucose and the body is able to have time to react. Specifically, for athletes, there will be continuous supply of energy making it sustainable for them.” Added Kum Yee.

Nuvojoy’s products comes in a variety of Asian desserts and premixes that are clinically-tested to be low GI.

The products are currently sold at Mahota, Singapore, Ng Teng Fong General Hospital, and also available for purchase on the online store of Nuvojoy’s website and are exploring other options for online sales.

Nuvojoy Pte Ltd was an exhibitor at the inaugural ELDEX Asia Medical Conference held in Singapore on 8th November 2019.

References

  1. IDF diabetes atlas (2019) 9th Edition, International Diabetes Federation
  2. Ojo, O., Ojo, O. O., Adebowale, F., & Wang, X. H. (2018). The Effect of Dietary Glycaemic Index on Glycaemia in Patients with Type 2 Diabetes: A Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis of Randomized Controlled Trials. Nutrients, 10(3), 373. doi:10.3390/nu10030373
  3. Schwingshackl, L., Hobl, L. P., & Hoffmann, G. (2015). Effects of low glycaemic index/low glycaemic load vs. high glycaemic index/ high glycaemic load diets on overweight/obesity and associated risk factors in children and adolescents: a systematic review and meta-analysis. Nutrition journal, 14, 87. doi:10.1186/s12937-015-0077-1
About the Founders

Lau Kum Yee, Chief Executive Officer, Nuvojoy. She is a veteran food scientist with more than 20 years of experience. During her tenure as a lecturer and researcher at Temasek Polytechnic and Singapore Polytechnic, her passion for baking science and Asian culinary arts inspired her to continuously create various low-GI food products.

Lau Seok Yee, Chief Financial Officer, Nuvojoy. She is a financial expert with more than 16 years of experience in the banking and finance industry. She was the Vice President (Equity Capital Markets) of DBS Bank where she managed equity derived products. As a mother, she feels the importance of providing the best nutritious foods to her family.

Ain Fadzil is a passionate food technologist with a bachelor’s degree in food technology with honours from Singapore Institute of Technology (SIT) - Massey University. With family members diagnosed with diabetes, she realised how limited the food choices are for them especially the Asian selection, hence would like to develop more Asian snacks to widen their dietary option.

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