Growing alongside the rise of diabetes is the market for supplements and functional foods and beverages to help manage the disease. According to Nutrition Business Journal estimates, U.S. consumer sales of supplements for diabetes reached $1.0 billion in 2010 on 6 percent growth over 2009 sales levels.

This growth is a large jump from just four years ago. In 2007, NBJ reported that diabetes-specific supplement sales were $666 million. How does supplements spending fit into the larger picture? Also in 2007, the last year for which the American Diabetes Association has published data, the United States spent $218 billion on all medical expenditures related to the disease.

It's clear that the nutrition industry continues to plays a key role in providing blood sugar management solutions. In 2008, Terry Labs unveiled GlySync, a purified juice from the Nopal cactus that was found to reduce blood sugar by 18 percent and serium insulin by 50 after 180 minutes. NBJ reported that the product was being prospected for fruit juices and tortillas. Terry Lab's core business is aloe vera, and after finding out the amount of work it would take to pursue specific health claims, they handed the product back over to Aloe Queen, the manufacturer, to market it.

Where is the ingredient now? CEO Raul Lopez, who has been working with the Nopal plant for 20 years, said the company has seen 20 percent growth each year since 2008 for GlySync. The ingredient is added to drinks and encapsulated in solo form and as an herb blend. "It's all word of mouth; we haven't aggressively done any marketing with it," he said. "To our surprise, our biggest market for diabetes application has been overseas," he added, noting 85 percent of GlySync sales are exports to countries such as Malaysia and Indonesia where there is high incidence of type 2 diabetes.

Aloe Queen is currently working on a GlySync flour blend to target tortillas, a staple of the Mexican American diet. The ingredient adds no flavor or texture change and stabilizes blood sugar after tortilla consumption. Lopez cautions, though, that a type 1 diabetic on insulin who might eat this tortilla could risk becoming hypoglycemic.