The firm, which already supplies creatine for sports nutrition and phospholipids for memory-boosting, is also working on a herbal extract that increases insulin sensitivity as part of a new range for the pre-diabetes category.
Most Degussa food ingredients customers purchase texturants and flavouring systems but the firm says it is seeing increasing demand for products with a health benefit.
The new product, a double-fermented wheat fibre, will launch at Health Ingredients Europe in Amsterdam next week.
"We are not a fibre manufacturer but we are focusing on solutions for certain disorders. This category has a strong future with so many people suffering from the negative impact of overweight and obesity," Dr Karl-Heinz Zirzow, marketing director of Health & Nutrition, told NutraIngredients.com.
The wheat fibre is first fermented with yeast, significantly reducing the content of easily absorbable fibres.
"These are responsible for the increase of blood glucose levels and when you take these out, it slows down the insulin release," said Zirzow.
The second step involves fermentation with microorganisms such as lactic acid bacteria, improving taste and performance, he added.
The product has previously been available from a multi-level marketing firm in Germany, marketed as a meal replacement. But additional research at Degussa has demonstrated that the ingredient significantly improves insulin sensitivity too.
"We compared the effects of our ingredient with a market leading weight loss product in a randomised, controlled trial on 30 subjects with pre-diabetes and a BMI higher than 29," explained Dr Heike tom Dieck, the firm's manager of nutritional science.
"Both products showed weight loss over the 12-week period and both showed improved insulin sensitivity, as measured by the HOMA index," she continued."But our product showed improved insulin sensitivity of around 20 per cent even after adjusting for the confounder (weight loss)."
Weight loss is known to have a benefit on insulin sensitivity but the new fibre is thought to be unique in its additional effect on blood glucose levels.
"We wanted to prevent the yo-yo dieting effect through moderate weight loss and improved blood glucose management. This combination of sustained weight loss and insulin sensitivity is unique to a food product," noted Dr Zarzow.
Pre-diabetes conditions are rising in parallel to the increasing incidence of obesity, now thought to affect more than 1 billion adults overweight, with at least 300 million of them clinically obese. An estimated 24 per cent of the US adult population has metabolic syndrome, a collection of risk factors for type 2 diabetes.
Degussa's double-fermented wheat product, to be rolled out in Europe, North America and Asia, will be offered as a powder blend, tablets or as a functional food ingredient for beverages, dairy and dessert-type products. It is currently being produced by a partner company in Germany.
The company is also waiting for results of a human trial on a new herbal extract, said to improve insulin sensitivity. The herbal could launch in the first half of next year.