Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Cinnamon and Insulin Resistance

Like most people I always just assumed that cinnamon was something you sprinkle on a Danish or include in an Apple Pie recipe.  This is certainly still true and I eat it often for breakfast with flax muffins or flaxcakes (pancake alternative).  Ancient cultures regarded it as a gift fit for Monarchs and even for a God and it is often referred to in Biblical passages.   Cinnamon trees are native to South East Asia, and its origin was a mystery to Europeans until the sixteenth century.  However, it was not a mystery that it had medicinal uses that have been more well documented in recent years through numerous studies including:

·         Increased brain function

·         Soothing upset stomachs

·         Aid in preventing ulcers. 

·         Reduced proliferation of leukemia and Lymphoma

·         Arthritis pain relief

·         Anti-Clotting effect on the blood

·         Antibiotic

However, a new study is providing evidence that it may also help people with insulin resistance sometimes known as “prediabetes,” or the “Metabolic Syndrome”.   The results of the study…

“After 40 days, all three levels of cinnamon reduced the mean fasting serum glucose (18-29%), triglyceride (23-30%), LDL cholesterol (7-27%), and total cholesterol (12-26%) levels; no significant changes were noted in the placebo groups. Changes in HDL cholesterol were not significant.”

The sample size, 60 participants, is still small enough to question the accuracy, but not so small that it should be ignored and you can get the details by clicking the link below.

So what does this mean exactly?  Insulin resistance is a condition in which the body produces insulin but does not use it properly.  The result is the presence of any one or all of the following problems called metabolic syndrome or insulin resistance, formerly called syndrome x.  Metabolic syndrome is defined as the presence of any three of the following conditions:

·         Waist measurement of 40 inches or more for men and 35 inches or more for women

·         Triglyceride levels of 150 milligrams per deciliter (mg/dl) or above, or taking medication for elevated triglyceride levels.

·         HDL, or “good”, cholersterol level below 40 mg/dl or men and below 50 mg/dl for women. 

·         Blood pressure levels of 130/85 or above.

·         Fasting blood glucose levels of 100 mg/dl or above.

Source: Grundy SM, et al. Diagnosis and management of the metabolic syndrome: an American Heart Association/National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute scientific statement. Circulation. 2005;112:2735-2752.

Our metabolism evolved eons ago, when our diet included fewer (and more complex) carbohydrates. Today most calories in an average diet come in the form of carbohydrates, and most of those are simple carbohydrates — sugars that quickly enter the bloodstream. The body has to release high levels of insulin to keep the level of glucose in the bloodstream from spiraling out of control. But in time the cells quit responding to this signal.  Weight gain, fatigue, sugar crashes and carbohydrate cravings may all be early insulin resistance symptoms.  Eventually insulin resistance could evolve into full blown type 2 diabetes and with it a host of new challenges.

I am not ready to start downing 2+ tablespoons a day but I might begin by sprinkling a little extra each morning on my breakfast.  It remains to be seen where this study might lead but I am excited about it’s potential.

Of course expect the “Natural” remedies companies to jump on this and start pushing it as a supplement.  Just keep in mind that just because something comes from the earth does not mean it’s automatically safe to eat.  Some possible side effects do exist from ingesting to much cinnamon and you should consult with your physician before considering adding this in large doses to your daily diet.  

On On.

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