A few months ago I stumbled upon an article that tied together cinnamon, diabetes, and insulin resistance. Intrigued, I did some follow up research and made some astonishing discoveries. In fact, I'm absolutely amazed that what I discovered isn't covered on the nightly news, the major newspapers, and is a constant top story on Drudge considering the profundity of what you're about to learn. First, the background on insulin, insulin resistance, and diabetes. After we eat, food is broken down into glucose, the simple sugar that is the main source of energy for the body's cells. But our cells cannot use glucose without insulin, a hormone produced by the pancreas.
Insulin helps the cells take in glucose and convert it to energy. When the pancreas does not make enough insulin or the body is unable to use the insulin that is present, the cells cannot use glucose. Excess glucose builds up in the bloodstream, setting the stage for diabetes. Being obese or overweight affects the way insulin works in your body. Extra fat tissue can make your body resistant to the action of insulin.
If you have insulin resistance, your muscle, fat, and liver cells do not use insulin properly. The pancreas tries to keep up with the demand for insulin by producing more. Eventually, the pancreas cannot keep up with the body's need for insulin, and excess glucose builds up in the bloodstream. Many people with insulin resistance have high levels of blood glucose and high levels of insulin circulating in their blood at the same time.
People with blood glucose levels that are higher than normal but not yet in the diabetic range have "pre-diabetes" or "insulin resistance." Insulin resistance is a hidden condition, one that doesn't present any symptoms, that increases the likelihood of developing diabetes and debilitating heart conditions. If you have pre-diabetes, you have a higher risk of developing type 2 diabetes, formerly called adult-onset diabetes or non-insulin-dependent diabetes.
Studies have shown that most people with pre-diabetes go on to develop type 2 diabetes within 10 years, unless they lose 5 to 7 percent of their body weightówhich is about 10 to 15 pounds for someone who weighs 200 poundsóby making modest changes in their diet and level of physical activity. People with pre-diabetes also have a higher risk of heart disease. Type 2 diabetes is sometimes defined as the form of diabetes that develops when the body does not respond properly to insulin, as opposed to type 1 diabetes, in which the pancreas makes no insulin at all. At first, the pancreas keeps up with the added demand by producing more insulin. In time, however, it loses the ability to secrete enough insulin in response to meals. OK, I've established the connection with diabetes and insulin resistance.
What's up with the cinnamon? In August 2000, the U.S. Department of Agriculture announced preliminary findings that "Cinnamon may significantly help people with type 2 diabetes improve their ability to regulate their blood sugar. As a matter of fact, this study found that it increased glucose metabolism 20-fold.
" Over the next few years additional studies were conducted with humans to further evaluate this surprising result. In one small 60 patient study conducted in Pakistan, reporting in the journal Diabetes Care, all the patients had been treated for type 2, adult onset diabetes for several years and were taking anti-diabetic drugs to increase their insulin output. But they were not yet taking insulin to help process their blood glucose. The subjects were given small doses of cinnamon ranging from as little as a quarter teaspoon up to 2 teaspoons a day for 40 days.
The results again surprised the scientists, but were even more profound than previous. Not only did the cinnamon reduce the blood sugar levels and increase the natural production of insulin, it lowered their blood cholesterol as well. Even 20 days after the cinnamon treatment had ended, the patients continued to see beneficial effects.
This is good news for the more than 50 million Americans who suffer from diabetes and/or heart disease. All the patients in the study showed better glucose metabolism and natural insulin production when they took cinnamon capsules that delivered less than two teaspoons a day of the spice. Specifically, their blood cholesterol levels were lowered in the range of 10 to 26 percent, affecting overall cholesterol levels and reducing the LDL (known as the bad cholesterol) but not reducing levels of HDL, the good cholesterol. This is also potentially good news for the many millions more of us who suffer from insulin resistance, sometimes known as pre-diabetes, or the Metabolic Syndrome. Lowering blood sugar levels, and improving cholesterol ratios can help reverse pre-diabetes and Metabolic Syndrome, and in fact may actually prevent the onset of full diabetes.
Better news still, while cinnamon addresses elevated blood sugar levels and helps to combat insulin resistance, it is also a successful factor in helping you lose weight. The fat cells in your abdomen are particularly sensitive to high insulin levels, and are very effective at storing energy far more so that fat cells you would find in other areas such as the lower body (i.e.
hips, rear-end, thighs). Because abdominal fat cells are so close to your digestive organs, and there is an extensive network of blood vessels circulating in the abdominal area, it is even easier for fat cells to store excess glucose there. Now here's the challenge: getting enough cinnamon over the course of a day without getting absolutely sick to death of the taste.
After doing this research, I decided to be my own guinea pig for testing. I spent the first week putting a couple of teaspoons of cinnamon in a bowl of oatmeal every morning and after about the third day, I knew that wasn't going to be a workable long term strategy. I next went online and found an excellent source of cinnamon capsules.
I've been taking two cinnamon capsules a day ever since I made my discovery and the effects have been profound. I've lost 14-lbs and no longer have a noticeable bulge around my waistline. I changed nothing else in my daily routine other than adding the cinnamon capsules.
My diet is predominantly low-carb but I'm not fanatic about it. I have a sedate office job and the extent of my exercise is doing household chores and playing with the dogs. This certainly doesn't qualify as a rigorous scientific controlled test, however I'm certainly convinced as I'm a believer in finding out what works and sticking with it. An expanded version of this article is online at the authors website.
B.L. Walther is an entrepeneur and author of Healthy Living Digest. Please visit Healthy Living Digest for timely news, information and articles on health, fitness, and personal development.