Cinnamon may have the potential to reduce the progression to Type 2 Diabetes, a study hints

Prediabetes is a condition in which a person’s blood sugar is higher than it should be. They typically don’t show any symptoms or signs. This condition is more likely to progress into Type 2 Diabetes within ten years. It is estimated that more than 88 million Americans are suffering from the condition. The statistical data shows that around 587 million people in the world will be prediabetic by 2045, CDC reports.

What causes it

This pathological condition happens when the human body cells are not responding to our peptide hormone insulin. Insulin is secreted by the beta cells of the pancreas and plays a key role in glucose homeostasis. It acts on the cell membrane and produces GLUT, which is a carrier molecule that helps glucose entry into the cell. When the cell develops resistance to opening, the pancreas produces more amount of insulin to create a response by the cell. After some time, it causes an increase in blood glucose level resulting in prediabetes, which may further lead to type 2 diabetes.

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According to the American Diabetes Associaton, it is said that people will be called prediabetic if he/she has a glucose level of 100 to 125 mg/dl after overnight fasting. Even the CDC informed that more than 84% of prediabetic people have no idea about the risk of the condition. As we know, prediabetes can be present for years without any overt signs and may lead to diabetes resulting in multi-system damage like kidney failure, atherosclerosis, blindness, amputation of affected fingers, impotency.

Cinnamon: A valuable spice

Cinnamon is a spice obtained from the inner bark of several tree species from the genus Cinnamomum. It is widely used as an aromatic condiment and also in some desserts, drink, etc. The aroma and flavor are due to the principal component, cinnamaldehyde. It has been employed in Ayurvedic medicine for treating digestive and respiratory disturbances and also dated to be used in embalming the mummies in Egypt. It also helps to control blood sugar levels and slow down the progression of Type 2 diabetes.

There are two types of cinnamon:

  1. Cassia: Also called regular cinnamon. This is the most commonly used type grown in Sri Lanka.
  2. Ceylon: Known as true cinnamon. It has a lighter and less bitter taste produced in China and Indonesia.

The study

Dr. Giulio Romeo, a staff physician at Boston’s Joslin Diabetes Center and the division of endocrinology at Beth Israel Deaconess, has published the study in the Journal of the Endocrine Society on Tuesday. The pilot study involved 51 people with high blood sugar levels and they were monitored for 12 weeks. The result seems to be beneficial for society as when the cinnamon is added to the diet, it causes a reduction in the sugar level and keeps the prediabetic people stable.

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However, older research has failed to prove the positive effects of cinnamon. Initial research with 18 participants of type 2 diabetes once proved that the cassia would be effective for the person apart from the diet alone. Another study was conducted with 60 Type 2 diabetic people, and they reported that the cassia reduced blood glucose level but exaggerates cholesterol, LDL, triglycerides, etc. that seems to be unusual. Ten prospective randomized controlled trials involving a total of 577 participants have proved that the effects of cinnamon on fasting blood glucose are inconclusive.

Romeo claimed that diabetic patients are taking up various medications that might cause them problems in the study. He has done to test the effects of cinnamon on the people who were devoid of other medication and got a positive outlook result. 500-milligram capsules of cassia or a placebo on randomized clinical trials were carried on for 12 weeks, and he used a very sensitive fasting glucose test to calculate the response. He found the differences were significant and declared the use of cinnamon for controlling blood sugar levels.

Also, we need to know clearly that too much of cinnamon may also cause severe liver damage as it contains the compound Coumarin. More concentration of Coumarin is in cassia than the expensive Ceylon. The FDA has recommended limiting its use to 6 grams per day that might add flavor to the food with some antioxidant property. Further research is needed to check on the most favorable health benefits of taking cinnamon.

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Source: CNN

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