Spice Up Your Dietary Plan – Literally
Those with type 2 diabetes are well-acquainted with methods of diabetes management: controlled dietary regimens, exercise, monitoring blood glucose levels, and even medication and insulin treatment. What they may not know is that a natural way to manage blood glucose levels could be hidden in their spice rack.
Cinnamon has made its rounds on trade routes for thousands of years and is widely-used in everything from soup to baked goods. Growing interest in natural foods and remedies led Western medicine to study the purported benefits of cinnamon and quantify its effectiveness on blood glucose levels in a controlled environment.
Studies show that the long-term incorporation of cinnamon into your diet can lead to a reduction in:
- Fasting glucose levels (by 18-29%)
- Triglyceride (23-30%)
- LDL cholesterol (7-27%)
- Total cholesterol levels (12-26%)[i]
These results are understandably enticing to many and for good reason. Cinnamon is a widely available spice with high accessibility and ease of use that could benefit thousands of people if administered correctly.
The Science behind the Spice
The study most often referenced for discussing the benefits of daily cinnamon consumption in diabetics was published in 2003 and spurred massive interest across the medical community. Sixty participants were split into groups and administered either a capsule of cinnamon, or a capsule of placebo. The test groups were further divided by varying dosages: 1, 3, or 6g to discover which amount was most effective.[ii]
The test subjects were non-insulin-dependent type 2 diabetics who were not taking medication for any other health related issues. Each participant took the cinnamon capsules for forty days and then abstained from use for the final twenty days of the study. The people consuming the cinnamon experienced dramatic reductions in their fasting sugar levels, while those taking placebo did not. [iii]
Further studies have corroborated these findings citing the insulin-like effects cinnamon capsules have on lowering all around HbA1C levels in type 2 diabetics in conjunction with usual care.[iv] With these results, it is easy to see the benefits of adding cinnamon to your diabetes management.
Ways to Incorporate Cinnamon
Ways to incorporate cinnamon are many.
- Cinnamon can be sprinkled in powder form onto foods such as oatmeal and can be easily incorporated into baked goods.
- Cinnamon sticks are readily available and can be steeped in hot water for about 15 minutes for a bedtime tea. This can be especially beneficial for those with high fasting and postprandial blood glucose levels alone, or in conjunction with medication.[v]
- Cinnamon capsules in varying dosages can be found at your local health food store and online. Most studies performed use capsules to accurately measure effectiveness due to the consistent dosage in each one, which is also crucial for long-term benefits in blood glucose reduction.
Not all cinnamon supplements are created equal and cheaper is often not better. Some brands add fillers and additives to reduce the cost, while others are not standardized meaning the concentration will vary from one capsule to the other.
We recommend Nature’s Bounty Cinnamon 2000 Plus Chromium as it is purified and fully standardized, meaning you get 2,000mg of pure cinnamon bark and extract per serving. The capsules are 100% vegetarian and they ship worldwide. The recommended dose is two capsules per day, taken together or separately. You should start noticing improvements in your blood glucose in the first week, but peak results are usually attained after 40-60 days of regular use.
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[i], [ii], [iii] Cinnamon Improves Glucose and Lipids of People with Type 2 Diabetes. Alam Khan, Mahpara Safdar, Mohammad Muzaffar Ali Khan, Khan NawazKhattak, Richard A. AndersonDiabetes Care Dec 2003, 26 (12) 3215-3218; DOI: 10.2337/diacare.26.12.3215 http://care.diabetesjournals.org/content/26/12/3215
[iv] Crawford P. Effectiveness of Cinnamon for Lowering Hemoglobin A1C in Patients with Type 2 Diabetes: A Randomized, Controlled Trial. Journal of the American Board of Family Medicine. 2009;22(5):507-512. doi:10.3122/jabfm.2009.05.080093 J Am Board Fam Med September-October 2009 vol. 22 no. 5 507-512. http://www.jabfm.org/content/22/5/507.full
[v] Maria Alexandra Bernardo, Maria Leonor Silva, Elisabeth Santos, et al., “Effect of Cinnamon Tea on Postprandial Glucose Concentration,” Journal of Diabetes Research, vol. 2015, Article ID 913651, 6 pages, 2015. doi:10.1155/2015/913651 http://dx.doi.org/10.1155/2015/913651.