Cinnamon, Honey & Diabetes
Not so long ago diabetes was incurable. But in 1922, Frederick Banting and Charles Best discovered insulin, and people could now manage the dreaded “sugar disease”. Banting received a Nobel Laureate, and his birthday, November 14th, is World Diabetes Day.
Spice Up Your Life With Cinnamon & Reduce Diabetes Risk
A leading cause of heart disease, kidney problems, lower limb amputations and blindness, type 2 or adult-onset diabetes accounts for 90% of all cases. Typical sufferers are over 40, insulin resistant, have elevated blood glucose levels and overweight. With 366 million people living with diabetes, a figure projected to double by 2030, researchers are looking at natural ingredients like cinnamon to stem the tide.
In a 2007 study of 14 subjects with type 2 diabetes, lower fasting serum glucose, triglycerides, LDL and total cholesterol were noted. The subjects, who ingested 6 g of cinnamon in rice pudding, showed a reduction in the postprandial glucose response.¹
For diabetics, cinnamon may further reduce risk factors. A study of 60 type 2 diabetics, mean age 52 years, and given 1, 3 or 6 g of cinnamon or placebo daily for 40 days, those taking cinnamon reduced their fasting serum glucose levels by 18-29%, triglycerides by 23-30%, LDL cholesterol by 7-27%, and total cholesterol by 12-26%.²
Cinnamon’s anti-inflammatory properties are well-known, and studies support the spice’s ability to lower fasting glucose levels. However, authors of a 2012 review study also noted that cinnamon may improve insulin resistance by repairing insulin signaling in skeletal muscles.³
Not all cinnamons are equal. In a meta-analysis of 16 studies on Ceylon cinnamon (C. zeylanicum) extracts, the authors concluded that C. zeylanicum had potential as a therapeutic agent for diabetes. In vitro studies showed C. zeylanicum reduces postprandial glucose absorption, and stimulates glucose uptake and metabolism, glycogen synthesis and insulin release. In animal studies, C. zeylanicum improved insulin resistance with no toxic effects on liver and kidneys. The authors called for human clinical trials to establish therapeutic safety and efficacy.4
Pure Honey – A Potential Antidiabetic Agent?
Recent musings on pure honey as a potential antidiabetic agent in managing type 2 diabetes is also gaining traction. The role played by oxidative stress in the pathogenesis of insulin resistance and the potential of pure honey to address impaired glucose tolerance was explored in a 2012 article. The authors suggest honey, combined with regular exercise and better diet may be sufficient to maintain glycemic control.
As most diabetic patients have difficulty adhering to diets which exclude simple sugars, the researchers noted that pure honey is better tolerated than most sugars or sweeteners in healthy subjects or patients with impaired glucose tolerance or diabetes due to its minimal incremental effect on blood glucose. Therefore, they suggested a diet that includes pure honey should be encouraged in diabetic patients.5
Honey & Cinnamon – A Healthy Combination
While more research is warranted, these studies show that natural ingredients like honey and cinnamon not only taste good, but are also good for you. However, consumers need to be wary and read the labels.
Opt for real honey, not fake and look for Ceylon cinnamon if reducing diabetes risk factors is your goal.
1. Hlebowicz, J., et. al. Effect of cinnamon on postprandial blood glucose, gastric emptying, & satiety in healthy subjects. Am J Clin Nutr. 2007 Jun;85(6):1552-6. (PubMed:17556692).
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