Type 2 Diabetes is the most common type of diabetes and the number of people affected by it is on the rise. Even people who watch carefully what they are eating may experience rise in blood glucose as they age or their cells may become less sensitive to the effects of insulin. Certain ethnic groups are more susceptible to having diabetes than others. They include African-Americans, Asians, Hispanics and Native Americans.
The body regulates blood sugar levels in several ways. The most common understood way is through insulin; thus all of the drugs targeted at either increasing insulin from the pancreas or making the cells more responsive to insulin. Insulin is released by the pancreas in response to a meal. Insulin will get into the cells and proper sugar (glucose) metabolism occurs. If insulin cannot get into the cells, then the pancreas in response will increase the production of insulin in an attempt to force glucose into the cells. However, this may not always work and the result is the ever increasing levels of glucose in the blood.
There are several pharmaceutical drugs used for the treatment of diabetes. They each act in different ways to optimize insulin sensitivity in the body, but ultimately the goal is to control or lower the level of blood glucose in the body. Your physician will be able to choose the best treatment for you based on your glucose levels and the reason for which your body is not utilizing insulin properly.
There is good news for people wanting to naturally regulate their blood sugar. Scientists have discovered that along with weight loss and exercise, certain nutrients can help the body lower blood sugar naturally. Cinnamon is such a nutrient. Cinnamon is one of the world’s most common spices. It is used on everything anywhere from oatmeal to cappuccino. We will discuss the effects of coffee on blood glucose levels later. Several studies have been performed that showed that cinnamon is beneficial in lowering blood glucose.
For years there have been several studies done to prove the effects of Cinnamon in patients with type 2 diabetes. The results of the most recent of these studies appeared in the May 2006 issue of the European Journal of Clinical investigation1. The results of the study showed a 10 percent reduction in fasting blood glucose in the group that was given cinnamon extract and only a 3 percent reduction in the placebo group which led the scientists to conclude that the cinnamon extract seems to have a moderate effect in reducing fasting glucose concentrations in diabetic patients with poor glycemic control.
The above study is only the most recent done in humans that showed reduction of blood glucose after administration of cinnamon extract. The benefits of cinnamon extract have been confirmed in animal studies. For example, when rats were given two different doses of an oral cinnamon supplement for three weeks, glucose infusion into their cells more than doubled, even with the lower dose studied. The extract improved insulin action by enhancing the insulin-signaling pathway in skeletal muscle, resulting in increased glucose uptake2.
Because the incidence of cardiovascular disease is increased up to fourfold in type II diabetics, researchers have sought out nutrients that can simultaneously improve glucose metabolism and lipid levels. In a recent study published in Diabetes Care, cinnamon has been able to reduce not only the glucose levels but was also able to lower the lipid levels3.
It is not surprising that the diabetes epidemic is growing. It is caused directly by our lifestyles and unhealthy eating habits. Fortunately, we can implement several easy habits in our life to reverse the effects of diabetes; habits such as regular exercise, nothing fancy a 30-minute walk every day or 10,000 steps per day which will help achieve and maintain a healthy weight. Finally we can give our body several nutrients such as cinnamon extract which can help our cells with the uptake of sugar thus lowering our circulating blood glucose.
1. Mang B, Wolters M, Schmitt B, Kelb K, Lichtinghagen R, Stichtenoth DO, Hahn A. Effects of a cinnamon extract on plasma glucose, HbA, and serum lipids in diabetes mellitus type 2. Eur J Clin Invest. 2006 May; 36(5):340-4
2. Qin B, Nagasaki M, Ren M, Bajotto G, Oshida Y, Sato Y. Cinnamon extract (traditional herb) potentiates in vivo insulin-regulated glucose utilization via enhancing insulin signaling in rats. Diabetes Res Clin Pract. 2003 Dec;62(3):139-48.
3. Khan A, Safdar M, Muzaffar Ali Khan M, Nawak Khattak K, Anderson RA. Cinnamon improves glucose and lipids of people with type 2 diabetes. Diabetes Care. 2003 Dec;26(12):3215-8