Winter health superstar: cinnamon

January 20, 2011 by  
Filed under DIABETES, HEART AND STROKE

There is nothing more mouth-watering than the aroma of baking apfel strudel in the oven on a cold, snowy day in January. Mind you, I am no baking expert so I must confess that the apfel strudel is the frozen type from the supermarket.

Apfel strudel is the apple pie in the Alpine regions of Europe and its wonderful smell comes from the combination of apples and cinnamon. Such a healthy combination, I would say.

Cinnamon is an essential ingredient of many pastries and recipes, including apple pies, pumpkin pies, rice pudding and of course ginger bread. However, aside from being a yummy condiment, cinnamon has some medicinal benefits. Especially against diabetes.

Cinnamon comes from the bark of a tree Cinnamomum zeylanicum. I had the pleasure of meeting a cinnamon tree in Brazil about 10 years. According to WedMD, there are 2 varieties of cinnamon, the Ceylon and the Cassia and the latter is the one that we commonly use in our kitchen.

Benefits

Several studies have shown cinnamon to be an effective antiglycemic agent, e.g. a compound for lowering blood sugar. And it does this in a very effective and sustainable way – by decreasing insulin resistance.

Diabetes is a chronic progressive disease. There are many drugs out there which are used to treat diabetes by controlling sugar levels. However, as the diseases progresses, these medications lose their efficacy because of increasing insulin resistance. This leads to use of add-on medications that will also eventually lose their efficacy. Cinnamon, on the other hand, control sugar levels by improving insulin resistance.

Aside from improving sugar levels, some studies also reported that cinnamon may have cardiovascular benefits by lowering cholesterol levels.

Cinnamon is available as a herbal supplements and can be purchased without prescription.

Caveats

However, before launching on a cinnamon supplementation therapy, patients should be aware that cinnamon is counterindicated in patients with liver problems. It can also interact with other herbal supplements such as:

In addition, cinnamon may also interact with other medications. Interactions can cause toxicity that may be potentially life-threatening. Therefore, CHECK WITH YOUR DIABETES EXPERT BEFORE STARTING ON A SPECIAL THERAPY!!!

Nutritional info

The table below was taken from www.whfoods.com.

Nutritional info for ground cinnamon, 2 tsp = 4.52 grams = 11.84 calories

Nutrient Amount

DV (%)

Nutrient Density WHF Rating
manganese 0.76 mg

38.

57.8 excellent
dietary fiber 2.48 g

9.9

15.1 very good
iron 1.72 mg

9.6

14.5 very good
calcium 5 5.68 mg 5.6 8.5 very good

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Diet and Diabetes

January 7, 2008 by  
Filed under DIABETES

There are multiple aspects to the relationship between diet and diabetes. On the one hand, anyone with diabetes will need to take extra care with diet in order to help maintain the proper glucose level. On the other, those who don’t have diabetes – but have a genetic and/or environmental or lifestyle disposition to develop it – can help stave off the disease in part through good dietary choices.

It isn’t the case, for example, that eating sugary foods leads to diabetes. The causes of the disease are complex and not fully understood. But what is known shows that there is both a genetic and many possible environmental factors. Only part of that is the amount of sugar ingested.

Nevertheless, it’s true that those with a high sugar diet will tend to be overweight (as measured, in part, by a BMI over 27) and therefore are at greater risk for developing Type 2 diabetes. That’s particularly true for those who tend to carry that extra weight around the waist.

As such, a diet that is generally healthy for everyone is the same diet that will help stave off diabetes, or lessen its effects for those who already have the disease.

A diet that contains the proper amounts of vegetables, fruits and whole grains, as well as good protein sources, is helpful for everyone, including the diabetic. Fat itself isn’t to be totally excluded, but should be consumed in moderation.

Fat gets a bad reputation because (a) it’s over twice as high in calories than other foods (9 calories per gram as opposed to 4) and, (b) there are certain fats that are less healthy than others (transfats as opposed to healthier unsaturated fats). A certain amount is essential for good health.

While a diabetic should be prepared at all times to consume a snack or bar that will help stabilize glucose at the right level, in general it’s helpful to establish a routine. That makes it easier to monitor glucose level and to predict what it is likely to be when you’re not watching it. That also helps smooth out the level of glucose in the blood over time. Spikes or dips are to be avoided.

Those with diabetes who also want to reduce weight or body fat need to take extra care. After consulting a physician to establish a good diet for their particular circumstances, counting carbohydrates will need to become a regular routine. Most carbohydrates are what the body breaks down to produce glucose. That has a direct effect on the glucose-insulin balance so important for keeping diabetes under control.

While protein or fat consumption doesn’t directly determine the amount of insulin needed, these too should be consumed in carefully regulated quantities. Excess consumption can make anyone overweight and the diabetic is more negatively affected if that occurs than others.

Consistency is key. Establish a healthy diet plan for your individual circumstances and stick to it, making gradual adjustments as needed. In the long term, it will help minimize any problems associated with diabetes to the maximum extent possible.

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NOTE: The contents in this blog are for informational purposes only, and should not be construed as medical advice, diagnosis, treatment or a substitute for professional care. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health professional before making changes to any existing treatment or program. Some of the information presented in this blog may already be out of date.