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Dr. Joseph Mercola Headshot

Cinnamon for Diabetes? A Half Teaspoon A Day Could Help Control Cholesterol

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Researchers have been investigating a number of powerful natural agents that can help you stabilize your blood sugar, and once again, cinnamon has proven itself as a viable contender in the fight against diabetes, as the study in Diabetic Medicine reveals.(1)

One of cinnamon's most impressive health benefits is its ability to improve blood glucose control.

For example, just half a teaspoon of cinnamon a day has previously been shown to significantly reduce blood sugar levels, triglycerides, LDL (bad) cholesterol, and total cholesterol levels in people with type 2 diabetes. (2)

The more you can make use of natural therapies such as nutrition and exercise, the better your health will be.

However, as helpful as supplements like cinnamon can be, they should not be misconstrued as cures. They are not substitutes for proper diet and lifestyle choices. You cannot properly address your diabetes if you still maintain a sedentary lifestyle and poor dietary choices -- cinnamon supplementation or not!

How Cinnamon Can Benefit Diabetics

Below are five known ways cinnamon can be helpful to your metabolism:

1. Cinnamon can increase your glucose metabolism about 20-fold, which significantly improves blood sugar regulation. (4)

2. Cinnamon has been found to have "insulin-like effects" due to a bioactive compound, qualifying it as a candidate for an insulin substitute.

3. Cinnamon slows the emptying of your stomach to reduce sharp rises in blood sugar following meals, and improves the effectiveness, or sensitivity, of insulin.

4. Cinnamon actually enhances your antioxidant defenses. A study published in 2009 stated, "Polyphenols from cinnamon could be of special interest in people who are overweight with impaired fasting glucose since they might act as both insulin sensitizers and antioxidants." (5)

5. A bioflavonoid found in cinnamon called proanthocyanidin may alter the insulin-signaling activity in your fat cells.

Other health benefits of cinnamon include:

• Supporting digestive function
• Relieving congestion
• Relieving pain and stiffness of muscles and joints
• Reducing inflammation and symptoms of arthritis
• Helping to prevent urinary tract infections, tooth decay and gum disease
• Relieving menstrual discomfort
• Stimulating circulation with blood-thinning compounds

Clearly, adding ample amounts of cinnamon to your diet is incredibly safe and inexpensive. Just remember, unless you are adding it to a proper diet -- high in vegetables and extremely low in fructose and grains -- it is unlikely you will experience any benefit whatsoever.

Speaking of grains, what about whole grains and diabetes?

The Whole Grain Myth

The American Diabetes Association recently completed a 20-year longitudinal study (6) examining the connection between magnesium intake and diabetes. They found increased magnesium intake is associated with lower diabetes risk and decreased inflammation. Magnesium is required for the proper functioning of enzymes involved in your glucose metabolism.

Some have interpreted this to mean you should eat more grains, since grains tend to be high in magnesium. This is a grave mistake!

For example, Reuters (7) makes the statement,

"The results may explain in part why consuming whole grains, which are rich in magnesium, is associated with lower diabetes risk."

High magnesium intake may be associated with low diabetes risk -- but high grain intake is not!

While it is true that you do need a good source of magnesium, grains -- even whole grains --are not a good option, especially if you are diabetic. In fact, grains should be at the top of your list of foods to AVOID, right after fructose and other sugars, if you have issues with your insulin and blood glucose.

Why?

Because, just like sugar, grains are a primary cause of insulin resistance, which is at the root of diabetes (8). Grains typically lead to fatigue, brain fog, unstable blood sugar, intestinal bloating, increased fat storage, elevated triglycerides, and increased blood pressure.

Healthful Sources of Magnesium

Magnesium serves many important functions in your body, including reducing your risk of sudden death (9). It's been estimated that up to 80 percent of you are deficient in this important mineral. If you want to increase the magnesium in your diet, please stay away from grains and opt for healthier sources, such as:

• Avocados
• Raw pumpkin seeds and sunflower seeds
• Almonds
• Green vegetables, such as spinach and Swiss chard
• Raw broccoli
• Raw, organic cacao
• Black beans and navy beans
• Peas

Raw organic cacao might just be the number one source of magnesium out there, and offers a wealth of antioxidants to boot. Just watch out for the sugar content -- read those labels.

Other Great Anti-Diabetic Foods

It is important to understand that the vast majority of nearly all type 2 diabetics can cure their diabetes without drugs or insulin and by properly using diet and exercise. Aside from cinnamon and magnesium-rich fare, other foods shown to be particularly beneficial for diabetics include:

• Exercise. This is the key to lowering insulin and leptin resistance. Avoid the mistake of only using cardio. Start using shorter high intensity Peak 8 workouts and strength training which will radically jump start your metabolism

• Broccoli: Besides being rich in magnesium, broccoli can help reverse the damage diabetes inflicts on your blood vessels. The key is likely a compound called sulforaphane, which protects your blood vessels from cellular damage. (10)

• Probiotics: Researchers have found that bacterial populations in the gut of diabetics differ from non-diabetics, and that modifying the gut microflora with probiotics and prebiotics can help improve the health of diabetics.

• Green tea: A compound in green tea (epigallocatechin gallate, or EGCG) was found to stabilize blood sugar levels of moderately diabetic mice as well as Avandia, a drug that I believe is risky. (11)

• Mediterranean-style diet: A diet rich in fresh, organic vegetables and healthful fats (including saturated fats) and high quality proteins, but LOW in grains, can set you out on the right path.

Ideally, you'll want to customize your diet according to your nutritional type. To help you do this, I now offer my entire online nutritional typing test for free!

Please also remember about the importance of vitamin D as part of your overall health program.

Resources:
(1) http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1111/j.1464-5491.2010.03079.x/full
(2) http://articles.mercola.com/sites/articles/archive/2004/05/01/cinnamon-diabetes.aspx
(3) http://articles.mercola.com/sites/articles/archive/2010/10/11/fda-curbs-avandia-diabetes-drug-use.aspx
(4) http://articles.mercola.com/sites/articles/archive/2000/09/03/cinnamon-insulin.aspx
(5) http://ddr.nal.usda.gov/bitstream/10113/33230/1/IND44227608.pdf
(6) http://care.diabetesjournals.org/content/early/2010/08/30/dc10-0994.abstract
(7) http://www.reuters.com/article/idUSTRE68N4ZA20100924?utm_source=feedburner&utm_medium=feed&utm_campaign=Feed%3A+reuters%2FhealthNews+%28News+%2F+US+%2F+Health+News%29
(8) http://www.mercola.com/article/carbohydrates/lower_your_grains.htm
(9) http://articles.mercola.com/sites/articles/archive/2011/02/10/magnesium-can-reduce-your-risk-of-sudden-death.aspx
(10) http://articles.mercola.com/sites/articles/archive/2008/08/23/broccoli-reverses-diabetes-damage.aspx
(11) http://articles.mercola.com/sites/articles/archive/2007/10/13/green-tea-beats-avandia-for-diabetes-and-no-deadly-side-effects.aspx

Around the Web

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