A study published last week in the Journal of the Endocrine Society found that taking cinnamon may have positive effects on blood sugar control in people with a condition known as prediabetes, and may even slow the progression toward type 2 diabetes.
Although the 2-week study was small, the findings open the field for longer and larger studies to address whether cinnamon can help reduce the risk over time of developing type 2 diabetes.
Cinnamon has been looked at before for its effects on blood sugar levels, and even triglycerides (which contribute to hardening of the arteries) and LDL (bad cholesterol levels). There is research that has found that cinnamon can not only lower blood glucose levels, but decrease triglycerides and LDL levels, as well.
Another study found that the polyphenols in cinnamon had a positive influence on fasting glucose, with positive changes in glucose control and insulin sensitivity seen in people after 2 weeks of daily supplemental cinnamon.
Why is this important? Millions of Americans are prediabetic, which is the precursor to type 2 diabetes. Unmanaged diabetes ultimately leads to nerve and kidney damage, blindness, and death from cardiovascular disease.
However, recent studies have found that irreversible damage to blood vessels and nerves may happen long before diabetes is diagnosed. It now appears that prediabetics are also at risk for complications previously associated with much higher blood sugar levels. In addition, the risk of cardiovascular disease doubles in the prediabetic state, and studies suggest poorer prognoses for prediabetics with cancer.
Since prediabetes has no visible symptoms, blood sugar testing is the only way to diagnose it. While undiagnosed prediabetes poses real risks to our health, early detection and treatment will delay or even prevent the development of diabetes. Stopping the escalation of blood glucose levels is key to avoiding the complications of prediabetes. In many people, changes to diet and lifestyle can have profound benefits.
Increasing dietary fiber, avoiding refined carbohydrates, and choosing foods with a lower glycemic index help to keep blood sugar levels in the healthy range. Losing as little as 5 to 10% of body weight reduces blood glucose and improves cholesterol levels, and exercising for 30 minutes most days supports weight loss while protecting the heart.
If you are concerned that you may have prediabetes, consult with your healthcare practitioner.
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