Eating plenty of cinnamon could help people with high blood sugar levels stave off diabetes, a new study has revealed.
The fragrant spice, taken from the bark of trees, improves blood sugar control in people with pre-diabetes and could slow the progression to full-blown diabetes.
In experiments in the US, cinnamon supplements with a meal were proven to lower the warning signs of diabetes after three months.
Nearly 90 million people in the US and at least seven million in the UK have pre-diabetes, which occurs when blood sugar levels are higher than normal and often leads to type 2 diabetes.
Identifying strategies to prevent the progression from pre-diabetes to type 2 is important for large populations and the cheap spice could be the key.
‘Our 12-week study showed beneficial effects of adding cinnamon to the diet on keeping blood sugar levels stable in participants with prediabetes,’ said the study’s corresponding author, Giulio R. Romeo, M.D., of Joslin Diabetes Center in Boston, Massachusetts.
‘These findings provide the rationale for longer and larger studies to address if cinnamon can reduce the risk of developing type 2 diabetes over time.’
The study looked at people with pre-diabetes, which is defined as having higher than normal blood sugar levels.
Blood sugar levels of people with pre-diabetes are not high enough to be considered type 2.
But without lifestyle changes, adults and children with pre-diabetes are more likely to develop type 2, US nonprofit medical centre the Mayo Clinic warns.
The randomised clinical trial investigated the effects of cinnamon supplementation in 51 participants with pre-diabetes.
Participants in the study were recruited from the Kyung Hee University Medical Center in Seoul, South Korea and the Joslin Diabetes Center between 2017-2018.
To be included, participants needed to be between the ages of 20 and 70 and demonstrate one of three specific abnormalities – impaired fasting glucose, impaired glucose tolerance, and an HbA1c level of between 5.7 and 6.4 per cent.
HbA1c, which measures glycated haemoglobin (glucose molecules attached to the hemoglobin in red blood cells), scores average blood sugar levels for the last two to three months.
Participants were given a 500mg cinnamon capsule or a placebo three times a day for 12 weeks.
The placebo capsule was 91.5 per cent cellulose, 8.4 per cent caramel food colouring and 0.1 per cent cinnamon incense.
The researchers found that cinnamon supplements lowered abnormal fasting glucose levels and improved the body’s response to eating a meal with carbohydrates, which are hallmarks of pre-diabetes.
Cinnamon was well tolerated and was not associated with specific side effects or adverse events during the 12-week study period.
The accessibility and relative abundance of the popular spice could be a cheap and effective treatment to prevent type 2 diabetes from developing if promoted as such.
‘The identification of safe, durable and cost-effective approaches to reduce the progression from pre-diabetes to type 2 diabetes is a clinically relevant, unmet goal,’ said Dr Romeo.
‘From a similar baseline, fasting plasma glucose rose after 12 weeks with placebo but remained stable with cinnamon, leading to an between-group difference of 5 mg/dL (milligram/decilitre).’
Diabetes affects more than 460 million adults across the world, and is the seventh leading cause of disability.
It accounts for more than $320 billion (£250 million) in health care costs in the US alone.
The American Diabetes Association estimates almost 40 percent of the US population has pre-diabetes, which remains unrecognised in the vast majority of cases.
More than four million people in the UK have diabetes, with 90 percent of these cases classified as type 2.
The figure is set to rise to 5 million by 2025 because of the obesity epidemic.
The results from the study represents what would be a significant reduction for a person on the borderline of full blown diabetes.
‘Longer and larger studies should address cinnamon’s effects on the rate of progression from pre-diabetes to type 2 diabetes,’ said Dr Romeo.
The results have been published in the Journal of the Endocrine Society.
Written by Jonathan Chadwick for The Daily Mail ~ July 21, 2020
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