Cinnamon, Blood Sugar, and Natural Weight Loss
While being overweight used to be a sign of wealth and rank (rich people didn't need to work as much and could afford more and fattier foods), the Victorian era saw a decline in this view. Over the last 200 years, there have been hundreds of dieting fads, some of which were outright weird. One such example is the tapeworm diet, where people wishing to lose weight would take a pill containing a tapeworm that would then eat a portion of the food ingested by the individual. This allowed the individual to eat normally while still losing weight. Fortunately, the gross factor of such methods has quickly de-popularized the tapeworm diet.
A less disgusting method of natural weight loss has been found in cinnamon. Cinnamon comes from the bark of a small tree species of the genus Cinnamomum. The bark of these trees is rolled into sticks, called quills, and dried. The dried quills can then be ground into powder and used as garnish and spicing. Cinnamonaldehyde is an oil in the Cinnamomum bark responsible for the classic cinnamon scent and taste. While cinnamon is usually used as a spice for cooking in Western countries, it has been used in traditional Chinese medicine to treat nausea, diarrhea, menstrual pains, flatulence, and poor circulation. It's also used in Ayurveda, traditional medicinal practice of India, to treat indigestion, colds, and diabetes.
Blood Sugar Basics
You may wonder how cinnamon could possibly help those with diabetes. The secret lies in the workings of blood sugar. When you consume foods that contain sugar, that sugar is converted into glucose and then absorbed into your bloodstream. When blood glucose levels get too high, your pancreas responds by producing insulin, which allows glucose to leave the bloodstream and be taken up by cells throughout the body. Those with diabetes either produce less insulin due to an ailing pancreas or have, for some reason, become resistant to insulin's effects. Both result in abnormally high blood glucose levels that can, over time, damage organs such as the kidney and liver and cause tissue damage in places like the extremities and eyes.
The Science of Cinnamon
Recent studies on cinnamon have shown that it contains a chemical called MHCP that seems to mimic insulin by activating insulin receptors and allowing cells to take up glucose. The body turns any excess glucose not taken up by cells into fat, most often storing it in the fat cells of the abdomen. Having moderate insulin levels to begin with, or more insulin-like chemicals, means less glucose will be stored as fat, aiding in the ability to lose weight.
How to Incorporate Cinnamon into Your Diet
While cinnamon supplements are available in pill form, there are many tastier ways to add more cinnamon to your diet. Herbal tea can be given more flavor when steeped with a cinnamon stick. Cinnamon also tastes great in unsweetened applesauce, cereal, or oatmeal. You can even add cinnamon to your butter and cream cheese for added spice. Help fend off diabetes and weight gain with at least a half teaspoon of cinnamon every day.