When type 2 diabetic patients made startling improvements after eating good old fashioned apple pie, eye brows were naturally raised. But further analysis by Dr Richard Anderson, at the Beltsville Human Nutrition Research Centre, revealed that it was actually the ingredient, Cinnamon, that was lowering their blood sugar levels.
One of the oldest condiments known to man, Cinnamon is an aromatic spice mentioned several times in the Old Testament. Native to Sri Lanka and South India, the name probably stems from early Malaysian language and is related to a modern Indonesian phrase ñ kayu manis’ ñ meaning sweet wood’. It was so highly treasured among ancient nations that it was apparently regarded as a gift fit only for monarchs.
As a medicine it once had a reputation as a cure for colds and digestive disorders. Cinnamon is high in antioxidant activity and also has antimicrobial properties, which aid in the preservation of certain foods.
The majority of diabetes cases are type 2 ó the kind that usually begin in midlife. It is characterised by the failure of body cells to recognise and respond to insulin as well as they once did. This leads to elevated blood sugar levels because insulin’s job is to prompt cells to absorb glucose.
Dr Anderson was able to isolate the compound in Cinnamon responsible for the effects it was having on his patient’s sugar levels. This compound was found to contain specific polymers which help convert glucose to energy. In addition, it was found that these polymers also lowered cholesterol levels by up to 26 per cent.
‘More than 170 million people worldwide suffer from diabetes and for many, drugs or other forms of treatment are unavailable,’ said Don Graves of the University of California. ‘It may be possible that many of these people could benefit from readily available natural products such as Cinnamon.’
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