5-Minute Health Tip: Add in Some Pizazz with Healthy Cinnamon

Fall and winter are the seasons for all things peppermint, pumpkin, and cinnamon. And we highly encourage spicing things up with cinnamon—one of Mother Nature’s most potent medicinals! Add a dash of cinnamon powder to your coffee or tea…or warm toddy! Or infuse warm water with cinnamon sticks to help ease sore throats and coughs. Whatever way you choose to indulge, cinnamon strengthens your body’s antioxidant defenses, calms inflammation, relieves joint pain and stiffness, regulates blood sugar levels, and helps protect against UTIs, gum disease, and tooth decay.

cinnamonAn All-Natural Anti-Inflammatory

Scientists now know that chronic inflammation plays a role in virtually every disease, including neurodegenerative diseases such as Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s, multiple sclerosis, brain tumors, and meningitis.  According to a study published in the journal Molecular Neurobiology, Asians eat far more spices than Americans do, and have significantly lower rates of these neurodegenerative conditions. Could there be a link? Researchers discovered that spices such as cinnamon, turmeric, red pepper, black pepper, licorice, clover, ginger, garlic, and coriander influence inflammatory pathways, thereby helping to calm out-of-control inflammation. Cinnamon goes beyond its tasty reputation to help ease inflammation and soothe joint and muscle pain.

A Brain Booster

Evidence presented at the 2004 annual meeting of the Association for Chemoreception Sciences suggests that the scent of cinnamon may improve concentration, virtual recognition memory, working memory, and visual-motor response speed. Research showed that a whiff of cinnamon worked better than a whiff of peppermint or jasmine at enhancing cognitive function in participants.

Two of cinnamon’s primary components, cinnamaldehyde and epicatechin, have been shown to help suppress the accumulation of a protein called tau. Tau is responsible for the structure and function of neurons, but when it succumbs to oxidative damage, tau can start to build up and form neurofibrillary tangles, a key marker of Alzheimer’s disease. A study published in the Journal of Alzheimer’s Disease showed that cinnamaldehyde and epicatechin in cinnamon can help protect tau proteins from oxidative stress, thereby protecting against neurodegenerative diseases.

A Diabetes Defense

According to the International Journal of Preventive Medicine, cinnamon can help control blood sugar levels, including fasting blood glucose, in type 2 diabetics. Cinnamon can also help increase glucose metabolism by up to 20 times, which would greatly improve a diabetic’s ability to keep blood sugar levels balanced. Studies have also shown that cinnamon may be a potential insulin substitute for those with type 2 diabetes because the spice contains a nutrient that exhibits insulin-like effects.

Cinnamon helps decrease blood sugar levels by slowing the rate at which your stomach empties. This lowers blood sugar spikes that occur post meal, and improves the effectiveness of insulin. A study published in Diabetic Medicine showed that two grams of cinnamon taken each day for 12 weeks improved blood pressure and cholesterol levels in people with poorly managed type 2 diabetes.

An Anti-Cancer Agent

Studies have even shown that cinnamaldehyde in cinnamon can inhibit the growth and spread of colon cancer cells, and might even help protect against liver cancer cells. Fiber and calcium in cinnamon can bind to and help eliminate bile salts that are known to damage colon cells, in this way protecting against the risk of colon cancer.

Cinnamon has also been praised for its ability to soothe gastrointestinal upset. Use cinnamon bark tea infusion for appetite loss, flatulence, indigestion, or bloating…and add a pinch of cinnamon powder to your culinary masterpieces daily!