The hormone insulin exists for one purpose: to regulate blood sugar levels after carbohydrates are consumed.
But for people with insulin resistance, it’s not so simple. Their bodies’ resistance to insulin eventually can cause glucose to build up in the blood instead of being regulated properly. Over time, this elevates the risk for prediabetes and Type 2 diabetes.
Adopting an exercise regimen and restricting sugary foods are usually the first steps taken to improve insulin resistance.
The journey can be made simpler by incorporating certain foods that further help manage high blood sugar! One of the best spices for that purpose is probably hiding out in your spice rack right now.
Cinnamon can lower fasting blood sugar and help improve insulin resistance by...
Increasing Insulin Sensitivity
Like all hormones, insulin works like a set of blueprints for your cells, instructing them to take a certain action. In insulin’s case, it sends a signal to cells in your liver, muscle, and fat tissue to either use glucose immediately or store it as fuel for later.
Insulin resistance is a metabolic condition that occurs when your cells stop responding well (or become less sensitive) to that signal. In response, your pancreas makes even more insulin to “push” the glucose into the cells where it belongs.
Over time, this extra work takes a toll on your pancreas, and it eventually becomes harder and harder for it to make enough insulin to keep blood sugar in check. Eventually, prediabetes and type 2 diabetes become very real threats.
By increasing your body’s insulin sensitivity, cinnamon can help your cells pick up on the message being sent by insulin to store glucose properly. This makes your body’s insulin more efficient, so your pancreas doesn’t have to produce so much of it after every meal.
Slowing Down Sugar Absorption
Cinnamon can help reign in blood sugar spikes after carb-heavy meals by decreasing the rate at which food empties out of your stomach.
The Gastric Emptying Rate (GER) is an important part of regulating blood sugar and easing the effects of insulin resistance. That’s one of the reasons why diet recommendations for insulin resistance include low-carb meals, or meals that include complex carbs like whole grains and legumes.
Complex carbs contain a lot of fiber and take longer for your body to digest, resulting in a steadier release of sugar into the bloodstream.
Simple carbs, like processed white breads and desserts, are already broken down and ready to be used for energy. These foods result in a “hit” of sugar that requires a lot of insulin to be released at once.
You know that feeling you get when you only have donuts and coffee for breakfast? That manic burst of energy, followed by a crash that leaves you feeling starved, angry, and scrambling for a snack?
This spike-and-drop scenario is a result of your body handling a fast intake of simple sugars. By releasing enough insulin to quickly store all of that sugarinto your cells to be used as energy, your body clears it out of your bloodstream in a hurry. This leaves you with the hangry side effects of low blood sugar.
Similar spikes can happen after carb-heavy meals. For people who struggle with insulin resistance, meals like these make it harder for the pancreas to keep blood sugar levels regulated.
Researchers have discovered that consuming cinnamon along with carbs can slow down your GER, resulting in a steadier release of sugars into the bloodstream.
One study in particular found that consuming 1.2 teaspoons of cinnamon with a serving of rice pudding led to slower stomach emptying and lower blood sugar elevations then eating rice pudding without it.
Cinnamon may also slow down sugar absorption by...
Acting as a Carb Blocker
Cinnamon may lower blood sugar following meals by blocking digestive enzymes that break down carbs in the small intestine.
As your body works to digest carbs, your pancreas produces an enzyme called amylase, and your small intestine produces an enzyme called sucrase. Both of these digestive enzymes play a role in breaking down carbs into sugars for your body to use as energy.
By inhibiting the production of these enzymes, cinnamon may slow down the absorption of carbohydrates. This reduces the need for sharp spikes in insulin production.
The carb-blocking effects of cinnamon can also support weight loss efforts, which in turn can further improve insulin resistance.
Of all the types of cinnamon available, Ceylon cinnamon in particular is shown to be the most effective sucrase and amylase inhibitor.
Ceylon vs. Cassia
Cinnamon is a common spice, but what many people don’t know is that there are actually 2 kinds: Ceylon and Cassia.
Cassia is the cheaper, more available cinnamon, which can be grown in a variety of locations. This is usually the cinnamon you buy at the grocery store. It is thought to have a bolder, more aromatic flavor.
Ceylon, on the other hand, is a more mellow cinnamon only grown in relatively few locations in Sri Lanka and India.
The health benefits from the 2 cinnamon variations are similar, but for regular supplementation, Ceylon Cinnamon is the one you’ll want to choose.
The reason? Coumarin, a compound found in cinnamon, may be toxic to the liver when regularly consumed in large doses. Cassia cinnamon contains about 1% coumarin, whereas Ceylon cinnamon contains amounts of coumarin so low that it is usually not even detectable.
If your goal is to use cinnamon to improve insulin resistance, supplementation is the way to go. Just be sure to choose a high-quality, organic Ceylon Cinnamon supplement for the best results.