Nov

29

Diabetes mellitus is a chronic metabolic disorder affecting about 6% of the population worldwide with its complications, and is rapidly reaching epidemic scale. Diabetes mellitus has long been known to be a cause of dizziness, associated with sudden changes in blood sugar levels too high or too low.  Metabolic syndrome is associated with insulin resistance, elevated glucose and lipids, inflammation, decreased antioxidant activity, increased weight gain, and increased glycation of proteins. Cinnamon has been shown to improve all of these variables in both animal and human studies. In addition, cinnamon has been shown to alleviate factors associated with Alzheimer’s, ischemic stroke and studies also show that components of cinnamon control new blood vessel formation associated with the proliferation of cancer cells. Human studies involving control subjects and subjects with metabolic syndrome, type 2 diabetes mellitus, and polycystic ovary syndrome all show beneficial effects of whole cinnamon and/or liquid extracts of cinnamon on glucose, insulin, insulin sensitivity, lipids, antioxidant status, blood pressure and on lean body mass. However, not all studies have shown these positive effects of cinnamon, and type and amount of cinnamon, as well as the type of subjects and drugs subjects are taking, are likely to affect the response to cinnamon use. There are however no studies suggesting adverse affects of cinnamon use. In one study, the median lethal dose of cinnamon could not be obtained even at 20 times (0.4 g/kg body weight) its effective dose. With the high margin of safety of cinnamon, it appears useful as a potential therapeutic candidate for the management of diabetes.  As such, the use of cinnamon may be important in the alleviation and prevention of the signs and symptoms of metabolic syndrome, type 2 diabetes, and cardiovascular and related diseases.  I have been recommending its place in the diet for years to my patients, particularly those whom are diabetic or suffering with the aforementioned disorders.

Extensive research within the past two decades has revealed that obesity, a major risk factor for type 2 diabetes, atherosclerosis, cancer, and other chronic diseases, is a pro-inflammatory disease. Several spices have been shown to exhibit activity against obesity through antioxidant and anti-inflammatory mechanisms. Among them, curcumin, a yellow pigment derived from the spice turmeric (the main ingredient in curry powder), has been investigated most extensively as a treatment for obesity and obesity-related metabolic diseases. These curcumin-induced alterations reverse insulin resistance, hyperglycemia, hyperlipidemia, and other symptoms linked to obesity. Other structurally homologous nutraceuticals, derived from red chili, cinnamon, cloves, black pepper, and ginger, also exhibit effects against obesity and insulin resistance.

Nov

8

Recent research on healthy aging shows that poor habits such as smoking, drinking too much alcohol, inactivity and poor diet, can age you by 12 extra years.  The findings are from a recent study that tracked nearly 5,000 British adults for 20 years, aged 18 and older and 44 years old on average, and they highlight yet another reason to adopt a healthier lifestyle.  Overall, 314 people studied had all four unhealthy behaviors. Among them, 91 died during the study, or 29%.  Among the 387 healthiest people with none of the four habits, only 32 died, or about 8%.  “Bad habits” are said to include: smoking tobacco, drinking in excess of three alcoholic drinks daily for men, two for women, engaging in less than two hours of physical activity per week, and consuming fruits and vegetables fewer than three times daily.  These cumulative habits substantially increased the risk of death and made people in this group seem 12 years older than people in the healthiest group.  The most common causes of death in the study included heart disease and cancer, both known to be related to unhealthy lifestyles.  The study appears in the Archives of Internal Medicine.  The healthy group included individuals who did not meet the criterion for “bad habits”.

It should be possible for most people to manage meeting the healthy test group’s habits, and further, each step in this direction reaps rewards of better health.  The U.S. government generally recommends at least 4 cups of fruits or vegetables daily for adults, depending on age and activity level; and about 2 1/2 hours of exercise weekly, which equates to thirty minutes daily five days a week.

In a separate American study, no progress appears to be being made with respect to changing “bad habits”.  The rates at which Americans take part in exercise remains unchanged since 1997.  We are a long way from where the health experts want us to be with respect to smoking.  Overall, about 66% of adults in the USA are either overweight or obese.  About one-third of people are in the obese category, meaning they have a body mass index of 30 or greater.  In yet another American study, extremely obese people, those who are 80 or more pounds overweight, live 3-12 fewer years than their normal-weight peers.