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Does the type of cinnamon you consume matter when it comes to health effects?

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The wrong type of cinnamon could damage your liver, says the latest news. In the Sacramento and Davis area, researchers Davis PA, and Yokoyama W. have found in a recent study that cinnamon intake lowers fasting blood glucose levels. Check out the abstract of the study, "Cinnamon intake lowers fasting blood glucose: meta-analysis," published September 14, 2011 in the Journal of Medicinal Food. Also, if you're looking for information on functional ingredients for functional foods, check out the site, "Functional Ingredients: 2013's most-read stories."

Or see the top trending ingredients of 2013. Did you use these ingredients? Check out our top 10 ingredient leaders of the year. You can check out the Nutrition Business Journal / Engredea landmark Fear Report. First read, "Bad news for cinnamon?" But not just any cinnamon.

Some experts suggest investing instead in Ceylon cinnamon, a milder — and pricier — variety of the spice that comes from a tree distinct from but related to cassia

You don't want to eat more than the limit. Check out the National Public Radio (NPR) article, "Cinnamon can help lower blood sugar but one variety may be best." You may wish to view the original story at npr.org. According to the NPR article, for an adult who is sensitive to coumarin, the limit is about a teaspoon a day, according to the daily tolerable intake set by the European Food Safety Authority.

Then again, see the December 26, 2013 article, "European Union Regulations May Ban Cinnamon Rolls - Reason.com." The problem is coumarin in the cinnamon. And coumarin is a naturally occurring toxic chemical found in the most commonly used type of cinnamon, cassia.

The season's festivities in Denmark have been overshadowed by the prospect that it could be the last Danish Christmas before a European Union ban on their beloved kanelsnegler or cinnamon rolls, notes the article. The proposed ban followed plans by Denmark's food safety agency to implement EU regulations aimed at limiting the amount of coumarin.

Under Danish interpretation of the EU legislation the amount of cinnamon in "everyday fine baked goods" will be limited to 15mg per kilo meaning a ban on favorite pastries. But there is supposed to be a safer type of cinnamon you can buy that's known as Ceylon cinnamon.

Now the trick is to find out what's in Ceylon cinnamon and how what's in it effects the health--benefits or not, and in what dosage such as keeping it well under a teaspoon in your daily food. Usually people sprinkle a quarter of a teaspoon of cinnamon on foods, but others put more cinnamon into varous foods and beverages or take cinnamon supplements. The question is how is what you eat affecting your health?

The NPR article mentions using Ceylon cinnamon to reduce the risk of consuming too much coumarin

If you take cinnamon capsules, how do you know what type of cinnamon is in it? And some people experience a fast heart beat after taking cinnamon in various forms. In many of the studies evaluating the benefits of cinnamon, researchers have used cinnamon supplements. You can check out how cinnamon is doing in the business world from the Nutrition Business Journal.

Beware of the coumarin in certain types of cinnamon that could lead to liver damage. You can read about a study that links coumarin in cinnamon to liver damage. And then you can read another study about a different type of cinnamon without the excess coumarin with health benefits, "Carlson Labs launches Ceylon Cinnamon. On that type of cinnamon, recent research has demonstrated that cinnamon helps maintain normal blood glucose levels already within a normal range.

You also can read a study, "New Study Shows Cinnamon Lowers Blood Pressure and Improves Insulin Function." And you can read the study, "New Study Shows Cinnamon Extract Lowers Blood Sugar Levels in People with Type 2 Diabetes." The studies with titles 'new' in the headline should be 'recent' because some of the studies are new, but some of them date back to 2006 and are recent rather than new. Then again, studies pop up each year.

Rules on foods and ingredients usually each year have a good chance of changing

According to a December 26, 2013 article at the NewHope360.com site, "FDA to redraft, solicit more comments on FSMA," the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) announced it would delay issuing final rules to implement the produce safety and preventive controls for human food provisions of the 2011 FDA Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA) in order to draft and receive input from interested parties on revisions to certain proposed regulations it published in January 2013.

When it comes to the many years of researching the health effects and benefits of cinnamon, in a 2006 study, a water-soluble, cinnamon extract has been shown to reduce fasting blood sugar levels in patients with type 2 diabetes, according to a recent study from the University of Hannover in Hannover, Germany published in a January 2013 issue of the European Journal of Clinical Investigation.

This was the first study evaluating the effect of a water-soluble cinnamon extract on glycemic control and the lipid profile of Western patients with type 2 diabetes. The results further add to a growing body of clinical evidence demonstrating supplementation with a water-soluble cinnamon extract may play an important role in managing blood sugar levels and improving insulin function, according to the article in the European Journal of Clinical Investigation.

Locally, here in the Sacramento and Davis area, regarding the cinnamon and health benefits research at the University of California, Davis, a recent study's abstract explains how cinnamon, the dry bark and twig of Cinnamomum spp., is a rich botanical source of polyphenolics that has been used for centuries in Chinese medicine and has been shown to affect blood glucose and insulin signaling.

Cinnamon's effects on blood glucose have been the subject of many clinical and animal studies; however, the issue of cinnamon intake's effect on fasting blood glucose (FBG) in people with type 2 diabetes and/or prediabetes still remains unclear.

A meta-analysis of clinical studies of the effect of cinnamon intake on people with type 2 diabetes and/or prediabetes that included three new clinical trials along with five trials used in previous meta-analyses was done to assess cinnamon's effectiveness in lowering FBG. The eight clinical studies were identified using a literature search (Pub Med and Biosis through May 2010) of randomized, placebo-controlled trials reporting data on cinnamon and/or cinnamon extract and FBG.

Comprehensive Meta-Analysis (Biostat Inc., Englewood, NJ, USA) was performed on the identified data for both cinnamon and cinnamon extract intake using a random-effects model that determined the standardized mean difference ([i.e., Change 1(control) - Change 2(cinnamon)] divided by the pooled SD of the post scores). Cinnamon intake, either as whole cinnamon or as cinnamon extract, results in a statistically significant lowering in FBG (-0.49±0.2 mmol/L; n=8, P=.025) and intake of cinnamon extract only also lowered FBG (-0.48 mmol/L±0.17; n=5, P=.008). Thus cinnamon extract and/or cinnamon improves FBG in people with type 2 diabetes or prediabetes.

You can check out similar studies such as the following: The Effects of Cinnamomum Cassia on Blood Glucose Values are Greater than those of Dietary Changes Alone.[Nutr Metab Insights. 2012], Effects of cinnamon consumption on glycemic status, lipid profile and body composition in type 2 diabetic patients.[Int J Prev Med. 2013], Efficacy and safety of Elaeis guineensis and Ficus deltoidea leaf extracts in adults with pre-diabetes.[Nutr J. 2013].

Santa Barbara areas of California, U.C. Davis and U.C. Santa Barbara scientists found that cinnamon may play a role in reversing or preventing Alzheimer's disease. See the January 7, 2009 PDF article, "Cinnamon Extract Inhibits Tau Aggregation Associated with Alzheimer's Disease In Vitro."

According to that 2009 University of California, Santa Barbara study, "An aqueous extract of Ceylon cinnamon (C. zeylanicum) is found to inhibit tau aggregation and filament formation, hallmarks of Alzheimer’s disease (AD). And in the Sacramento and Davis area at the University of California, Davis, you also may want to check out the UC Davis article, The Function of Green Foods.

Now in further studies, scientists at another university are finding that an extract from cinnamon bark called CEppt, helps to reverse and prevent Alzheimer's disease, at least in preliminary research with mice and fruit flies.See the study at PLoS ONE, or view an article published June 27, 2011 on the research study, "Alzheimer's prevention in your pantry."

Also see the abstract of the study in PLoS ONE published January 28, 2011, "Orally Administrated Cinnamon Extract Reduces β-Amyloid Oligomerization and Corrects Cognitive Impairment in Alzheimer's Disease Animal Models."

Alzheimer's Reversed by Cinnamon? New Studies

The anti-viral and anti-bacterial properties of cinnamon inspired Prof. Michael Ovadia of the Department of Zoology at Tel Aviv University to investigate the healing properties of cinnamon. What also inspired the scientist to investigate cinnamon as anti-microbial is a passage in the Bible. It describes high priests in ancient Israel and throughout the Levant using the spice in a holy ointment, he explains in the news release, presumably meant to protect them from infectious diseases during sacrifices, even though the ancients didn't know about microbes at the time. But what type of cinnamon did the study use?

After discovering that the cinnamon extract had antiviral properties, Prof. Ovadia empirically tested these properties in both laboratory and animal Alzheimer's models. A substance found in cinnamon bark called CEppt inhibited the development of Alzheimer's disease in mice and fruit flies in the study.

An extract found in cinnamon bark, called CEppt, contains properties that can inhibit the development of the disease, according to Prof. Michael Ovadia of the Department of Zoology at Tel Aviv University, as explained in the university's press release. His research, conducted in collaboration with Prof. Ehud Gazit, Prof. Daniel Segal and Dr. Dan Frenkel, has recently been published in the journal PLoS ONE.

Don't rush to your spice cabinet just yet, however. It would take far more than a toxic level of the spice — more than 10 grams of raw cinnamon a day — to reap the therapeutic benefits.

The solution to this medical catch-22, Prof. Ovadia says, according to the news release, would be to extract the active substance from cinnamon, separating it from the toxic elements. Some people buying cinnamon extract from some online supplement distributors or buy it in any given health food store may suffer a fast heart beat as a reaction to certain doses of cinnamon extract, if these people are sensitive to the extract you find currently in stores. Others don't have adverse reactions. But cinnamon extract is not the same as the CEppt substance the researchers are talking about.

Cinnamon is toxic if you eat a large amount of it. You don't want to put more than 1/4 teaspoon of cinnamon in your food. What needs to be done is to have the substance from the cinnamon and not eat the toxic parts of cinnamon bark. Commercial cinnamon you buy in a supermarket is the ground up, powdered form of the bark. What has to be done by scientists is to extract the CEppt, and then see how that works without any other toxins that normally is found in cinnamon bark as you get it from the store or in the wild.

How Much Fiber Do You Really Need is based on an Individual Response

Find out how much fiber you really need for your individual health. Men and women have different fiber needs, and it's also an individual body response to fiber. What did you eat last that got rid of your constipation in a way that wasn't painful or dangerous? For further information, an excellent article, "Optimizing Metabolism," by Ingrid Kohlstadt, MD, MPH, appears on page 88 in the Townsend Letter, May, 2011.

Check out that article and the magazine. The point is that you need to know when and how to use alkaline foods and when and how to use acidic foods to balance your health.

You also may wish to see the book, Food and Nutrients in Disease Management (CRC Press, Jan. 2009) Kohlstadt, I. editor.

This book presents nutritional information, recommendations, and support for specific conditions and diseases. And it includes research on nutrient-drug interactions, nutrient-gene interactions, and disease-specific interventions. The book consists of 59 disease-specific chapters covering pathophysiology, clinical information, and nutritional intervention

Information in the book emphasizes scientific evidence for whole foods and dietary patterns over isolated, supplemental nutrients. Did you know that nutritional counseling is taking on a larger and larger role in healthcare, especially with the management of chronic conditions and diseases?

Many medical practitioners still lack sufficient disease-specific nutrition information and the in-depth understanding that allows them to integrate nutrition into specific treatment plans. That's why it's beneficial to look at publications that include research on nutrient-drug interactions, nutrient-gene interactions, and disease-specific interactions.

If you see Dr. Kohlstadt's book and articles, you'll find that these valuable resources incorporate nutritional medicine into clinical practice, emphasizing scientific evidence for whole foods and dietary patterns.

For example, in the book, each chapter details how food and nutrition influence pathophysiology, presents relevant clinical information, and offers nutritional interventions and recommendations. If you want to listen to an audio presentation, click here to listen to Dr. Kohlstadt’s Audio Digest Interview for Food and Nutrients in Disease Management.

Which type of cinnamon may help lower blood sugar? Which type can be toxic to your liver?

Check out the December 29, 2013 article and NPR audio recording by Allison Aubrey, "Cinnamon Can Help Lower Blood Sugar, But One Variety May Be Best." The article discusses the study done locally by Paul Davis, a research nutritionist with the University of California, Davis. He authored a recent meta-analysis published in the Journal of Medicinal Food that concluded that cinnamon lowers fasting blood glucose. In the article, it's mentioned that the effect of blood sugar levels lowering is about 3 to 5 percent, which is about the level of reduction found in the older generation of diabetes drugs, according to the article.

There's also a recent meta-analysis concluding that cinnamon can help lower lipid levels, including LDL cholesterol (the unhealthy type) and triglycerides. What scientists still don't know is how much cinnamon is optimal, and whether the effect is transient. The evidence is still inconclusive. But cinnamon is still cheaper in the long term than being on drugs for the rest of your life.

Do you need a particular brand of cinnamon?

National Public Radio recently reported in The Salt, cassia cinnamon is the variety you are most likely to encounter in a grocery store. But cassia can contain high levels of coumarin, a naturally occurring ingredient that, when eaten in large enough amounts, can cause reversible liver toxicity in a small group of individuals sensitive to it, according to the NPR article. That means you don't start eating a lot of cinnamon you pluck at random off a food market shelf without knowing what type of cinnamon it is. And even then, you don't want high doses of cinnamon in your food because you don't know what it's doing to your liver or the rest of your body.

The ancient world leaves anti-microbial clues in spices such as cinnamon bark

What 'sacred' properties were attributed in ancient times to cinnamon bark and other spices? The answer is an ability to heal because the spices such as cinnamon reduced inflammation and destroyed certain viruses and bacteria. The researchers isolated CEppt by grinding cinnamon and extracting the substance into an aqueous buffer solution. They then introduced this solution into the drinking water of mice that had been genetically altered to develop an aggressive form of Alzheimer's disease, and fruit flies that had been mutated with a human gene that also stimulated Alzheimer's disease and shortened their lifespan.

After four months, the researchers discovered that development of the disease had slowed remarkably and the animals' activity levels and longevity were comparable to that of their healthy counterparts. The extract, explains Prof. Ovadia, inhibited the formation of toxic amyloid polypeptide oligomers and fibrils, which compose deposits of plaque found in the brains of Alzheimer's patients.

In the test-tube model, the substance was also found to break up amyloid fibers, similar to those collected in the brain to kill neurons. According to Prof. Ovadia, this finding indicates that CEppt may not just fight against the development of the disease, but may help to cure it after Alzheimer's molecules have already formed. In the future, he says, the team of researchers should work towards achieving the same result in animal models, according to the news release.

"The discovery is extremely exciting. While there are companies developing synthetic AD inhibiting substances, our extract would not be a drug with side effects, but a safe, natural substance that human beings have been consuming for millennia," says Prof. Ovadia in the June 27, 2011 Tel Aviv University press release.

Though it can't yet be used to fight Alzheimer's, cinnamon still has its therapeutic benefits — it can also prevent viral infections when sprinkled into your morning tea. For further information about Alzheimer's disease research from Tel Aviv University, click here. Or check out more AFTAU news on Twitter.

What Really Builds Up in The Brain To Cause Alzheimer's Disease?

According to the study's abstract, "An increasing body of evidence indicates that accumulation of soluble oligomeric assemblies of β-amyloid polypeptide (Aβ) play a key role in Alzheimer's disease (AD) pathology. Specifically, 56 kDa oligomeric species were shown to be correlated with impaired cognitive function in AD model mice." See, "Orally Administrated Cinnamon Extract Reduces β-Amyloid Oligomerization and Corrects Cognitive Impairment in Alzheimer's Disease Animal Models."

In plain words, it's plaque that builds up in the brain. The study's abstract notes, "Several reports have documented the inhibition of Aβ plaque formation by compounds from natural sources. Yet, evidence for the ability of common edible elements to modulate Aβ oligomerization remains an unmet challenge."

What the scientists did in the study first focused on identifying a natural substance, based on cinnamon extract (CEppt).

The researchers found tht CEppt, a substance extracted from cinnamon markedly inhibits the formation of toxic Aβ oligomers and prevents the toxicity of Aβ on neuronal PC12 cells.

First the scientists administered the extract to an AD fly model. What happened next revealed that "CEppt rectified their reduced longevity, fully recovered their locomotion defects and totally abolished tetrameric species of Aβ in their brain," according to the study's abstract.

Next, the scientists gave the CEppt extracted from cinnamon bark to mice--orally. The mice ate the extract. And, according to the study's abstract, "oral administration of CEppt to an aggressive AD transgenic mice model led to marked decrease in 56 kDa Aβ oligomers, reduction of plaques and improvement in cognitive behavior." A point to remember is that the mice weren't normal mice. Those mice were transgenic. That means they had been made to suffer from Alzheimer's disease first before being given substance extracted from cinnamon bark, CEppt.

The scientists found that their "results present a novel prophylactic approach for inhibition of toxic oligomeric Aβ species formation in AD through the utilization of a compound that is currently in use in human diet." Now, the question is, will it work as well on humans? That remains to be seen by further research.

Most people as they age want to know how to balance declining stomach acid with the intake of acidic and alkaline foods. Locally, the University of California studies the medical effects that green foods have on the body. Also, in the Sacramento and Davis regional area, the UC Davis studies in depth how nutrition affects the body.

You may wish to see the article, "MRG — Studies of Food and the Body: Proposal." But what happens as you age and suddenly lose most of the digestive enzymes in your stomach? Do you need a food or food extract to cut inflammation as food rots in your stomach because you don't have enough digestive enzymes being manufactured as you age? This scenario may happen with some people as they age, but not with all individuals, of course.

Did you ever wonder what happens to the food when it rots, is not totally digested, and causes inflammation in other parts of your body? It's a problem that scientists and physicians are researching. Nutrition that may help declining stomach acid refers to a balance of acidic and alkaline foods.

Explaining Metabolic Nutrition

Sacramento and Davis scientists are studying how your digestive stomach enzymes and acids decline or change with age. It's part of research in metabolic nutrition with a focus on how spices, herbs, and other plant extracts from olive leaf extract to cinnamon affect genetic expression as well as the chemical reactions that food has on the body. Have you heard of the term, metabolic nutrition?

As you age, your stomach acid production may decline. Your food becomes difficult to digest, and may rot while still in the stomach due to lack of digestive enzymes. Also sometimes exercise "is medicine."

Locally, the University of California studies the medical effects that green foods have on the body

What shoppers also would enjoy finding is a physician with an M.D. or D.O. degree who also is trained in nutrition. How many physicians in Sacramento read articles written by other physicians who have been trained and write about nutrition as a vital part of optimizing health?

Most people experience this decline in the stomach's ability to produce enough acid to digest food as they age. So to optimize metabolism, nutritionists look at what foods may help. Vinegar (apple cider vinegar, not white vinegar), cayenne pepper, and even coffee have shown health benefits. These foods have acidifying effects on the stomach, but once in the bloodstream do the opposite and have alkalinizing effects in the blood.

What happens when these foods are consumed, The science is called metabolic nutrition. And graduate training programs exist to qualify dietitians interested in metabolic nutrition to become "genetic and metabolic dietitians."

As people age, some individuals have a problem absorbing enough vitamin B-12. The problem is that sometimes stomach acid blockers may interfere in some people with their absorption of vitamin B-12. Also other individuals may take the drug metformin, which was meant for diabetics, and metformin may reduce vitamin B-12 levels.

What you don't want to end up with is an irritable bowel and a problem absorbing your minerals

Your brain needs specific, essential minerals. True, some minerals are toxic, but other minerals are necessary to keep your memory functioning as you age. Nutritionists also point out you need to have enough amino acids, but are you able to absorb the amino acids?

What proteins are you eating and how much? You don't want too many or too little proteins in your diet. Since each person is different in the way the body reacts, due to genetic variations, how do you know whether you have a balanced mineral intake? How is your body going to repair itself?

If you're low in digestive enzymes due to aging, chances are that you're not able to digest proteins fully

And what happens is that the undigested proteins end up in your small intestine. Once there for long periods of time, you begin to suffer from inflammation, which may lead to allergies.

Protective minerals in trace amounts can reduce the absorption of toxic metals such as mercury. But where are the minerals you take ending up? Your goal as you age is to find the best way to keep your stomach digesting your food. That's where the designer foods, the smart foods kick in.

You need the plant nutrients, but you also need herbs and spices such as herbal tea, a small amount of unsweetened chocolate/cocoa, oregano, cinnamon, and pepper in tiny amounts. You also may need plant nutrients such as resveratrol, lutein, lycopene, and carotene which are found in fresh vegetables and some fruits.

Can decaf green tea help? Do you need a small about of hibiscus tea for your kidneys? These are areas of research scientists continue to study, how the vibrant foods become designer foods or "smart foods." That's why so many nutritionists tell you to eat a balanced amount of green, leafy vegetables.

If someone tells you not to eat a half cup of spinach because the oxalate in the spinach forms kidney stones, you can tell them that studies are being done to see whether excess urine oxalate in people who are genetically prone to form stones might just happen because they don't have enough oxalate-digesting bacteria in their gut.

What helps? Foods that are alkaline and colorful. Look into prebiotics and probiotics

Do you have a healthy colony of eubacteria in your stomach or intestines? Try alkalinizing plant foods, for example, vegetables and fruits that have rich color to them--the red, purple, green, yellow, orange vegetables and fruits, for example.

According to the Alzheimer's Association, one in eight Americans over the age of 65 suffers from the disease. Now Tel Aviv University has discovered that an everyday spice in your kitchen cupboard could hold the key to Alzheimer's prevention. The catch is that the studies have been done on mice and fruit flies at this time.

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