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This common spice may protect you from obesity and hyperglycaemia

by , 27 November 2017
This common spice may protect you from obesity and hyperglycaemia
Cinnamon is one of the most common and comforting spices around. As it turns out, this ever-popular spice is good for far more than baking gooey cinnamon rolls and whipping up a spicy chai latte…

According to new research from the University of Michigan (UM) Life Sciences Institute in the United States, cinnamon may also protect you from obesity and hyperglycaemia, the medical term for high blood sugar. Keep reading to learn more.

Previous studies have tied cinnamaldehyde to obesity and hyperglycaemia protection

Scientists had previous found a link between cinnamaldehyde – an essential oil that gives cinnamon its strong flavour – and protection against obesity and hyperglycaemia. However, they didn’t properly understand the mechanisms underlying the effect.
In order to better understand cinnamaldehyde’s action and determine if it might be protective in humans, too, research professor Jun Wu and her team of colleagues tested human adipocytes from volunteers representing a range of ages, body mass indices and ethnicities.
“Scientists were finding that this compound affected metabolism,” said Wu, who’s also an assistant professor of molecular and integrative physiology at the UM Medical School. “So we wanted to figure out how – what pathway might be involved, what it looked like in mice and what it looked like in human cells.”


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New study finds that cinnamon may protect humans from obesity and hyperglycaemia

To reach their findings, the research team noticed that when they treated cells with cinnamaldehyde, there was increased expression of several genes and enzymes that enhance lipid metabolism. They also observed an increase in Ucp1 and Fgf21 –important regulatory proteins involved in thermogenesis.
These results indicate that cinnamaldehyde improves metabolic health by acting directly on fat cells, or adipocytes, inducing them to start burning energy. Adipocytes normally store energy in the form of lipids. This storage proved to be beneficial to our ancestors, who had far less access to high-fat food and thus a greater need to store fat. This fat could then be used in times of scarcity or in cold temperatures.
“It’s only been relatively recently that energy surplus has become a problem. Throughout evolution, the opposite – energy deficiency – has been the problem. So any energy-consuming process usually turns off the moment the body doesn't need it,” explained Wu.
She concluded that if cinnamon can help protect against obesity, it may offer an approach to metabolic health that’s easier for patients to adhere to. But before you go and add tons of extra cinnamon to your egg nog this holiday season, Wu cautioned that more research needs to be done to determine the best way to reap cinnamaldehyde’s metabolic benefits without causing any side effects.
Tags: obesity

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