The human body was designed with a built-in defense force, your immune system. If you imagine the immune system as a general coordinating his troops, when your body is threatened, he gives orders to the white blood cells called T cells, to stand at attention poised to fend off foreign invaders – such as malignant cells. When the T cell warrior sees an invader, he raises his weapon and targets that cell for annihilation.
You may be surprised to know that most of the “cinnamon” sold in Europe and North America is actually not cinnamon at all. It is a similar spice more properly known as cassia, and it does not provide the valuable health benefits of Ceylon cinnamon. Ceylon cinnamon is in Sri Lanka, India, Madagascar, Brazil and the Caribbean. Cassia, sometimes called Chinese cinnamon or Saigon cinnamon, is grown primarily in Indonesia, China, Vietnam, Japan and Korea.
Cinnamon has been used for thousands of years to seas food and for its medicinal qualities. Ancient Egyptians used cinnamon in their embalming rituals. The Emperor Nero showed his devotion to his late wife by having a year’s supply of cinnamon burned on her funeral pyre.
There are several differences between the two cinnamons. Ceylon cinnamon costs more and is more difficult to find. It is more refined, lighter and sweeter than cassia, and it is a better choice for use in sweet desserts. The heaver cassia cinnamon is suited to savory dishes.
A more important difference, however, is the level of coumarin, a natural compound that functions as a blood thinner when ingested. Cassia has a much higher level of coumarin than Ceylon cinnamon. In fact, patients on blood thinning medications such as warfarin are encouraged to limit their intake of cinnamon, but this applies much more to cassia than real cinnamon.
Both kinds of cinnamon are very good sources of manganese, a trace mineral essential to healthy bones and the metabolism of carbohydrates and fats. They are both rich in dietary fiber, iron and calcium. Fiber and calcium work together to lower the likelihood of colon cancer, reduce cholesterol levels, and relieve constipation and diarrhea.
Here are six reasons to eat the real cinnamon, every day:
1. It lowers blood sugar levels. – Cinnamon normalizes blood sugar levels in type 2 diabetics by reducing insulin resistance. Less than half a teaspoon a day reduces blood sugar levels.
2. It improves heart health. – A research study completed in 2003 found that type 2 diabetic subjects who ate between one and six grams of cinnamon (about 2 teaspoons) daily for 40 days lowered their blood sugar levels by 18 – 29 percent, and also reduced triglycerides by 23 to 30 percent, their LDL (bad) cholesterol by 7 to 27 percent, and their total cholesterol by 12 to 26 percent.
3. It assists in blood clotting. – Extensive research has shown cinnamon supports the healthy clotting of blood platelets.
4. It fights bacteria and fungus – Ayurvedic medicine prizes cinnamon for its anti-microbial qualities. Cinnamon fights not just bacteria, but also viruses, fungi and Candida.
5. It boosts memory and protects the brain.- The simple act of smelling cinnamon, or chewing cinnamon flavored gum, improves brain activity. Research shows it improves memory attention, and cognition.
6. It improves digestion. – Traditional Chinese medicine uses cinnamon for flatulence, nausea and diarrhea. It supports digestion of fruit and dairy products.
Although both cassia and Ceylon cinnamon offer some health benefits, spend a little extra month and get the real thing. You will notice it is a lighter shade of brown, a finer texture and a sweeter scent – and it is work the extra expenditure of time and money.
The importance of vitamin D is often overlooked, not just by average people, but also by physicians. Extensive research has shown a link between vitamin D deficiency and a number of serious health problems. As you monitor your own health, ask your doctor to order a blood test to assess your vitamin D level. If you are deficient, make a plan to get your D up to an optimal level. Your health depends on it!
It our last article, we explored the link between chronic inflammation and disease. Chronic inflammation is implicated in rheumatoid arthritis, cardiovascular disease, Alzheimer’s disease, type 2 diabetes, inflammatory bowel disease, and Crohn’s, among others. Often you have chronic inflammation without knowing it is present. So how can you prevent this threat to your health, or stop it before it attacks your health?
The origin of the word “inflammation” is the Latin word for “set afire.” The link is apparent for people who have some conditions, such as rheumatoid arthritis. People suffering from RA experience heat, pain, redness and swelling of their tissues. But in other health conditions in which inflammation is complicit, the connection is not obvious. The inflammation only reveals itself through blood tests.
Natural health experts agree that the biggest public health hazard in the country is the modern American diet, heavy on processed, low-fiber food and chemicals. This toxic diet kills beneficial bacteria, and undermines the diversity of our intestinal flora, creating an assault on our immune systems and an array of health problems. Impaired gut health manifests in symptoms such as constipation, uncomfortable intestinal gas, diarrhea, bad breath, hormonal problems, menstrual issues, allergies and vitamin deficiencies, among others. Ultimately, poor gut health can cause serious digestive complications, autoimmune conditions, and even cancer.
Research conducted by the Stanford University School of Medicine concluded that low fiber foods create a range of internal deficiencies. These deficiencies are passed down and affect future generations. Tragically, these deficiencies proved to be irreversible after four generations. The study was conducted with mice with the gut bacteria of human beings; the low-fiber diets fed the mice produced a depletion in complex microbial ecosystems and an erosion of gut health. This loss of intestinal flora diversity become progressively worse with each successive generation. In other words, eating badly today can affect your children, your grandchildren, and ultimately, your great-grandchildren.
Today Americans eat an average of only 15 grams of fiber daily, and as the modern American diet spreads around the world, people in other industrialized nations are following suit. Compare that to the diets of our hunter-gather and agrarian ancestors, who consumed as much as 10 time the fiber we do. The widespread use of antibiotics, the decline in breastfeeding, and an increase in cesarean section deliveries have also contributed to the decline in healthy gut flora.
Low-fiber diets are dangerous to our health because fiber is the primary food source for helpful microorganisms like commensal bacteria, which colonizes the colon. We need each of the thousands of various types of intestinal flora that are ideally present in our large intestines, for a healthy immune system and for tissue development.
In the history of human evolution, the constant consumption of low fiber foods in the United States and other industrialized nations is a fairly recent development. Nevertheless, the Stanford study serves as a warning of serious health consequences for future generations if these dietary trends continue.
The good news is that you can change the trend now, in your own life. Select foods that are high in fiber and avoid processed, chemical-laden foods. Build your diet around organic vegetables and fruits, along with whole grains. Avoid overusing antibiotics, and if you are pregnant, breastfeed your baby.
In a recent article by Lissa Rankin, M.D., she offers ten health questions your doctor probably isn’t asking you, but which she considers critical. Dr. Rankin is founder of the Whole Health Medicine Institute training program for physicians and other health care providers, as well as the New York Times bestselling author of Mind Over Medicine: Scientific Proof You Can Heal Yourself. Ask yourself these questions:
You may have noticed people who practice yoga regularly tend to look much younger than their chronological age. A new study in the Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine offers an explanation. Researchers found twelve weeks of yoga increased the body’s natural defenses against toxins by raising the level of antioxidants and making the immune system stronger.