Boost Your Metabolism With Spices

Improve Insulin Sensitivity With Spices

Boost Your Metabolism With Cinnamon(100844)
Credit: Fotoos VanRobin


Sugar is often seen as a nemesis of good health.  Attention is largely focused on refined sugar when the adverse health effects of sugar is discussed.  Inclusion of excessive amounts of sugar in your diet  can set the stage for numerous chronic diseases and conditions such as obesity,  type 2 diabetes, ischemic heart disease, peripheral artery disease, hypertension and kidney failure.  For the health-conscious individuals, the proper instinct on sugar consumption  is to avoid it or consume it in moderation, but this approach does not work very well.  The habit of consuming sugar has been nurtured for thousands of years.  Secondly, sugar puts excitement in your culinary experience. Thirdly, many of  today's  processed foods are loaded with sugar.  Therefore, it is important to address the concern on whether  the adverse health  effects of sugar can  be mitigated in sugar-rich diets.  The answer is yes, but it is not easy.

  Maintaining Good Health

 If your metabolic machinery is reasonably intact and your body is physiologically sound then one critical approach for maintaining good health is to make sure that your insulin sensitivity is intact.  If you are insulin resistant or if your insulin sensitivity has declined, then measures should be taken to improve your  insulin sensitivity.  Another critical consideration for success in maintaining good  health is to make sure that your  diet is nutritionally sound, except for the disproportionate amounts of sugar.

  Insulin Sensitivity

 When  your insulin sensitivity is improved your body requires lower plasma level of insulin to perform insulin-supported activities such as the transport of glucose (sugar) into the muscle cells.  Another important effect of improvement in insulin sensitivity is that glucose is preferentially taken up and utilized by the muscle cells and very little is converted to body fat.  This contrasts sharply with the condition of insulin resistance where the plasma level of insulin is high and significant amounts of the sugar is converted to body fat.

 Insulin can be viewed as the key hormone that  manages your body's energy needs.  It does this in tandem with its primary function of keeping your blood glucose at a steady-state level.  When plasma level of insulin is high, your body  converts sugar to fat, causing your body fat to go up.  When insulin level is low your body burns more body fat, causing your body fat level to go down.  Another important change that often occurs with low plasma level of insulin is that your liver would produce and release glucose  into the blood to help maintain the plasma steady-state level of glucose.   Consequently, an increase in insulin sensitivity favors body fat burning and body weight reduction.

  Metabolism-Boosting Foods

 Metabolism-boosting foods are foods that improve insulin sensitivity.  These foods are very helpful for burning body fat and losing weight.  They can also enable you to eat more sugar without  being exposed to its full adverse effects. Spices are an important class of foods that boosts your metabolism.  Cinnamon is a well-recognized spice that boosts metabolism.  Studies have shown that  insulin sensitivity is improved by mehtylhydroxy chalcome polymer (MPCP), a substance in cinnamon (1). Ginger is another spice that boosts metabolism.  Ginger is an important anti-inflammatory nutrient. As a group, the anti-inflammatory foods are metabolism boosters.  A list of some metabolism boosters is shown below.

l  Cinnamon

l  Curry

l  Cumin

l  Cayenne pepper (capsaicin)

l  Ginger

l  Olive oil

l  Nuts (alpha omega 3 fatty acid-rich nuts such as  almonds and walnuts)

l  Oily fish ( alpha omega 3 fatty acid-rich fish such as tuna salmon and sardine)

l  Shrimp (alpha omega 3 fatty acid)

l  Krill (alpha omega 3 fatty acid)

 Dietary Fibers

 Dietary fibers are indispensable in  healthy diets, but their role in promoting good health is largely overlooked.  Dietary fibers are important metabolism-boosters, but they  improve insulin sensitivity by an indirect mechanism. Dietary fibers slow down nutrient absorption from the small intestine so that nutrients, including glucose, are gradually introduced into the blood stream. Consequently, glucose is introduced into the blood stream at a pace that does not cause a sharp rise in the plasma level of insulin (insulin spike). 

 You do not want the plasma level of insulin to be elevated for long periods of time because sustained elevation of plasma  insulin is a common factor that leads to a decline in insulin sensitivity.

 Leafy vegetables are low energy foods that are rich in dietary fibers.  Therefore consuming leafy vegetables will help  you to  increase your insulin sensitivity.  Caution must be exercised; however, to assure that you do not consume vegetables with additives and contaminants that can adversely effect your health.  Specifically, it is advisable to avoid vegetables that are heavily treated with pesticides.  You should also refrain from using trans fat-containing salad dressings in your vegetables because trans fats would cause a decrease in insulin sensitivity.

 Another advantage of including dietary fibers in your sugar-rich diet is that the amount of high energy foods you consume (your caloric intake) would go down.  Dietary fibers add bulk to your diet and this helps to curb your appetite.  The slow entry of glucose into your blood stream would also help to  curb your appetite because the hunger that often occurs with rapid increase in blood glucose would be avoided.  This reduction in the total daily caloric intake is also very important for maintaining insulin sensitivity.

  Chromium  and Vinegar

 Chromium and vinegar are common substances that improve insulin sensitivity.  Chromium is sometimes used to improve insulin sensitivity in people who are diabetic,  prediabetic  or  insulin resistant. The inclusion of chromium in the diets under these conditions makes it easier to control blood glucose (2).

 Endurance Exercise

 Physical activity plays important role in raising your insulin sensitivity. Endurance exercises of moderate intensity are particularly effective for improving  insulin sensitivity.  For best results, the fitness activity should be performed frequently with adequate intensity and duration to achieve physical fitness. 

 An additional benefit (among many) of fitness using endurance exercises is that your muscles would become conditioned to using more fats for energy. An  increase in the number of mitochondria in the muscle cells  is one of the exercise-induced changes that underpin this increased ability to burn fat.  Mitochondria are the units for aerobic respiration in your muscle cells. They are very effective in using fatty acids as fuel of oxidation.  Therefore, if you increase the number of mitochondria, you would also increase the amount of fat that you can  burn.

 Disclaimer: The information contained in this article is for educational purposes only and should not be used for diagnosis or to guide treatment without the opinion of a health professional. Any reader who is concerned about his or her health should contact a doctor for advice.