A Few Pinches of Cinnamon May Boost Brain Function
By Joy Stephenson-Laws, J.D., Founder
One of my favorite athletes, Serena Williams, is not just a star on the tennis court. Her diet, which is mainly plant-based, is quite stellar as well. I am particularly intrigued with her choice of teas. She drinks matcha tea with lemon and cinnamon. Matcha is very high in antioxidants and is considered to be a superfood. Lemon is rich in vitamin C and may even help prevent metabolic syndrome, and cinnamon is a powerful antioxidant that may aid in heart health, help manage type 2 diabetes and more.
When I talk about health and wellness, I always say that how we start our day is how we finish our day. If we start the day with a sugary, cream-filled coffee, there is a higher chance we will not make the best food choices throughout the day or have the energy to get in the recommended daily amount of movement. If we start the day with a beverage such as Serena’s tea, however, the more likely we will continue healthier habits throughout the day.
If you are not a tea drinker and just have to have your morning cup of coffee, there is a healthy and satisfying way to do this:
- Organic coffee (I go for decaf, because I am a slow caffeine metabolizer).
- Sugar-free almond milk or some kind of milk alternative that is free of additives and ingredients you cannot pronounce. Check labels! The only thing you really want in almond milk, for example, is water and almonds.
- Ideally no sweetener, however, if you must, go for a little bit of coconut sugar which has a lower glycemic index than refined white sugar.
- A few sprinkles of cinnamon.
I really want to put an emphasis on the last ingredient – cinnamon! If you are not adding cinnamon to your coffee, oatmeal, tea or even smoothie, you might want to consider starting asap. The potential health benefits of cinnamon have been discussed for quite some time, and now a recent study found evidence suggesting that consuming cinnamon may help with brain function, particularly when it comes to memory and learning.
The study, which was published in Nutritional Neuroscience and conducted by researchers at Birjand University of Medical Sciences in Iran, collected more than 2,600 studies from different databases in September of 2021. The researchers had to determine which of these studies were eligible for seeing if cinnamon had brain boosting effects. Only forty studies were eligible, but what they found in these studies may be proof that we should all consider consuming cinnamon.
“Among these 40 studies, 33 were carried out in vivo (i.e., examining real living organisms, such as humans, rodents, or other animals). Five of them were conducted in vitro (i.e., outside of living organisms, for instance by analyzing cells or post-mortem tissue), and two were clinical studies (i.e., with medical patients),” according to this Medical Xpress report that discusses the study.
“Overall, most of the studies they looked at suggested that cinnamon could positively impact both memory and cognitive function.”
Some specific findings:
- With the in vivo studies, they saw that using cinnamon or some of its components (eugenol, cinnamaldehyde and cinnamic acid) had a positive effect on cognitive function.
- With in vitro studies, adding cinnamon or cinnamaldehyde to a cell culture reduced tau aggregation (which is seen in the development of Alzheimer’s disease). Cinnamon also showed to reduce Amyloid β (another indicator of Alzheimer’s) and enhance cell viability.
- One of the clinical studies the researchers examined involved adolescents who chewed cinnamon gum. Results suggested that chewing the cinnamon gum improved memory and even reduced anxiety.
- The other clinical study the researchers looked at involved prediabetic adults who were 60-years-old and younger. This group was instructed to eat two grams of cinnamon on white bread. The results did not reveal any changes in cognitive function worth noting.
More research is definitely needed, but it would make sense that cinnamon would help with cognitive function. It has powerful anti-inflammatory properties, and one of the main culprits behind cognitive decline and dementia such as Alzhiemer’s is believed to be chronic inflammation. Cinnamon is also tasty, and as I mentioned has so many potential health benefits, so it may be worth incorporating it into your diet if you are not already.Avoid drug interactions.
As always, consult your doctor or a competent healthcare professional before adding new food into your diet. This is especially critical for those that have existing health issues or are pregnant or breastfeeding. If you are taking medications for diabetes or are taking blood thinners, be mindful that cinnamon could interact with these medications. Again, consult with a competent physician.
For tips on how to buy the best quality cinnamon, read here.
Enjoy your healthy life!
Disclaimer: This article is not intended to provide medical advice. Please consult with your doctor or another competent healthcare practitioner to get specific medical advice for your situation.
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