Posted on Oct 25, 2022, 1 p.m.
Yoga and meditation are great ways to help combat stress and maintain strong mental health, research also shows that their effects may translate to physical health as well. Anecdotal statement report lower blood sugar levels after doing some form of these practices, now a recent study from USC Keck School of Medicine published in the Journal of Integrative and Complementary Medicine has found that mind and body practices may help those with Type 2 diabetes control their blood sugar levels, giving weight to those claims.
“The most surprising finding was the magnitude of the benefit these practices provide,” says lead author Fatimata Sanogo, a Ph.D. student in the Department of Population and Public Health Sciences at USC, in a statement. “We expected there to be a benefit, but never anticipated it would be this large.”
For this study data was collected from 28 randomized control trials in which participants with type 2 diabetes began mind and body practices such as qigong, yoga, meditation, and mindfulness stress reduction along with taking their medication. The health outcomes of these participants were compared to a control group of participants who only took medication to lower their blood sugar levels.
According to the researchers the mind and body group displayed significant decreases in their blood sugar levels, specifically a .84% reduction in hemoglobin A1C, which is a marker for average blood sugar levels in the last three months. The most common practice was yoga which showed the largest beneficial effects averaging a 1% decrease, which is a similar effect as the popular diabetes drug metformin which has a 1.1% decrease.
“What is important about this study is that the effect is very strong and that it is on top of the standard of care,” says Richard M. Watanabe, Ph.D., a professor of population and public health sciences and physiology and neuroscience at the Keck School of Medicine.
It was noted that the findings revealed that mind-body practices helped the participants to achieve reductions in blood glucose levels on top of the reductions they were getting from the medication they were taking. This research suggests that mind and body practices might be an alternative for those who do not want to take drugs, and these practices may also have a preventative effect on those who are pre-diabetic. Additionally, as the trials used in this study were worldwide, there is also good reason to believe that mind and body practices could even help those with this condition all over the globe.
According to the CDC, 37.3 million people have diabetes and 96 million have prediabetes. Approximately 66% of Americans with type 2 diabetes perform mind and body practices because they believe anecdotal statements of it helping to control their blood sugar levels. It is estimated that only about half of those with type 2 diabetes are successful at reducing their blood sugar levels to the target level of 7% hemoglobin A1C.
“This could be an important tool for many people because Type 2 diabetes is a major chronic health problem and we are not doing a good enough job at controlling it,” says Sanogo. “Although this study does not address it as a preventive measure, it does suggest it could help people who are pre-diabetic reduce their risk for future Type 2 diabetes.”
As with anything you read on the internet, this article should not be construed as medical advice; please talk to your doctor or primary care provider before changing your wellness routine. This article is not intended to provide a medical diagnosis, recommendation, treatment, or endorsement.
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