According to the UK diabetes study, those who have diabetes but control their blood pressure are 30% less likely to experience complications caused by the disease. These complications include strokes and heart attack.
Being overweight can be stressful which can worsen obesity-related diseases. This can make shedding of pounds ever harder. A new study published in a journal of obesity provided a strategy that can help. In this study, a group of overweight women underwent mindfulness training, and researchers found that the process reduced stress and lowered blood sugar levels.
A team of researchers from Penn State University conducted a study to determine the effects of mindfulness. The researchers assigned 86 obese or overweight women to receive eight sessions of mindfulness that took eight weeks. These women were taught by a professional instructor or a registered dietarian teaching general health dietitian. This eight-week course combines body awareness, meditation and other techniques of reducing anxiety. These techniques were meant to assist those with serious illnesses to control their pain and stress. The group under a professional instructor learned how to use meditation and breath awareness to fight stress. The group learning health education learned about exercise, diet, general stress management and obesity-related health problems.
Mindfulness can help avoid and treat diabetes
Raja-Khan, the lead author, said that the study suggests that mindfulness could be one of the best ways of avoiding and treating diabetes in overweight or obese patients.
The goal of the sessions was not to assist the women to lose weight, but to reduce stress-related health issues and overall stress. Mindfulness worked better. After the session was completed, and other eight weeks of home practice, those with professional instructor had their stress scores reduce by 3.6 points on a 10-point scale. Those in the health education group had only reduced 1.3 points.
Both groups had improvements in mood, sleep-related problems, and psychological distress. The researchers also tested the women for other health issues- including cholesterol, fasting insulin, inflammatory markers and stress hormone levels. Their mood, stress levels, sleep quality, blood pressure, and blood sugar levels had been measured after eight weeks and 16 weeks, and there were significant improvements. But cholesterol levels, inflammation levels, weight and response to insulin was the same.
The authors noted that the group in mindfulness training had a significant reduction in stress and had beneficial effects on glucose. Any future studies showing long-term cardio-metallic benefits of mindfulness training will be crucial for mindfulness as a useful tool in obesity management.
Results of the study
This study has demonstrated that the decrease in blood sugar levels is enough to have health amplifications. The researchers wrote in the paper that mindfulness could have help those in mindfulness training to adhere to the exercise and diet that were given though they didn’t consider what the women ate or how much they ate.
Of all the 86 women who participated in the study, only 71% completed the training sessions that took eight weeks. Also, 62% of the women continued with the research for the whole of 16 weeks. It reduced the strength of findings, but most of those who dropped out were in the health education group. The authors said that this proves that the current method of care is unappealing and ineffective to patients. They added that the fact that most of those in the mindfulness training completed the sessions than those in health education group proved that there are more support and acceptability of mindfulness training in women with obesity and overweight.
More research needs to be done different groups of people and a larger group. These research should focus on determining the mechanism which mindfulness may lower blood sugar. The research should also focus on whether a sustained increase in mindfulness for longer periods would result in lasting benefits. The authors of the study said that mindfulness lowers glucose in women with obesity or overweight and could prove a useful tool for treating and preventing type 2 diabetes.
Studies have shown that meditation can help people manage their stress and sugar levels. Another study conducted by Brown University found a link between healthy levels of sugar and high level of mindfulness. Other similar studies have shown that mindfulness help in lowering women’s risk of obesity and help them practice self-control.
New England Family Study
Eric Loucks assessed 399 participants who chose to participate in New England Family Study. This is a long-term study. The participants participated in the physiological and psychological test. These tests include Mindful Attention Awareness Scale and glucose test. The awareness scale has 15 questions and assesses mindfulness on a scale that ranges from 1 to 6. Health and demographic information, education, BMI, blood pressure, depression and perceived stress were collected.
Loucks and the team of the study found that those with MAAS score of 6 had 35% chances of having low sugar levels when compared to those with MAAS score of 4.
Type 2 diabetes usually have high glucose levels, but the study didn’t show any direct link between diabetes and mindfulness. However, those with highest MAAS score were 20% less likely to develop diabetes. Loucks said that the sample for this study was small to come up with a definite conclusion. Loucks also said that there hadn't been any study on how mindfulness relates to diabetes. He also said that a larger sample needs to be investigated.
An interesting thing about the study is that mindfulness practice can be taught and easily learned. This means that those with high blood-sugar levels can reduce the level with their habit.
There are many mindfulness practices, and people can have many to start one. Experts suggest that beginners should start small and should spend few minutes per day focusing on their thoughts. Some might require about five minutes. Why lowering blood sugar is a big deal? High blood sugar leads to metabolic syndrome and obesity which can lead diabetes. Also high blood sugar level leads to damage of every part of the body.
The best way to reduce blood sugar levels is to reduce high carbohydrate, low nutrition foods like grains and sugar and to replace them with other food such as eggs, Pastured meat, vegetables, and healthy fats. People can also reduce sugar levels by fasting and exercising. But adding mindfulness to the list also help a lot.
The study conducted by Raja Khan Shows that the relationship between stress and blood sugar levels is crucial in regulating blood sugar levels in those people with or without diabetes and overweight and obese women.
Khan said that mindfulness reduces blood sugar levels and improve the quality of life without changing insulin resistance and body weight. The women who participated in the study and were in the mindfulness based stress reduction learned both yoga and meditation.
Researchers have always known that stress is an uncomfortable feeling. Chronic stress has profound effects on people’s physical and mental health on how frequent people go for medication. Also, stress diminishes the quality of life. Studies have shown that failing to concentrate on what we are doing and dwelling on other matters takes away our happiness. Matthew A. Killingsworth, a Harvard psychologist, found that people spend most of their time thinking about other things other than what they are doing and this makes them less happy.
- A group of overweight women underwent mindfulness training, and researchers found that the process reduced stress and lowered blood sugar levels.
- The group, under a professional instructor, learned how to use meditation and breath awareness to fight stress.
- The study suggests that mindfulness could be one of the best ways of avoiding and treating diabetes in overweight or obese patients.