Yoga and other mindfulness practices improve blood sugar in type 2 diabetes – Reuters

October 14, 2022 – Patients with type 2 diabetes achieve much better blood sugar control if they participate in mind-body practices such as yoga, according to a new study.

While previous research has been done specifically for yoga, this study, recently published online in the Journal of Integrative and Complementary Medicine, also examined the benefits of other mind-body practices for these patients, including qigong and meditation.

The study is “the first to show that there is a very consistent effect [on hemoglobin A1c, a marker of diabetes] whatever modality you use,” says one of the researchers, Richard Watanabe, PhD.

“So I think one of the important messages…is that any sort of mind-body intervention seems to be helpful, which makes it a much more flexible tool than telling a patient they should [just] do yoga,” says Watanabe, who is a professor of population science and public health at the Keck School of Medicine at the University of Southern California in Los Angeles.

There are other options available, “and if you’re a busy person and it’s not possible to do yoga, you can learn about meditation and do it anywhere. So again he [is] …a flexible tool to help their patients control their blood sugar,” he says.

“The most surprising finding was the magnitude of the benefits provided by these practices,” lead author Fatimata Sanogo of the University of Southern California, Los Angeles, said in a statement. “We expected there to be an upside, but we never expected it to be this big.”

But how do mind-body practices reduce A1c? It’s not entirely clear, says Watanabe, noting that more research needs to be done to understand this.

“But I think everyone’s assumption is that these methods reduce stress, so the idea is that they reduce stress hormones and since these hormones have an effect on glucose metabolism, reducing them by using these modalities reduce A1c and blood sugar levels,” he explains.

Alternatively, mind-body practices could improve insulin sensitivity. “Basically, you’re allowing insulin to be more effective at increasing glucose uptake by insulin-sensitive tissues,” says Watanabe.

So should doctors prescribe any of the mind-body practices examined in the study? Maybe, says Watanabe.

“Our results suggest that the effect you’re going to see with the mind-body intervention is going to be additive to the standard of care patients receive, so it certainly can’t hurt,” he says. He also notes that for diabetic patients, having to constantly monitor their blood sugar levels and watch what they eat is very stressful.

“It just contributes to the difficulty in controlling blood sugar,” he says. “So I think doctors need to assess their patients and help them choose what best suits their lifestyle and personality, so it’s really up to the doctor to work with patients and help them find something. something that works for them.”

A study of studies

The researchers conducted what’s called a meta-analysis, where they identified 28 studies, published between 1993 and 2022, that investigated the use of mindfulness practices in patients with type 2 diabetes.

All studies excluded patients who needed insulin to control their diabetes as well as those who had medical complications such as heart disease or kidney complications. The types of mind-body practices analyzed included meditation, breathing techniques, yoga and an ancient Chinese practice known as qi gong, a type of slow martial arts similar to tai chi.

Using hemoglobin A1c (HbA1c) as a test that tells patients what their average blood sugar has been over the past 3 months, results showed the overall reduction in average A1c was 0.84 percentage points.

And reductions in A1c have been seen with all types of mind-body practices. In patients who practiced mindfulness-based stress reduction, A1c was reduced by an average of 0.48 percentage points. This practice involves focusing on your breath and on a particular thought, object, or activity to bring about a stable emotional state and be fully present and aware of your surroundings.

Qigong practice also reduced A1c by a further 0.66 percentage points.

But the reduction in A1c was largest among those who practiced yoga, at 1.0 percentage points – about the same degree of A1c reduction seen with metformin, a drug widely used for treat type 2 diabetes worldwide.

In fact, for each additional day of yoga practiced each week, the average A1c differed by -0.22 percentage points over the study period.

Fasting blood sugar also improved significantly with mind-body practices.

Overall, the mean reduction in A1c and fasting glucose” was clinically significant, suggesting that mind-body practices may be an effective complementary non-pharmacological intervention for type 2 diabetes. ”, said the authors of the study.

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Yoga and other mindfulness practices improve blood sugar in type 2 diabetes – Reuters

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