Improve Blood Glucose Control with Mindfulness
By John M. de Castro, Ph.D.
“In addition to helping people with diabetes learn how to recognize and accept negative emotions, mindfulness therapies include meditation and yoga to help ease stress and depression.” – Lauren Cox
Diabetes is a major health issue. It is estimated that 30 million people in the United States have diabetes and the numbers are growing. Type 2 diabetes is a common and increasingly prevalent illness that is largely preventable. Although this has been called adult-onset diabetes it is increasingly being diagnosed in children. One of the reasons for the increasing incidence of Type 2 Diabetes is its association with overweight and obesity which is becoming epidemic in the industrialized world.
Diabetes is the 7th leading cause of death in the United States. In addition, diabetes is heavily associated with other diseases such as cardiovascular disease, heart attacks, stroke, blindness, kidney disease, and circulatory problems leading to amputations. As a result, diabetes doubles the risk of death of any cause compared to individuals of the same age without diabetes. Type 2 Diabetes results from a resistance of tissues, especially fat tissues, to the ability of insulin to promote the uptake of glucose from the blood. As a result, blood sugar levels rise producing hyperglycemia.
It is clear that methods need to be found to reduce the likelihood of the development of Type II diabetes. One promising avenue is mindfulness. It has been shown to be effective in treating Type II diabetes. In today’s Research News article “Associations of Mindfulness with Glucose Regulation and Diabetes.” See summary below or view the full text of the study at:
Loucks and colleagues investigate the correlation between mindfulness and indicators and predictors of Type II diabetes and blood glucose levels. They recruited a sample of adults (average age of 47 years) and measured their levels of mindfulness, blood glucose level, the presence of Type II diabetes, body mass, perceived stress, sense of control, blood pressure, lipids, physical activity, smoking, depression, and socioeconomic status, ethnicity, and family history of diabetes.
They found that the higher the level of mindfulness the greater the likelihood of having a normal blood glucose level and the lower the likelihood of having type II diabetes and the lower the likelihood of being obese. A further analysis revealed that the relationship between high mindfulness and normal blood glucose level was mediated by obesity. That is, high mindfulness was associated with lower obesity which was then associated with more normal blood glucose levels. Hence the present findings suggest that mindfulness tends to be associated with lower incidence of Type II diabetes and normal blood glucose levels at least in part because highly mindful people tend to have less obesity.
These are interesting results, but, the study is correlation and as such causation cannot be established. But, the results fit with prior manipulative studies and as such tend to support a causal connection such that high mindfulness prevents overweight and obesity, lowering the risk of Type II diabetes.
So, improve blood glucose control with mindfulness.
“Mindfulness has been shown to help with reducing stress, regulating emotions and coping with anxious states and low moods. Research has also shown that a regular mindfulness practice is associated with reduced blood pressure, reduced insulin resistance and a lower HbA1C.” – Centre for Mindfulness Studies
CMCS – Center for Mindfulness and Contemplative Studies
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Loucks, E. B., Gilman, S. E., Britton, W. B., Gutman, R., Eaton, C. B., & Buka, S. L. (2016). Associations of Mindfulness with Glucose Regulation and Diabetes. American Journal of Health Behavior, 40(2), 258–267. http://doi.org/10.5993/AJHB.40.2.11
To evaluate whether dispositional mindfulness is associated with glucose regulation and type 2 diabetes.
Study participants (N = 399) were from the New England Family Study, a prospective birth cohort, with median age 47 years. Dispositional mindfulness was assessed using the Mindful Attention Awareness Scale (MAAS). Type 2 diabetes and “normal plasma glucose” were defined using American Diabetes Association criteria.
Multivariable-adjusted regression analyses demonstrated that participants with high versus low MAAS scores were significantly more likely to have normal plasma glucose levels (prevalence ratio = 1.35 (95% confidence interval (CI): 1.08,1.87)), and were not significantly associated with type 2 diabetes (prevalence ratio = 0.83, 95% CI: 0.38,1.79), adjusted for age, sex, race/ethnicity, family history of diabetes and childhood socioeconomic status. Mediation analyses provided evidence of mediation via obesity and sense of control, where indirect effects were prevalence ratios (95% CI) of 1.03 (1.00,1.10) and 1.08 (1.00,1.21), respectively.
Dispositional mindfulness may be associated with better glucose regulation, in part because of a lower likelihood of obesity and greater sense of control among participants with higher levels of mindfulness. These findings need to be replicated by prospective studies to establish causality and to evaluate potential implications for mindfulness-based interventions to reduce risk of type 2 diabetes.