Reduce Metabolic Syndrome with Mindfulness
By John M. de Castro, Ph.D.
“mindfulness training may promote sustained improvements in healthy eating that may contribute to better longer-term improvement in some aspects of metabolic health.” – Jennifer Daubenmier
Metabolic Syndrome is a major risk factor for cardiovascular disease and diabetes. It generally results from overweight and abdominal obesity and includes high blood pressure, insulin resistance and elevation of plasma cholesterol and triglycerides. It is an important risk factor as it increases the risk of developing type-2 diabetes five-fold and heart attack or stroke three-fold. Metabolic Syndrome incidence has been rising rapidly and it currently affects 34% of U.S. adults. Needless to say, this is a major health problem. The good news is that timely treatment can prevent or reverse the risk. The simplest treatment is simply exercise and weight loss. Also, mindfulness techniques have been shown to be effective in treating Metabolic Syndrome.
In today’s Research News article “Mindfulness Is Associated with the Metabolic Syndrome among Individuals with a Depressive Symptomatology.” (See summary below or view the full text of the study at: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5852808/ ), Guyot and colleagues examine the relationship of mindfulness with depression and metabolic syndrome in a large sample of adults in France. Beginning in 2009, participants were assessed every year for body size, nutritional status, and exercise. Four years into the study, they were also assessed for mindfulness, depression, demographic and lifestyle measures and the presence of metabolic syndrome.
They compared participants with and without depression and observed that depressed participants were significantly more likely to have metabolic syndrome, a high waist circumference, a high level of triglycerides, a low level of HDL-cholesterol, and be smokers. The depressed participants also had lower levels of mindfulness and exercise participation.
They did not find a simple relationship of mindfulness with metabolic syndrome but rather it covaried with depression. In participants high in depression, mindfulness, especially the non-judging and non-reacting facets of mindfulness, was associated with lower levels of metabolic syndrome, waist circumference, fasting blood glucose, and HDL-cholesterol.
This study employed a very large sample of adults and thus is likely to be representative of the population. It should be noted that it is correlational in nature and no manipulation was employed. So, causation cannot be determined. But, the associations are clear. Mindfulness in depressed individuals is associated with healthier body size and metabolic condition. It is interesting that this was not true for non-depressed individuals. Mindfulness is known to lower depression levels. This suggests the speculation that depression results in behaviors that produce an unhealthy body size and metabolic condition and that mindfulness, by lowering depression, improves this situation.
So, reduce metabolic syndrome with mindfulness.
“Mindfulness appears to improve certain metabolic risk factors, even without weight loss. In particular triglycerides, cholesterol ratios, blood sugar levels and blood pressure.” – Kimberly Yawitz
CMCS – Center for Mindfulness and Contemplative Studies
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Guyot, E., Baudry, J., Hercberg, S., Galan, P., Kesse-Guyot, E., & Péneau, S. (2018). Mindfulness Is Associated with the Metabolic Syndrome among Individuals with a Depressive Symptomatology. Nutrients, 10(2), 232. http://doi.org/10.3390/nu10020232
The Metabolic Syndrome (MetS) is a major public health burden. Dispositional mindfulness has recently been associated with eating disorders, being overweight, and could therefore be associated with the MetS. We aimed to examine in a cross-sectional design the relationship between mindfulness, the MetS, and its risk factors in a large sample of the adult general population and the influence of depressive symptomatology on this association. Adults participating in the NutriNet-Santé study who had completed the Five Facets Mindfulness Questionnaire and attended a clinical and biological examination were available for inclusion. Multivariable logistic regression models adjusted for socio-demographic and lifestyle factors were performed. A total of 17,490 individuals were included. Among individuals with a depressive symptomatology, those with higher mindfulness were less likely to have a MetS (OR: 0.73, 95% CI: 0.57–0.93), a high waist circumference, a low HDL-cholesterol level and an elevated fasting blood glucose level (all p <0.05). In those without depressive symptomatology, individuals with higher mindfulness were less likely to have a high waist circumference (p <0.01). In conclusion, higher mindfulness was associated with lower odds of developing a MetS only among individuals with a depressive symptomatology.