Improve Type II Diabetes with Mindfulness
By John M. de Castro, Ph.D.
“Mindfulness works not by eliminating guilt, shame, or depression but by guiding people to work though these emotions and accomplish what they need to do to feel better — either by pushing through a workout, passing up an extra piece of cake, or checking blood sugar even though they’re in a bad mood. 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, according to the ADA.” – Lauren Cox
Diabetes is a major health issue. It is estimated that 30 million people in the United States and nearly 600 million people worldwide have diabetes and the numbers are growing. Type II 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. 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 is a common and increasingly prevalent illness that is largely preventable. 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. A leading cause of this is a sedentary life style. Unlike Type I Diabetes, Type II does not require insulin injections. Instead, the treatment and prevention of Type 2 Diabetes focuses on diet, exercise, and weight control. Recently, mindfulness practices have been shown to be helpful in managing diabetes. There is a need for further research into this promising approach to Type II Diabetes.
In today’s Research News article “The Impact of Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction on Emotional Wellbeing and Glycemic Control of Patients with Type 2 Diabetes Mellitus.” (See summary below or view the full text of the study at: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6015675/ ), Armani Kian and colleagues recruited adult patients with Type II diabetes and randomly assigned them to receive either treatment as usual or an 8 week program of Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction (MBSR). MBSR consisted of meditation, yoga, and body scan practices along with group discussion and met once a week with assigned home practice. The participants were measured before and after training and 3 months later for blood glucose and HbA1c and for general health, anxiety and depression.
They found that in comparison to baseline and to the treatment as usual group the group that received Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction (MBSR) training had significant improvements in all measures 3 months after the completion of treatment including significant decreases in blood glucose and HbA1c and anxiety and depression and significant increases in general health. Immediately after the 8 weeks of treatment the improvements were present and significant for blood glucose and HbA1c and general health. Hence, participation in MBSR appeared to produce long-lasting improvements in glycemic control, health, and in mood.
It should be noted that the comparison condition was treatment as usual. An active control such as another form of therapy or exercise would have eliminated some potential contaminants such as placebo effects and experimenter bias. But, the results are very encouraging and provide support for conducting a large randomized controlled trial with an active control condition. If the results are replicated in such a trial it would suggest that Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction (MBSR) training should be employed as an alternative treatment for people suffering with Type II Diabetes.
So, improve Type II Diabetes with mindfulness.
“Even though it may not be easy, mindfulness can be something you can try to help you manage difficult diabetes-related emotions.“ – Mark Heyman
CMCS – Center for Mindfulness and Contemplative Studies
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Armani Kian, A., Vahdani, B., Noorbala, A. A., Nejatisafa, A., Arbabi, M., Zenoozian, S., & Nakhjavani, M. (2018). The Impact of Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction on Emotional Wellbeing and Glycemic Control of Patients with Type 2 Diabetes Mellitus. Journal of Diabetes Research, 2018, 1986820. http://doi.org/10.1155/2018/1986820
The aim of the study was to determine the effect of mindfulness-based stress reduction (MBSR) intervention on emotion regulation and glycemic control of patients with type 2 diabetes.
Materials and Methods
Sixty patients with type 2 diabetes were recruited for this randomized controlled trial from an outpatient clinic at Imam Hospital in Iran. The intervention group participated in 8 sessions of MBSR, and the control group continued the treatment as usual. Fasting blood sugar and HbA1c were measured as two indices of glycemic control. Overall mental health, depression, and anxiety were measured using the General Health Questionnaire (GHQ-28), Hamilton Depression Rating Scale (HDRS), and Hamilton Anxiety Rating Scale (HARS), respectively. All the assessments were performed at baseline and after 8 weeks and 3 months as follow-up.
In comparison with the control group, the MBSR intervention group showed a significant reduction on all outcome measures including FBS, HbA1C, HARS, and HDRS scores (p < 0/05).
MBSR had a remarkable improvement on emotional wellbeing and glycemic control of patients with type 2 diabetes.