Yoga Helps with Diabetes

Type 2 diabetes is an incurable disease caused by the body not being able to make or use insulin, which results in high levels of sugar (glucose) in the blood. A new study shows that gentle yoga may help diabetes patients stabilize their blood sugar levels, lose weight, and maybe even reduce the chance of secondary complications.

The study followed 123 people with type 2 diabetes for three months.  Sixty were enrolled a gentle yoga regime in addition to their standard program of care, the rest formed the control group and received only their standard care.  The researchers chose a gentle style of yoga in order to accommodate for participants with cardiovascular conditions.

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Those in the treatment group showed a slightly lowered body mass index (BMI) and maintained steady blood sugar levels. While the changes seen in the treatment group were not huge, the researchers noted that blood sugar levels continued to rise in the control group.

The most significant results were seen in the reduction of symptoms of oxidative stress.  Oxidative stress occurs when the body produces more free radicals than it can effectively neutralize.   Unchecked, these begin to cause damage to other cells. Over time this can lead to chronic health conditions.  In the treatment group the chemical indicators of oxidative stress were reduced by 20%.  The researchers are hopeful that this improvement could help reduce the incidence of complications such as kidney and heart disease and nerve damage.

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Shreelaxmi V. Hegde, the main researcher on the study, acknowledges that a more strenuous practice would be even more beneficial for many diabetes patients.  At the same time, she reminds people to be mindful of other health conditions, and avoid poses that may exacerbate them.  

For more information about using specific yoga poses and practices for diabetes, please visit our Diabetes Mellitus yoga therapy page.

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