Meditation Reduces Stress and Improves Blood Glucose
What to Know
Stress can sabotage weight-loss efforts because people who feel stress tend to let healthy eating and exercise habits fall by the wayside. Stress can also boost blood glucose levels and lead to chronic inflammation, which puts heart health at risk. For this study, researchers investigated whether mindfulness-based stress reduction, a type of meditation therapy, could benefit overweight and obese women, including those with type 2 diabetes.
Researchers recruited 86 overweight or obese women, whose average age was 45. Nearly a quarter had type 2 diabetes. For eight weeks, half the women attended weekly health education sessions covering diet, exercise, and stress management; the other women practiced meditation as a group with an instructor each week. The latter group also meditated at home for 25 to 30 minutes a day. After eight weeks and again at 16 weeks, the researchers assessed the women’s stress levels, mood, sleep, blood pressure, weight, and blood glucose.
After 16 weeks, stress levels for women who meditated dropped by nearly 16 percent, on average, compared with an average of a 6 percent drop among the other women. Meditation also appeared to significantly reduce blood glucose levels, from a starting average of 101.7 mg/dl to 92.4 mg/dl after 16 weeks; the health education group’s blood glucose levels did not go down. Both groups reported better mood and sleep. However, neither group saw improvements in blood pressure, body weight, or insulin resistance.
Mindfulness meditation, which involves focusing attention on the present moment in a nonjudgmental way, helps reduce stress, which may make it easier to maintain healthy habits. Mindfulness also may help lower your blood glucose levels, possibly by reducing stress hormones, the authors speculate. Larger and longer studies need to be done to confirm these findings, but the authors say this research suggests a role for mindfulness in the treatment of diabetes.
“Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction in Women with Overweight or Obesity: A Randomized Clinical Trial.” Nazia Raja-Khan, Katrina Agito, Julie Shah, Christy M. Stetter, Theresa S. Gustafson, Holly Socolow, Allen R. Kunselman, Diane K. Reibel, and Richard S. Legro. Obesity, 2017 August; 25 (8): 1349-1359.