Hypoglycemia is a concern for people with diabetes and often causes heightened anxiety due to the unpredictable nature of when a hypo may occur.

Hypoglycemic episodes are less common for a person with type 2 diabetes but could arise as a result of dietary decisions.

Hypoglycemia is considered to occur when blood sugar levels fall below 4mmol/L.

Hyperglycemia, which is when blood glucose levels are higher than 10 mmol/L, tends to be a greater problem for people with type 2 diabetes, attributed to more long term complications associated with diabetes, particularly cardiovascular problems such as high blood pressure, heart disease and stroke.

Improving blood glucose control with mindfulness

Mindfulness has been shown to increase glycemic control and subsequently reduce the chances of having hypoglycemic, hyperglycemic episodes, leading to a reduction of the mental distress associated with diabetes management.

Study 1: Reduction of HbA1c and blood pressure

A team of researchers lead by Dr Rosenweig, conducted a study where participants completed a mindfulness course for 8 weeks along with keeping a diary of the exercise and diet regimes.

At a one month follow up point, HbA1c levels and blood pressure were significantly reduced, in the mindfulness participants, over the participants who had not completed the Mindfulness course.

It is blood pressure that in diabetics has been linked to additional complications such as heart attacks, hypertension and stroke. Though body weight did not change over the course of the research, the participants reported that emotionally they felt less anxiety and depression meaning  they subsequently were in a better frame of mind to self manage their diabetes. [37]

Study 2: Reduction of HbA1c

Another study compared a course of Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT) which included teaching participants about acceptance and mindfulness techniques with a standard diabetes education day.

When comparing patients who had only attended the education session, at a 3 month follow up period those diabetics in the ACT reported they used the coping strategies learned on the course and reported better diabetes self-care.

The diabetics in the ACT condition were more likely than those in the education alone group to have their glycated hemoglobin (HbA1c) levels in their target range.

It was concluded that the changes in HbA1c levels were as a result of changes in acceptance coping, mindfulness and improved self care instigated by the ACT course. [44]

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