Everyday mindfulness improves blood glucose levels, study finds

Kurt Wood
Thu, 25 Feb 2016
Everyday mindfulness improves blood glucose levels, study finds
"Everyday" mindfulness is linked to improved blood glucose levels, according to new research.

The study, which was conducted by researchers at Brown University, found that participants with higher everyday mindfulness scores had lower blood glucose levels than those with low everyday mindfulness scores.

What is "everyday" mindfulness?

Mindfulness is a meditation technique which teaches you to pay attention purposefully to our moment by moment experience, with an accepting and non-judgemental attitude. The awareness that emerges through paying attention on purpose, in the present moment, and non-judgmentally to the unfolding of experience moment to moment is known as being mindful.

Mindfulness can only be known by being mindful. Everyday mindfulness is the cultivation of being present to ones thoughts, sensations and emotions in a non-judgemental and accepting manner in everyday life. A skill that is cultivated through daily regular practice for at least 20 mins a day.

How was the study conducted?

The study is part of a wider programme at Brown University to test the potential effect of everyday mindfulness on risk of cardiovascular disease. The researchers hypothesise that people practicing mindfulness are more likely to be able to follow a healthy lifestyle.

The study involved 399 participants. Those with high everyday mindfulness scores were less likely to be obese and more likely to believe they had control over important things in their life.

"This study demonstrated a significant association of dispositional mindfulness with glucose regulation, and provided novel evidence that obesity and sense of control may serve as potential mediators of this association," wrote the authors. "As mindfulness is likely a modifiable trait, this study provides preliminary evidence for a fairly novel and modifiable determinant of diabetes risk."

Mindfulness and diabetes: "We're getting a signal"

This study is one of the few to investigate the potential benefits of mindfulness for people with diabetes. Although this study did not look specifically at the link between mindfulness and diabetes - despite finding a 20 per cent lower risk of diabetes amongst people with high mindfulness scores, the researchers argue that the study wasn't large enough to draw definitive conclusions - it did look at the relationship between mindfulness and blood glucose, which has an obvious relevance to people with diabetes.

The researchers hope that further studies will elucidate the relationship between mindfulness and metabolic/cardiovascular conditions.

Eric Loucks, Assistant Professor of Epidemiology in the Brown University School of Public Health, said: "There's been almost no epidemiological investigations on the relationship of mindfulness with diabetes or any cardiovascular risk factor. This is one of the first. We're getting a signal. I'd love to see it replicated in larger sample sizes and prospective studies as well."

Mindfulness for diabetes workshops are available in the UK at Mindfulness4Diabetes.com and UK based Stressmanagement.co.uk also offers Diabetes Management with Mindfulness (DMM) Courses,

The findings are published in the American Journal of Health Behaviour.
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