Relax, you can beat diabetes… by doing yoga: Ancient practice can lower blood sugar levels
- Some patients may even be able to cut down on the medication after yoga
- Study found one session of yoga led to a reduction in blood glucose levels
- Visible changes could be seen within ten days of continuous practice
People with diabetes should be encouraged to take up yoga to keep the condition under control, say experts.
Doing 45 minutes of the ancient relaxation practice for just ten days can have a dramatic impact on lowering blood sugar levels.
Some patients may even be able to cut down on the medication they take to treat their condition after regular sessions.
Dr Venugopal Vijayakumar of the S-VYASA yoga university, who carried out the study, said: ‘Even one session of yoga has led to a reduction in blood glucose levels.
‘In the current study, visible changes could be seen within ten days of continuous practice.
‘However, we recommend regular practice of yoga at least for three months to show an improvement in the glycaemic control of people with diabetes.’
The new study, published in the journal Diabetes & Metabolic Syndrome: Clinical Research & Reviews, looked at 1,292 people diagnosed with either type 2 diabetes or pre-diabetes, which is when someone has abnormally high blood sugars, but is not yet in the diabetic range.
The findings suggest that yoga could be used to help treat the condition and even prevent it from developing in those at risk.
Blood sugar levels of participants were measured both before they started yoga and after the sessions.
The results showed that fasting plasma glucose (FPG) – blood sugar levels – decreased by ten per cent in people who completed ten days of practical yoga sessions and lectures on diabetes and yogic concepts.
Dr Venugopal said: ‘Our research showed that yoga helps with better glycaemic control in people with type 2 diabetes.
‘This was a large-scale community-based study performed with more than 1,000 diabetes patients from different socio-economic statuses, education, cultural backgrounds and age groups.’
It is thought the blood sugar reduction induced by yoga is not just down to the physical movement. Dr Venugopal said: ‘Yoga has been shown to bring about a reduction in stress hormones, inflammation and oxidative stress, so reducing insulin resistance.’
According to Diabetes UK, there are more than 4.5 million people in Britain with the debilitating disease. Of these, more than a million have type 2 without realising because they have yet to be diagnosed.
A further 11.9 million are at increased risk of developing the condition.
It is thought that a ten per cent reduction in FPG levels would help reduce the risk of complications for diabetes patients.
Dr Venugopal advises that yoga should be practised every day as a way of life rather than just for exercise. But even doing a 45-minute session five times a week could have a huge impact.
Dr Emily Burns, research communications manager at Diabetes UK, said: ‘We know that exercise can help people with type 2 diabetes manage their condition better.
‘While some research suggests that yoga may help people lower their blood glucose levels, this study doesn’t tell us whether yoga is more beneficial than other types of physical activity.
‘We suggest people choose exercise they most enjoy, be it walking, cycling to work, yoga classes or any other type.’