Both conventional and alternative medical researchers continue to hunt for a diabetes cure. And they’re hoping to find the next “miracle pill” that will put an end to the disease.
But what if the cure doesn’t come from a pill? What if it comes from practicing simple things like breathing and movement?
That may sound unlikely, but that’s what the latest scientific research is showing. The new study comes from Dr. Veena J. Pinto who leads research at Manipal University in India.
Dr. Pinto studied type 2 diabetics to see if the practice could help them and she found that it helps in four distinct ways. Her results were just published in the journal Diabetes Care.
“(The practice) can be used as an effective therapy in reducing oxidative stress in type 2 diabetes,” she says.
But that’s only one of the ways it helped, says study co-author Dr. Shreelaxmi Hegde. She heads up research at Srinivas Institute of Medical Science and Research Center.
“It (also) controlled the blood sugar levels which rose in the control group,” she says.
Four Ways to Fight Diabetes
The ancient practice is yoga. Studies already show it’s good for everything from high blood pressure to pain…and even conditions like depression and substance abuse.
But this latest study also shows that yoga may now offer hope for people with type 2 diabetes.
Dr. Pinto took 123 adults and studied them for three months. 63 of them received only standard care, while 60 took yoga classes several times a week, in addition to standard care.
After three months, the yoga group enjoyed four specific benefits.
- First, their body mass index (BMI) was reduced.
- Second, they saw a significant drop in their blood sugar levels. The group not taking yoga classes saw a rise in their levels.
- Third, they experienced a decrease in malondialdehyde (MDA). That’s a marker for oxidative stress inside the body. The yoga group’s MDA levels dropped by 20 percent which means their free radicals were better controlled. That’s important because it means there’s less chance for complications from diabetes – like heart disease, kidney problems, or nerve damage.
- Fourth, they saw an increase in glutathione and vitamin C levels. Both are considered potent antioxidants and they can help fight free radicals.
Working From the Inside Out
Yoga is a physical, mental, and spiritual practice. Yogis say that performing these poses helps your mental focus and removes everyday stress.
But why does yoga work so well? And how can it scientifically deliver these results?
Experts say yoga activates the parasympathetic nervous system (PSNS). The PSNS is in charge of stimulating the “rest and digest” responses. It functions opposite to the sympathetic nervous system, which is in charge of “fight or flight” responses.
Yoga puts your body into a “no danger zone.” So you become calm and more alert. Certain poses even target the neck and tail to activate the PSNS.
Classes typically run between 30-90 minutes and there are loads of styles to practice. Beginners often start with Bikram Yoga, which is a popular series of 26 poses in a heated room.
People often move to Hatha Yoga once they develop an understanding of the poses. It combines physical postures with movement and relaxed breathing.
A more powerful form of yoga is Ashtanga Vinaysa Yoga. It’s a modern-day form of ancient Indian yoga. It involves the alignment of movement and breath into a dynamic flow.
Often times, you’ll find a style of yoga that combines multiple practices. You can take yoga classes at a local studio. Most fitness centers offer yoga with a membership and more hospitals are starting to make it available.
But you can practice at home also. There are many videos online to learn from. Experts say you should get at least one private lesson with a professional instructor. It’ll ensure you have the correct posture and help you avoid any injury.
To your best health,
Managing Editor, NHD “Health Watch”