Meditation and Diabetes self-management has begun to receive more focus in recent years. Why? Because “stress makes you fat!” as artfully stated by Dr. Mark Hyman in his recent New York Times best selling book The Blood Sugar Solution. Meditation is a key method of reducing stress.
However, simply reducing stress through meditation may seem overly simplistic to some people and will probably not get anyone to take up meditation as a way to treat his or her diabetes or as a method for trying to avoid the condition.
So, what good is Meditation?
First, I’ll look at how stress affects us and contributes to developing diabetes and making diabetes worse if you already have the condition. Next, I’ll show you how meditation is a key part of helping to self manage diabetes or avoid diabetes altogether.
As Dr. Hyman pointed out, stress does make you fat, but the key question is why. Chronic stress causes all of the following to increase in your body: Blood Sugar, Insulin and Inflammation.
These increases not only can lead to weight gain, they can also lead to insulin resistance. Insulin resistance is where your cells do not use insulin to process the blood sugar in your blood. Ultimately, if you cannot process blood sugar you develop diabetes.
Obviously, there are many other contributing factors as to why and how someone may develop diabetes. Nonetheless, understanding how stress affects you is an important part of avoiding diabetes and improving your health if you already have it.
Increasing blood sugar, insulin and inflammation is part of what happens inside your body as a result of too much stress. However, this is only half the story. Stress also contributes to developing bad habits. If you are stressed, it can lead to bad behaviors, such as:
- Drinking too much alcohol
- Eating too much or eating the wrong foods (or both!)
- Watching more TV and exercising less
None of these habits do anyone any favors. This is particularly the case if you have diabetes. The key to good diabetes self-management is to eat right and exercise. Stress is a great excuse to avoid doing these two habits. Meditation is an important part for managing stress and developing and sticking with good health habits.
Meditation as a Treatment Method
The focus in the above section was on a very specific and narrow view of how stress affects your body in relation to developing diabetes or making the condition worse. Let’s now take a look at how meditation improves our lives.
The National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine is part of the National Institute of Health. This agency has done a lot of research looking at a whole range of relaxation techniques, including meditation and diabetes self management, and how they can improve our health.
Here is a partial list of health improvements possible through meditation:
- Lower Blood Pressure
- Lower Anxiety
- Treat Depression
- Reduce Headaches
- Improve Asthma
- Treat IBS
- Improve Fibromyalgia
- Treat Heart Disease
- Treat Insomnia
- Reduce Pain
- Increase Energy
Now, you will note that meditation and diabetes is not listed anywhere on this list. However, the sinister nature of diabetes is that many of the above conditions are present in people with diabetes. In fact, if you have diabetes, you are much more likely to develop many of the above conditions.
Meditation calms your mind and your body. It does reduce stress and it does help you focus. All of these benefits contribute to your overall well being. Thus, your mind, body and spirit ALL benefit.
I am a big proponent of Meditation, but this was not always the case. Admittedly, I was a complete skeptic about how great meditation could be. It all seemed a little “mumbo jumbo” to me.
However, I decided to try it. For the first 30 days or so, I experienced absolutely no benefit. My brain had a VERY difficult time slowing down.
However, over the course of the first year I practiced meditation, I experienced tremendous positive change. I became more focused, calmer and relaxed. I lost over 25 pounds. I TRIPLED my income. I felt great!
Now, I can’t say you will experience any of the above benefits. However, my advice is to try it and STICK WITH it for at least 30 days.
National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine, Meditation: An Introduction (accessed April 2012).
National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine, Relaxation Techniques: An Introduction (accessed April 2012).
The Blood Sugar Solution, Dr. Mark Hyman, Little, Brown and Company (2012) p. 134-136.
By Erich Schultz – Last Reviewed May 2013.