Study: Yoga Might Help Avoid Complications of Diabetes

By: 
Emma Needleman

A recent study of adults with Type-2 diabetes suggests that yoga for diabetes can help people suffering from the disease steady blood sugar levels and prevent common complications of diabetes.

The study examined 123 middle-aged and older adults with type 2 diabetes. Participants who added gentle yoga classes to the standard diabetes treatment lost a small amount of weight over three months, and their blood pressure held steady.  In contrast, participants in the control group who did not practice yoga saw their blood sugar levels rise.

Particularly noteworthy, the results of the study in part didn’t just show that yoga postures had a steadying effect on blood sugar levels in diabetes, it also found that yoga poses reduced the effects of oxidized stress on the body. The yoga group experienced a 20 percent drop in the levels of oxidative-stress causing chemicals in their blood.

Oxidative stress occurs when levels of a reactive oxygen species (also known as “free radicals) damage cells.  Over time, oxidative stress can contribute to chronic disease, including diabetes and cancer.

While reducing oxidative stress won’t necessarily reverse the effects of diabetes, it could reduce the risk of the many complications associated with diabetes, including heart and kidney disease, nerve damage and damage to the eyes.

While yoga for diabetes isn’t a cure-all for the disease and its symptoms, the findings suggest that yoga therapy might be a good supplement to a traditional diet and exercise program.

For people seeking out natural remedies for diabetes, adding a yoga class to your routine is a good place to start.  Look for a yoga therapist in your area, who can help you create a routine of yoga postures targeting your particular needs. Alternatively, look for classes that suit your lifestyle and fitness level.  Classes advertised as “gentle” or for seniors or people with chronic pain or illnesses are usually a good place to start.