Everyday mindfulness may keep your glucose levels healthy, according to new research.

People with higher scores for dispositional or everyday mindfulness, an awareness of one’s current thoughts and feelings, were found to have a significantly higher likelihood for healthy glucose levels than those with low scores. Obesity and sense of control also acted as key mediators in that association.

Brown University researchers conducted an experiment on 399 individuals to see whether or not interventions increasing mindfulness can cause improved cardiovascular health. The team hypothesized that people practicing mindfulness may better motivate themselves to work out, avoid high-fat and high-sugar food cravings, and stick with healthy diets and lifestyles.

“There’s been almost no epidemiological observational study investigation on the relationship of mindfulness with diabetes or any cardiovascular risk factor. This is one of the first,” says lead author and epidemiology professor Eric Loucks.

The researchers' proposition may also be based on previous research suggesting that mindfulness helps prevent obesity risk and unhealthy eating habits, even among children.

The subjects, who have been part of the New England Family Study, underwent several psychological and physiological exams, including glucose tests and a questionnaire called the Mindful Attention Awareness Scale (MAAS). Their body mass index, education, depression, blood pressure, stress, and sense of control were also analyzed.

The team found that those with high MAAS scores of 6 to 7 were 35 percent more likely to maintain healthy glucose levels under 100 mg/dL compared to those who scored below 4.

According to the results, mindful people are also less likely to be obese and more likely to believe that they can change many of the crucial aspects of their life.

Loucks deemed this a show of the potentially important role of mindfulness practice in glucose regulation.

“As mindfulness is likely a modifiable trait, this study provides preliminary evidence for a fairly novel and modifiable potential determinant of diabetes risk,” he says, adding that they are planning to expand the research with larger sample sizes.

While participants with high mindfulness levels were around 20 percent less likely to acquire type 2 diabetes, the sample may be too small to provide a statistically significant link or definitive conclusion.
Type 2 diabetes is the health issue most closely related to elevated blood glucose levels.

The findings were published in the American Journal of Health Behavior.

Photo : Moyan Brenn | Flickr

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