Can yoga help reduce the risk of type 2 diabetes?

Thursday, 17 October 2019

Australian and Danish researchers teamed up to examine the results of 14 studies that included yoga as a method of controlling existing, or reducing the risks of developing type 2 diabetes.

And they say they found enough complementary evidence to say there is a link between yoga and a lessened impact of the condition.

The results of the study by researchers from Australia’s Charles Darwin University and the University of Copenhagen in Denmark were released today on PLOS One.

About the Research

The study started with a scan of 1,230 published global papers that focused on exercise as an intervention technique for type 2 diabetes.

These were scanned for myriad of parameters, including the participants. The research focused on 14 studies which included participants that crossed ages, genders, ethnicity, and were diagnosed as either pre-diabetic, or at high-risk for developing the condition.

In total 834 participants were included in the studies. Six of which were done in India, four in the US, two in China and one each in Sweden and Hong Kong.

The researchers did note the benefits appeared much higher in the Indian studies, which they put down to India being the origin of yoga, and the fact that participants were also more likely to do yoga six times a week, as opposed to two to three times in other countries’ trials.

The findings

All 14 studies measured fasting blood glucose levels as the primary outcome. All the studies found a positive control correlation between yoga and a lowered fasting blood glucose when pitted against a control group.

However, the four studies that took in measurements of postprandial glucose (the amount of glucose in plasma after eating) and glycosylated hemoglobin (hemoglobin – part of a red blood cell – with glucose attached to it, used to track a longer-term average blood glucose level).

When it came to the lipid profile, which was measured as a secondary outcome, all signs came up positive. The three parts to the profile – total cholesterol, good and bad cholesterol, and triglycerides – all returned lower readings in the yoga-practising participants, as opposed to the control group.

So it seems that yes, yoga has a definite potential to better varying factors associated with pre-diabetes and type 2 diabetes. However, given it is the first analysis of its kind, the researchers say more randomised controlled trials are needed to fully interpret the long-term benefits of yoga for the condition.

Join our community of over 45,000 people living with diabetes