Are you at risk for, suffer from or simply want to prevent Type 2 Diabetes? Tai Chi may be an option for you! Many adults develop Type 2 Diabetes later in life, but unlike Type 1 Diabetes, you may be able to reverse Type 2 Diabetes by making certain lifestyle changes like eating right and participating in physical activity such as Tai Chi.
A person who has Type 2 Diabetes does not produce enough insulin, or the insulin his or her body produces cannot effectively breakdown glucose. Apart from the inability to consume one’s favorite sweets and carbohydrates, Diabetes can lead to serious complications like kidney damage, poor circulation (which can lead to gangrene and consequently amputation) or to peripheral neuropathy (numbness in the extremities) and also poor vision and eventual blindness.
Thankfully, multiple studies on Tai Chi and Diabetes have shown that Tai Chi helps reduce blood glucose and reduce insulin resistance in patients with Type 2 Diabetes. Why not participate in something else? Well, when a person with Type 2 Diabetes body produces a lot of adrenalin, it leads to increased insulin resistance and high blood glucose. For this reason, many high-impact exercises are not advisable for Type 2 patients.
Here’s where Tai Chi is a great alternative, it is low-impact and reduces stress while inducing relaxation. Reduced stress leads to less adrenalin, which leads to lower blood pressure and lower blood glucose. Additionally, Tai Chi improves circulation and helps with peripheral neuropathy. (Read our blog about Tai Chi and Peripheral Neuropathy.)
There have also been Tai Chi studies on patients with Metabolic Syndrome, which is a group of symptoms that present a risk for heart disease or Diabetes. Participants in these studies lost weight, had decreased insulin resistance (to the point that many were no longer considered to suffer from Metabolic Syndrome) and also had fewer cravings for food. Since eating healthy is part of the prevention and management of Diabetes, Tai Chi may be a valuable tool in promoting better eating due to reduced cravings.
So, if you are concerned about Diabetes, or you have Diabetes, consider Tai Chi as an option to reduce your glucose levels, boost your immune system, improve circulation and reduce your craving from too much of that food you know you should not be eating! As always, consult with and follow the advice of your doctor.
Regular Tai Chi Chuan exercise improves T cell helper function of patients with type 2 diabetes mellitus with an increase in T-bet transcription factor and IL-12 production Online First Br J Sports Med 2008; doi 10.1136/bjsm.2007.043562.
Preliminary study of the effect of Tai Chi and Qigong medical exercise on indicators of metabolic syndrome and glycaemic control in adults with raised blood glucose levels Online First Br J Sports Med 2008; doi 10.1136/bjsm.2007.045476.