Can mindfulness help reduce the risk of type 2 diabetes (T2D)? A number of research articles, like this one, show that those with higher “Mindfulness Scores” have lower risks of having T2D. But read beyond the title and into the thick of the paper. These authors correctly point out that this is a correlation only. Those who are more mindful ARE less likely to have T2D, but why is that?
It it just practicing mindfulness that reduces risk? Or is it something that mindfulness does for you, that allows you to reduce risk.
One possibility comes from the research literature: those who have higher Mindfulness Scores also tend to follow through on health regimens, diets to help control weight (80% of T2Ds are overweight or obese), and activity programs. In other words, mindfulness may be a key tool to can help patients follow through on the healthy lifestyle behaviors.
Based on this theory, the healthy lifestyle behaviors such as eating well, being active, and controlling stress actually reduce the risk of T2D. Greater mindfulness may just make those easier to follow through on. Think of it like one step on the path. Once you’re there, it helps you get closer to a healthy body and healthy mind.