Basically, what is unique about cold therapy, also known as cryotherapy, is the use of cold temperatures to treat medical conditions (consult your physician, as always). It can be used to reduce inflammation and pain, improve healing time, and increase blood flow.
- What does cold exposure do to your body?
- How could cold exposure help improve insulin resistance
- Does cold temperature affect blood sugar?
- Does cold therapy lower blood sugar?
- Is cold water swimming good for diabetes?
- Which therapy is best for diabetes – cold or hot therapy?
- How to apply cold therapy
For people with diabetes, cryotherapy can help improve circulation and nerve function. In this article, we’ll discuss how cold therapy can benefit people with diabetes and explore some of the best ways to use it.
What does cold exposure do to your body?
When you expose yourself to cold temperatures, your body reacts by constricting blood vessels. This reduces the flow of warm blood and oxygen through your tissues, which in turn slows down the rate at which your cells produce energy. Your body is then forced to rely on stored sugars (like glycogen) for fuel. When these reserves are nearly depleted, your metabolism slows, and you enter a state of metabolic slowdown called “hypothermia” or “cold shock.”
When cold therapy is used properly, your body enters a state of “cold adaptation.” During this process, the metabolic slowdown caused by cold exposure is greatly reduced or eliminated. Your body also begins to produce certain chemicals, including norepinephrine and dopamine, which help reduce pain and fatigue. This can be beneficial for people with chronic pain conditions like arthritis and multiple sclerosis.
How could cold exposure help improve insulin resistance
Talking about diabetes and cold therapy may seem like an offbeat approach, but science has explained in detail how cold therapy can improve insulin resistance. To begin with, cold therapy or ice packs can reduce inflammation and swell in the affected area. Once this happens, insulin resistance becomes a lot easier to deal with.
Numerous studies have focused on how athletes can get an edge by using cold therapy prior to competing. All you need is 10 minutes of cold treatment before exercising, and you’ll less likely to feel fatigued.
Moreover, cold therapy makes it easier for blood vessels to expand. The idea is that cold packs can stimulate the active transport of calcium across endothelial cells lining your blood vessels. This also helps relax your muscles which are contracting due to insulin resistance.
There are always claims that ice baths increase cortisol levels in the body. But research has revealed that ice baths reduce cortisol levels. To make things better, cold therapy has been shown to improve insulin resistance in sedentary individuals and athletes alike.
Does cold temperature affect blood sugar?
If you spend a lot of time outside in the winter, it is important to know how cold temperatures can affect your blood sugar. Cold weather may make people more likely to suffer from hypoglycemia or hyperglycemia- both conditions that are characterized by low levels of glucose in the bloodstream.
Hypoglycemic reactions can cause shakiness, confusion, and fatigue while individuals with high blood sugar often experience lethargy, nausea and headaches. If left untreated either condition could lead to seizures or even unconsciousness for those who already have risk factors such as diabetes or an underlying heart condition (consult your doctor). The best way to prevent these dangerous complications is by keeping yourself adequately hydrated when going out into the elements during colder months.
Does cold therapy lower blood sugar?
So, can cold therapy lower blood sugar or does it just work for people who are more likely to believe in its benefits?
Researchers have found that blood sugar levels can be reduced after 30 minutes of cold-water immersion. This is significant because although blood sugars may decrease for people who are tested at home, any reduction occurs only up until the blood sugar monitoring device is removed, not for a significant amount of time after.
It is important to note that blood sugars in people with diabetes and blood sugars during illness may respond differently than blood sugars in healthy individuals. If blood sugar levels are taken when you have a cold, it has been shown they will be higher than usual. This is because stress hormones released during the immune response suppress the blood sugar response to cold stress.
People with blood sugars that are abnormally high, along with people who have stress hormones circulating in their blood during blood testing should not use cold therapy for blood sugar reduction due to the risk of hypoglycemia occurring.
Although there is some evidence suggesting cold therapy reduces blood sugar levels in healthy individuals, blood sugars should be carefully monitored when applying this type of treatment, as always you must always consult your physician when trying anything new like cold therapy (and not rely on any online article).
Since blood sugar levels can vary between individuals, blood sugars should be monitored closely after cold water immersion to determine if blood sugar levels are dropping too low. People with blood sugars that are abnormally high, or that have stress hormones in their blood due to being sick should not apply cold therapy for blood sugar control.
Is cold water swimming good for diabetes?
Cold water swimming can be good for diabetes as some of the symptoms of diabetes can be negated by swimming and other water sports. The cold water helps to lower blood sugar levels, though it must be noted that there is a certain amount of preparation and planning that should go into these activities. Getting into cold water can cause the body to go through a lot of changes.
Most of these changes are involuntary reactions that occur when the body is exposed to sudden, significant temperature changes because there is simply no time for conscious control over what happens. For diabetics, this uncontrolled reaction can be dangerous if it’s not properly managed.
Furthermore, cold water swimming can be good for diabetics if they consider three things: the adverse reactions to cold water, the signs of low blood sugar, and the ways to counteract these effects. The first consideration is the adverse reactions experienced by diabetics when they are exposed to drastic temperature changes.
When cold water hits skin that has been protected by warm clothing, it can send a shock wave of pain through the body causing tightness in muscles and blood vessel constriction which can speed up heart rate and blood pressure. The sudden change in the temperature of the blood also triggers a stress hormone release, like what happens during a fight or flight which can cause further strain on the cardiovascular system.
If you have diabetes and are interested in pursuing cold-water swimming, you should consult with your doctor to ensure that you are physically prepared. Under the guidance of a physician, you should gradually accustom your body to cold water exposure by first immersing yourself in a bathtub filled with cool water and then moving into a pool or lake for long periods of time until you can swim comfortably at normal outdoor temperatures.
Which therapy is best for diabetes – cold or hot therapy?
The management of type 1 and type 2 diabetes often includes taking medications to lower blood glucose levels. Some people with diabetes also use alternative medicine treatments such as acupuncture, herbal supplements, and even exposure to heat or cold. But exactly how effective are these methods? People with diabetes should speak with their health care provider before using any therapies not traditionally considered standard.
In a review of the scientific literature, researchers compared the effectiveness of cold and heat therapy for treating type 1 and type 2 diabetes. They found that although some studies have shown that both cold and hot therapies might help improve glucose levels in people with diabetes, more research needs to be done before making any firm recommendations.
How to apply cold therapy
Cold therapy, also known as cryotherapy, is the process of applying external applications with temperatures below normal room temperature to reduce inflammation and relieve pain. Cold can be applied in many ways depending on what you are trying to achieve. The most common way people apply cold is by using ice packs which are pre-chilled packs that are placed on the skin.
Ice packs for cold therapy may contain gel, water, or a type of plastic that is kept in a freezer and then used to form an ice pack when needed. While most people apply ice directly on the skin, there are other ways to use external colds such as refrigerated wraps, cryo chambers with liquid nitrogen, and devices that blow cold air.
So, what does this all mean? The jury is still out on cold therapy for diabetes, but it’s worth a try. It may be the answer to your prayers if you’re struggling with blood sugar levels or are looking for another way to manage pain associated with diabetic neuropathy but again, your physician is the final decision maker. In connection to this, it seems that cold therapy may not be the best option for people with diabetes.
This article discussed about how a person’s sensitivity to insulin is lowered by exposure to certain temperatures which can lead to increased glucose levels in their blood. However, this doesn’t mean that anyone with diabetes should avoid ice baths or other forms of cold therapy altogether. It just means they need more careful monitoring and control over their diet so as not to let themselves get too high on glucose following a dip in temperature from iced water immersion sessions.