Diabetes is a chronic condition in which blood sugar levels rise to dangerous heights, triggering a cascade of complications. Fortunately, research has found an ice-cold activity that can reduce your risk. While cosying up in a woolly jumper with a hot cup of tea might sound more preferable, ice-cold swimming offers more benefits.
The idea of taking a dip in ice-cold water during a time when you’re trying to keep everything cold away from you might seem less than ideal.
However, new research, published in the International Journal of Circumpolar Health, suggests that taking the plunge could cut your risk of diabetes.
Looking at more than 104 studies, the researchers found that many cold water swimmers reported major health benefits.
Lead study author Professor James Mercer, from The Arctic University of Norway, shared it’s “clear” that cold water swimming “may have some beneficial health effects”.
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In fact, immersing yourself in ice-cold water was found to reduce insulin resistance and improve insulin sensitivity.
In case you’re not aware, insulin resistance describes your cells not being able to easily take up blood sugar from your blood which can lead to high blood glucose levels.
On the other hand, insulin sensitivity details how sensitive your cells are to insulin, with high sensitivity allowing your cells to take up blood sugar more effectively.
These findings suggest that icy swims could offer protective effects against diabetes.
Furthermore, the researchers believe that the water temperature could trigger a release of fat-burning hormones, which can help to protect against obesity.
They think it all comes down to water with temperatures below 20C being able to activate brown adipose tissue, which describes a type of “good” body fat able to burn calories.
Ice-cold water also boosted the production of a protein called adiponectin, which plays an important role in protecting against insulin resistance and diabetes.
Despite the positive effects tied to swimming in cold water, the researchers said that overall health benefits were unclear.
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“Instead, they may be explained by other factors including an active lifestyle, trained stress handling, social interactions, as well as a positive mindset.
“Without further conclusive studies, the topic will continue to be a subject of debate.”
What’s more, this study isn’t the only research to suggest that ice-cold conditions could stave off diabetes.
According to research, published in the journal Diabetologia, regular exposure to the cold and shivering can help your body with blood sugar control.
While the cold has been linked to a lower risk of diabetes through different mechanisms, it’s also important to remember the risks that come with low temperatures.