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Simple trick for treating diabetes and weight loss that is as good as drugs and exercise

Kathleen Blanchard's picture
Thermostat and diabetes treatment

Research now suggests just changing your indoor temperature setting could help regulate blood sugar and tackle major metabolic diseases. Scientists say the effect on treating type 2 diabetes is as beneficial as exercising and medication to control blood sugar and improve insulin sensitivity.


The trick is to get outside of your comfort zone when you're inside a building, the new study found.

Get warmer or chill out for weight loss and better health

Most indoor temps are set between for comfort at 69 to 79 degrees, which keeps our metabolism steady.

People with type 2 diabetes who were exposed to slightly colder indoor temps improved insulin sensitivity by 40 percent, researchers found. The effect was seen 10-days after intermittent exposure to slightly cooler temperatures indoors.

The study, published in the journal Building Research and Information highlights the role of variable indoor temperatures in preventing obesity and type 2 diabetes.

Because of the findings, the researchers are advocating workplaces and residences reconsider how we set our heating and cooling thermostats.

This isn't the first time exposure to cold has been linked to better health.

Researchers know we produce more healthy, or brown fat when it's cooler. More brown fat, compared to white fat, in the body lowers our risk of diabetes and obesity.

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When we have an excess of white fat, the kind that is considered unhealthy, we also lose the ability to lose weight easily.

Researchers in recent years have been looking closely at how the body responds to the environment. Indoor heating in the winter and global warming have been implicated as a contributor to obesity and diabetes.

Changing trends

Investigators for this study note changing trends that could be making us less healthy. Most people set their thermostats to be consistent, year round.

The trend towards higher temperatures in wintertime and lower in summer in combination with the above-described health benefits of temperatures outside the thermal comfort zone...can have significant effects on our metabolic health, " the study authors write.

Their research suggests if we reverse this trend we will be metabolically healthier. Cooler and warmer temperatures boost metabolism and helps us burn more energy, the researchers found.

Professor of Ecological Energetics and Health at Maastricht University Wouter van Marken Lichtenbelt who lead the study said in a media release: "It has previously been assumed that stable fixed indoor temperatures would satisfy comfort and health in most people. However, this research indicates that mild cold and variable temperatures may have a positive effect on our health and at the same time are acceptable or even may create pleasure."

People with type 2 diabetes can experience even more significant health benefits for controlling blood sugar and for weight loss by simply changing the thermostat that the researchers say "...is comparable with the best available pharmaceutical or physical activity therapies."

Image credit: Wikimedia Commons