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How Colder Temperatures Improve Glucose Metabolism For Diabetics

diabetes glucose metabolism

New research as found that exposure to mildly cold or warm environments that are higher or lower than room temperature — about 70 degrees F — speeds metabolism, according to a new study out of the Netherlands “thereby targeting obesity and by counterbalancing excess energy intake,” The bonus takeaway was improved glucose metabolism in colder temperature for diabetics.


Metabolic syndrome is one of the most widespread adverse health conditions in the world. It is characterized by obesity, prediabetes, a high risk of developing type 2 diabetes, high blood pressure, then followed up by cardiovascular disease and even cancer, according to this research.

Exactly how does glucose affect metabolism? In a colder room apparently. A study published in the Journal Building Research And Information, looked at the affects of temperature changes on metabolism and hypothesized that environmental temperature relates to the body (energy) metabolism and that this may affect body weight and health status.

But Researchers Got More Than They Bargained For

The new information has been gathered regarding the health effects of temperature that is higher or lower than room temperature. This is referred to in the study as the “human thermal comfort zone.” It was found that these mildly colder and warmer environments actually increased body metabolism, but the bonus findings showed that, mildly colder temperatures positively influenced glucose metabolism in type 2 diabetics.

How Does Glucose Affect Metabolism

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In the study, ten days of intermittent mild cold exposure for type 2 diabetes patients resulted in increased insulin sensitivity, and thereby glucose handling by more than forty percent. This is comparable with the best available pharmaceutical or physical activity therapies available. Lastly, there are indications that cardiovascular parameters may also be positively affected by regular exposure to heat and cold.

That being said, it seems the mechanisms behind the potential effects of environmental temperature on diabetes type 2 and insulin sensitivity are still complicated. To repeat, the hormone insulin is one of the main regulators of blood glucose levels. High insulin sensitivity means that relatively small amounts of insulin are needed to metabolize glucose. Low insulin sensitivity or insulin resistance can ultimately lead to type 2 diabetes, which can subsequently cause other severe health problems.

In conclusion, (mild) temperature excursions outside the thermal neutral or “room temperature” zone affect people’s energy metabolism, but also our glucose metabolism and reduce the risks of cardiovascular diseases. The study’s current hypothesis on this matter is that temperature exposure to (mild) heat and cold improves our metabolic health

Resist Bundling Up For Better Health

“The potential downside to something like this is, what’s a person’s first reaction to feeling cold? Usually their first reaction is trying to find warmer clothing,” said Hedge, who has conducted studies that found that office workers perform more computer work in warmer temperatures. “We go into cold buildings, and we see people wearing gloves, wooly leggings, and blankets.”

But the study stressed that the temperature changes needn’t be extreme. They just needed to change occasionally to force the body to work a bit more. “If you put people in a lower temperature, they might feel uncomfortable,” he said. “If you put them in a variable environment — if you are in a cooler environment but you feel it is getting warmer again — then you can accept it” according to van Marken Lichtenbelt, lead author of the study.