Stress and Diabetes Linked

A study out of Rice University that was published in Psychoneroendocrinology found a positive link between emotional stress and diabetes that has roots in the brain’s ability to control anxiety. That part of the brain is known as the executive center and also handles attention, inhibition, working memory and cognitive flexibility and is also involved in reasoning, problem-solving and planning.

The researchers found a chain reaction that started with low inhibition (attention control), which leaves a person vulnerable to tempting or distracting information, objects, thoughts or activities. That vulnerability can lead to more frequent anxiety, which in turn, activate a metabolic pathway responsible for the production of pro-inflammatory cytokines, signaling proteins that include interleukin-6 (IL-6). The study included more than 800 adults.

Regardless of how the subjects performed on other cognitive tests, like those for memory and problem-solving, those individuals with low inhibition were more likely to have diabetes than those with high inhibition due to the pathway from high anxiety to IL-6.

“The literature shows individuals with poor inhibition are more likely to experience stressful thoughts and have a harder time breaking their attention away from them,” said the main researcher. “That made me wonder if there’s a stress-induced pathway that could link inhibition with inflammation and the diseases we’re interested in, such as diabetes. Plenty of research shows that when individuals are stressed or anxious or depressed, inflammation goes up. The novel part of our study was establishing the pathway from inhibition to anxiety to inflammation to diabetes.”

This study illuminates the chain between anxiety to diabetes and highlights the need to stay calm and eliminate anxiety in our lives.


raziRazi Berry, Founder and Publisher of Naturopathic Doctor News & Review (ndnr.com) and NaturalPath (thenatpath.com), has spent the last decade as a natural medicine advocate and marketing whiz. She has galvanized and supported the naturopathic community, bringing a higher quality of healthcare to millions of North Americans through her publications. A self-proclaimed health-food junkie and mother of two; she loves all things nature, is obsessed with organic gardening, growing fruit trees (not easy in Phoenix), laughing until she snorts, and homeschooling. She is a little bit crunchy and yes, that is her real name.

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