Swimming in cold water can help you lose weight and protect you against diabetes and heart disease

It can feel horrible. But shivering can actually benefit you, potentially lowering your risk of type 2 diabetes.

Dutch researchers found that regular exposure to cold may go some way to helping the body control blood sugar levels.

Fifteen fat volunteers were exposed to temperatures as low as 10C (50F), similar to that of a cold bath or shower.

But instead of bravely taking a dip, the volunteers wore a special suit infused with water that controlled their temperature for them.

All of them were made to shake for an hour a day, for 10 consecutive days.

Academics at Maastricht University took blood glucose tests from the participants before the experiment began, as well as immediately afterward.

The results revealed that their blood sugar levels dropped from 5.84 to 5.67 mmol/L, on average, the equivalent of about 6 percent.

Fasting glucose levels greater than 5.5 mmol/L may indicate diabetes.

Blood pressure readings, which tend to be higher in fat people, also fell 8.4 percent.

Adam Sellers and his team said it showed cold exposure could be an “alternative strategy for the treatment and prevention of type 2 diabetes.”

Type 2 diabetes affects an estimated 4 million people in Britain and 37 million in the US.

It occurs when the body does not produce enough insulin or if the hormone it produces does not work properly, leading to high blood sugar levels.

When people eat carbohydrates, the food breaks down into sugar in the blood.

This causes glucose levels to rise.

As a result, the pancreas begins to release insulin, which allows the body to use glucose for energy.

But over time, high blood sugar levels can cause insulin resistance.

Because insulin is not as effective at breaking down sugars, it causes the body to make more and more.

Eventually, this leads to the pancreas wearing out, throwing the system out of whack and causing blood sugar levels to stay high.

Uncontrolled diabetes can lead to blindness and leave patients requiring limb amputation or in a coma.

Previous research has shown that glucose is cleared faster when the body is cold because it activates fat stores to generate heat, which happens by burning excess internally stored calories.

It is precisely for this reason that some experts suggest that taking a cold bath or shower could help people trying to lose weight.

The latest study suggests that rapid muscle contractions when shaking also help initiate a metabolic response in the same way.

But more research is needed to confirm the exact mechanism before it can be recommended to people.

Lead author Adam Sellers said: “This is an important first step in investigating the effect of shivering on health.

“Our findings are promising and may have important health implications, as shivering improved many cardiometabolic health outcomes that are associated with diseases such as type 2 diabetes.”

The experts presented the research as an abstract at the annual meeting of the European Association for the Study of Diabetes (EASD) in Stockholm, Sweden.

The tremors were measured with special devices placed on the skin that detect the electrical activity of the muscles because not all visibly show that they are shaking.