The journal Frontiers in Immunology, reviewed over ten years of studies analyzing how our genes are affected by different practices such as mindfulness, yoga, meditation, and Tai Chi and found that they: “don’t simply relax us; they can ‘reverse’ the molecular reactions in our DNA which cause ill-health and depression…”
Here’s how it works: when you experience a stressful event, your sympathetic nervous system (SNS) flips on and your “fight-or-flight” response goes into high-gear. In early human times, this response was key to our survival, when danger may have lurked around every corner. If you survived the event, your body systems returned to normal fairly quickly. In today’s stressful world, however, our fight-or-flight mechanism can be greatly over-used and results in poor health often in the form of a higher risk of cancer and mental health issues.
Once that SNS is activated, there is increased production of a molecule called nuclear factor kappa B (NF-kB). This molecule is responsible for controlling how our genes are expressed. NF-kB turns on genes that make and release proteins called cytokines that cause inflammation and contribute to illness and disease.
According to this careful review of the research, however, people who engage in these “Mind-body Interventions” (MBIs) like yoga and meditation, show a remarkable decrease in the manufacture of both Nf-kB and inflammatory cytokines.
According to Science Daily:
“These activities are leaving what we call a molecular signature in our cells, which reverses the effect that stress or anxiety would have on the body by changing how our genes are expressed. Put simply, MBIs cause the brain to steer our DNA processes along a path which improves our wellbeing.”
This exciting analysis of the scientific literature confirms what many people have already experienced: mindful practices such as yoga, meditation and tai chi, can “rewire” us at the molecular level and heal and protect us from addictions, mental health issues and cancer.
Here’s a short beginning meditation to help get you started:
- Buric I, Farias M, Jong J, Mee C and Brazil IA (2017) What Is the Molecular Signature of Mind–Body Interventions? A Systematic Review of Gene Expression Changes Induced by Meditation and Related Practices. Front. Immunol. 8:670. doi: 10.3389/fimmu.2017.00670
- Coventry University. “Meditation and yoga can ‘reverse’ DNA reactions which cause stress, new study suggests.” ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 15 June 2017.
Amancia E. Toole
My name is Amancia E. Toole–my friends call me ET. I own this website and its accompanying Facebook page where I encourage you to share your thoughts on my articles. I have a Bachelor of Science degree in Biology followed by a program in Medical Technology. I’ve taken courses in Environmental Studies at Johns Hopkins University and have always had a life-long interest in the environment. I recently shifted the focus of this website in order to “expand the conversation,” because I believe our planet is in crisis and so are we as a people. I now use my background in biology and in a microbiology laboratory to write and share solid science-based information about emerging research in climate disruption, the wholesale pollution of our environment and how our toxic world might be affecting our mental, physical, and spiritual wellbeing. I also write about many of the promising advances in the area of human health and longevity.
I hope to slow the spread of misinformation on dubious sites making wild conspiracy story claims that add to the very real risks of mounting, global antibiotic resistance, and the possibility of emerging epidemics and pandemics due to propaganda that encourages misunderstandings surrounding vaccines, environmental toxins, and chemicals that are food.
It’s also my hope is to inspire anyone who visits my website and Facebook pages to learn and to take control of your destiny by making small changes to your lifestyle so that it’s a more sustainable and happy life: start by learning to grow a small garden or walk and bike a little more for your local errands. Or maybe, stop using plastic altogether and shop locally to help support small farmers. There’s also a lot of intriguing new research that supports the idea that a plant-based diet might help you, as well as our planet, live a longer, healthier life so give that a try to see if that works for you. Most importantly, I believe we all have the power to save our planet, to live longer and healthier lives and to be more kind to one another.