MEDITATION AND YOGA TO REVERSE THE REACTIONS OF THE DNA INVOLVED IN STRESS
Body-minded approaches such as meditation , yoga and tai-chi-chuan are not limited to relaxation and relaxation. They can “reverse” the molecular reactions of our DNA that cause poor health and depression. According to a study by researchers at the universities of Coventry (UK) and Radboud (NL), published June 16, 2017 in the journal Frontiers in Immunology.
BODY-MIND APPROACHES: THE KEYS TO WELL-BEING?
Research on mind-body approaches is still at its beginnings. While there is no longer any doubt that they are beneficial to our health, further research is needed. It is in this objective that recent research reveals a little more the “power” of mind-body approaches.
This study looks back on a decade of studies analyzing how the behavior of our genes is affected by different mind-body approaches. In this meta-analysis the experts examine 18 studies, which contain a total of 846 participants over 11 years. They reveal a pattern of molecular changes that occur in the body due to mind-body approaches and how these changes benefit our mental problems and our physical health. Researchers focus on how gene expression is affected. In other words, how genes activate to produce proteins that influence the biological composition of the body, brain and immune system.
Benefits of Meditation
When a person is exposed to a stressful event, his or her sympathetic (or orthosympathetic) nervous system is triggered. The latter accelerates the metabolism and activates, for example, in case of danger or fear, to prepare us for flight. It affects the cardiovascular system, blood pressure, promotes the release of glucose from the liver, and has a bronchodilatory effect (increased diameter of the bronchi). This increases the production of a molecule called “nuclear factor kappa B” ( NF-kB proteins ) that regulates how our genes are expressed.
NF-kB translates stress by activating genes to produce proteins called cytokines that cause inflammation at the cellular level – a short-lived reaction that is useful, but if it persists it causes an increased risk of cancer, accelerates aging and psychiatric disorders such as depression.
According to the study, people who practice body-mind approaches exhibit the opposite effect – a decrease in NF-kB production and cytokines, resulting in a reversal of the pro-inflammatory gene expression profile and a reduction the risk of inflammation, diseases and related conditions.
Benefits of Yoga and Meditation
The authors of the study argue that the inflammatory effect – triggered in response to stress by the sympathetic nervous system, which also serves to temporarily strengthen the immune system – would have played an important role in the prehistory of the hunter-gatherer peoples, there was a higher risk of infection from injuries.
However, in today’s society, where stress is increasingly psychological and often in the longer term, pro-inflammatory gene expression may be persistent and therefore more likely to cause psychiatric and medical problems.
Ivana BuricIvana Buric , principal investigator of the Brain, Belief and Behavioral Laboratory of the Center for Psychology, Behavior and Achievement at the University of Coventry , said: ” Millions of people around the world benefit from already have health benefits of mind and body interventions like yoga or meditation but what they may not know is that these benefits begin at a molecular level and can change the way whose genetic code occurs.
These activities leave what we call a molecular signature in our cells, which reverses the effect that stress or anxiety would have on the body by altering the way our genes express themselves. In short, mind-body approaches mean that the brain directs our DNA processes along a path that enhances our well-being.”
Finally, these results are (very) gratifying for those who teach, practice or want to practice eg yoga, tai chi or meditation.
However, these findings need to be replicated and further research done to better understand the mechanisms of these effects. In particular, their comparison with other healthy interventions and practices, such as daily exercise , sleep , or nutrition. This research paves the way for the development and testing of a multi-level theory of mind-body approaches that integrates the three levels: biological, psychological and environmental.