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September 27, 2017 • Healthy Living

Mindfulness Practices Prevent Disease

meditation and yoga practicing at sunset

Amazing news here! The benefits of mindfulness-based interventions (MBI’S) like meditation, yoga, and Tai Chi extend far beyond relaxation and stress relief.

Thanks to a sweeping new review study, we now have hard evidence that these readily available practices directly impact our DNA in a profoundly positive way! For this evaluation, experts from several universities combined the results of 18 former studies that examined how various MBI’s affect our genes.

The results? These practices reverse molecular changes in our DNA that can cause depression and chronic diseases. Here are the exciting details: Normally when we are stressed, our sympathetic nervous systems (known as the “fight or flight” nervous system) are turned on. This, in turn, triggers the release of a specialized protein called NF-kB. NF-kB functions as a switch at the level of our DNA, turning on genes that produce inflammatory proteins called cytokines. This serves a beneficial purpose for acute, short-term physical stresses like infections, but becomes damaging to the body when persistent, ultimately boosting the risk of everything from cancer to heart disease to mental health disorders.

According to the study results, people who practice MBI’s show the opposite effect when they are stressed—notably a decrease in the production of NF-kB and the damaging cytokines it promotes. Given that most of the stress from modern living is now more psychological and often chronic, MBI’s represent a godsend for us.

I have been regularly practicing yoga and meditation (centering prayer) for the past four years and can attest to these findings in my own personal life. In fact, I am quickly coming to the opinion that MBI’s may be the quickest and most life-changing of all healthy practices—meeting or exceeding what exercise and healthy eating offer.

Give it a whirl – extraordinary things are sure to happen.

 

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