Ok, bear with me. Say you’re exposed to a stressful event, like a tight deadline or getting chased through a graveyard by someone with a screw driver. Your body kicks into gear what’s called your sympathetic nervous system (SNS). It controls your fight or flight response. When it’s triggered it ramps up the production of nuclear factor kappa B, a molecule than regulates how your genes do their thing.
This reaction is perfect for dealing with a stressful situation, but it has persistent effects which lead to a higher risk of cancer, accelerated aging and psychiatric disorders like depression.
However a meta-study of over a decades worth of analysis has found that Mind-body interventions (MBIs) such as meditation, yoga and Tai Chi don’t simply relax us; they can ‘reverse’ the molecular reactions in our DNA that SNS originally inflicted.
Lead Investigator Ivana Buric (pictured at top) from Coventry University’s Centre for Psychology, Behaviour and Achievement discovered all this.
“Millions of people around the world already enjoy the health benefits of mind-body interventions like yoga or meditation, but what they perhaps don’t realise is that these benefits begin at a molecular level and can change the way our genetic code goes about its business.”
“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.”
More research needs to be done in this field Buric cautions, but this is still an important foundation to build on future research.
“More needs to be done to understand these effects in greater depth, for example how they compare with other healthy interventions like exercise or nutrition.”