woman meditating facing the ocean

Wondering how your genes react with yoga and meditation?

Mind Body interventions (MBI) have been gaining popularity over the past two decades and various studies have shown us the benefits of these activities.

While activities like Tai Chi Yoga and Qigong have a physical element to it, other likes meditation and mindfulness are sedentary, but both have been known to produce various psychological effects like reduction in stress and anxiety, alleviation of depression, better coping of chronic conditions and a general increase of positive feelings.

However, little is known of the biological mechanisms that take place which contribute to these positive benefits.

Practicing MBIs reverses the effect that stress or anxiety has on the body by changing how genes are expressed and leaving a molecular signature in our cells.

To examine one hypothesis that MBIs reverse expression of genes involved in inflammatory reactions induced by stress, scientists conducted a review of 18 studies involving 846 participants over 11 years.

The research focussed on gene activation which produces proteins that influence the biological make-up of the body, the brain and the immune system.

When a person encounters a stressful situation, their sympathetic nervous system (SNS) which is responsible for the ‘fight or flight’ response, gets triggered. This increases the production of a molecule called the nuclear factor kappa B (NF-kB), which regulates how our genes are expressed.

NF-kB translates stress into inflammation at the cellular level by activating genes to produce proteins called cytokines. This reaction, when short lived is a useful response as it increases the activity of the immune system to fight injury or infections.

But when the inflammation persists is become maladaptive as there is no actual threat to the body. This chronic inflammation leads to the increase in risk of cancer, neurodegenerative diseases, asthma, arthritis, cardiovascular diseases, and psychiatric disorders.

Another effect of this stress response at the molecular level is the down regulation of antiviral and antibody related genes which is associated with increased viral infections.

The researchers found that people who practiced MBIs showed a decrease in the production of NF-kB and cytokines, leading to the reversal of pro-inflammatory gene expression pattern, thus leading to the reduction in risk associated with chronic inflammation-related diseases.

Practicing MBIs reverses the effect that stress or anxiety has on the body by changing how genes are expressed and leaving a molecular signature in our cells.

More and more people are now enjoying the benefits of MBIs and the effects that are taking place begin at the cellular level, causing our genetic code to reverse and change which puts us on the path to health and wellbeing.

Source: Frontiers in Immunology

Meena Azzollini

Meena Azzollini

Meena is passionate about holistic wellbeing, alternative healing, health and personal power and uses words to craft engaging feature articles to convey her knowledge and passion. She is a freelance writer and content creator from Adelaide, Australia, who draws inspiration from family, travel and her love for books and reading.

A yoga practitioner and a strong believer in positive thinking, Meena is also a mum to a very active young boy. In her spare time, she loves to read and whip up delicious meals. She also loves the smell of freshly made coffee and can’t ever resist a cheesecake. And she gets tickled pink by anything funny!

You May Also Like

Wellbeing & Eatwell Cover Image 1001x667 2024 02 28t154512.130

The dark side of self-discipline

Wellbeing & Eatwell Cover Image 1001x667 2024 02 28t134850.007

The leader within

Wellbeing & Eatwell Cover Image 1001x667 (97)

Gracefully navigating menopause

Wellbeing & Eatwell Cover Image 1001x667 (92)

Do you have a problem with procrastination?