According to a study conducted by the Universities of Coventry and Radboud over in the UK. Meditation, Yoga and Tai Chi (otherwise know as Mind-body interventions (MBIs)) not only help us relax but they can contribute to the reversal in the molecular reactions in our DNA, which has been linked to ill-health and depression. Researchers from the two Universities focus on the way genes are activated to produce proteins which then influence the biological make-up of our body, our brain, and our immune system.

When a person encounters a stressful event, their sympathetic nervous system (SNS) is triggered. This is the system responsible for our ‘fight-or-flight’ response. When this happens, it increases the production of a molecule called nuclear factor kappa B (NF-kB) which regulates how our genes are expressed. This inflammatory effect of the fight-or-flight response serves to temporarily bolster the immune system and played a significant role when we were hunter-gatherers.

In the context of our daily life in this age, however, stress is increasingly psychological, and often we face it on a longer-term, this then causes the pro-inflammatory gene expression to be persistent and therefore more likely to cause psychiatric and medical problems. This “fight-or-flight reaction is, of course, useful if it is short-lived, but if persistent, leads to a heightened cancer risk, accelerated aging and a multitude of psychiatric disorders. What NF-kB does is to translate stress by activating genes to produce proteins called cytokines that cause inflammation at the cellular level. Beneficial in a physical “fight or flight’ situation, not so much if it’s mental or emotional.

What was the research?

The research consisted of 18 different studies and over a period of 11 years with the help of 846 participants. The Scientist concluded that after close examination a pattern in the molecular changes which happen to the body as a result of MBIs, and how those changes benefit our mental and physical health was seen.

According to the study people who practice, MBIs exhibit the opposite effect than those who do not practice any form of MBI’s when dealing with stressful situations. Those who practice some form of MBI’s showed a decrease in production of NF-kB and cytokines, leading to a reversal of the pro-inflammatory gene expression pattern and a reduction in the risk of inflammation-related diseases and conditions.

The research was published in early June 2017 in the journal ‘Frontiers in Immunology’.

So folks, if you are still on the fence about whether you should join that Yoga class, or for those of you who question if Yoga is really beneficial. This is probably the biggest push you have to sign up.

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