Can deep meditation affect the gut and improve health?

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Does meditation affect the gut and thus affect various aspects of health? Image credit: Danil Nevsky/Stocksy.
  • According to current research, the gut microbiome may influence health by affecting the gut-brain axis.
  • Meditation is a mental practice that can help regulate physical and psychological conditions.
  • Despite this, there is limited research that has fully explored the effects of meditation on the gut microbiome.
  • Now, a new study suggests that practicing deep meditation for an extended period of time may help maintain balance in the gut microbiome, thus positively affecting physical and mental health.

According to a small comparative study published in General psychiatryProlonged, consistent deep meditation may regulate the gut microbiome, which has the potential to improve physical and mental health.

Meditation includes a variety of practices that encourage the integration of mind and body. These techniques range from maintaining focus and focusing on a specific sensation to just being present, without judgment.

According to this new study, the gut microbes of a group of 37 Tibetan Buddhist monks were significantly different from those of 19 local residents.

Previous research in humans and rodents suggests that the probiotic enriched in monkshood may be associated with reduced risks of anxiety, depression, and cardiovascular disease.

studies They suggest that the gut microbiome can influence emotions and behavior through the gut-brain axis, which includes the immune system, hormone signaling, stress response, and the vagus nerve—which plays a key role in the parasympathetic nervous system and regulates various basic body functions.

The importance of the gut-brain connection in maintaining homeostasis is well known. However, over the past 15 years, the role of microorganisms as master controllers of gut and brain function has also been recognized, which underscores the importance of the unique ingredient. The gut microbiota connection.

Dr. Adil Maqbool, of Allama Iqbal Medical College in Lahore, Pakistan, who was not involved in this research, explained the concept to Medical news today.

He noted, “The relationship between the gut microbiota and several diseases, including inflammatory bowel disease, hepatic steatosis, diabetes, and malignancies, has now been established as an important discovery.”

“When we use the term ‘gut axis’ we are talking about a connection between the brain and the gut with neurotransmitters. Even [the] The gut has its own nervous system called [the] The enteric nervous system, which contains many [the] The same neurotransmitters that we see in them [the] brain. Thus, many call it the second brain of our body. And the microbes in our gut have an effect on this nervous system.”

– Dr. Fair accepted

Therefore, it is undeniable that the gut microbiota is essential to good health and can play an important role in developing chronic disease prevention strategies. But when I see that, I see another relationship that these microbes are having in our gut,” said Dr. Maqbool.

According to the researchers, Tibetan Buddhist meditation is derived from the ancient system of Ayurveda, and is a method of psychological training.

The monks who participated in this study engaged in a meditation practice for at least two hours per day for a period ranging from 3 to 30 years.

They examined stool and blood samples from 37 Tibetan Buddhist monks from three temples, as well as 19 residents living in nearby areas.

None of the participants had taken any substances that could alter the amount and types of gut bacteria, such as antibiotics, probiotics, prebiotics, or antifungal medications, in the past 3 months.

Both groups were matched, which means they were similar in terms of age, blood pressure, heart rate, and diet.

The researchers show how some types of bacteria that were more prevalent in the meditation group have previously been associated with a lower risk of mental illness in studies of rodents and people.

This led them to conclude that meditation may affect certain bacteria that may have a role in mental health.

The researchers then used an advanced analytical method to predict the chemical processes the microbes might influence.

This showed that several anti-inflammatory pathways that protect against inflammation, as well as metabolism, the process of turning food into energy, were enhanced in the meditation group.

Finally, analysis of blood samples showed that levels of factors associated with an increased risk of cardiovascular disease, such as total cholesterol and lipoprotein B, were significantly lower in the monks than in their neighbors.

James Giordano, professor of neuroscience and biochemistry at the Pellegrino Center at Georgetown University Medical Center, who was also not involved in this research, said. MNT That “this study provides new insight into the potential association of the meditative practices—and possibly other enduring lifestyle factors—of Buddhist monks on the gut-brain axis in general, and the composition of the gut microbiome, more specifically.”

These findings support a growing body of evidence suggesting that a variety of variables related to lifestyle, health, and social and environmental variables can influence the gut-brain axis via a ‘top-down’ (brain-to-gut) as well as a ‘bottom’ approach. to higher” mechanisms (from the gut to the brain), which can be important for regulating a number of physiological functions that promote and support health.

– Dr. James Giordano

It should be noted that this study is observational, which means that there may be differences between groups other than meditation that explain differences in their microbiomes.

The study also did not detail the mindfulness or meditation practices of the control group, and the number of participants was small, all male, and lived at high altitudes, making it difficult to draw any firm or generalizable conclusions.

Participants were not assessed for their mental health or the presence of cardiovascular disease, so potential health effects can only be inferred from previously published research in humans and rodents.

However, based on their findings, the researchers suggest that the role of meditation in preventing or treating disease requires further research.

“There is increasing evidence to support that certain lifestyle experiences and practices of Tibetan monks can evoke and maintain promotional health benefits. In addition, there have been investigations to demonstrate positive effects of certain forms of meditative practices on a number of neurological and psycho-physiological functions that are important for maintaining on health and promoting stress resilience.”

Dr. James Giordano

Dr. Maqbool explained how meditation has been shown to have a significant impact on stress hormones, which can contribute to inflammation. It is known for its calming effect on the brain.

Since both stress hormones and inflammation can affect gut bacteria, a meditation practice can help balance these hormones and reduce markers of inflammation, which may protect the gut microbiome.

Both experts agree that more research is needed. However, Dr. Giordano highlighted three important implications of this research for patients and the public:

  1. The positive function of the gut-brain axis seems to be involved, if not directly contributing to psychological and physiological health.
  2. that meditative practices, and the effect of long-term meditative practice, can influence the gut-brain axis at both the brain (i.e. the brain) and the gut (i.e. the gut) level
  3. Although dietary and lifestyle factors were briefly addressed in the study, it will be important to further investigate the potential roles of genetics, environment, and other lifestyle practices and factors in establishing and maintaining distinct patterns of gut and brain function.

In conclusion, Dr. Maqbool said: “L [the] General public, it is important to be aware of the fact that “your gut plays an important role in your overall health”.

Ultimately, following healthy eating and meditation practices will be beneficial for people, even before the specific processes or pathways referred to in this research are identified.

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