Relax when you can – Intensive meditation strengthens the immune system – Foodlog

The benefits of yoga, meditation and other relaxation techniques, whether physically demanding or not, are undisputed. Body and mind are one and benefit equally from the exercises, especially if they are performed regularly over a longer period of time. Nature strives for balance, man must obey it. Yoga and meditation are becoming more and more popular.

Yoga and meditation have long been associated with alternative medicine at best, affectation at worst

Yoga and meditation were formerly hobbies of hippies, who may have been to India. On the Dutch radio, the clairvoyant, homeopathic doctor Rama Polderman gave enchanting talks about yoga, which he introduced in our country in the middle of the last century. Yoga and meditation have long been associated with alternative medicine at best, affectation at worst. Which, among other things, meant that it was not taken seriously by exact and medical science.

Satisfied practitioners of yoga and meditation will be surprised if there is scientific evidence for the effectiveness of their favorite activity. Real yogis know better. It is striking that yoga and meditation are now so popular among a generation of young professionals with a urban lifestyle. The goal is not levitation or mind expansion, but to find a balance between stress and relaxation.

The experiences with yoga and meditation are of course subjective and dependent on the intensity of the practice. It is a challenge for researchers to objectify this. Numerous studies have looked at the effects of yoga or meditation as an intervention on physical and mental processes. This is how a comparative Overview of 15 studies from 2018 linked yoga to inflammation, the low-grade permanent inflammation in the body that is an underlying cause of chronic diseases such as cardiovascular disease, diabetes, arthritis and cancer. This inflammation is increased by, among other things, poor nutrition and too little exercise, but also by (psychological) stress.

To confirm
The conclusion of this review shows how much weight should be given to this kind of research. Not too much for now: “This overview suggests that yoga may be a suitable intervention to reduce inflammation in a variety of chronic conditions. Future studies with detailed descriptions of yoga interventions, measurement of new and established inflammatory biomarkers, and larger samples are needed to advance the science and confirm the results.”

We are now in that predicted future of yoga research, with techniques that scan the whole genome and read the expression of the genes. This makes it possible to investigate the effects of interventions – in this case intensive meditation – down to the molecular level.

“However, the potential molecular mechanisms and the crucial genes involved in this beneficial effect have yet to be fully elucidated,” researchers from six American universities write in the introduction to their paper. research report. Titled “Large-scale genomic study reveals robust activation of the immune system following advanced Inner Engineering meditation retreat,” it appeared in the highly regarded PNAS, the publication of the United States National Academy of Sciences.

The researchers note that in patients with MS and in some Covid patients, these pathways in the immune system no longer function


‘Large-scale genome study shows robust immune system activation after advanced Inner Engineering meditation retreat’, in Dutch. They looked at what changed in the expression of certain genes. First, it was mapped which paths could be influenced by intensive meditation, what the meditation-specific core network was named.

“We found that oxidative stress response, detoxification and cell cycle regulation were reduced after meditation. It is striking that [de activiteit van] 220 genes directly associated with the immune response, including 68 genes related to interferon signaling, were increased,” said one of the results. Interferon is a group of proteins with an important function in the immune system.

The study was done on the basis of blood samples from about a hundred participants in a Samyama-retreat. These are not just meetings where you can roll out your mat and join in, but very intensive sessions of eight days with ten hours of meditation in absolute silence every day.

The participants were prepped with yoga training 60 days before the retreat and placed on a strict vegan diet, free of alcohol, cigarettes, coffee, tea, garlic, onions or other stimulants. Blood was taken on four occasions: long before, shortly before, immediately after and long after the retreat.

The immune system can be affected without drugs, with yoga and meditation. That is the general conclusion of the researchers. The specific pathways, the sequence from the expression of a particular set of genes to the production of proteins each with their effects associated with meditation, could be clearly visualized. The researchers note that in patients with MS and in some Covid patients, these pathways in the immune system no longer function.

They also saw that inflammation (as measured by biomarkers in the blood) decreased, apart from the pathways usually associated with inflammation. This means that meditation can have an ‘individual’ and in fact additional influence on inflammation.

“This suggests that meditation as a behavioral intervention could have important implications for the treatment of several conditions associated with excessive or persistent inflammation with a muted immune system profile,” the researchers said. Intensive meditation as a weapon in the fight against diseases of affluence. It strengthens the immune system, and we all know how important that is since corona.

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Relax when you can – Intensive meditation strengthens the immune system – Foodlog

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