PrintMeditate on Your Telomere Length

Twelve minutes of meditation daily could help protect telomeres against effects of chronic stress, a new study suggests.

Want to manage stress, clear your mind, and enhance your mood? A few minutes of meditation a day could help and, new research finds, might help increase activity of an enzyme that keeps your body younger at the level of your DNA.

As anyone taking Isagenix Product B is aware, boosting expression of the enzyme telomerase in the body is critical for maintaining the length and integrity of telomeres. Telomeres, the length of which are considered a biomarker of biological aging, are special complexes that cap chromosomes to protect DNA.

Psychological stress not only affects our minds, but can have an impact on telomerase activity in the body leading to possible faster telomere shortening. Now, researchers from University of California, Los Angeles, have found that just 12 minutes a day of a particular style of yogic meditation, Kirtan Kriya, daily could help buffer against effects of psychological stress and support activity of the enzyme.

The study compared the effects of short practice of Kirtan Kriya-style meditation to quiet relaxation on individuals working as family caregivers of patients with dementia. The researchers then evaluated the psychological health and telomere length of the chronically stressed population.

The study randomized 39 family dementia caregivers, age 45 to 91, to two groups. Every day for eight weeks, the meditation group underwent a 12-minute Kirtan Kriya meditation, a practice following the philosophies of Kundalini yoga. The control group took a 12-minute relaxation period in a quiet place with instrumental music. The purpose, the authors explain, was to single out the benefits of a meditation practice from the benefits of relaxation alone.

The study found that about 65 percent of the meditation group had at least a 50 percent improvement in depressive symptoms. In addition, the meditation group also had a 43 percent increase in telomerase activity—a significant boost compared to the nearly 4 percent increase seen in the quiet relaxation group. When it came to mental health and cellular age, the groups were not different at baseline.

“Brief daily meditation practices by family dementia caregivers can lead to improved mental and cognitive functioning and lower levels of depressive symptoms,” the researchers wrote. “This improvement was accompanied by an increase in telomerase activity suggesting improvement in stress-induced cellular aging.”

More than just elevating mood, this current research may support quality of life and help reduce the burden of caregiving on health. The authors studied caregivers because these individuals are known to suffer from highly stressed, and highly distressed, lives. Nearly 50 percent of caregivers have been found to battle depression, and new research shows that these people have prematurely shortened telomeres. The link between emotional stress and physical health is poorly defined, but telomere length may represent a biomarker to study stress.

The authors report that they “found an improvement across measures of mental health and cognitive functioning, psychological distress, and telomerase activity in caregivers performing daily Kirtan Kriya compared with the relaxation group.”

They explain, “Because Kirtan Kriya had several elements of using chanting, mudras [hand alignments], and visualization, there was a ‘brain fitness’ effect in addition to stress-reduction that contributed to the overall effect of meditation.”

This study’s results add reason to consider meditation as part of a complete lifestyle for supporting telomere health, which should also include supplementation with Ageless Essentials Daily Pack with Product B, regular exercise, healthy sleep habits, limiting exposure to environmental toxins, and eating a diet rich in nutrient-dense foods.

Reference: Lavretsky H et al. A pilot study of yogic meditation for family dementia caregivers with depressive symptoms: effects on mental health, cognition, and telomerase activity. Int J Geriatr Psychiatry 2012. DOI: 10.1002/gps.3790

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