What's the Latest Development?

Just minutes after meditating, participants in a recent experiment showed beneficial changes to their genetic profile with helpful genes becoming more active and harmful ones becoming less so. "The boosted genes had three main beneficial effects: improving the efficiency of mitochondria, the powerhouse of cells; boosting insulin production, which improves control of blood sugar; and preventing the depletion of telomeres, caps on chromosomes that help to keep DNA stable and so prevent cells wearing out and ageing." In the study, 26 volunteers were taught a relaxation technique lasting 10 to 20 minutes. They then performed the technique for daily for eight weeks.

What's the Big Idea?

For comparison, researchers also drew blood from 26 volunteers who had practiced relaxation techniques for three years or more. These individuals had beneficial genetic profiles before beginning the laboratory experiment, suggesting the routine had already made a difference. "'It seems fitting that you should see these responses after just 15 to 20 minutes just as, conversely, short periods of stress elevate stress hormones and other physiological effects that are harmful in the long term,' says Julie Brefczynski-Lewis of West Virginia University in Morgantown, who studies the physiological effects of meditation techniques."

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Read it at New Scientist