Meditation is such a hot topic these days. We’re reading about it in the New York Times, our sister/brother/cousin/best friend is doing it, and it seems like a new study crops up every day to tell us about yet another amazing benefit.
I’ve been meditating since age 8, when my dad taught me. Nowadays, I do up to an hour of meditation a day! So from my own experience, I can definitely recommend it.
But let’s dig into the science, too—shall we? 😉
Studies have suggested that a healthy (plant-based) diet, combined with moderate exercise and stress management, can manage or reverse various diseases and slow aging. These lifestyle choices seem to influence telomerase (a cool anti-aging enzyme) activity.
So we know that a holistically healthy lifestyle is the key to a hot, healthy, long life. But just how much does that “stress management” contribute to the mix?
Well, scientists have looked at the impact of stress on aging. They measured the telomeres in mothers of seriously sick children. (Telomeres are the ends of chromosomes that protect against degeneration, and thus aging, and rely on telomerase activity to rebuild.) It’s not so surprising that they found telomeres became shorter the longer a woman had been caring for her sick child.
How much shorter? A decade’s worth of aging.
Similar telomere shortening has been observed in professional caregivers and trauma patients.
Is it possible to reverse the effects of a stressful job, a family member’s illness, or a traumatic childhood?
Actually, gorgeous, maybe yes!
Those who were the primary caregivers of a family member with dementia participated in a randomized study, wherein they meditated for twelve minutes per day for eight weeks. That adds up to about 10 hours total of meditation—not that much!—and resulted in improved mental well-being and functioning, as well as increased telomerase (those anti-aging, telomere-building enzymes) activity.
Science is still studying this amazing practice, but it seems like meditation may indeed help to reverse stress-related aging at the cellular level. Pretty cool, hey?
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