How Meditation Alters Gene Expression

meditation_to_alter_gene_expressionMeditation is the most effective and easy way to alter the gene expression. The meditation techniques like mindfulness meditation, om meditation and vipassana meditation is closely related to change the gene expression.  Meditation can make our gene  turned “on” or turned “off”. Om meditation has several techniques that works in target specific gene expression.

Genes are often called the blueprint for life, because they tell each of your cells what to do and when to do it: be a muscle, make bone, carry nerve signals, and so on. Your other genes and environmental influences, such as how much you eat and exercise, all work together to determine how you end up.

Meditation and Telomerase:

telomerase_how_workMeditation is the most effective treatment that has ever been found to increase telomerase enzyme activity. A gene is a small piece of genetic material written in a code and called DNA. When the information stored in our DNA is converted into instructions for making proteins or other molecules, it is called gene expression. Gene expression is the process by which the information contained within a gene becomes a useful product. The process of gene expression involves two main stages: Transcription: the production of messenger RNA (mRNA). The first step in making a gene product is to make a copy of the gene. Genes cannot leave the nucleus, so we need to make a copy, which is called messenger RNA (mRNA). The mRNA can leave the nucleus. The message carried by the mRNA is read by a carrier molecule called transfer RNA (tRNA). The production of mRNA is known as gene expression. Dr. Elizabeth Blackburn, who won the Nobel Prize for her discovery of telomerase, and her colleagues, have explored the effects of meditation on telomerase activity. Their results showed that meditation has significant effects, activating a 43% increase in telomerase levels in those who meditated for just eight weeks.

Stressful events evoke long-term changes in behavioral responses. Stress refers to a life event or series of events that disrupt a person’s psychological equilibrium. Epigenetics (“above” or “beyond” genetics) explores the fact that while the genes we inherit from our parents do not change, how they express themselves in our bodies does, and can be influenced by several environmental factors – including our lifestyle. At any given moment, a gene may either be active or turned “on” or inactive and turned “off”. What we eat, how we move, how much we sleep and how we manage our stress can directly affect this switch, one way or the other.

Randomized controlled studies in humans have also shown that interventions such as meditation can both suppress CTRA gene expression profiles, as well as improve levels of interleukin-6, a biomarker of systemic inflammation.

Aging and Telomerase:

Normal, healthy function requires the capability of all of our genes to operate when they are called upon. One of the ways in which we define the aging process is when genes begin to fail to operate as they programmed. A specific indicator of aging is when chromosomes begin to deteriorate, and gene regulation is impaired. As chromosomes deteriorate, the ends of the DNA strands, referred to as telomeres, literally break off, resulting in shorter and functionally impaired chromosomes. In healthy cells, chromosomal length and function are maintained by an enzyme referred to as telomerase. Telomerase literally puts the telomeres back on the ends of the chromosomes maintaining their structure and function. As telomerase levels decline, chromosomes start to fall apart and become shorter. Low levels of telomerase are associated with cardiovascular disease, obesity, high levels of stress and stress hormones, inflammation, and anemia. Fortunately, if and when telomerase levels increase, shortened chromosomes can be repaired, and normal function can be reinstated.

Meditation to Stop Aging:

Can meditation slow down aging? The simple answer is yes. As meditation controls telomerase length, it has tremendous impact on health.  Stress, gene expression and meditation are interlinked. Meditation counter balance the stress factors.

References:

1. Controlling gene expression in response to stress, Nature Reviews Genetics 12, 833-845 (December 2011)

2. Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction Training Reduces Loneliness and Pro-Inflammatory Gene Expression in Older Adults: A Small Randomized Controlled Trial

3. Response and habituation of pro- and anti-inflammatory gene expression to repeated acute stress.

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