rResearchers recently transferred stool samples from 37 Buddhists from Tibetan mountain monasteries to a laboratory in Shanghai. What is the purpose of this elevated journey? To see how the composition of the monks’ samples – an indicator of their gut health – differed from those of their neighbours.
The main lifestyle difference that interests the researchers is the fact that these monks meditated for more than two hours a day. They wondered if meditation had an impact on the microbiome (the type and amount of bacteria found in the gut, analyzed from a person’s stool).
Study results, published in the British Medical Journal General psychiatry, found that monks had higher numbers of certain bacteria that were associated with lower levels of depression, anxiety, and cardiovascular disease. Interesting finds have attracted the attention of stores such as Guard, Healthline, and others. So, does research show that meditation is good for your gut and then your overall health?
Unfortunately, it’s not so obvious.
Emeran Mayer, MD, gastroenterologist, UCLA medical school professor, Seed Health board member, and author of the book: “I’m not sure how much I’m actually going to gain from the research. there. The heart-gut connection, speak. “There are more drawbacks than positives.”
Dr Mayer said the technical methods the researchers used to analyze the samples were outdated. The study size was generally small, and the control group (only 19 people) was not strong enough to draw conclusions about differences. He doubts that the samples can maintain their integrity even in coolers for trips down the mountain and on planes; Most studies, he said, require tightly controlled sample collection to take place in a laboratory. And he also pointed out that the monks’ diet and sedentary lifestyle were not taken into account.
Talk to PreventMartin J. Blaser, MD, professor and Henry Rutgers chair of the human microbiome at the Rutgers Robert Wood Johnson School of Medicine, thought the study was “well-conducted,” but didn’t think meditation could be pinpointed. was the decisive factor explaining the potential difference in the microbiota of the monks compared with the control group.
So basically, even if the findings sound interesting, experts don’t believe it this is a study for meditation enthusiasts x gut health.
What’s the big deal with “gut health” anyway?
“Intestinal health” has been an interesting concept (and buzzword) for years, with proponents claiming that the diverse, powerful microbial population within us can affect everyone. everything from chronic illness to mental health. Our stomachs produce a lot of substances needed to fight disease, control inflammation, and regulate mood (for example, most of the body’s serotonin comes from the gut). So the “axis of mind” is a booming field for research.
“It turns out that microorganisms can actually counteract the harmful effects of foods, drugs, hormones in our bodies, whether they’re taken in from the outside or produced inside our bodies,” says Ian Smith, MD, best-selling author and lead medical advisor for Jetson brand probiotics, previously told Well + Good: “The sheer number of conditions found to be health-related by themselves. gut has been an exciting advance: things like obesity, diabetes, liver disease, cancer and even neurodegenerative disease.”
However, some researchers warn that many of the claims are overblown, and Dr Mayer warns that “much of the findings are truly revolutionary in the gut microbiome and brains all come from animal models,” which he argues is not necessarily the case. extrapolation to humans. Furthermore, what constitutes a “healthy gut” is not well defined and can vary from person to person.
“We don’t know what a ‘normal’ microbiome looks like,” says Ali Rezaie, MD, a gastroenterologist and co-author of the study. Microbial connection, previously told Well+Good. “Your microbiome is unique to you and there is no known magical mix of bacteria.”
Okay but maybe Does meditation positively impact your gut microbiome?
Dr. Mayer’s skepticism towards Tibetan monastic studies in particular does not mean that he thinks the theory itself is invalid. A longtime practitioner of meditation (Dr Mayer and his wife were even married at a Tibetan monastery in Kathmandu), and an expert on the connection between the gut, body and brain, Dr. Mayer says meditation can be meaningful. affect the microbiome in a positive way. It’s all growing (but still uncertain) that meditation can reduce stress, and there’s growing evidence that stress can wreak havoc on the gut.
When we are stressed, our sympathetic nervous system is activated. That activation “changes the environment in which bacteria live, their habitat, including blood flow, contractions, mucus production, etc.,” says Dr. Mayer. Neurotransmitters, such as norepinephrine, can enter the gut and “alter bacterial gene expression.” studies were performed in rats), “but emerging human evidence has begun to corroborate preclinical findings” that stress can affect gut health.
“If relaxation, stress reduction and meditation reduce sympathetic nervous system activity and response, then I think that would be the most likely explanation for the changes in the microbiome,” Dr. Mayer said. object”.
Other studies have shown some promise for this hypothesis. A small study looking at meditation practitioners who ate a vegan diet found a higher percentage of beneficial bacteria than a control group. A meta-analysis of studies looking at topics including stress, microbiome, epigenetics, and meditation concluded that “during times of stress, gut microbial populations are altered in affects microbiome-mediated neurotransmitter regulation and gut barrier function. Meditation helps regulate the stress response, thus preventing chronic inflammation and maintaining healthy gut barrier function.” While other articles suggest that these claims are not well established as scientific fact, the link between stress and the gut – and meditation’s ability to regulate it – is not far-fetched. about theory.
So should you do as a Buddhist monk and meditate for two hours a day for the benefit of your microbiome? You probably don’t have to get rid of all the stuff in the world just yet — but don’t overlook the potential power of meditation practice to contribute to your overall health and wellbeing (and subsequently your gut). your).
“The most important thing is to really have a microbiome-friendly diet, plus the contemplative component of, you know, half an hour of meditation,” says Dr. Mayer. “A healthy lifestyle should have both.”
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