Our rapid pace of life, fast foods, eating habits, environmental and noise pollution has increased stress levels and its related disorders. Our body responds at a molecular level to stress, which is mediated by stress genes and a variety of other biological regulatory pathways. Increasing evidence suggests that chronic psychosocial stress may increase oxidative stress, which in turn may contribute to coronary diseases, cancer, arthritis, etc. Oxidative stress is internal damage caused by reactive oxygen molecules. In addition, stress has been shown to be associated with accelerated aging at a cellular level.
Research published by Benson-Henry Institute for Mind/Body Medicine at Massachusetts General Hospital and others, suggest that when one evokes relaxation response through the practice or meditation, tai chi or similar, the very genes that are turned on or off by stress and turned the other way.
This demonstrates how our minds can turn off and on our stress related genes and the interconnectedness of our minds with our bodies.
Over 2,200 genes were activated in long-term practitioners in comparison to the control and over 1500 genes in short-term practitioners compared to long-term practitioners. Additional analysis revealed changes at cellular metabolism, suggesting cellular damage stemming from chronic stress .
Dr Benson of the Benson-Henry Institute for Mind/Body Medicine at Massachusetts General Hospital added. “we are all under increasing stress, and to adequately protect ourselves against stress, we should use an approach and a technique that we believe evokes the relaxation response 20 minutes, once a day.”
Ref: Genomic Counter-Stress Changes Induced by the Relaxation Response
Jeffery A. Dusek,Hasan H. Out, Ann L. Wohlhueter, Manoj Bhasin, Luiz F. Zerbini, Marie G. Joseph, Herbert Benson, Towia A. Libermann
Full research article link: http://www.plosone.org/article/info%3Adoi%2F10.1371%2Fjournal.pone.0002576