May 28, 2022

Explaining Why Meditators May Live Longer

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By Maia Szalavitz

Original Artical from www.GaryNull.com (location of 1000’s of great articles)

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The image of the ancient but youthful-looking sage meditating on a mountaintop might be closer to reality than you think, according to a new study that found that after a three-month stay at a meditation retreat, people showed higher levels of an enzyme associated with longevity.

The study is preliminary and didn’t show that meditation actually extends life, but the findings suggest a possible means by which it could.

Researchers led by Tonya Jacobs of the University of California-Davis compared 30 participants at a meditation retreat held at the Shambhala Mountain Center in Colorado with matched controls on a waiting list for the retreat. Participants meditated six hours per day for three months. Their meditation centered on mindfulness — for instance, focusing solely on breathing, in the moment — and on lovingkindness and enhancing compassion towards others. (More on Time.com: Empathy Beats Bullies)

After the three-month intervention, researchers found that the meditators had on average about 30%* more activity of the enzyme telomerase than the controls did. Telomerase is responsible for repairing telomeres, the structures located on the ends chromosomes, which, like the plastic aglets at the tips of shoelaces, prevent the chromosome from unraveling. Each time a cell reproduces, its telomeres become shorter and less effective at protecting the chromosome — this, researchers believe, is a cause of aging. As the chromosome becomes more and more vulnerable, cell copying becomes sloppier and eventually stops when the telomeres disintegrate completely. Telomerase can mitigate — and possibly stop — cell aging.

“Something about being on a retreat for three months changed the [amount of] telomerase in the retreat group,” says Elizabeth Blackburn, a study author who has won a Nobel Prize for her previous work on telomerase. “We didn’t prove that it was meditation [that caused the change]. A lot of things happened during the retreat. But the interesting thing was that the changes we saw tracked quantifiably with the change in people’s psychological well-being and outlook.” (More on Time.com: Can Meditation Ease Pain?)

In other words, people with higher levels of telomerase also showed more increases in psychological improvement. In retreat participants who showed no psychological change, telomerase levels were not any higher than in controls. (Researchers were unable to compare telomerase levels in the groups both before and after the retreat for logistical reasons.)

“It’s a very good study with interesting results in terms of health implications,” says Alan Marlatt, a professor of psychology at the University of Washington who has studied meditation for decades but was not associated with this research.

Of course, the relationship between health and telomerase is complex. In a recent study in mice by Harvard researchers, they found that boosting levels of telomerase reversed signs of aging, restoring graying fur and fertility, increasing brain size and sharpening scent perception. Too much telomerase activity can also be a problem, however. A cell that reproduces endlessly sounds like a good thing at first — that cell would be immortal. But this is exactly what happens with cancer cells — infinite replication. “If telomerase levels go too far up, that’s [associated with] cancer,” says Clifford Saron, associate research scientist at the University of California-Davis Center for Mind and Brain and a co-author of the new paper. He notes, however, that the difference is one that is orders of magnitude higher—so that meditation could not possibly cause cancer*. (More on Time.com: Want to Eat Less? Imagine Eating More)

So how does meditation affect the machinery of cellular reproduction? Probably by reducing stress, research suggests. Severe psychological stress — particularly early in life and in the absence of social support — has been linked with poorer health, increasing risk for heart disease, stroke and some cancers. This is likely due to the negative effects of high levels of stress hormones on the brain and body. By reducing stress hormones, perhaps meditation contributes to healthier telomeres.

In a study published a few years ago in Lancet Oncology, researchers compared 30 men before and after adopting lifestyle changes following a diagnosis of low-risk prostate cancer. The patients started meditating, switched to a healthy plant-based diet, exercised and attended a support group. Like the new study, the Lancet Oncology paper found increases in telomerase linked with reduced psychological distress.

“The mind has a big influence on the body. If you get anxious, your heart beats faster and your stomach churns,” says Blackburn. “But we don’t know yet [if meditation is linked to] a reduction in stress hormones. The physiology is very complex.”

Recent evidence supports a connection: a study published this month in the Archives of General Psychiatry showed that mindfulness meditation can reduce relapse in patients who recovered from depression just as well as antidepressants. (More on Time.com: Is a Wandering Mind an Unhappy One?)

Of course, the increases in telomerase seen in the current study could be due to some other unknown factor that separates the meditators from the controls. That’s another reason why it’s too early to suggest that stress-reducing mind-body interventions like meditation be prescribed as a treatment for any diseases or disorders. The study also did not show that meditation actually extends life, only that it may increase the activity of an enzyme that is associated with longevity.

Still, research on meditation is expanding dramatically, with studies finding it helpful for pain, depression, addiction and many other conditions. “There’s a very exciting dialogue going on,” Marlatt says of the research. “It works for many different kinds of clinical problems. It’s very promising.”

That noise you hear in the background? Millions of new meditators chanting, “Om.”

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Over 30 health reasons to Eat Watermelon!

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I am really excited to learn more about health and nutrition right now as I am diving into the Gary Null Health Support Group Protocol. Last year, when I did the month retreat with Dr Null every Sunday was a watermelon fast. And the last time I was visiting Paradise Garden we ate watermelon everyday. I continue to eat as much as possible and thought I would share this great article I found on some of the benefits.

Partners in Health,
Shannon Burnett
Life Coach & Wellness Consultant

P.S. Our local health support group has two projects we are working with to help our community! One is our community organic garden and the other is helping homeless. Join us….by buying a watermelon today and give it to someone in transistion or homeless. Read below….all the gifts you are giving them.

HEALTH BENEFITS OF WATERMELON from OrganicFacts.net

The health benefits of water melon include kidney disorders, high blood pressure, diabetes, heart care, heat stroke, macular degeneration, impotence, etc.

What’s so much the fuss about this Water Melon? Isn’t it nothing more than a ball full of water? Okay! I know there cannot be a more refreshing thing than a big, chilled wedge of water melon in tropical summers and it sports a stylish scientific name of Citrullus Lanatus. But then there are others too. So, what’s special about it? I am afraid, there are lots of them.

How about having a refreshing glimpse of them? Given below are some health benefits of water melon:

Kidney Disorders: Water Melon contains a lot of potassium, which is very helpful in cleaning or washing off the toxic depositions in the kidneys. Moreover, it is helpful in reducing concentration of uric acid in the blood, thereby reducing the chances of kidney damages and formation of renal calculi in it. Added to these, being high in water content, it induces frequent urinating, which is again helpful for cleaning of kidneys. Also, the anti oxidants present in ensure good health of kidneys for a long.

High Blood Pressure: A good amount of Potassium and magnesium, present in water melons, are very good in bringing down the blood pressure. The carotenoids present in them prevent hardening of walls of arteries and veins, thereby helping reduce blood pressure.

Prevent Heat Stroke: Water melon is effective in reducing your body temperature and blood pressure. Many people in the tropical regions eat the fruit daily in the afternoon during summers to protect themselves from heat stroke. In India, you will find the fruit being sold by vendors in almost every street during summers.

Diabetes: Diabetes patients, who are supposed to have low energy and low sugar diet, often complaint about starving since they don’t get to eat their staple diet to their full, giving them a feeling of keeping half fed. Water Melons can be a good supplement for them. In spite of being sweet in taste, a thick wedge will give you very few calories, since ninety nine percent of its total weight is composed of water and roughage. Moreover, the various vitamins and minerals such as potassium and magnesium help in proper functioning of insulin in the body, thus lowering the blood sugar level. Arginine, another component found in water melons, is very effective in enhancing impact of insulin on sugar. Diabetes patients can also have curries, steaks, salads made from water melon rinds which are even lower in sugar.

Heart Care: Lypocene, a carotenoid found in abundance in water melon, improves cardiac functions. Beta carotene, known for its remarkable anti oxidant and anti aging properties, also keeps you young at the heart and prevents age related cardiac problems. The roughage in water melon and its very low energy, with help from vitamin-C, Carotenoids and potassium (potassium cuts the risk of a heart attack), help reduce cholesterol and keep your heart safe.

Macular Degeneration: Leave your worry of eyes on that beta carotene, that vitamin-C and those Lutein and Zeaxanthin. They will ensure protection of your eyes from macular degeneration. They are experts in that. These anti oxidants will protect your eyes from other age related ailments such as drying up of eyes and optical nerves, glaucoma etc.

Impotence: Arginine, present in water melon, is beneficial in curing erectile dysfunctions.

Other Benefits: Lypocene is found to be effective in preventing cancer, prostrate growth and repair damaged tissues. Water melon seeds are rich in good fats and proteins. Water melons also contain phytonutrients which have very good effect on the health and proper functioning of internal organs, eyes, secretion system etc.
This article was contributed by Aparup Mukherjee

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