Yoga Found to Alter Gene Expression for the Better

Mind-body interventions lead to decreases in nuclear factor kappa B and cytokines, researchers say
Mind-body interventions lead to decreases in nuclear factor kappa B and cytokines, researchers say

HealthDay News — The physical and mental health benefits of pursuits like yoga and meditation begin in the genes, according to research published online June 16 in the Frontiers in Immunology.

Ivana Buric, a doctoral candidate with the Brain, Belief, and Behavior Lab at Coventry University in the United Kingdom, and colleagues reviewed 18 studies, involving a total of 846 people, to examine how the behavior of genes is affected by yoga, tai chi, meditation, and other mind-body interventions (MBIs).

The researchers found that such activities contribute to a decrease in nuclear factor kappa B and cytokines – the opposite of the effects of chronic stress on gene expression. They add that the findings suggest MBI practices may lead to a reduced risk of inflammation-related diseases. 

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"Millions of people around the world already enjoy the health benefits of MBIs like yoga or meditation, but what they perhaps don't realize is that these benefits begin at a molecular level and can change the way our genetic code goes about its business," Buric said in a university news release. "These activities are leaving what we call a molecular signature in our cells, which reverses the effect that stress or anxiety would have on the body by changing how our genes are expressed. Put simply, MBIs cause the brain to steer our DNA processes along a path which improves our well-being."

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