While in the United States the meditation bars are growing, places where people meet to meditate together and to have a break in a busy life, the scientists are studying deeply small complexes, called telomeres, and how these compounds may be able to change as a response to a healthy lifestyle that includes meditation, yoga and healthy diet. But why is there so much interest in regards of telomeres? Telomeres cover the ending parts of chromosomes inside cells, therefore protecting the chromosomes from degradation and guaranteeing the correct replication of DNA during cell division and the tissue renewal. With aging the telomeres shorten until the cells cannot divide anymore, the cells get older and so the organs. A study published a few months ago in the journal Brain, behavior and immunity by a team of the University of California (Conklin et al, Brain Behav Immun, May 2018) is only the latest in a long line of works about the topic that show a clear and fascinating result, a healthy diet and activities such as yoga and meditation may extend life not only by counteracting free radicals, inflammations and damages to DNA but also acting on telomeres, that get longer and with a stronger and more stable protective effect on the chromosomes, on the life of the cells and on our life.
In particular, the scientists have observed that the telomeres are longer after a meditation training on retreat for a month. A similar result has also been obtained by a group of scientists, always of the University of California (Ornish et al, Lacet Oncol, Nov 2008), that have analyzed the effect on telomeres of a 3 month-change in lifestyle and diet, by favoring low fat foods, whole grain cereals, fruits and vegetables, legumes, by introducing a moderate physical activity such as a walk for 30 minutes 6 days per week, relaxation techniques and yoga practice, by including soy in the form of tofu and milk, 3 grams per day of fish oil, supplements with vitamins E and C and selenium. At the end of the experiment the scientists have registered an increase in the activity of an enzyme, the telomerase, that counteracts the shortening of telomeres. The telomeres resulted also more stable and more active to protect the cell from aging!