Summary: A new study reports the rhythm of your breathing can influence neural activity that enhances memory recall and emotional judgement.
Source: Northwestern University.
Breathing is not just for oxygen; it’s now linked to brain function and behavior.
Northwestern Medicine scientists have discovered for the first time that the rhythm of breathing creates electrical activity in the human brain that enhances emotional judgments and memory recall.
These effects on behavior depend critically on whether you inhale or exhale and whether you breathe through the nose or mouth.
In the study, individuals were able to identify a fearful face more quickly if they encountered the face when breathing in compared to breathing out. Individuals also were more likely to remember an object if they encountered it on the inhaled breath than the exhaled one. The effect disappeared if breathing was through the mouth.
“One of the major findings in this study is that there is a dramatic difference in brain activity in the amygdala and hippocampus during inhalation compared with exhalation,” said lead author Christina Zelano, assistant professor of neurology at Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine. “When you breathe in, we discovered you are stimulating neurons in the olfactory cortex, amygdala and hippocampus, all across the limbic system.”
The study was published Dec. 6 in the Journal of Neuroscience.
The senior author is Jay Gottfried, professor of neurology at Feinberg.
Northwestern scientists first discovered these differences in brain activity while studying seven patients with epilepsy who were scheduled for brain surgery. A week prior to surgery, a surgeon implanted electrodes into the patients’ brains in order to identify the origin of their seizures. This allowed scientists to acquire electro-physiological data directly from their brains. The recorded electrical signals showed brain activity fluctuated with breathing. The activity occurs in brain areas where emotions, memory and smells are processed.
This discovery led scientists to ask whether cognitive functions typically associated with these brain areas — in particular fear processing and memory — could also be affected by breathing.
The amygdala is strongly linked to emotional processing, in particular, fear-related emotions. So scientists asked about 60 subjects to make rapid decisions on emotional expressions in the lab environment while recording their breathing. Presented with pictures of faces showing expressions of either fear or surprise, the subjects had to indicate, as quickly as they could, which emotion each face was expressing.
When faces were encountered during inhalation, subjects recognized them as fearful more quickly than when faces were encountered during exhalation. This was not true for faces expressing surprise. These effects diminished when subjects performed the same task while breathing through their mouths. Thus the effect was specific to fearful stimuli during nasal breathing only.
In an experiment aimed at assessing memory function — tied to the hippocampus — the same subjects were shown pictures of objects on a computer screen and told to remember them. Later, they were asked to recall those objects. Researchers found that recall was better if the images were encountered during inhalation.
The findings imply that rapid breathing may confer an advantage when someone is in a dangerous situation, Zelano said.
“If you are in a panic state, your breathing rhythm becomes faster,” Zelano said. “As a result, you’ll spend proportionally more time inhaling than when in a calm state. Thus, our body’s innate response to fear with faster breathing could have a positive impact on brain function and result in faster response times to dangerous stimuli in the environment.”
Another potential insight of the research is on the basic mechanisms of meditation or focused breathing. “When you inhale, you are in a sense synchronizing brain oscillations across the limbic network,” Zelano noted.
Heart disease is not just the leading cause of death in the USA, but also in the whole world. It’s not just the leading cause of death for men, but also for women. Heart disease is not just one disease. It’s a whole group of diseases which affect the circulatory system and include cardiovascular disease […]
Feb 8, 2019
Heart disease is not just the leading cause of death in the USA, but also in the whole world. It’s not just the leading cause of death for men, but also for women. Heart disease is not just one disease. It’s a whole group of diseases which affect the circulatory system and include cardiovascular disease and conditions like high/low blood pressure. So what really causes it – and what can you do about it?
What does Western Medicine have to say about heart disease? That it can’t be cured, of course, just like they say all major diseases like cancer can’t be cured. What else? Often, it’s just advice like this, which is a half-truth or limited hangout: they’ll tell you that you can eat anything – anything! – you want, just as long as you stop smoking and take statins. Big Pharma and all those who serve it have nothing to gain from you being educated about health and the body.
The heart is your central organ and is closely involved in the workings of your circulatory system. The arteries that take oxygen-rich blood from your heart to your muscles and extremities, and the veins that take oxygen-depleted blood back, are all part of this system, as is your blood itself. So, ailments such as clogged arteries and high blood pressure are all related to heart disease. For instance, when your arteries are clogged, your heart has to work harder to push the blood around your body, which can cause it to strain. High blood pressure is indicative of blood that is too thick or sludgy and does not flow around the arteries/veins easily, again leading to heart strain. In many ways, all roads lead to the heart.
So, do people just get clogged arteries and high blood pressure for no reason? No, of course not. There is a cause, just as there is a cure. However, Western Medicine is too focused on pushing pills and stopping symptoms rather than educating patients and addressing the underlying cause. For decades, health officials and medical professionals have told us that heart disease is caused by saturated fat and cholesterol. This sprung from the skewed research of Dr. Ancel Keys as I detailed in the article Plastic Oils vs. Saturated Fats: Busting the Propaganda. Keys demonized these essential nutrients, despite the fact that your brain is mostly composed of saturated fat and that cholesterol is a crucial structural component of your cells. Cholesterol helps with respiratory and gastrointestinal problems, creates vitamin D and is part of the healing mechanism of your body. The misinformation about saturated fat and cholesterol was seized upon by the American Heart Association (AHA) (funded by Procter & Gamble, makers of the hydrogenated oil Crisco, and of which Keys was a board member). They went on TV to falsely claim that a diet with large amounts of butter, lard, eggs and beef would lead to coronary heart disease.
Sadly, the “saturated fat and cholesterol are bad for you” myth continues today, with some esteemed doctors commenting that the testing and treating of cholesterol is the biggest medical fraud around! It underpins the propaganda that Big Pharma uses to push one its favorite drugs of choice: statins. In 2017, the CDC found that about 28% of American men and women over age 40 take a statin. Statins are very dangerous: they block cholesterol production but an international study found that 39% of men and 34% of women who have had heart disease have high triglycerides or fat levels, so what’s the point? Exercise makes the heart grow stronger, but statins block the adaptation of the heart to get stronger and the body to produce more mitochondria/energy. Be Brain Fit explains that statins decrease the production of CoQ10, a nutrient that protects both the heart and the brain. Memory loss is a documented side effect of statin drugs; they are also implicated in dementia and Alzheimer’s. The FDA requires that warning labels state that statins can cause memory loss as well as mental confusion, liver problems and type 2 diabetes. Statins can lead to diabetes at an alarming rate; research has found that nearly half of women who take them eventually develop diabetes, and to come full circle, diabetes is a disease which greatly increases your risk of dementia.
The causes of heart disease are not to be found by obsessing over saturated fat and cholesterol, but rather looking at oxidation, inflammation, deficiency/depletion (lack of essential nutrients) and – the biggest one – stress. This includes both physical and mental stress. These causes often reinforce each other. While we need to feel stress occasionally to be motivated to change something, chronic or long-term stress taxes our heart. Stress takes us out of our parasympathetic nervous system (relaxed state) and puts us into our sympathetic nervous system (fight-or-flight state). It burns up the crucial nutrients we need for growth and our immune system. Stress produces the cortisol and adrenaline hormones; cortisol lowers our immunity and adrenaline increases our blood pressure.
Some people are so chronically stressed that they skip high quality foods and start eating large amounts of junk food, consuming more processed sugar, smoking tobacco and drinking alcohol (oxidation). These kind of lifestyle choices further tax our heart by depriving the body of essential nutrients (deficiency) and in the particular case of cigarettes activate the sympathetic nervous system again. Processed food is especially problematic, because it is almost always way high in sodium and missing any fresh fruit or vegetables which are high in potassium. Science has shown that a potassium-sodium imbalance caused by missing potassium is the cause of high blood pressure, the main cause of stroke and contributes to heart disease.
Too much stress and poor lifestyle choices unfailingly lead to chronic inflammation. Acute or short-term inflammation is the body’s healthy response to a wound, but chronic inflammation is a big problem. It’s the basis for many illnesses including a lot of autoimmune diseases and diabetes, obesity, depression, cancer and, naturally, heart disease. It is especially noteworthy to realize that the foods that promote the most inflammation are hydrogenated, trans or “plastic” oils, refined grains and processed sugar – some of which are promoted by the AHA! We live in an upside-down world where white is black and black is white, so it’s very important to think for yourself and not just blindly follow a package label (“Healthy Heart”) or an institution with a nice-sounding name.
So, now that you understand that real causes of heart disease, what are the natural solutions? To begin with, reduce oxidation and aging by introducing more antioxidants into your diet, including C60, berries, nuts, potatoes, cacao and the Indian and Italian spices. Tackle inflammation by making your diet more anti-inflammatory. Here are tips on how to defeat chronic inflammation.
Counter deficiency by eating nutrient-rich food. Some people take mineral supplements due to their belief that the soil is depleted and that their food doesn’t contain the levels of nutrients it used to (even if it is organic). Try supplementing with nascent iodine, magnesium oil and colloidal copper. One of the best natural heart medicines is HB Extract (a wildcrafted and organic formula of 11 natural herbs) which has helped people get off their petrochemical Big Pharma meds for good.
Ditch your statins. This 2012 study found that just 20 minutes of daily meditation was 5 to 11 times more beneficial than statins in reducing heart disease! Take up other stress-reducing exercises, such as yoga, tai chi, listening to music, hanging out with friends and family, spending more time in nature and spending less time on a screen.
In conclusion, don’t look at saturated fat and cholesterol like Western Medicine tells you. Look at oxidation, inflammation, deficiency and stress. Remember that everything has a cause and effect. You don’t just magically get heart disease for no reason. You have a lot of control over it. Decide carefully what you put into your body. Make wise lifestyle choices. Don’t buy into AHA propaganda that all saturated fat and cholesterol are the bad guys. Likewise, don’t buy into similar Big Pharma propaganda that statins will relieve you of heart disease, since they actually rob you of your vitality.
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Makia Freeman is the editor of alternative media / independent news site The Freedom Articles and senior researcher at ToolsForFreedom.com, writing on many aspects of truth and freedom, from exposing aspects of the worldwide conspiracy to suggesting solutions for how humanity can create a new system of peace and abundance. Makia is on Steemit and FB.
Aug 17, 2018
Differences in lifestyle patterns rather than mortality or health outcomes appear to have immense research potential in gauging life expectancy. How do patterns in thought, actions, supplements, and diet interact, synergize, or interfere with one another? Here’s a look at 10 powerful things that influence our aging processes.
By examining how chronological age lines up with biological age across the population, researchers are starting to pin down how these two measures should sync up — and what it means for how long we have left when they don’t.
1. Love: Theories about love’s purpose range from the biologically practical to the biologically complicated. In one study, men who are married or in close relationships have 7% lower mortality than singles. The number is 4% for women. These numbers correspond to less than a year of life expectancy. A different study finds loneliness increases mortality by 50%, corresponding to almost 5 years of life. Choosing a life partner may be one of the most important decisions we can make. Love also increases joy and happiness which can make our hearts healthier, our immune systems stronger, and our lives longer through enhancements of our cellular structure. With more love between couples often comes more sex which too promotes heart health, and balances hormone levels.
2. Empowerment: Staying employed is worth up to 14 years, and it’s often more about being needed than making money. Trumping general intelligence, previous academic achievement and personality, hope “uniquely predicts objective academic achievement,” showed a three-year longitudinal study out of the University of Manchester. A study in elementary schools in Hawaii has found that a focused program to build social, emotional and character skills resulted in significantly improved overall quality of education, as evaluated by teachers, parents and students. Specific methods of internal shifting can lead to incredible self empowerment which changes the way we experience every event in our lives.
3. Natural Anti-inflammatories: Daily supplements of curcumin combined with diet and exercise strategies have been found to be associated with more than a 60% reduction in triglyceride levels. It inhibits inflammatory reactions, has anti-diabetic effects, reduces cholesterol among other powerful health effects. Curcumin exerts anti-inflammatory and anti-oxidative effects. Omega-3s are another powerful anti-inflammatory. They convert into hormone-like substances that decrease inflammation and pain. According to Dr. Alfred D. Steinberg, an arthritis expert at the National Institute of Health, fish oil is an anti-inflammatory agent which acts directly on the immune system by suppressing 40 to 55 percent of the release of cytokines, compounds known to destroy joints. Many other studies also demonstrate that eating moderate amounts of fish or taking fish oil reduces pain and inflammation.
4. High Fiber and Fermented Foods: Our bowel movements are key predictors to our well-being and fiber is truly a proxy for healthy gut flora. Health care of the future may include personalized diagnosis of an individual’s “microbiome” to determine what prebiotics or probiotics are needed to provide balance.Your gut bacteria can reveal whether you suffer from many different diseases such as diabetes and many others. Increased intakes of fermented foods are associated with significantly reduced risks of skin conditions, digestive problems and even autoimmune disease. The potential health benefits of fermented foods like doenjang, chungkookjang, kimchi, kombucha, miso, tempeh, pickles, fermented seafood, makgeolli, and beer may be linked directly to the ingestion of live microorganisms which all have tremendous benefits on the overall functioning of the human body as we age.
5. Meditation: Almost every disease in the body is initiated or aggravated by high cortisol levels which are elevated in people who lack the ability to calm their thoughts and minds. Regular meditation effectively supports mental, emotional and physical health in numerous tangible ways. In building upon this strong body of evidence, researchers are continuing to deepen our understanding of the profound and inspirational benefits of regular meditation practice in everyday life. The data itself is encouraging. Some studies link meditation to enhanced telomerase activity. Most of scientific studies on meditation have shown it benefits our cardiovascular and mental health and wellness. More than 350 peer-reviewed research studies on the Transcendental Meditation technique have been published in over 160 scientific journals.
6. Intermittent fasting: Intermittent fasting allows the body to use fat as it’s primary source of energy instead of sugar and there are many benefits. Extends lifespan and lowers mortality. According to MIT biologists, age-related loss of stem cell function can be reversed by a 24-hour fast. Some studies show that after periods of fasting, insulin becomes more effective in telling cells to take up glucose from blood. Intermittent fasting improves the immune system because it reduces free radical damage, regulates inflammatory conditions in the body and starves off cancer cell formation.
7. Interval Training: One of the most efficient paths towards cardiovascular fitness is interval training. There is now enough documentation to suggest that it does benefit all-cause mortality. By recruiting new muscle fibers and increasing the body’s ability to use fuel, interval training potentially lowers the risk of metabolic syndrome. This type of vigorous exercise cuts deep belly fat and fat around the waist. After interval training, the amount of fat burned in an hour of continuous moderate cycling increased by 36 percent, said Jason L. Talanian, the lead author of the study and an exercise scientist at the University of Guelph in Ontario. Cardiovascular fitness — the ability of the heart and lungs to supply oxygen to working muscles — improved by 13 percent. Results were independent from any type of special dieting or food plans.
8. NAC and Glutathione: N-acetylcysteine is converted by the body into an amino acid called cysteine. Cysteine also helps synthesize glutathione, one of the body’s most important natural antioxidants and detoxifiers of chemicals into less harmful compounds. Glutathione is known to aid in the transport of nutrients to lymphocytes and phagocytes, two major classes of immune cells, and to protect cell membranes. Researchers found that mushrooms have high amounts of glutathione known for immune system boosting propertiesand anti-cancer capabilities. NAC can protect against a wide range of health problems and the science backs up the claim. In one studythere was a 30% increase in lifespan of mice. This powerful metabolite is also used against environmental pollutants including carbon monoxide, chloroform, urethanes, herbicides, pesticides, reducing toxicity of cancer drugs, hangover remedy, damage due to certain X-ray dyes; and for human immunodeficiency virus (HIV).
9. Decreasing Calories: Calorie restriction leads scientists to molecular pathways that slow aging, improve health. Organisms from yeast to rodents to humans all benefit from cutting calories. Restricting calories can double or even triple lifespan. About 30 percent of the animals on calorie restriction diets die at an advanced age without any diseases normally related to aging. The less you eat the longer you will live. Studies have shown how the lifespan of people in certain cultures increased due to their diets. One of the primary effects of aging is a slower metabolism, the younger your body is, the faster and more efficient your metabolism. The less you eat, the less toll it takes on your digestive system. Aware of the profound influence of calorie restriction on animals, some people are cutting their calorie intake by 25 percent or more in hopes of lengthening lifespan.
10. Vitamin D: In the absence of vitamin D from sunlight, disease increases more than 1000 percent. Vitamin D is lacking in some 70 percent of American children. Data from a systematic review of almost 200 population-based studies shows that more than a third of populations worldwide may suffer from low levels of vitamin D. Researchers have discovered that it’s active in many tissues and cells besides bone and controls an enormous number of genes, including some associated with cancers, autoimmune disease, and infection. It’s been known that vitamin D can prevent that genetic damage. The best way to get vitamin D is getting out in the sun and stop lathering on sunscreen. Researchers at the University of Leeds suggest that people with very pale skin may be unable to spend enough time in the sun to make the amount of vitamin D the body needs — while also avoiding sunburn. So it’s important to have your vitamin D levels assessed by a qualified health practitioner who can order the appropriate tests.
According to the American Sleep Association,1 up to 70 million Americans have a sleep disorder, nearly 40 percent unintentionally fall asleep during the day at least once a month and nearly 5 percent have nodded off while driving at least once. Insomnia is the most common sleep disorder, with 10 percent of American adults struggling with chronic insomnia and 30 percent reporting occasional or short-term insomnia.
Interestingly, insomniacs will often insist they’ve not slept a wink all night, even though they’ve actually been sleeping. Researchers have now discovered there’s a reason for this discrepancy in experience, and it has to do with consciousness. In a nutshell, even though the brain is sleeping, insomniacs remain consciously aware, and therefore believe they’ve not slept at all.
Daniel Kay, a psychology professor at Brigham Young University in Utah who led the study,2 told Medical News Today,3 “… [Y]ou can be consciously aware and your brain [can] be in a sleep pattern. The question is: What role does conscious awareness have in our definition of sleep?” Traditionally, it’s been believed that sleeping involves the absence of conscious awareness, but Kay’s team was able to conclude that this is not categorically true.
To investigate the role of consciousness during sleep, the team analyzed the sleep patterns and subjective experience of 32 people with insomnia and 30 who reported sleeping well.
Once the participants were deemed to be asleep, based on their brain patterns, a radioactive tracer was injected into their arms. Using brain imaging, the researchers were able to examine neurons that remained active during sleep, and their exact locations. The following morning, the participants were asked about their subjective experience of their sleep. Medical News Today explains the results:
“The study found that people with insomnia who reported that they had been awake, even when the polysomnography showed otherwise, had increased activity in brain areas associated with conscious awareness during the dreamless phase of sleep — that is, nonrapid eye movement sleep …
[I]t is normal during the process of falling asleep for the brain to send inhibitory neurons that make people less and less consciously aware until they’ve reached a state of deep sleep. However, what the findings of the new study suggest is that people with insomnia may not feel as though they’re asleep until their brain experiences a greater inhibitory activity in areas that are linked to conscious awareness.”
As noted by the authors,4 “Brain activity in the right anterior insula, left anterior cingulate cortex, and middle/posterior cingulate cortex may be involved in the perception” of insomnia. People who reported sleeping well turned out to have increased activity in the same areas of the brain as insomniacs. The reason for this is because your brain goes through “an inhibition process” when you fall asleep, gradually lowering your conscious awareness.
While insomniacs require a greater level of inhibition before their consciousness recedes, many good sleepers report falling asleep long before their brainwaves indicate that they’re actually sleeping. This is basically the reverse situation of insomnia: Good sleepers lose conscious awareness at a very low level of inhibition, making them believe they fell asleep much faster than they actually did, based on their brain patterns.
So, if you struggle with insomnia, frequently feeling you haven’t slept a wink, what can you do? Kay says, “In patients with insomnia, processes involved in reducing conscious awareness during sleep may be impaired. One of the strategies for targeting these processes may be mindfulness meditation. It may help the patients inhibit cognitive processes that are preventing them from experiencing sleep.”
Practicing “mindfulness” means you’re actively paying attention to the moment you’re in right now. Rather than letting your mind wander, when you’re mindful, you’re living in the moment and letting distracting thoughts pass through your mind without getting caught up in their emotional implications.
You can add mindfulness to virtually any aspect of your day — even while you’re eating, working or doing household chores like washing dishes — simply by paying attention to the sensations you are experiencing in the present moment. Mindfulness meditation, on the other hand, is a more formal practice in which you consciously focus your attention on specific thoughts or sensations, and then observe them in a nonjudgmental manner.
This is just one type of meditation; there are many forms available. Transcendental meditation, for instance, is one of the most popular forms of meditation, practiced by millions of people around the world. It’s simple to perform. Simply choose a mantra that has meaning for you, sit quietly with your eyes closed and repeat your mantra for a period of about 20 minutes, twice a day.
The idea is to reach a place of “restful” or “concentrated” alertness, which enables you to let negative thoughts and distractions pass by you without upsetting your calm and balance. Some aspects of mindfulness, mindfulness meditation, and other forms of meditation overlap.
For instance, focusing your mind on your breath is one of the most basic, and most rewarding, relaxation and meditation/mindfulness strategies there is. To learn more about meditation and the different forms of practice available, see “Meditation Connects Your Mind and Body.”
Aside from the possibility that you’re simply misperceiving your inability to sleep, certain environmental factors can make it more difficult to fall asleep. This includes such things as:5
One of my favorite tools for resolving anxiety that contributes to insomnia is the Emotional Freedom Techniques (EFT), which combines tapping on certain points of your body with verbal statements that help pinpoint the underlying issues. In the video above, EFT therapist Julie Schiffman demonstrates how to tap for sleep.
EFT helps to release worries, fears and even physical symptoms that stand between you and a good night’s sleep by reprogramming your body’s reactions to many of the unavoidable stressors of everyday life, making it easier to take them in stride.
When stress triggers are reduced, you will naturally sleep better. In 2012, a triple blind study8 found that EFT reduced cortisol levels and symptoms of psychological distress by 24 percent — more than any other intervention tested. This is enormously significant, as there are few things that will destroy your health faster than stress.
Researchers at the American Academy of Sleep Medicine discovered that how you cope with stress might have an even greater impact on your sleep than the number of stressors you encounter. They also found that mindfulness therapies worked best for suppressing the “mental chatter” that inhibits the onset of sleep. Lead author Vivek Pillai, Ph.D., wrote,9 “While a stressful event can lead to a bad night of sleep, it’s what you do in response to stress that can be the difference between a few bad nights and chronic insomnia.”
To learn more about the ins and outs of sleep, and lots more tips and strategies to improve your quality and quantity of your rest, please see “Sleep — Why You Need It and 50 Ways to Improve It.” Whatever you do, avoid sleeping pills. Not only do they have extremely limited benefits, the side effects can be quite severe. Take Belsomra, for example, a next-gen type sleeping pill that acts on a neurotransmitter called orexin “to turn down the brain’s ‘wake messages.’”
The company’s own clinical trials showed the drug allowed people to fall asleep an average of six minutes sooner than those taking a placebo, and stay asleep 16 minutes longer. More than 1,000 consumer complaints against Belsomra have been filed with the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, with complaints ranging from lack of effectiveness and next-day drowsiness to sleep paralysis, heart problems and suicidal ideation. One in 5 reports claim the drug made them the opposite of sleepy.10
Other research has found sleeping pills like Ambien, Lunesta and Sonata reduce the average time it takes to fall asleep by about 13 minutes compared to placebo, while increasing total sleep time by about 11 minutes.11 Interestingly, participants believed they had slept longer, by up to one hour, when taking the pills. This is thought to be due to anterograde amnesia, which causes trouble with forming memories.
When people wake up after taking sleeping pills, they may, in fact, simply forget they’d been unable to sleep. Sonata is also associated with addiction.12 Studies have also shown that use of sleeping pills increase your risk of death and cancer.13 To learn more about the hazards of sleeping pills, see Dr. Daniel Kripke’s e-book, “The Dark Side of Sleeping Pills.”14
Fortunately, there are far safer options. While you work on addressing the root causes of your sleep problems, temporarily using a natural sleep aid may help you get to sleep easier. Following are a handful of alternatives:
Revelations is Bill Hicks’ last special ever, taped in 1992, and features him at the height of his genius. Recorded at the Dominion Theater in London, Bill Hicks opens our eyes and minds to the hypocrisy and ludicrousness of the world around us.
The best way to address the stress in your life is with consistent mind-body interventions.
With permission from
Anna Hunt, Staff Writer
Many people participate in practices such as meditation and yoga because they help us relax. At least those are the immediate effects we feel. But much more is happening on a molecular level, reveal researchers out of Coventry University in England.
Published in the journal Frontiers in Immunology, this new research examined 18 studies on mind-body interventions (MBIs). These include practices such as mindfulness meditation and yoga. Comprehensively, these studies encompassed 846 participants over 11 years. The new analysis reveals that MBIs result in molecular changes in the human body. Furthermore, researchers claim that these changes are beneficial to our mental and physical health.
To elaborate, consider the effect that stress has on the body. When we are under stress, the body increases the production of proteins that cause cell inflammation. This is the natural effect of the body’s fight-or-flight response.
It is widely believed that inflammation in the body leads to numerous illnesses, including cancer. Moreover, scientists also deduct that a persistent inflammation is more likely to cause psychiatric problems. Unfortunately, many people suffer from persistent stress, therefore they suffer from pro-inflammatory gene expression.
But there is good news! According to this new analysis out of Coventry, people that practice MBIs such as meditation and yoga can reverse pro-inflammatory gene expression. This results in a reduced risk of inflammation-related diseases and mental conditions.
Lead investigator Ivana Buric from Coventry University’s Centre for Psychology, Behaviour and Achievement stated:
“Millions of people around the world already enjoy the health benefits of mind-body interventions like yoga or meditation, but what they perhaps don’t realise is that these benefits begin at a molecular level and can change the way our genetic code goes about its business.
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 wellbeing.
More needs to be done to understand these effects in greater depth, for example how they compare with other healthy interventions like exercise or nutrition. But this is an important foundation to build on to help future researchers explore the benefits of increasingly popular mind-body activities.”
To conclude, the best way to address the stress in your life is with consistent mind-body interventions. You can begin with these simple practices:
Anna Hunt is the founder of Awareness Junkie, a community paving the way to better health, a balanced life, and personal transformation. In addition, she is the proprietor of OffgridOutpost.com, an online store offering GMO-free healthy storable food and emergency kits. Anna is a certified Hatha yoga instructor and founder of Atenas Yoga Center. She enjoys raising her children and being a voice for optimal human health and wellness. Visit her essential oils store here.
This article (Meditation and Yoga Change Your DNA to Reverse Effects of Stress, Study Shows) is copyrighted by Awareness Junkie, 2017, and is reposted here with permission.
Disclaimer: This article is not intended to provide medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. Moreover, views expressed here do not necessarily reflect those of Awareness Junkie or its staff.
“The breeze at dawn has secrets to tell you. Don’t go back to sleep. You must ask for what you really want. Don’t go back to sleep.”
Waking up at the same time every night without an alarm clock might be a sign that you need to pay attention to. You are a human being with energies flowing through your body that you may be unaware of.
Previous articles have explained energy meridians that are used in Traditional Chinese Medicine. These energy meridians are important for the practices of acupuncture and acupressure.
The energy meridians of the body are also connected to a clock system that according to ancient Chinese medicine is energizing different parts of your body at different times of the day. Waking between 3am and 5am every night is a sign that energies in that corresponding part of your body are blocked or weak.
Between 9 and 11pm is typically bedtime for most people. Difficulty falling asleep during this time is a sign of excess stress and worries from the day. Positive mantras, meditation, or successive muscle tension and relaxation exercises are recommended to help you sleep.
According to ancient Chinese medicine, this time frame is the time that the energy meridian of the gall bladder is active. Waking up at this time frame is associated with emotional disappointment. Practice unconditional self-acceptance and forgiveness of others in order to get back to sleep.
This is the energy meridian associated with the Chinese medicine body clock and the liver. Waking up at this time is associated with the emotions of anger and excess yang energy. Try drinking cool water and taking ownership of the situation that caused you to feel angry in order to rest peacefully through the night.
Waking up between 3am and 5am is associated with the energy meridian that runs through the lungs and the emotion of sadness. To help yourself get back to sleep, try some slow, deep breathing and express faith in your Higher Power to help you.
If the time that you awaken is between 3:00 am and 5:00am, it could also be a sign of your Higher Power alerting you to pay attention to messages that are being sent to align you with your higher purpose. Read more below about this important time frame for wakefulness.
The energy flow is in the large intestines during this time of the morning. Emotional blockages are also associated with this time of the early morning. Try stretching your muscles or using the restroom to help yourself get back to sleep.
IF YOU WAKE UP AT THE SAME TIME EVERY NIGHT, THIS MAY BE WHY
Our brains are not quite fully awake when we suddenly awaken at night. According to The NewYorker.com ‘One of the consequences of waking up suddenly, and too early, is a phenomenon called sleep inertia. First given a name in 1976, sleep inertia refers to that period between waking and being fully awake when you feel groggy. The more abruptly you are awakened, the more severe the sleep inertia.’
When we suddenly wake in the night, the prefrontal cortex part of the brain that is involved in decision-making and self-control is not awake yet. We are not capable of intelligent thoughts when we wake in the night so avoid making any important decisions.
Your sleep cycle is a time when you dream and you can also receive messages from the Divine about your path. Dreams can reveal details about the spiritual journey that you are on. As a human being on a spiritual journey, you need to be aware of the signs that your Higher Power is sending to you.
In the same way that emotional problems can manifest in the body as pain, your spirituality can also manifest in bodily form as well. The divine inner spark that we all posses is being called upon at the time that you are waking up. This signal from your Higher Power is something to tune into.
Many people believe that we are here to learn and develop our being and to become the best versions of ourselves. Some people call this process of moving to a higher level of awareness or consciousness an ascension. Being aware of your higher purpose is part of this process.
Breathing is not just for consuming oxygen; it’s also related to brain function and behavior.
June 19, 2017
Northwestern Medicine scientists have found for the first time ever that the rhythm of breathing causes electrical activity in the human mind that boosts emotional judgments and memory recall.
These influences on behavior are based on whether you inhale or exhale and whether you breathe through the mouth or the nose.
In the research, each person was able to identify a fearful face faster if they saw the face while breathing in compared to breathing out. Additionally, individuals were more likely to recall an object if they encountered it on the inhaled breath than on the exhaled one. Interestingly, the effect vanished if breathing was through the mouth.
“One of the major findings in this study is that there is a dramatic difference in brain activity in the amygdala and hippocampus during inhalation compared with exhalation,” said lead author Christina Zelano, assistant professor of neurology at Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine. “When you breathe in, we discovered you are stimulating neurons in the olfactory cortex, amygdala, and hippocampus, all across the limbic system.”
The study was published Dec. 6 in the Journal of Neuroscience.
The senior author is Jay Gottfried, professor of neurology at Feinberg.
Northwestern scientists first found these differences in brain activity while examining 7 patients with epilepsy who were scheduled for brain surgery. A week before the surgery, a surgeon implanted electrodes into the patients’ brains to identify the origin of their seizures. That gave scientists the opportunity to acquire electro-physiological data directly from their brains. The electrical signals proved that brain activity fluctuated with breathing. The activity takes place in brain areas where feelings, memory and smells are processed.
The discovery led scientists to ask if cognitive functions typically related to these brain areas — especially fear processing and memory — could also be influenced by breathing.
The amygdala is strongly connected to the emotional processing, especially fear-related emotions. So scientists asked about 60 individuals to make quick decisions on emotional expressions in the lab environment as their breathing was being recorded. While looking at pictures of faces expressing either fear or surprise, the individuals had to tell, as fast as they could, which feeling each face was expressing. (NeuroscienceNews.com picture is for illustrative purposes only.)
When faces were shown during inhalation, subjects recognized them as fearful faster than when faces were shown during exhalation. This was not the case for faces expressing surprise. These results decreased when individuals performed the same task while the breathing was through the mouth.
In another experiment — tied to the hippocampus — the same individuals were looking at pictures of objects on a computer screen and tried to remember them. Later, they were asked to describe those objects. Researchers discovered that recall was better if the pictures were shown during inhalation.
According to Zelano, the discoveries indicate that fast breathing may offer an advantage when somebody is in a dangerous situation.
“If you are in a panic state, your breathing rhythm becomes faster,” Zelano said. “As a result you’ll spend proportionally more time inhaling than when in a calm state. Thus, our body’s innate response to fear with faster breathing could have a positive impact on brain function and result in faster response times to dangerous stimuli in the environment.”
Another potential result of the research is on the main mechanisms of meditation or focused breathing. “When you inhale, you are in a sense synchronizing brain oscillations across the limbic network,” Zelano noted.
With permission from
May 19, 2017
Lose your temper on the road? Frustrated with colleagues at work? You may be cutting your life short, warns molecular biologist Elizabeth Blackburn–who won the Nobel Prize in Medicine in 2009–and health psychologist Elissa Epel, who studies stress and aging.
The authors claim in their new book, The Telomere Effect, that negative thoughts harm your health at the DNA level. Research has shown that a person’s “social relationships, environments and lifestyles” affect their genes. “Even though you are born with a particular set of genes, the way you live can influence how they express themselves.”
Blackburn and Epel say components of DNA called telomeres determine how fast your cells age. Short telomeres are one of the major reasons human cells grow old, but lab tests have shown that they can also grow longer. In other words, aging “could possibly be accelerated or slowed -and, in some aspects, even reversed.”
Research Proves That DNA Is Reprogrammed by Words and Frequencies
The aging and lifespan of normal, healthy cells are linked to the so-called telomerase shortening mechanism, which limits cells to a fixed number of divisions. During cell replication, the telomeres function by ensuring the cell’s chromosomes do not fuse with each other or rearrange, which can lead to cancer. Blackburn likened telomeres to the ends of shoelaces, without which the lace would unravel.
In one study, telomere length, an emerging biomarker for cellular and general bodily aging, was assessed in association with the tendency to be present in the moment versus the tendency to mind wander, in research on 239 healthy, midlife women ranging in age from 50 to 65 years.
“People who score high on measures of cynical hostility tend to get more cardiovascular disease, metabolic disease and often die at younger ages. They also have shorter telomeres.”
Pessimism shortens telomeres too.”When pessimists develop an aging-related illness, like cancer or heart disease, the illness tends to progress faster… They tend to die earlier,” warn the authors.
Ruminating over a bad situation is also destructive. “Rumination never leads to a solution, only to more ruminating… When you ruminate, stress sticks around in the body long after the reason for the stress is over.” The resulting depression and anxiety only make your telomeres shorter.
Trying to suppress thoughts and feelings makes matters worse. “The more forcefully you push your thoughts away, the louder they call out for your attention… In a small study, greater avoidance of negative feelings and thoughts was associated with shorter telomeres.”
Even lack of focus is bad for telomeres because “when people are not thinking about what they’re doing, they’re not as happy as when they’re engaged.” To reverse the harm to telomeres, try meditation and long-distance running.
You might reconsider the consequence of these seemingly innocuous habits when you learn how they can inhibit neurological function and cause the brain to age.
Remember, for the most part, your comfort zone isn’t doing you any favours. Break away from your normal routine and explore, write, create and travel. Try new things that stimulate the senses. Learning new skills keeps your brain young, and should be a priority at every age.
Not eating breakfast can lead to lower blood sugar levels, which ultimately deprives your brain of nutrients. If your brain isn’t given sufficient nutrition, it begins to degenerate. Eat a healthy, filling breakfast high in protein.
Smoking cigarettes can cause obstruction of blood flow to the brain, and also can lead to escape of blood into brain tissue. Smoking can cause brain cells to shrink, and has been linked to Alzheimer’s disease, strokes,
Eating sugar triggers inflammatory responses throughout the body, which ultimately stresses and ages cells. This can effect “from cognitive function to psychological wellbeing”. Sugar also has been linked to depression and anxiety.
When you’ve chronically been deprived of sleep, the brain is forced to emit stress responses which inflame and incite brain degeneration. Not sleeping naturally induces bad moods, lethargy and leads to depression and weight gain due to cortisol production. If you are in this habit currently, you may not realize it, but once you have a little sleep, you will soon notice the positive effect it has on your brain.
If you’re dependent on sleeping with a blanket covering your head then you might want to reconsider. The more ventilation, the better, because you want to be exposed to oxygen. Allow the body and mind to breathe in fresh air— the fresher the better. Open the windows, use fans, light incense, herbs, or aromatherapy.
When you overindulge on food, the body can become overloaded by the refined sugars and fats, and release stress responses as a result. These types of foods also clog arteries, which can lead to blockages in the brain.
The brain craves intellectual stimulation. Spend time with people who challenge your traditional patterns of thinking. The brain can get into ruts of small-minded thinking, which ultimately inhibit growth. This is how evolution is able to take place, by developing adaptation to our respective environments. Humans need to express themselves verbally and spend time with people who are different from themselves.
Some citifies (sic)experience more air pollution because they use wood-burning stoves or burn carbon in electricity production. You can look up the air quality index in your area, here.
The brain functions like a muscle, and therefore it needs to be rested in order for exercise to be integrated. When the brain experiences the type of relaxation induced by meditation, it clears passages and triggers change on a deep level. This improves cognitive functions. Most daily actions are taking place on a superficial level, which produces a natural anxiety in most people, which is an unhealthy habit. Meditation helps inhibit this type of hyperactivity, stressful mode of the brain.
Creative People Physically See and Process The World Differently
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April 27, 2017
If you’re the kind of person who relishes adventure, you may literally see the world differently. People who are open to new experiences can take in more visual information than other people and combine it in unique ways. This may explain why they tend to be particularly creative.
Openness to experience is one of the “big five” traits often used to describe personality. It is characterised by curiosity, creativity and an interest in exploring new things. Open people tend to do well at tasks that test our ability to come up with creative ideas, such as imagining new uses for everyday objects like bricks, mugs or table tennis balls.
There’s some evidence that people with a greater degree of openness also have better visual awareness. For example, when focusing on letters moving on a screen, they are more likely to notice a grey square appearing elsewhere on the display.
Patchwork PicturesAntinori and her colleagues asked 123 university students to complete a binocular rivalry test, in which they simultaneously saw a red image with one eye and a green image with the other eye for 2 minutes.
Usually, the brain can only perceive one image at a time, and most participants reported seeing the image flip between red and green. But some subjects saw the two images fused into a patchwork of red and green — a phenomenon known as “mixed percept”.
The higher the participants scored for openness on a personality questionnaire, the more they experienced this mixed perception.
In contrast, the other four major personality traits — extroversion, neuroticism, agreeableness and conscientiousness — weren’t significantly linked to experiencing this mixed perception.
Mind ExpandingThe results could explain why people with a high degree of openness tend to be more creative and innovative, Antinori says. “When they come up with all these crazy new uses for bricks, it might be because they really perceive the world differently,” she says.
The findings also hint at why extremely open people are more prone to paranoia and delusions, says Niko Tiliopoulos at the University of Sydney, Australia. “At those levels of openness, people may actually see reality differently,” he says. “For example, they may ‘see’ spirits, or misinterpret interpersonal or other signals.”
According to Antinori, there are similarities between high levels of openness and the experience of taking magic mushrooms. Previous work by her team has found that psilocybin — a hallucinogenic compound in magic mushrooms — increases a person’s openness scores in a personality questionnaire, and their experience of mixed percept in binocular rivalry tests.
The team has also found that some forms of meditation can increase mixed image perception in binocular rivalry tests.
Antinori next wants to see if similar neural processes are involved in mixed perception, creative thinking and the shifts in visual perception caused by psilocybin and meditation. “It seems that openness alters the filter of consciousness, and we’d like to know how,” she says.
April 22, 2017
A recent study has revealed that deep breathing can help manage stress. Researchers from the Stanford University School of Medicine and their colleagues have identified the exact neurons that link breathing and states of mind. These states of mind include attention, relaxation, anxiety, and excitement.
According to the findings of the paper, first published in Science on March 31 of this year, this cluster of neurons is found deep within the brainstem. Called “the pacemaker for breathing” by senior author and Professor of Biochemistry, Dr. Mark Krasnow, this structure was initially discovered in mice in the early ’90s by study co-author and Professor of Neurobiology at the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA), Dr. Jack Feldman. The pacemaker for breathing, Krasnow told Med.Stanford.edu, has a more difficult job than the heart because of the many distinct types of breathing, ranging from yawning to sighing to laughing. “We wondered if different subtypes of neurons within the respiratory control center might be in charge of generating these different types of breath.”
In collaboration with lead author and Faculty Fellow at UCLA, Dr. Kevin Yackle, Krasnow, and Feldman decided to pinpoint which neurons were responsible for the different kinds of breathing. The researchers accomplished this by knocking out some of those neurons in mice and only those neurons, which in turn severed the connection between arousal and the type of breathing, reports ZeeNews.India.com. They selected these neurons based on previous knowledge of mouse genes that had been associated with breathing.
The mice who no longer had the neurons for faster breathing were found to be “extraordinarily calm”. Yackle has said, “If you put them in a novel environment, which normally stimulates lots of sniffing and exploration. They would just sit around grooming themselves — evidence of what passes for mellowness when you’re a mouse.”
Over the course of the study, the researchers observed that these mice continued to display the other varieties of breathing, only at different capacities. They noted that there were less fast “active” breaths and more slow breaths. The researchers deduced that the neurons did not regulate breathing and instead “reported” to another structure in the brainstem, the locus coeruleus. The functions of this structure include waking us from sleep, triggering anxiety and maintaining alertness. This area, the researchers believe, is the reason why people feel calmer when they take slow, deep breaths.
“This study is intriguing because it provides a cellular and molecular understanding of how that might work,” Krasnow has said. “If something’s impairing or accelerating your breathing, you need to know right away. These 175 neurons, which tell the rest of the brain what’s going on, are absolutely critical.”
Feldman then added, “We’re hopeful that understanding this center’s function will lead to therapies for stress, depression and other negative emotions.”
People who suffer from stress-related are sometimes prescribed breathing-controlled exercises by medical practitioners. A similar exercise is a core component of yoga and is known as “pranayama” or the practice of controlling the breath. This control and extension of the breath can help manipulate the body’s energies to vitalize or soothe moods.
In a statement to NPR.org, Krasnow said, “This connection between breathing and higher-order brain function is an idea that’s been around for millennia, at least dating back to the time of development of pranayama yoga practices. The way that pranayama yoga and these other approaches try to calm the mind is to simply take control of your breathing by taking… slow… regular… breaths.”
You can learn more about how to maintain your health naturally by visiting MindBodyScience.news.
March 24, 2017
In their never-ending search for the best way to live, Greek philosophers argued over the relative benefits of hedonic and eudaimonic happiness. Hedonic well-being sees happiness as a factor of increased pleasure and decreased pain, while eudaimonic (“human flourishing”) happiness has more to do with having a larger purpose or meaning in life. A recent study from University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill psychologist Barbara Fredrickson may reveal which form of happiness is more beneficial for health and well-being.
The study, which was published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences last year, found that while both types of happiness can make you feel good, the latter could promote physical health and longevity as well. Using phone interviews, questionnaires and blood samples, the study explored how the two forms of happiness affected individuals on a genetic level. Participants with more hedonic and less eudaimonic well-being were found to have a lower production of virus-attacking antibodies, while those with more eudaimonic well-being experienced an increase in antibody production.
The traditional Chinese medicine technique is believed to address imbalances in a person’s qi (pronounced chi), the circulating energy within every living thing. Whether or not you believe in the existence of this energy flow, a new study published in Archives of Internal Medicine found that the age-old practice may be an effective way to relieve migraines, arthritis and other chronic pains.
Analyzing previous research data from approximately 18,000 subjects, researchers found that acupuncture was more effective than sham acupuncture and standard western care when treating various types of pain, including migraines and chronic back pain.
Traditional Buddhist teachings suggest that community is a key component in any happy, fulfilled life. A 2010 study conducted by Brigham Young University and University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill researchers confirmed this belief, concluding that a healthy social life promotes longevity.
In analyzing the 148 studies — involving more than 300,000 individual participants — available on the subject, the researchers discovered that those with stronger social relationships maintained a 50 percent increased likelihood of survival. The effect of social relationships on mortality risk is even greater than the effect of exercise or obesity.
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In this randomized controlled trial, 60 older adults with subjective cognitive decline (SCD), a condition that may represent a preclinical stage of Alzheimer’s disease, were assigned to either a beginner meditation (Kirtan Kriya) or music listening program and asked to practice 12 minutes/day for 12 weeks. As detailed in a paper recently published by the Journal of Alzheimer’s Disease, both the meditation and music groups showed marked and significant improvements in subjective memory function and objective cognitive performance at 3 months. These included domains of cognitive functioning most likely to be affected in preclinical and early stages of dementia (e.g., attention, executive function, processing speed, and subjective memory function). The substantial gains observed in memory and cognition were maintained or further increased at 6 months (3 months post-intervention).
As explained in the research team’s previous paper, both intervention groups also showed improvements in sleep, mood, stress, well-being and quality of life, with gains that were that were particularly pronounced in the meditation group; again, all benefits were sustained or further enhanced at 3 months post-intervention.
The findings of this trial suggest that two simple mind-body practices, Kirtan Kriya meditation and music listening, may not only improve mood, sleep, and quality of life, but also boost cognition and help reverse perceived memory loss in older adults with SCD.