Al Sears, MD
11905 Southern Blvd.
Royal Palm Beach, FL 33411
Did you realize that your body is still designed to deal with the stress of a prehistoric world?
If a wild animal threatened you, your fight-or-flight response kicked in…
Your heart rate, blood pressure and breathing all sped up. The hormones adrenalin and cortisol spiked. Inflammation increased in case there was an injury or infection.
Then, when the threat was gone, your body returned to a state of relaxation in 20 to 60 minutes.
But in today’s world, stress is more psychological.
We live in a fast-paced world with mental challenges. It’s losing a loved one, being stuck in traffic, or having an unreasonable boss and money troubles. And it’s constant.
In other words, you are in a chronic state of stress AND inflammation.
That inflammation leads to most of our most serious diseases of aging. I’m talking about heart disease, arthritis, diabetes, cancer, and Alzheimer’s disease.
Most doctors simply push Big Pharma’s drugs for stress. But drugs just mask the problem. And they come with nasty side effects.
New research shows there’s another way to reverse the effects of stress. And it works deep down at your cellular level.
Let me explain…
When your fight-or-flight response kicks in, your body increases a molecule called nuclear factor kappa B (NF-kB).
Under stress, NF-kB activates genes to produce proteins called cytokines. These are the proteins that cause inflammation at the cellular level.
Studies now show that you can reverse these negative effects with “mind body interventions” (MBIs).
I’m talking about things as simple as mindfulness, meditation, yoga, Tai Chi, Qigong, relaxation response and deep breathing techniques.
We now know that these practices don’t just relax you… They change your DNA.
In a new study, British researchers reviewed over a decade’s worth of data on the link between MBIs and our genes.1 They looked at 18 studies covering 846 people.
More than 80% of the studies found significantly lower activity of inflammation genes and NF-kB. Some studies showed that hundreds and even thousands of genes were altered by things like Qigong, yoga, Tai Chi and meditation.
In other words, MBIs steer your DNA away from the damaging effects of inflammation and toward a healthier stress response. And it only takes a few weeks or months to get the benefits.
MBIs change your DNA through your telomeres.
These cellular timekeepers cap the ends of each strand of DNA. They protect DNA as your cells divide.
But as telomeres get shorter, DNA gets damaged. You get older and your body breaks down.
Researchers at the University of California discovered that stress erodes your telomeres. They compared women who felt a lot of stress to women under little stress.
By measuring telomeres, they discovered the high-stress women were up to 10 years “older” than women with low stress levels!2
But MBIs protect telomeres by switching on telomerase. This enzyme programs your telomeres to grow longer.
In one study, researchers had stressed-out caregivers meditate every day.
In just eight weeks, they saw their telomerase levels skyrocket 43%.3
I’ve treated hundreds of patients with high stress. To protect their telomeres and offset the effects of stress at the cellular level, I recommend a simple meditation practice.
Now, sometimes I find new patients are intimidated by the idea of meditation. But don’t be. You don’t have to get up before the sun. Or sit cross-legged on the floor for an hour!