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Using Meditation to Slow Down the Aging Process

The Aging Process
Aging is a natural process. It’s proof of a life well-lived and a celebration of one’s many experiences. But as natural as it may be, many people prefer to hide such evidence of a long-lived life. In 2013, the anti-aging market waestimated to be worth $122.3 billion, growing at a rate of 7.8% between 2013 and 2019. 

From the time we are born, our cells are constantly dividing and creating new, identical cells, which enable the body to grow. Every cell contains chromosomes, which carry our genetic information. At the end of these chromosomes are telomeres, which act to protect our genetic information. Each time a cell divides, it creates a copy of its chromosomes which will be found in the replicate cell. However, each time the cell copies itself it results in shortening of the telomere length. As the telomeres get shorter, it results in external signs of aging. 
 

What Shortens our Telomeres?

Thirty years ago, researchers had little to no information regarding the underlying processes in aging. However, advancements in medical technologies have enabled researchers to better understand the association between shorter telomeres and advanced signs of aging. They’ve also found that other factors may accelerate the aging process, such as stress, consuming large amounts of alcohol, being obese and smoking. While many factors can have a negative effect on telomere length, the ability to increase telomere length has also been demonstrated.

The Meditation-Telomere Connection

One enzyme in particular has been associated with influencing telomere length. This enzyme, called telomerase, has been found to reverse telomere shortening. Studies have shown that when cells are exposed to telomerase the cell’s aging process is slowed down and these cells begin replicating themselves again. One meta-analysis included 190 subjects and found that mindfulness meditation was associated with increased telomerase activity in the blood cells. Taking an in-depth look, Epel and colleagues reviewed the association between mindfulness meditation and telomerase. They concluded that this association could be due to mindfulness meditation’s ability to reduce stress, decrease ruminative thoughts and change one’s perception of a stressor, which may promote beneficial hormones associated with maintaining telomere length. Additionally, Hoge and colleagues demonstrated that meditators experienced in loving-kindness meditation had longer telomere lengths than controls, indicating a beneficial effect of mindfulness on complex biochemical processes and aging. 

Lengthen Those Telomeres!

Thank you for taking the time to learn more about the aging process and the many ways a meditation practice may be beneficial. As you enjoy this week’s celebrations, take some time out for yourself - and for your telomeres!

Be Well,

The Unyte Team

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