There’s increased evidence showing that practices such as qi gong, meditation and yoga can not only prevent disease, but actually reverse it and delay aging as well. As scientists learn more about such topics as gene expression, what turns a gene on or off, and how to prevent telomeres, (the strands of protein in our cells that control aging) from unraveling, it becomes impossible to ignore just how much our good lifestyle choices can pay off. For instance, researchers at UCSF have shown for the first time that “changes in diet, exercise, stress management and social support may result in longer telomeres, the parts of chromosomes that affect aging.”
In another article on the website www.yang-sheng.com, Dr. Sharon Montes writes of her interest in Dr. Dean Ornish’s work in preventative medicine using diet, exercise and meditation to reverse illness, cancer and aging:
“Building on this work, other researchers have found that meditation and nutrition can actually change the structure of our genes. Dr. Ornish and others have shown that the lifestyle decisions that we make actually turn on or turn off genes. One study “Changes in prostate gene expression in men undergoing an intensive nutrition and lifestyle intervention” of men with low-risk prostate cancer who followed a program of intensive nutrition and lifestyle changes showed changes in genetic activity after only three months on the program. Genes that promote cancer suppression were up-regulated, while genes lead to cancer promotion were down regulated.
If you imagine our genes to be a spiral of proteins that wind and unwind to give form to various chemicals and structures in our body, the telomere is the “cap” at the ends of the spiral that keeps the spiral in order. (One writer compares it to the plastic coating on the end of a shoelace that keeps the threads from unraveling.) With time and successive cell divisions, our telomeres become shortened and our chromosomes become somewhat frayed. It has been shown that healthy diets and stress management/meditation can lengthen our telomeres.”
The Qi Gong Institute also has done research and shown favorable results in the use of Qi Gong to “lengthen telomeres,” in other words, to reverse or delay aging. There are similar studies showing that meditation helps to lengthen telomeres as well, perhaps because it reduces stress in the body.