Meditation Increases Healthy Intestinal Bacteria and Reduces Risk of Cardiovascular Disease: Study

Meditation Increases Healthy Intestinal Bacteria and Reduces Risk of Cardiovascular Disease: Study

As a religious practice, meditation has been around for thousands of years in the East. It has also received widespread attention in modern-day medicine for nearly half a century and has gradually become popular in Western society. More and more studies have confirmed the various benefits of meditation on the human body.

The latest experimental results show that long-term meditation can increase the healthy bacteria bioflora in the intestine, which can help reduce anxiety, depression, and the risk of heart disease.

A study published in General Psychiatry on Jan. 16, 2023, reported that long-term meditation can regulate the balance of intestinal bioflora and have a positive impact on physical and mental health. The researchers analyzed stool and blood samples from 37 Buddhist monks from three Tibetan monasteries, as well as 19 nearby residents of similar ages and eating habits. The monks in the study practiced daily meditation for at least two hours, for a period spanning three to 30 years.
Analysis of stool samples showed that two healthy bacterial groups, Megamonas and Faecalibacterium, were significantly more abundant in the guts of the monk group than in the nearby residents. The researchers said that the two bacteria affect the body's inflammation status and metabolism, are linked to the alleviation of mental illness and can enhance immune function. In addition, analysis of blood samples showed that the monks had significantly lower cholesterol markers than the resident samples in the control group, indicating that they were at a lower risk of cardiovascular disease.

Meditation Reduces Anxiety and Relieves Pain

In recent years, many medical studies have confirmed the benefits of meditation on one’s physical and mental health. Dr. Leah Weiss, a lecturer at the Stanford Business School, said in an interview with NTDTV that meditation can help one focus better, improve work efficiency, and affect one’s ability to regulate emotions, making one calmer.
She also cites research showing that meditation can be effective in relieving chronic pain that does not respond to medication. By meditating, one learns how not to resist pain—but to reduce stress instead. With such relaxation, the body suffers significantly less, confirming traditional wisdom that has been around for thousands of years.
In 1979, American scholar Jon Kabat-Zinn created the Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction program, using meditation to help fight stress, chronic pain, and other diseases. The study found that after 90 chronic pain patients underwent 10 weeks of training in meditation, they used fewer pain medications, increased mobility, and improved self-confidence. During the 15-month follow-up after the completion of the program, most of the patients who participated in the program were still practicing meditation in their lives and felt the long-term effect of pain reduction.

Practice Meditation in Everyday Life

Dr. Yang Jingduan, a neurologist, psychiatrist, and founder of Yang Institute of Integrative Medicine in the United States, said in an NTDTV program that modern-day lifestyle keeps people in a state of chronic tension and stress for a prolonged period, resulting in the body's "sympathetic nervous system" continuously being in a hyperactive state. Over time, it will cause toxin accumulation, lower immunity, poor blood circulation, endocrine disorders, and other problems. Meditation can help enhance the "parasympathetic nervous system" and assist in the repair and regeneration of the body.

He also pointed out that meditation originates from Oriental religions and spiritual practices, which can help people focus on fixation at the current moment so that they can become ascetic, peaceful, and free from distracting thoughts. He went on to say that meditation can also be applied in daily life. "When you can do one single thing attentively, you are already in a state of meditating. When you have your meal, just think of eating and nothing else. Forget all the things of yesterday, the vacation of tomorrow." One should always focus on observing their thoughts, and on the things one can really control. "Once you think about what you can do now, and do that immediately without delay, you will feel relaxed almost immediately."

Jessica is a Hong Kong-based reporter for The Epoch Times, mainly focusing on Integrative Medicine.