Recently we covered a story about how thinking can alter the nervous and immune systems.
Another recent study, published in Scientific Reports, shows an integrative medicine program of yoga, meditation and massage alters blood-based biomarkers of inflammation and cardiovascular disease in as little as 6 days.
The Role of Integrative Medicine on Health
Integrative medicine and practices such as yoga and meditation have been used for centuries in Chinese, Ayurvedic, and Indian philosophies. And while it’s known they do influence the body, particularly in stress reduction, there have been very few studies that prove their effects on human physiology.
To a large extent, the studies that have been done have only shown that yoga influences blood pressure and heart rate variability. So this new study may open up a whole new field of exploration for future health researchers.
The Scientific Field of Human Metabolites
Researchers now have the scientific knowledge to understand human metabolome – the interplay among gene expression, protein expression, environmental factors and well-being.
These are measured through examining blood metabolites that act as intermediates or end points of metabolism. One great benefit of this area of research is it can help identify biomarkers for risk assessment in chronic disease, being able to reveal information about the interactions between our genes, the environment and our gut microbiota, which influence health or disease.
Study Reveals Just 6 Days of Healthy Change Can Alter Blood Metabolites
Ayurvedic medicine (Panchakarma), an Indian philosophy of disease prevention and health promotion incorporates a vegetarian diet, herbs, meditation, yoga, massage, and heat therapies.
This study looked at a panel of 186 blood metabolites in healthy participants from a 6-day controlled intervention of 2 groups:
- PH group (65 people) – following Panchakarma-based Ayurvedic intervention – as outlined above.
- Control group (54 people) – given simple relaxation instruction.
The results show that “93% of detected metabolites were reduced in abundance in the PH compared to control group.” And, 12 of the metabolites that decreased were “specific cell-membrane chemicals (phosphatidylcholines) correlating with serum cholesterol and inversely related to type 2 diabetes risk.”
It’s known that diet can directly influence metabolites, as this has been shown in previous studies. Logically this does make sense because we digest nutrients from the food we eat, which enters our bloodstream to fuel the various metabolic functions of the body.
With the incorporation of the multiple integrative strategies used in this study, it is difficult to say whether it was solely diet that influenced metabolites, or if the other factors also played a significant part in the outcomes.
But what is surprising, is that changes to human physiology can occur very quickly when health incentives are implemented. As this study showed, changes in metabolites directly linked to inflammation, cardiovascular disease and cholesterol were decreased in just 6 days!
We all know that our diet in particular influences our health, so this new study provides us all with some additional motivation to focus on what goes in our mouths every day. Along with adding relaxation and meditation practices to our routine!