Generally, we only think of immunity once we are sick (or in the midst of a pandemic!), and become acutely aware of the apparent absence of health.
But wouldn’t it make more sense to be aware of your immunity when you are well and can build up your protective immune system support shield against sickness, inflammation, and disease?
Prevention is better than cure. We know this.
Whether a cold or the onset of something more serious, immune cell function is one of your greatest allies.
And what is more important than health?
So what shall we do? There’s plenty of immunity-boosting tips out there. But which ones are scientifically proven? If you’re going to do something, you want it to work.
Here’s where mindfulness and other practices of meditation come in. Research has shown there are many benefits of meditation including powerful links between meditation and immune support—study after study demonstrates a positive immune response. Scientists are also rigorously studying the relationship between stress (helped by meditation) and immune function. Let’s take a further look. The wait for better health is over.
There’s a Reason it’s Called Your “Floating Brain”
Supremely intelligent, your immune system is known as your “floating brain” for its ability to communicate with the brain through chemical messages. But when this whole system is weakened, through stress or pathogens, you are more vulnerable to infection and disease.
Dr. Richard Davidson at the University of Wisconsin-Madison studied this connection and whether meditation could impact the brain and immune function. The study covered an 8-week period and observed meditators and non-meditators’ response to an initial injection of flu. The group who were taught meditation for the 8-weeks showed an increase in their level of antibodies—responsible for reacting to and preventing illness.
It shows that commitment to a regular meditation practice may enhance your mind-body’s ability to fight disease. And considering meditation has many other demonstrable physiological and psychological benefits, it’s worth giving it a go!
Do you know what your telomerase activity is? You need to.
Firstly, what is a telomere?! They essentially protect the end of each chromosome by forming a cap (think of the hard tip at the end of a shoelace that protects the shoelace from deteriorating…side note: did you know that was called an aglet?), Telomeres shield the chromosome during cell division from deteriorating or joining with others.
As we age, the telomere length is reduced, because each time a cell divides, it gets infinitesimally shorter. When it reaches a certain length, it either no longer replicates or dies. (It’s also important to note here that stress and lifestyle factors contribute to this deterioration as well.) So why does telomere length matter?
Telomere reduction can lead to premature aging and cancer. Research shows that “accelerated telomere shortening is associated with early onset of many age-associated health problems, including coronary heart disease, heart failure, diabetes, increased cancer risk, and osteoporosis.” For example, in women, longer telomeres have been associated with a lower risk of breast cancer.
Telomerase is an enzyme that slows the shortening of our telomeres. Thus, increasing telomerase activity is crucial as it slows cellular aging. What can you do? Meditate. A groundbreaking review of research revealed that meditation increased telomerase activity—this randomized controlled trial shows how powerful a regular, daily meditation practice can be.
Just as Santa has elves, you’ve got helper cells—but do you have enough?
While we go about our day, the majority of us rarely put a thought to all the bacteria, viruses, and disease our body is fending off! Namely through CD-4 cells (or T cells), also known as the helper cells, that help coordinate the immune response by stimulating other immune cells—but do you have enough?
As much as we try to defy it, age is chasing our tail! With it, our immune response capability and ability to fight off infection, illness, and disease, is reduced. The body and mind become under increasing strain as the years go on. Scientists observe that this increased risk not only relates to telomerase activity and telomere length but a decrease in T cells (helper cells). A study published in The New York Academy of Sciences, suggests meditation is a possible way to counter this decrease.
This finding is supported by the recent review of 20 randomized control trials that studied the effects of meditation on the immune system, and they discovered an increase in CD-4 cells. The study also showed decreases in inflammation, which is a great sign considering high levels of inflammation often relate to a reduction in immune cell function and a higher rate of disease. So start meditating, and you take steps to reduce inflammation and give your body an immune cell boost!
And did you know you’ve also got killer cells working hard too? The human form truly is astonishing. Let’s discover more about your super-charged killer cells, what they do, and how you can increase their number!
No.1 Technique to Boost Your Natural Killer Cells
Natural killer cells are the first line of defense in our immune system against foreign invaders—everything from HIV and cancer to the common cold. And what’s been found is that the number of natural killer cells produced by our immune system is significantly higher in people who practice a technique called SKY Breath Meditation (SKY) than the population at large. Additionally, research showed lymphocyte count increased significantly in SKY practitioners, more than fivefold in just six weeks, compared with the control group, which suggests enhanced immune function.
What is SKY Breath Meditation? It’s a breathwork-based meditation technique, practiced by millions of people around the world, that’s been scientifically validated to increase natural killer cell and lymphocyte count, plus happiness, serenity, optimism, energy levels, social connection, and quality of life—many of which have been further confirmed by a recent Arizona/Harvard study.
The Hidden Consequence of Stress
According to the American Medical Association, stress alone has been shown to either cause or aggravate 60-80% of all diseases. Studies reveal a correlation between stress and immunological consequences. Unless stress is managed, it starts to pervade immune function and all aspects of life.
And the good news is that you can positively impact your ability to manage stress through SKY Breath Meditation (SKY)—independent research has shown that SKY reduces levels of cortisol, the stress hormone, from the very first session, and also reduces blood pressure.
Stress reduction is possible wherever you are in life.
Would you like to see how SKY can support your immune health and overall well-being? Try this free workshop, Beyond Breath, and discover how SKY can help you.