- New study found Tibetan monks who meditate regularly have a better gut microbiome than people who don’t meditate.
- This isn’t the first study to link meditation to good gut health.
- Experts say it can’t hurt to add meditation to your life.
Meditation has been a buzzy practice for years, and research has linked it to everything from a lowered risk of depression to stress relief. Now, a new study found meditation may boost your gut health.
The study, which was published in BMJ General Psychiatry, analyzed the fecal (i.e. poop) samples of 56 Tibetan Buddhist monks and local residents, and conducted gene sequencing on their poop to examine their intestinal flora. The researchers discovered that two good forms of gut bacteria— Megamonas and Faecalibacterium—were “significantly enriched” in the group that practiced regular meditation.
The bacteria are linked with a lower risk of anxiety, depression, and heart disease, and has also been associated with an “enhanced immune function,” the researchers noted. Blood samples taken from the study participants also found that the monks had lower cholesterol levels than the control group.
“Long-term traditional Tibetan Buddhist meditation may positively impact physical and mental health,” the researchers wrote in the study’s conclusion. “Overall, these results suggest that meditation plays a positive role in psychosomatic conditions and well-being.”
It’s important to point out that the monks practice Ayurvedic meditation at least two hours a day and have been doing so for between three and 30 years—a level of dedication that’s not really practical for most people.
But this isn’t the only study that’s linked meditation to good gut health and beyond. So, should you be meditating regularly for your health? Here’s what experts have to say.
Why might meditation impact your gut health?
It’s important to acknowledge up front that the study was small, all of the participants were men, and they all lived in Tibet, making it hard to say definitively that everyone who meditates will have better health. “The monks and the controls differ from each other in many ways, not just in terms of meditation but in numerous factors, beyond the ones that were controlled for, including diet, prior life experiences,” points out Martin J. Blaser, M.D., professor and Henry Rutgers Chair of the Human Microbiome at Rutgers Robert Wood Johnson Medical School. “It is possible that meditation is the difference but that is not proven.” Still, he says, the study was “well-conducted.”
But there is other data to suggest meditation can boost your gut health. One meta-analysis published in 2017 determined that, while stress can disrupt the gut barrier function and microbiome, meditation helps …….