Mindfulness and Meditation, Do They Really Work?

Well…yes, they do really work. The fact is, science shows definite health benefits for people who use mindfulness and meditation.

Before we dive in, let’s just make sure we’re on the same page when we say “mindfulness” and “meditation.”

“Meditation” is the ancient practice of connecting the body and mind to become more self-aware and present. It’s often used to calm the mind, ease stress, and relax the body.

Practicing “mindfulness” is one of the most popular ways to meditate. It’s defined as “paying attention in a particular way, on purpose, in the present moment, non-judgmentally.”

Mindfulness meditation is well studied in terms of its health benefits. I’m going to talk about a few of them below, and refer to it as “mindfulness” for the rest of the post.

 

THE LINK BTWEEN MINDFULNESS AND HEALTH = STRESS REDUCTION

Have you heard the staggering statistics on how many doctors’ visits are due to stress? Seventy-five to ninety percent!

So, if you ask me, it makes a ton of sense that anything that can reduce stress can reduce health issues too.

Mindfulness reduces inflammation, reduces levels of the stress hormone cortisol, and improves sleep. All of these can have massive effects on your physical and mental health.

I’ll briefly go over the research in three main areas: mood, weight, and gut health. But know that the research on the health benefits of mindfulness is branching into many other exciting new areas too.

 

MINDFULNESS FOR MOOD

The most immediate health benefit of mindfulness is improved mood.

In one study, people who took an 8-week mindfulness program had greater improvement in symptoms according to the “Hamilton Anxiety Scale.” They were compared with people who took a stress management program that did not include mindfulness. It seems that the mindfulness training was key to lowering symptoms.

Other studies show that mindfulness has similar effects as antidepressant medications for some people with mild to moderate symptoms of depression.

While mindfulness isn’t a full-fledged cure, it can certainly help to improve moods.

 

MINDFULNESS FOR WEIGHT

Studies show that people who use mind-body practices, including mindfulness, have lower BMIs (Body Mass Indices).

How can this be?

One way mindfulness is linked with lower weight is due to stress-reduction. Mindfulness can reduce stress-related and emotional overeating. It can also help reduce cravings and binge eating.

Another way it can work for weight is due to “mindful eating.” Mindful eating is a “non-judgmental awareness of physical and emotional sensations associated with eating.” It’s the practice of being more aware of food and the eating process. It’s listening more deeply to how hungry and full you actually are. It’s not allowing yourself to be distracted with other things while you’re eating, like what’s on TV or your smartphone.

People with higher mindfulness scores also reported smaller serving sizes of energy-dense foods. So it seems that more mindful eating = less junk.

Mindfulness about food and eating can have some great benefits for your weight.

 

MINDFULNESS FOR GUT HEALTH

Recent studies show a link between stress, stress hormones, and changes in gut microbes (your friendly bacteria and other critters that help your digestion).In theory, mindfulness-based stress reduction could be a way to help prevent negative changes in the gut’s microbes.

Also, irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) seems to be linked with both stress and problems with gut microbes. In one study, people with IBS who received mindfulness training showed greater reductions in IBS symptoms than the group who received standard medical care.

The research here is just starting to show us the important link between stress, gut health, and how mindfulness can help.

 

CONCLUSION

Science is confirming some amazing health benefits of the ancient practice of mindfulness meditation. For moods, weight, gut health, and more.

Do you regularly include it in your life? If so, have you seen benefits? If not, would you consider trying it?

Let me know in the comments below.

 

RECIPE: Relaxing Herbal Teas

There are many relaxing herbal teas that would be great after meditation.

Try any of these by steeping in boiling water:

  • Green tea (has a bit of caffeine, or you can choose decaffeinated green tea)
  • White tea (also has a bit of caffeine, or you can choose decaffeinated white tea)
  • Rooibos tea
  • Peppermint tea (or steep fresh peppermint leaves)
  • Ginger tea (or steep slices of real ginger)

Serve & enjoy!

Tip: You can add a touch of honey if desired.

BONUS Guided Meditation “Recipes” (videos, apps & podcasts)

How to Meditate video

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=h0y1Lu0L8nU&index=5&list=PLerdqrUWzOkd7m9HQj1yfJiI09pwVhPcD

How to Meditate in One Minute or Less Every Day video

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VtG8No-MMOM&list=PLerdqrUWzOkd7m9HQj1yfJiI09pwVhPcD&index=10

Breethe App *MY FAVOURITE!! 

https://breethe.com/

Calm App

https://www.calm.com/

Headspace App (free 10-day trial)

https://www.headspace.com/headspace-meditation-app

Daily Meditation Podcast

https://itunes.apple.com/us/podcast/daily-meditation-podcast/id892107837?mt=2

Hay House Meditations Podcast

https://itunes.apple.com/us/podcast/hay-house-meditations/id955266444?mt=2

 

References:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Meditation

https://www.dietvsdisease.org/benefits-mindfulness-meditation/

https://nccih.nih.gov/health/meditation/overview.htm

https://authoritynutrition.com/mindful-eating-guide/

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3341916/

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4454654/

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/26186434

About Me


Hi, I’m Tracy! I create food solutions to feed your life goals. I’m a Nutritionist, chocoholic + superhero fan. Mom to three, wife to one, crazy about all four, and food! When you work with me you’ll learn to savour life and nourish all that it has to offer.

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Tracy Houle Nutrition
I used to be a HUGE fan of turtles chocolates, anytime time of the year!

Not so much anymore!

This 3 ingredient version is wayyyyy better and minus all the shitty processed stuff in the processed version.

Does it look like I’m suffering while clean eating? I think not... 😉

#cleaneats #cleandessert #snack #snacktime #delicious #yum #foodie #servingupsimplicity #whole #happy #ingredient #ingredientsmatter #anytimeanyplace #homemade #funinthekitchen #chocolate🍫 #darkchoclate #dates #nuts #paleo #paleodessert #sweettooth #kids @ Oakville, OntarioImage attachment

I used to be a HUGE fan of turtles chocolates, anytime time of the year!

Not so much anymore!

This 3 ingredient version is wayyyyy better and minus all the shitty processed stuff in the processed version.

Does it look like I’m suffering while clean eating? I think not... 😉

#cleaneats #cleandessert #snack #snacktime #delicious #yum #foodie #servingupsimplicity #whole #happy #ingredient #ingredientsmatter #anytimeanyplace #homemade #funinthekitchen #chocolate🍫 #darkchoclate #dates #nuts #paleo #paleodessert #sweettooth #kids @ Oakville, Ontario
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Would love your recipe!

They look so good !

Clean eating feels great. It tastes even better knowing it's good for you 🥰

do you have the recipe for this....mmm good!!

Could be our snack after yoga

Prosciutto! Not something that is touted as a health food BUT Italian prosciutto di Parma is made from pigs fed on the whey of Parmigiano-Reggianno cheese (which is highly fermented and beneficial to our gut bacteria) and chestnuts (omega 3’s.)
.
Of course we should all minimize intake of processed meats but if you are going to consume it - it’s nice to know that this specialty ham offers some healthy fat.
.
#arugula #italian #greens #healthy #fat #nutrition #onelife #potatoes #mediterraneanfood #salad #friyay #feelgoodfood #comfort #roots #parmaitaly #guthealth #fermented #delicious #thatcleanlife #organic

Prosciutto! Not something that is touted as a health food BUT Italian prosciutto di Parma is made from pigs fed on the whey of Parmigiano-Reggianno cheese (which is highly fermented and beneficial to our gut bacteria) and chestnuts (omega 3’s.)
.
Of course we should all minimize intake of processed meats but if you are going to consume it - it’s nice to know that this specialty ham offers some healthy fat.
.
#arugula #italian #greens #healthy #fat #nutrition #onelife #potatoes #mediterraneanfood #salad #friyay #feelgoodfood #comfort #roots #parmaitaly #guthealth #fermented #delicious #thatcleanlife #organic
... See MoreSee Less

Comment on Facebook

I am super thrilled for that as will my daughter be 🙂

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