Does Mindfulness Really Work?
Researchers have been looking into efficacy of mindfulness and its benefits on health.
Practicing “mindfulness” means being in the moment and “paying attention in a particular way, on purpose, in the present moment, non-judgmentally.”
Mindfulness has been widely studied in terms of its health benefits. I’m going to talk about a few of them below.
The link between mindfulness and stress
Have you heard the staggering statistics on how many doctors’ visits are due to stress? 75%-90%!
Mindfulness may help to reduces inflammation, stress hormone (cortisol), and improve quality of 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 an all encompassing 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 Index).
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 = eating less junk foods.
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.
Science is currently looking into 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!
Relaxing Herbal Teas
There are many relaxing herbal teas. Try any of these by steeping in boiling water:
- Peppermint tea (or steep fresh peppermint leaves)
- Ginger tea (or steep slices of real ginger)
- Green tea (some caffeine)
- Rooibos tea
- White tea (some caffeine)
Serve & enjoy!
Tip: You can add a touch of honey if desired.
Dr. Anna ND
- Mindful Eating 101 – A Beginner’s Guide. https://authoritynutrition.com/mindful-eating-guide/
- Salleh MR. Life Event, Stress and Illness. The Malaysian Journal of Medical Sciences : MJMS. 2008;15(4):9-18.
- Camilleri GM, Méjean C, Bellisle F, Hercberg S, Péneau S. Association between Mindfulness and Weight Status in a General Population from the NutriNet-Santé Study. Gillison F, ed. PLoS ONE. 2015;10(6):e0127447. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0127447.
- Younge JO, Leening MJ, Tiemeier H, Franco OH, Kiefte-de Jong J, Hofman A, Roos-Hesselink JW, Hunink MG. Association Between Mind-Body Practice and Cardiometabolic Risk Factors: The Rotterdam Study. Psychosom Med. 2015 Sep;77(7):775-83. doi: 10.1097.