Tuesday November 12, 2019

New Study Shows Link Between Meditation And Greater Focus

Supplementation, a healthy diet, and daily exercise are key, with recent studies showing that aerobic exercise also increases brain size.

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Pranayamic breathing is just one way to improve brain health.

Pranayamic breathing – an important part of yoga and meditation – has a unique ability to strengthen our focus and a new study by Trinity College Dublin has unlocked its secret. The researchers note that pranayamic breathing affects the levels of a natural chemical in the brain called noradrenaline. The latter is released when we are challenged, curious, focused, or emotionally excited. When present at the right levels, noradrenaline helps the brain grow new connections and helps us concentrate better on important tasks.

The old masters were on the right track

The researchers noted: “Practitioners of yoga have claimed for some 2,500 years, that respiration influences the mind. We looked for a neurophysiological link that could help explain these claims.” The researchers did so by measuring breathing, reaction time, and brain activity in a small area in the brainstem called the locus coeruleus, where noradrenaline is made. Noradrenaline is affected by stress; when we are worried or anxious we produce too much, and cannot concentrate. When we feel lazy, on the other hand, we produce too little and once again, focus is lost. One way to boost levels is through yoga; another method which can complement the latter is the consumption of medical grade focus supplements, which contain compounds such as octopamine (which has a similar effect to noradrenaline).

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Conversely, those with lower mindfulness ratings had greater activation of this part of the brain and also felt more pain. Pixabay

Pranayamic breathing aces the right balance

In the above study, researchers noted that brain activity in the part of the brain where noradrenaline is produced raises slightly when we inhale and drops slightly as we exhale. Thus, balance is achieved and we can focus on what we have set out to do. Pranayama not only boosts concentration but also produces “changes in arousal, attention, and emotional control that can be of great benefit to the meditator.”

What is Pranayamic breathing?

Pranayamic breathing involves controlling and extending breath, with a view to manipulating your vital energy, battling stress, and improving your mood. It is often used in meditation and yoga and interestingly, many yoga experts rank pranayama as even more important than asanas (the postures performed in a yoga session). In yogic tradition, breath is said to carry a person’s life force. Interestingly, scientific studies back this assertion to the extent that pranayamic breathing is able to boost brain function and change the actual structure of the brain. In recent studies, pranayamic breathing has been found to lower or stabilize blood pressure, lower stress, and reduce anxiety and depression.

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In order to comprehend better the Indian seers constructed the special “BOAT” – named Yoga/Meditation.

Implications of the study for aging

The researchers are excited that their findings could signal a way to prevent brain aging. They stated that if brains typically lose mass as we age, practices such as pranayamic breathing greatly reduce the rate of brain shrinkage, thus potentially helping keep dementia and related diseases at bay. Because keeping noradrenaline levels at an optimal level can help the brain grow new connections, meditation is an ideal activity to pursue.

Pranayamic breathing is just one way to improve brain health. Supplementation, a healthy diet, and daily exercise are key, with recent studies showing that aerobic exercise also increases brain size. To make the most of the effect of breathing on focus, consider joining a yoga class or learning the essence of pranayamic breathing online or through an app like Prana Breath or Universal Breathing.

Next Story

Researchers Find That Discount on Medical Drugs Can Make you Purchase Them More

The study used Canadian national pharmacy data from 2.82 million prescriptions for 89 different medications where brand-name drug discount cards were used and compared

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While Discount cards decreased some patients' out-of-pocket costs by 7 per cent on an average, the study surprisingly found that many patients who filled prescriptions using a card were worse-off financially as a result. Pixabay

Researchers have found that brand-name Drug Discount cards are leading to higher healthcare spending in Canada.

Brand-name drug discount cards — also known as co-pay cards — are coupons offered by drug manufacturers to encourage patients to use brand-name drugs even after much cheaper generics became available.

Despite often boosting savings for customers, the study’s findings published in the Canadian Medical Association Journal show that drug discount cards actually increased private insurer costs by 46 per cent and public insurer costs by 1.3 per cent, compared to patients purchasing generics instead.

“We know that generic drugs are equally effective for the vast majority of patients. Given that, I believe these cards are leading to unjustifiable increases in health care costs,” said the study’s lead author Michael Law from the University of British Columbia in Canada.

While discount cards decreased some patients’ out-of-pocket costs by 7 per cent on an average, the study surprisingly found that many patients who filled prescriptions using a card were worse-off financially as a result.

This wasn’t the case for all drugs, but in some cases patients could pay up to $10 more out-of-pocket when using a discount card.

The study used Canadian national pharmacy data from 2.82 million prescriptions for 89 different medications where brand-name drug discount cards were used and compared the costs of these prescriptions to matched generic equivalents.

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Researchers have found that brand-name Drug Discount cards are leading to higher healthcare spending in Canada. Pixabay

The researchers said that patients, their clinicians and employers should be aware of the impact that brand-name discount cards have on the healthcare system.

For example, the increased costs to private insurers will likely be passed on to the patients and their employers in the form of increased insurance premiums.

ALSO READ: Ram Mandir To Be Built In Ayodhya By 2022

“Regardless of whether they hold insurance, patients should check the relative price between brand-name drugs with a discount card and the equivalent generics at their pharmacy,” said Law. (IANS)