Long-term meditation changes your poop

A new study of Tibetan monks reveals that a dedicated practice of meditation changes your poop. According to the new research from Shanghai Jiao Tong University School of Medicine, the specific population of gut bacteria in the meditating monks' poop is "associated with a reduced risk of anxiety, depression and cardiovascular disease and could enhance immune function."

Overall, these results suggest that meditation plays a positive role in psychosomatic conditions and well-being," the researchers write in their scientific paper.

The researchers compared the fecal samples of the monks with a control group living near the temple. Both groups had the same diet of staple food that "included highland barley, rice, steamed bread and noodles, and the supplementary food primarily comprised vegetables, meat and butter tea."

From Psypost:

The researchers employed advanced techniques to analyze the bacterial DNA from the fecal samples, focusing on the 16S ribosomal RNA gene, a common target for identifying and comparing bacteria present in the samples. This method allowed them to determine the diversity and abundance of different bacteria in the gut. Additionally, they measured various biochemical indices in the participants' blood to explore potential health implications of the differences in gut microbiota.

The analysis revealed differences between the monks and their non-meditating counterparts. Specifically, the monks' gut bacteria were less diverse but had a higher prevalence of certain bacteria associated with positive health outcomes, such as Prevotella and Bacteroides[…]

Looking ahead, researchers are eager to dive deeper into the mind-gut connection through metagenomic sequencing, a more detailed method that can unravel the functional capabilities of the gut microbiota. This future research could provide clearer insights into how meditation and other mental practices can be harnessed to enhance our physical health, paving the way for meditation to become an integral part of treatments for a range of psychosomatic disorders.