Study: Meditation Program Combined With Vegan Diet “Increased Beneficial Bacteria” Even Months After Completion

According to a new study published in the journal BMC Complementary Medicine and Therapies an advanced meditation program combined with a vegan diet resulted in an “increase in beneficial bacteria even three months after the completion”.

“Growing evidence suggests a role for gut bacteria and their metabolites in host-signaling responses along the gut-brain axis which may impact mental health”, states the study’s abstract. “Meditation is increasingly utilized to combat stress, anxiety, and depression symptoms. However, its impact on the microbiome remains unclear.”

With that in mind, for this study researchers “observed the effects of preparation and participation in an advanced meditation program (Samyama) implemented with a vegan diet including 50% raw foods, on gut microbiome and metabolites profiles.”

The study included 288 subjects. Stool samples were collected at 3-time points for meditators and household controls, 2 months before Samyama (T1), right before Samyama (T2), and 3 months following Samyama (T3). “Meditators prepared for 2 months for the Samyama, incorporating daily yoga and meditation practices with a vegan diet including 50% raw foods.”

16 s rRNA sequencing was used to study participants’ microbiome. Alpha and beta diversities along with short-chain fatty acid (SCFA) were assessed. Metabolomics were performed on a mass spectrometer coupled to a UHLPC system and analyzed by El-MAVEN software.

“Alpha diversity showed no significant differences between meditators and controls, while beta diversity showed significant changes (padj = 0.001) after Samyama in meditators’ microbiota composition”, states the study. “After the preparation phase, changes in branched short-chain fatty acids, higher levels of iso-valerate (padj = 0.02) and iso-buytrate (padj = 0.019) were observed at T2 in meditators. Other metabolites were also observed to have changed in meditators at timepoint T2.”

Researchers conclude:

This study examined the impact of an advanced meditation program combined with a vegan diet on the gut microbiome. There was an increase in beneficial bacteria even three months after the completion of the Samyama program. Further study is warranted to validate current observations and investigate the significance and mechanisms of action related to diet, meditation, and microbial composition and function, on psychological processes, including mood.

The study was conducted by researchers at the University of Calgary in Canada and the Indiana University School of Medicine, Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center and University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine, all in the US.

The full study can be found by clicking here.