You Are What You Think
I’ve been doing a lot of reading about how thoughts can affect our physical bodies. There are many people who write about how emotions can cause fatigue, achy muscles and joints, headaches, ulcers, etc. I personally know people who have had ulcers and headaches because of living in a stressful environment. I know people who have had their glucose readings very high for the same reasons. Chronic stress is known to cause hormonal imbalances, it can affect brain chemistry which can put stress on the immune system, and research is now starting to show that not only can stress damage our DNA, but what we think can damage our DNA.
We’ve all heard the famous phrase, “I think, therefore I Am.” Or how about the phrase, “You are what you eat.” Well, the science is now pointing to we are what we think. Literally. The negative thoughts that we have can change the telomeres in our DNA. Telomeres are stretches of DNA that cap our chromosomes and help prevent chromosomal deterioration. They are kind of like the plastic cap on shoelaces which keep them from fraying out. The negative thoughts we have can shorten the telomeres. People with cancer, diabetes, heart disease, and people who live high stress lives usually are seen having shorter telomeres. Our goal is to keep our telomeres intact.
There was a study done on the telomeres with women who had depression. The women had experienced some adversity during childhood (mainly from being sexually abused). The women had more mitochondrial DNA than other women who had never experienced the same abuse. Scientists believed that that the energy needs of their cells had changed in response to their stress. Mitochondria is the powerhouse organelles that provide energy for the rest of the cells.
There have been recent studies done on the DNA that show thoughts having an effect on the DNA. For example, there was a study done in which a person’s DNA was placed in a sealed container in another room from the subject. The person was given emotional stimulus that caused a range of emotions. When the person experienced a negative emotion, the DNA would tighten. When the person experienced a positive emotion, the DNA would loosen up. Now remember, the DNA extracted from the person was placed in another room!
Another study took white blood cells from an individual. The person was given the stimulus test. Both the DNA and the person showed the same response at the same exact time. There was not even a lag time. The DNA was also taken as far as 50 miles away from the person with the same results!
When we speak, we are literally speaking to our genes with every thought we have. Each thought causes a neurochemical change in our body. Every thought we is an electrochemical event taking place in our nerve cells producing a cascade of psychological changes. Our body has 100’s of receptors on each cell that we have. Each receptor on the cell is specific to one peptide or protein. When we experience feelings like happiness, guilt, sadness, anger, excitement, or nervousness, each of these feelings let off a bunch of neuropeptides that connect with these receptors changing the structure of each cell as a whole. If you are constantly thinking negative thoughts all the time, you are literally programming your cells to receive more of the same negative peptides in the future.
The good news is that every single cell in our body is replaced about every 2 months. You can reprogram your cells simply by watching what you think. Practicing mindfulness, PraiseMoves, or things like being grateful, can help you to have positive change in your genes. It comes down to choices. We have a choice to think negative thoughts all of the time or think positive thoughts all the time. When we begin to think positive thoughts on a daily basis, we begin to create healthy new cells. It is also to remember to have a healthy sleep routine. Sleep is an important function in the process of healing our body, repairing damage in the body, and creating new cells.
- Heather Carnes