Our medical expert answers your questions on weight problems, outlining the benefits of transcendental meditation.
Dr. Sandeep Chaudhary: Many people have problems controlling hunger and appetite, and science explains that there are hormonal reasons for this. The secretion of many of these hormones is directly effected by stress. Under stress one loses the natural intuition of knowing what the body does need and does not need. The Transcendental Meditation technique allows people to develop a state of mental and physical balance, where one naturally begins craving the foods that the body needs. When the body is getting what it craves, one tends to have a more balanced appetite.
Dr. Sandeep Chaudhary: Stress plays an important role in causing obesity. The hormone cortisone, for instance, is released as a response to stress. Cortisol increases insulin resistance, and insulin is a hormone that makes you gain and hold onto weight. When your body has increased insulin resistance, it has to secrete more insulin to metabolize the food you're consuming. So if you have higher cortisone levels, then you have more insulin resistance, which in turn causes weight gain. Several studies have shown that the Transcendental Meditation technique, by decreasing stress, causes baseline cortisone levels to drop.
Dr. Sandeep Chaudhary: Yes, of course, what you eat and the quality of foods that you eat are very, very important to your health. However, when people experience lower stress levels, they are better able to select the foods and the quantity of foods that will meet their natural metabolic needs. Research has shown that the TM program is the most effective stress management technique available.
Dr. Sandeep Chaudhary: I don't think it is a matter of resisting hunger, because in general when people start resisting something, their attention goes to it and they tend to desire it even more. A common problem people with weight problems notice is when they start restricting what they eat by dieting, they start craving the very foods they are trying to avoid. I would say that the TM technique reduces one's need to resist hunger by bringing more balance to one's appetite and awareness of one's true needs. This results in a natural reduction of the amount of food taken in. The TM technique reduces stress and brings more balance to one's body and mind so one spontaneously starts eating the foods that are good, at the right times of day, in the right quantities without having to resist hunger.
Dr. Sandeep Chaudhary: Yes, absolutely. Research shows that with other harmful habits such as smoking, many people who start the Transcendental Meditation technique quit smoking spontaneously rather than having to go on nicotine patches. In a similar way, a person may spontaneously and naturally stop behaviors such as over- eating and binge eating, which aren't in accordance with what one's body needs or requires.
Sandeep Chaudhary, M.D. earned a double board certification in both Internal Medicine and Pediatrics at Loma Linda University Medical School and later earned his board certification in Endocrinology at the University of California, San Diego. He is currently the Medical Director of Wellspring Endocrinology at Scripps Memorial Hospital in La Jolla, California.