Did you know that the health and function of your entire body is dependent on the health of your nervous system? There is a variety of factors, including diet, environmental toxins, stress and emotions which can affect your nervous system.
What is the nervous system?
Think of the nervous system as your body’s electrical wiring. It is a super complex system of nerves and cells that carry magical messages throughout your entire body, beginning in the brain, traveling down the spinal cord and spreading through all channels in your body.
What does it do for me?
It’s your communication centre! Your body reacts to certain environmental stimuli which is your nervous system’s way of “protecting” you. Your nervous system is the messenger telling your brain if your life is in danger, whether it’s real life-threatening danger or “perceived” danger from long-term stress, long-term low-calorie diets, long-term food restriction, over exercising, they can all cause your nervous system to go into the “fight or flight” mode. Your nervous system also helps to control your body temperature, by signalling your white blood cells to fend off bad bacteria when the body has been infected by a virus, resulting in a fever.
What harms the nervous system?
- Poor dietary choices! A “junk food” diet short-circuits your mental attitude and your emotional responses creating a “trashy” brain. With the poor dietary choices nervous system disorders like stress, depression, anxiety and insomnia are more common.
- Refined sugar - your brain consumes the most glucose of any organ. But, if you eat too much sugar, you might experience irritability, nervousness, agitation and anxiety.
- Poor gut heath
- Excessive exercise – too much HIIT when stressed is not doing your nervous system any favours
- Drugs & Alcohol
- Chemical solvents
- Pesticides & herbicides
- Excessive caffeine
- White flour
- Hydrogenated oils – margarine, fried foods, packaged refined foods, canola oil, soybean oil
Here are 6 simple ways to nourish your nervous system
- Stop and take a few slow deep breaths — it’s the simplest and fastest way to activate your parasympathetic (rest and digest) nervous system. This restores calm and clear thinking. Breathing slow signals your body you’re not in “perceived danger” and can help to counteracts the effects of stress. Try taking 10 slow, deep breathes from your belly next time you feel stressed.
- Treat yourself — pleasurable experiences do so much good for your body. Get a massage, engage in a hobby or activity. You could enjoy a relaxing bath, listen to beautiful music, read a book in bed, take a nap, or go get your nails done if that makes you feel good.
- Reduce your sugar intake - avoid baked goods, refined foods, milk chocolate and swap for wholegrain carbs and healthy treats such as homemade bliss balls, refined sugar free muffins or dark chocolate 70%+.
- Get out in nature – without distraction (yes, that means so cell phone)! Connection to mother earth is one of the most healing things for your nervous system. Go climb a mountain, go fishing, go for a bush walk or a walk along the beach.
- Look after your gut – a healthy microbiome = a healthy nervous system. There are chemicals manufactured in the gut that are critical for the nervous system. GABA is an amino acid produced by gut bacteria that calms nerve activity by inhibiting transmissions and normalizing brain waves, helping return the nervous system to a calmer state after it’s been excited by stress.
- Reduce your caffeine intake – limit coffee to 1-2 cups per day, without sugar and before 2pm.