Michael Blanding, in a 2015 Forbes article, wrote that workplace stress was responsible for up to $190 billion in annual US Healthcare Costs. There is a huge increase in certain autoimmune diseases such as Type 2 diabetes, Celiac disease and Hashimoto. Many go undiagnosed for years, making treatment more difficult and expensive. Stress, poor diet and lack of knowledge are contributing factors that cause many of these diseases, all things that we can change in our lives!
Retreat Central has reached out to Dr. Brandon Nutt of The Wellness Institute of Dallas to write a 12-part series on health and wellness. The first in the series is on a little known system in our bodies called the Parasympathetic nervous system. Resting and digesting sounds easy enough. Just eat a big, preferably healthy, meal and kick your feet up. Unfortunately for many people, their brains and GI tract (aka “Gut”) are no longer wired to do this seemingly easy task. You may not even realize this could be you!
Our nervous system has a branch called the Autonomic nervous system. This is the functions our brain does automatically. There are 2 divisions of this system; the Sympathetic nervous system or “Fight or Flight” and the Parasympathetic nervous system or “Rest and Digest”. The Parasympathetic nervous systems functions are highlighted in todays topics because nearly every patient I see has some degree of autonomic imbalance and I bet by the end of this article you will be able to spot a possible autonomic problem like an expert.
The Parasympathetic nervous system controls functions like changing the size of our pupils to focus our vision, controlling the diameter of our blood vessels to supply nutrients and oxygen to muscles and organs, induces saliva production, increases gut motility to move things along in the intestines, increases mucous production in the GI tract, plays a roll in heart rate, helps sexual organ function, triggers release of digestive enzymes and stomach acid, and controls all the sphincter muscles (over 50 types within the human body). The list goes on and on. So what if the Parasympathetic nervous system isn’t working properly?
Am I saying that your acid reflux, high or low blood pressure, tachycardia (high heart rate), dry eyes or mouth, constipation or diarrhea, poor gut function, poor sexual function, poor circulation, or excessive sweating could actually be from a weakened parasympathetic firing or “tone”? Well, yes. Don’t these symptoms commonly occur in people who are stressed out? What is the common variable?
Your brain is always changing, always wanting to become more efficient at tasks that we repeatedly do. This is termed “plasticity”. Our brains become plastic to the environment we provide it. Our body is constantly challenged by environmental stressors, psychological stressors, and metabolic stressors. Our nervous system adapts to these stressors but we can become dominant to a Sympathetic “Fight or Flight” mode. Play this story over weeks, months, and years, now our brain doesn’t know how to rest, digest, or even function normally! This is when those symptoms listed above can creep in, cause further stress, and snowball into multiple symptoms, needing multiple medications, and causing multiple side effects. Let’s break this terrible cycle now!
Here’s the take home message, folks. Take time to relax and do something to unwind. I play hockey, meditate, and lift weights. Exercise is a great way to unwind. Your brain thrives on exercise, especially higher intensity interval training. Eat an anti-inflammatory diet with the bulk being veggies, some meats, and fruit. Take a multivitamin for general support, be careful where you get it though. See our Facebook page for a recent article about store bought supplements or any of the other articles of health and wellness information we post weekly.
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Guest Blog Writer – Dr. Brandon Nutt
Dr. Brandon Nutt holds a Bachelor of Science in Anatomy as well as a Bachelor of Science in Health and Wellness. Dr. Nutt represented his graduating class at Parker University, College of Chiropractic as Class President and was honored with various Leadership and Service awards. His true passion lies in helping patients with chronic, metabolic, and neurological issues. Dr. Nutt has been a leader and mentor throughout his life, and continues today with his patients, promoting healthy lifestyles, diets, and exercises. Dr. Nutt’s goals include further education and specialized degrees in Functional Neurology and Functional Medicine so he can utilize that information in the service of his patients.
About the Wellness Institute of Dallas
The Wellness Institute of Dallas strives to deliver individualized patient care, emphasizing the importance of educating and empowering our patients. Patients deserve focused care and we offer individualized approaches in chiropractic care, rehabilitative therapy and nutritional mentoring. The Wellness Institute of Dallas believes that each individual given the right approach, systems and mentoring can improve their physiology to maximize their health.