By Darla Miller, BS, MBA –
Your body is an amazing complex of nerve cells, electrical impulses and chemical messengers. The nervous system “wires” us together!
Your brain houses 98% of your body’s neurons. While it makes up only 2% of your body weight it consumes 25% of your oxygen and consumes as much as 20% of the sugar you eat. So, “You Are What You Eat” particularly applies to the brain. A “junk food” diet short-circuits your mental attitude and your emotional responses creating a “trashy” brain. With the “Standard American Diet” (i.e. SAD) nervous system disorders like stress, depression, anxiety and insomnia are on the rise.
Before we can really talk about the brain and how we can protect this precious commodity, we need to understand the nervous system and the role it plays with transporting information to the brain.
Your nervous system consists of your brain, spinal column and peripheral nerves. We have both conscious/voluntary actions and unconscious/
involuntary actions. Our unconscious/involuntary actions are known as autonomic. These actions keep your heart beating, digest your food, regulate temperature, etc. It takes care of everything you don’t have to think about!
The autonomic system is divided into two parts – the sympathetic nervous system and the parasympathetic system. When we are stressed, the sympathetic system tenses our muscles, makes our heart beat faster and moves blood away from digestive organs. As we relax, the parasympathetic system moves blood to the digestive organs, relaxes muscles, aids elimination and initiates healing and self-repair.
But, what are some examples of common neurotransmitters?
Serotonin is known for alleviating depression and can control hunger, sleep, pain response, peristalsis, and the function of the limbic system.
Acetylcholine is involved with memory and muscle movement. This is the primary transmitter in the voluntary nervous system. Folks with Alzheimer’s are typically associated with low levels of this neurotransmitter
Epinephrine and Norepinephrine are responsible for elevated blood pressure, elevated blood sugar, muscular contraction and pituitary hormones.
Dopamine is typically referred to as your “feel good” neurotransmitter. Dopamine degrades to free radicals when low glutathione levels are present or excess iron is present. A low level of this is typically associated with Parkinson’s.
GABA keeps brain from being “trigger happy”. When it is in balance, it can prevent anxiety and increase mental clarity.
The nervous system is probably the most nutritionally sensitive system in the body. Long before you feel physical conditions, you’ll notice mental and emotional conditions from poor nutrition such as fuzzy thinking (brain fog), absentmindedness, mental confusion, or nervousness. These can lead to chronic insomnia, anxiety, depression and memory loss.
Your brain consumes the most glucose of any organ. Simple sugars contribute to “brain fog”. Complex sugars, such as fruits, vegetables and whole grains, stabilize blood sugar and nourish the brain. You should always include protein and good fats with your meals.
Toxins pose a significant threat to the nervous system. Toxins can include drugs, alcohol, chemical solvents, pesticides & herbicides, excessive caffeine, refined sugar, white flour, and hydrogenated oils.
Experiencing a stress response is healthy and normal – however, too much can be harmful. There are consequences of long-term stress. Most dangers aren’t physical, but feel like a threat to our survival. Continuous activation of the stress response can lead to depression or “burn out”.
The Leesburg Herb Shoppe offers many products that help to support your brain and nervous system.
One product is called 5-HTP Power. Each capsule provides 35mg of 5-HTP, and 3mg each of vitamin B6 and zinc, as well as a blend of adaptagenic herbs (Siberian ginseng, ashwaganda and suma). 5-HTP Power promotes the production of serotonin and assists with improved mood, appetite and sleep.
Lavender Oil is a quick and effective relaxant. This essential oil allows your brain to relax and reduces stress, irritability, anxiety and panic. It can reduce symptoms of insomnia.
Brain Protex is designed for longevity and overall wellness. It provides protection against free radical damage and may help block the enzyme responsible for the breakdown of acetylcholine. This formula includes huperzine A, which clinical trials have confirmed it is a potent memory enhancer. It also contains several antioxidants, which help to protect against free radical damage to the brain and nerve cells.
Darla Miller, BS, MBA is a Certified Aromatherapist and Consultant. She has over 20 years of experience working with plants in the natural environment. This experience provided a solid foundation for opening a natural product shop in Leesburg, Florida. Everything about our lives are about BALANCE – home, work, recreation. But, people often forget how important BALANCE is for our body. One of Darla’s passions is learning about how proper nutrition and natural products help to balance our body systems and then teaching others so that they can begin to bring their systems into a balanced state.
Leesburg Herb Shoppe