You’ve probably already read about how to keep your heart healthy, how to keep your kidneys clean, and how to build stronger muscles. What you may not hear about as often is how to take care of your brain, your spine, and your entire nervous system. How exactly do you keep it functioning well?
The nervous system is one of the most important, if not THE most important, system of your body. It serves as the central command system that controls the rest of the organs inside your body. This is why you would want it to function really well – so that the rest of your body is also able to perform well too.
Overall, it allows you to do practically every activity you can think of, such as: running, speaking and thought processing, among thousands of other bodily activities. It also controls voluntary and involuntary functions, such as movement, balance, and coordination. Furthermore, the nervous system regulates the actions of the other body systems, such as blood flow and blood pressure.
Nervous system problems and diseases
Since the nervous system is made-up of a complex network of nerves and cells that carry messages from the brain and spinal cord to the rest of the body, it requires thorough attention and proper care. Otherwise, it can cause serious problems in your nervous system that could later on worsen and affect the other organs of the body.
The symptoms of a nervous system problem can be influenced by which area of the nervous system is involved and what exactly is causing the problem. These nervous system problems may be degenerative or occur slowly and cause a gradual loss of function, or they may be acute or may occur suddenly and cause life-threatening problems. As such, symptoms may be mild or severe, depending on a great number of factors.
Some of the serious nervous system ailments, conditions, and injuries include vascular disorders – especially the lack of blood supply, traumatic injuries to the head and the spine, or even those that are congenital or that can be passed on to one’s offspring. Also it can cause mental and psychological diseases like anxiety disorders, depression, or psychosis. Furthermore, there are serious cases that cause gradual loss of function to internal organs such as Parkinson’s disease, multiple sclerosis (MS), amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), Alzheimer’s disease, Huntington’s disease and peripheral neuropathies.
Poor nervous system health could also bring infections to the brain called encephalitis or abscesses, and to the other membranes around the brain and the spine. The infection that can occur in these areas is called meningitis. It can cause people to overuse prescription medicines, which in some case, may lead to dependence on illegal drugs and alcohol.
Disregarding brain and nerve health can negatively affect many other major body organs. Organ system failure like that of the lungs, heart, liver, and kidney can post a threat to the overall health of a person. It can cause other long term conditions like thyroid dysfunction, diabetes, hypertension, electrolyte problems, vitamin B1 and vitamin B12 deficiencies.
Finally, acute conditions in the nervous system can cause various symptoms based on which area is involved. A stroke and transient ischemic attack (TIA) are common acute nervous system problems. If this happens, the patient may feel numbness, tingling sensations, weakness, or worse, he or she could totally be paralyzed and unable to move some or all parts of the body. They could also have vision problems, slurred speech, vertigo or dizziness, confusion or change in level of consciousness, and severe nausea.
Tips for a healthy nervous system
In the same way you take care of your other organs, what you eat and what you do also play significant roles in maintaining your brain and your spine health. Here are some ways to keep your nervous system functioning well:
Start by exercising your brain regularly. If doing cardio exercises stimulates the heart, and weight exercises stimulates the muscles, there is also an exercise to activate the brain. Grab a pen and paper and write something down for about ten minutes to stimulate and exercise the nervous system. The goal is to compose words and sentences on the paper as neat and beautiful as possible. This way, the nervous system’s pathways, receptors, and nerves could react in a precise and coordinated manner in order for you to write with good penmanship. Spend fifteen minutes per day writing on paper but try not to write too quickly.
Take deep breaths to feed your brain with its much needed oxygen. Breathing deeply can help you improve your nervous system. Deep breathing is also a great way to relax if you are feeling stressed. As you position yourself in a comfortable manner, whether lying down, sitting, or standing, put your hands on your abdomen and begin taking deep breaths through your nose. Slowly, take deep, full breaths so that the lungs are fully filled with air. Hold it for three to five seconds and exhale slowly to empty the lungs. Keep doing this for ten or fifteen minutes a day and you will feel a lot better.
Did you know that walking without slippers or shoes can also help? It may sound strange, but walking barefoot can really help your body connect with the earth. Walking on grass or sand will help your nervous system because it transfers electrons from the Earth’s surface into your body, which may improve your physiology and health. Blood viscosity, heart rate variability, and irregular inflammations can be addressed from walking barefoot on grass, according to studies.
Being under the sun allows your brain to function well. It is recommended that people should get at least ten or fifteen minutes of sun in the morning, which can help boost the levels of vitamin D in the body. It is also helpful to eat vitamin D-rich foods such as salmon, eggs, tuna, milk and cereals.
Drinking green tea also helps balance your dopamine and serotonin levels since it contains amino acids and L-theanine. Increasing the levels of these elements keeps you in the mood to be more active, and gives you a less stressful outlook throughout the day. The caffeine in green tea can also improve your alertness and focus just like what the best supplements for memory and focus also provide.
Doing yoga can also help you maintain nervous system stability. Just like the effects of deep breathing exercises, doing yoga two to three times a week can build strength in your body. Yoga has three major elements – poses, meditation, and proper breathing. All of these elements help get your nervous system in the right shape. Yoga is also fantastic for improving your mood, boosting immune systems and limiting your cortisol level.
Finally, to keep your nervous system healthy, you should eat foods that can provide you with enough supply of B vitamins, copper, magnesium, and omega-3 fatty acids. Consume a good amount of seafood, eggs, dairy products, and fresh plant produce like bananas and potatoes everyday to give you a boost in B vitamins. Adding green leafy vegetables like spinach and nuts like almonds in your diet can provide your daily requirement of copper and magnesium. While eating tuna, chia seeds, and cauliflower give your body the much needed Omega-3 fatty acids.
As you continue to strive for an overall healthy and well-functioning body, you must also take care of your nervous system. Seriously. By exercising the brain regularly, supplying it with enough oxygen and having a healthy diet, you can do wonders to keep your body’s command system in the best of health.