Most people do not understand how the human anatomy functions, and the important role that the nervous system plays in our wellbeing.
According to the NCBI, "The nervous system is made up of all the nerve cells in your body. It is through the nervous system that we communicate with the outside world and, at the same time, many mechanisms inside our body are controlled. The nervous system takes in information through our senses, processes the information and triggers reactions, such as making your muscles move or causing you to feel pain. For example, if you touch a hot plate, you reflexively pull back your hand and your nerves simultaneously send pain signals to your brain. Metabolic processes are also controlled by the nervous system."
The nervous system contains nerve cells that are called neurons, and fire to do a certain task when a "message" is communicated through the nervous system.
In exercise science, we learned that "neurons that fire together, wire together," and that healthy and unhealthy habits are learned, but also retrainable through retraining the neurons.
There are two parts of the nervous system, which includes the central nervous system (brain and spinal cord) and the Peripheral nervous system (that connects the CNS to all other areas in the body).
Under the division of the PNS is the autonomic nervous system (ANS) and the somatic nervous system.
What we will discuss today are the parts of the nervous system that is under the ANS, which include the parasympathetic nervous system, PNS, (rest and digest phase) and the sympathetic nervous system, SNS (fight or flight).
The ANS is responsible for involuntary body functions such as blood flow, heart beat, digestion and breathing. Thus, it controls parts of the body that are not under voluntary control.
The PNS & the SNS are opposites and perform two different functions. One gets you ready for rest and digestion where the other stimulates the body to respond to stress.
Parasympathetic Nervous System
This part of the nervous system aides the body in normal functions and conserve physical resources. When activated, most of the blood flow goes to the visceral organs and allows the body to function at normal levels or homeostasis.
When we sleep, meditate or do yoga, we are activating the PNS.
Sympathetic Nervous System
The SNS is opposite where it activates the body to expend energy and respond to external threats and fears. Approximately 85% of the blood flow moves away from the visceral organs to the working muscles of the body and the limbs. When triggered, heart rate and breathing increases, sweat secretion activates and the pupils dilate.
In reality, we need both parts of the nervous system to function properly. The SNS can save your life if responding to an immediate dangerous situation. And we need the PNS to keep us rested and restored so that you can function in daily life. Both areas of the nervous system encounter biochemical reactions that release certain types of hormones depending on the (lack of) stress or demand on the body.
However, there are ramifications of being in "fight of flight" for long periods of time.
And Why is This Knowledge Important?
It is important to note that the body and the brain receives a biological signal and trigger from physical, emotional, mental or psychological stress. What is important is that the body and brain receives a signal, but cannot tell or discern if that threat is physical or emotional. It is just a biological response, so the brain has no clue the trigger, it just knows its response.
The brain sends warning signals through the central nervous system. The adrenal glands begin producing hormones (adrenalin and noradrenalin) which are recreated into the body. This causes the heart to beat faster and breathing to become more rapid. Muscles tense and pupils dilate.
So whether you're watching a scary movie, or escaping danger, it is important to know that today, we are under chronic stress response.
If you think about society right now, look at all the stress we respond to in our daily life. Traffic, fighting opinions on social media, horror or action-packed movies, news and media reactions, political disagreements, we are constantly triggered by emotional chaos, fear and stress. On top, things like exercise, which is healthy for the body, is also stress and demand on the body.
WE NEED TO SLOW DOWN!
What are the Consequences of Chronic SNS Activation?
Physiologically, this is what people need to understand about the consequences of too much stress on the body. YOU BASICALLY "BURN" OUT OR SECRETE NUTRIENTS THROUGH YOUR URINE.
When under chronic stress, the nutrient calcium doesn't go to it's function, but rather gets secreted through the urine. When cortisone releases, it leads to a dip in calcium absorption and spikes excretion.
Long term nutrient release leads to additional health issues. And when this happens things go south mentally, physically and emotionally. When stressed long term with certain hormones constantly secreting, we crave more comfort food to emotionally fulfill our mental and emotional state. Most of this food lacks nutrients so its a vicious cycle that never ends. The two main hormones released when in the SNS is cortisol and adrenalin (epinephrine).
According to the Stress and Eating Behavior research study posted it states, "Uncontrollable stress changes eating patterns and the salience and consumption of hyperpalatable foods; over time, this could lead to changes in allostatic load and trigger neurobiological adaptations that promote increasingly compulsively behavior. This association may be mediated by alterations in the hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal (HPA) axis, glucose metabolism, insulin sensitivity, and other appetite-related hormones and hypothalamic neuropeptides. At a neurocircuitry level, chronic stress may affect the mesolimbic dopaminergic system and other brain regions involved in stress/motivation circuits. Together, these may synergistically potentiate reward sensitivity, food preference, and the wanting and seeking of hyperpalatable foods, as well as induce metabolic changes that promote weight and body fat mass. Individual differences in susceptibility to obesity and types of stressors may further moderate this process."
Chronic SNS activation will eventually put wear and tear on the body. This can lead to injuries, disease, malnutrition, lack of sleep and impaired judgment. Stress is the main reason for SNS and in today's society, we are bombarded with too much stress, especially now emotional chaos.
We don't feel good about ourselves when under chronic stress. We feel good about ourselves when in homeostasis and living in harmony with the body and mind.
Do you have thoughts to share on the PNS & SNS? If so, please share them in the comments below!
Are you looking for something different for your French lentils? I have been trying reduce food waste and use up the stocked-up pantry items from coronavirus, and decided to try an Indian French lentil dal with spinach.
My goal for this creation was to reduce food waste while boosting immunity with powerful herbs and spices.
French lentils are a form of green lentils that hold their shape better than most lentils, like red lentils that become mushy or lose form after long periods of cooking. The Le Puy lentils are harvested in that region of France and are known to be the most flavorful and maintain the best texture out of all lentil varieties.
The USDA states that one half cup of dried green lentils provides 24g protein, 10g fiber, 80mg calcium, and 4mg iron.
Along with spinach, another green superfood, this meal is packed with macronutrients of healthy carbs, fats and protein. The healthy fat from the coconut is satiating and spinach boosts this meal's nutrient content.
According to medicalnewstoday.com, one cup of spinach contains: 7 calories, 0.86 grams (g) of protein, 30 milligrams (mg) of calcium, 0.81 g of iron, 24 mg of magnesium, 167 mg of potassium, 2,813 interational units (IU) of Vitamin A, and 58 micrograms of folate.
Whether you're looking for a hearty meal, a different way to use lentils, or a powerful health boost, this recipe's got you covered. Enjoy!
Vegan Indian-Spiced French Lentils with Spinach and Naan
Cook Time: 30-40 minutes
3 tbsp vegan butter
1 onion, chopped
2 garlic cloves, minced
4 cups (32 oz) vegetable broth
1.5 cups dried French green lentils
1 14.5 oz can of coconut milk
3 cups fresh spinach
1 tbsp curry powder
1/2 tsp cardamom
1/4 tsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp thyme (heaping tsp)
1/4 tsp clove
1/8 tsp cumin
pinch of nutmeg
salt + pepper to taste
optional garnish: cilantro
Store bought naan bread.
In a pot, melt the butter and cook the garlic and onion until translucent. Add the spices and mix vigorously for one minute.
Add the lentils and the vegetable broth and mix. Simmer the soup for 20 minutes or until the lentils are edible.
Next, add the coconut milk and spinach and simmer for another 3-5 minutes.
Adjust seasoning as needed, and garnish with cilantro. Serve hot with naan bread, and heat according to package directions.
Let's Connect! You may enjoy these other lentil-based recipes posted below!
We live in a complicated world. It's always been complex, and always will be. Right now, many people are on some path of change or awakening. For some, they're on a path of survival just trying to pay the next month's rent.
If you are trying to improve your life, certain issues or causes, or maybe just be a better parent, know that you're doing your best. The imprint you make - for good or ill - will have a ripple effect. Change isn't immediate. It's a gradual process.
Regardless if growth or change is an individual or collective issue, just know that you are doing your best. And if you're not doing your best, don't beat yourself up, but put some more effort toward that thing or path.
Perfection exists in a fairy tale or a fantasy. It does not exist on planet earth (at least right now) so be gentle and know that you are doing your best.
As always, inspired by the sun,
Join Mind Body Soul Food Every Sunday for some inspiration, or Sunspiration, where we analyze quotes and sweet nothings in 150 words or less. Get inspired everyday with our Instagram account, sunspiration_everyday with inspirational quotes, motivational messages & sweet nothings.
Butternut squash and kale go together like peas and carrots. During this time when travel is a memory, I reminisced of my former travel memories around the globe.
In 2008 in college, I moved to Australia and had the opportunity to travel to Thailand and Hong Kong and experience some pretty amazing food. Those memories are forever with me, and realize during COVID 19 how much I miss traveling. Food is the gateway into one's culture, and food brings us together. Most people don't realize how important food is in our life experience.
Now living in Seattle, I still have the opportunity to eat lots of delicious Thai food.
The Midwest and East Coast excels in European food, and Seattle dominates the Asian food market with recipes that come directly from families. I decided to take an old classic Thai curry and modernize it with vitamin and nutrient-packed vegetables such as squash and kale.
And to add a twist, I tried it over udon noodles and enjoyed this much better than I do over rice. Since summer is almost here, the blossom orange wild flowers inspired me to ignite a meal with more orange colors, which means more Vitamin A in the diet.
As a plant-based health coach and trainer, I've seen many of my clients struggle when converting or maintaining a vegan diet. Many either eat all processed vegan foods, or struggle in eating one area of macronutrients. Normally carbohydrates are not the issue.
Regardless of the problem, it is important to balance carbs, fat and protein, which Thai food does wonderfully thanks to using coconut milk. Although vegetables are considered carbs, most people need some form of starch or grain to feel full.
Balance is the key to a great life, and a healthy diet. We should all aim to seek more balance in life and seek healing through the foods we eat. If you can do even just one change in your diet, eat more greens!
"Leafy greens such as romaine lettuce, kale, collards, Swiss chard, and spinach are the most nutrient-dense of all foods."
The sweet tooth ignited and decided to once again use the oven to bake ourselves some s'mores for dessert.
Being away from natural light led to an early sleep, which led to an early awakening where we woke up to the sounds of the birds singing in the spring and enjoying each other's company over a cozy cup of coffee in the tent.
âIf you're still stuck at home, I suggest trying a backyard or living room camping experience. For me, too much tech use is depressing and just releasing the body from the artificial light that comes from the screen was refreshing and restorative.
Below are both recipes if interested in experimenting with this idea! Hopefully as things continue to open up we'll be able to enjoy the parks and camping like usual. Enjoy!
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Hobo meal with field roast for the Covid living room camping where the oven was the fire â¡ #camping #campinglife #dog #nature #naturelovers #positivevibes #outdoors #outdoorlife #seattle #seattlelife #pnw #pacnw #covid19 #washingtonstate #outdoorlovers #vegan #healthyfood #dairyfree #veganrecipes #vegetables #food #foodporn
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Serves 2 large, 4 small
1 head of broccoli, chopped
6 red skin potatoes, chopped
2 cups brussel sporouts, halved
2 Field Roast sausage links (used apple sage)
2 carrots, chopped
1/4 cup fresh parsley
salt + pepper + Italian herbs + garlic salt to taste
Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Wash and cut the produce and mix it in a large bowl. Add 2-3 tablespoons of olive oil and mix. Add the spices to your taste. Line a baking sheet with two large sheets of foil. Add half of the veggie mixture + 1 sausage link (slice if desired) in each foil. Top evenly with parsley, and fold, wrap and close the foil. Set in the oven to bake between 30-40 minutes, or until potatoes are edible and well cooked.
Remove from foil and eat warm! Add additional spices if necessary.
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Indoor Covid camping sâmores #camping #campinglife #dog #nature #naturelovers #positivevibes #outdoors #outdoorlife #seattle #seattlelife #pnw #pacnw #covid19 #washingtonstate #outdoorlovers #vegan #healthyfood #dairyfree #veganrecipes #vegetables #food #foodporn #smores
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Time: 10 minutes
1 bar of dark chocolate (vegan)
1/4 cup plant-based milk
1 box of graham crackers of your choice (vegan)
Vegan marshmallows (or regular if not vegan)
Preheat the oven to broil. In the microwave, melt the chocolate with the 1/4 cup of milk. I used almond milk, and mixed the chocolate and milk together every ten seconds until it liquified. Be sure not to bur the chocolate.
In a small 6-8 inch cast iron skillet, pour the chocolate evenly into the skillet. Next, set the marshmallows on top. Put the skillet in the oven on the top rack for anywhere between 10-40 seconds. Every oven is different and some ovens take longer. Remove once the marshmallows on slightly brown on top. This cooks fast! Let it cool for one minute and then dip the graham crackers into the smores, see image above!
âHow have you stayed creative during covid-19? I wish you the best in health and life and hope you and your loved ones are safe and happy.
Elizabeth Rae Kovar M.A. is Author of her memoir, Finding Om and is a Fitness Trainer, Yogi, Reiki Master, Presenter and Lover of Life. To view her portfolio please visit www.elizabethkovar.com
Follow her travels at: lemontreetravel.com