Lifestyle Support for Healthier Living
The most overlooked and important factor when it comes your ideal body weight and health is the balance that you maintain between the sympathetic and parasympathetic nervous system responses within you. These are the two main divisions of the autonomic nervous system (ANS) and are responsible for regulation of internal organs and glands. This regulation occurs unconsciously but is greatly affected by your mental and emotional states.
The parasympathetic system is specifically responsible for stimulation of activities that occur when the body is at rest, including salivation, lacrimation, urination, digestion, and defecation. By comparison the sympathetic system is responsible to mobilize the body's resources under stress; to induce the fight-or-flight response; and to remain constantly active at a basal levelin order to maintain homeostasis.
Problems occur that impact health negatively as the activity of the sympathetic system exceeds the critical basal levelfor extended periods of time. Therefore, when it comes to ideal body weight and to overall good health, chronic stress plays a greater adverse role than even the lack of exercise, restful sleep, or poor diet. Mental and spiritual disquietude (stress, anger, worry, restlessness, hatred, hopelessness, nervousness, ingratitude, contention, and negative attitudes) is linked to the following leading causes of death: heart disease, cancer, lung ailments, accidents, cirrhosis of the liver, and suicide. It is also directly linked to aging and to most all degenerative conditions.
Why is emotional stress one of the most significant causes of excess body weight and of other chronic health challenges? It is because your body cannot defend itself against the damage caused by long-term emotional stress. Anxiety, tension, frustration, and anger all serve useful purposes; however, as they are experienced on a chronic basis they cause the sympathetic response to become over-stimulated, leading to imbalance and disease.
A friend of mine was jogging one day through the hills. He was running very quickly down a trail and could not see around corners because of the growth of bushes and trees in the area in which he was running. He came around one corner and came upon the carcass of an elk. He was going too fast to slow down and so he leaped over the elk, but as he did so he spotted a mountain lion feeding upon the elk. Fear swept over him, which led to the immediate release of adrenaline (sympathetic response) from his adrenal glands.
Before his feet hit the ground from leaping over an elk and cougar, the adrenaline had enabled a strength and energy production response in his body that allowed him to run faster than he had ever run before. He didn't look back but ran for his life to escape the possible clutches of a mountain lion. In this case, the stress or fear that led to the immediate response from the sympathetic nervous system was a good thing; it increased his heart and breathing rates and various hormones were released into his bloodstream that diverted various vital reserves to better feed his muscles so that he could run faster.
Systems such as the digestive system come to a complete halt as the sympathetic system diverts all body resources to facilitate our flight response. Through this response, my friend experienced more energy, strength, greater vision and coordination for navigating the steep, windy, and rocky trail, and so forth--all of which was a good thing. Acute stress enables the ability to more easily cope with acute circumstances, and so forth.
However, long-term emotional stress that perpetually activates the sympathetic response is damaging to your body. It turns on the important fight or flight response and leaves it on continuously. Thus your entire body is taxed 24/7, without recovery periods. Whenever you feel aniety, frustration, tension, despair, worry, or anger your sympathethic nervous system increases its output to above normal. Every health condition imaginable, including being overweight or obese, is affected adversely if such conditions are chronic in nature.
A longevity expert claims that through good sleep, exercise, and diet, the average person can live into their 90s and even early 100s. However, the same person can add a full 30 to 40 years of life, simply by overcoming needless emotional and mental stresses that create this overcompensation by the sympathetic nervous system.
For this reason, I included a chapter in Original Fast Foodsthat discusses factors that help to overcome chronic stress. There are many common eating disorders that are linked to stress, which degrade health and lead to unhealtful weight gains. The most common is that stress leads to nervous and absentminded eating that is triggered by anxious or nervousness rather than by true hunger. The tip for today is that in all your weight-loss doing, remember that if you are chronically stressed, you are fighting an uphill battle.
Resolve chronic stress and establish peace in your life that will result in a correct balance between your sympathetic and parasympathetic, the two main divisions of your autonomic nervous system. To further this discussion and to help you establish successful stress-relieving habits, I recommend you read pages 209 to 224 in Original Fast Foods to gain a more complete sense for the importance of this topic and for practical steps you can take to overcome chronic stress and to promote greater peace in your life. In addition I highly recommend that you study the online article, the Ultimate Success Secret.
If you enjoyed this weight-loss tip and have not already done so, be sure to read Original Fast Foods and accept Daniel's Challenge. They were written to help you enable the success of today's slimmest, most disease-free, and longest-living populations. With more than 160 recipes, meal plans, and now full video support, and a sound exercise plan, they help lay a solid foundation for your long-term success.
To Your Best Health!
Jim and Colleen Simmons
Christopher, please say hello to Melanie for us. Colleen was excited to see the email notification for this message from you. What a small world! I did not know that this side of me existed back when we lived in Springville. I loved to write, but never dreamed it would be expressed in such a manner. We look forward to seeing you when you pass through. Let's catch up. BTW, when is the LDS Holistic Living Expo? Jim
It is June 25th in West Jordan - ldsholisticliving.com
It's funny to learn that you once lived in Springville. I lived there 25 years ago, too, but I was only 5 then :)