The autonomic nervous system (A.N.S.) of the body is a dynamic system that affects pretty much every function that you’ll ever perform – from digesting your food to saying and feeling “I love you.” to running away from a predator (or annoying salesman) to even what you think about this very sentence.
In truth, is a complex system so sophisticated that even modern science has yet to fully understand it in all its intricacies. For practical purposes scientists and health care professionals have designated two primary states of the A.N.S. – the Sympathetic (Fight or Flight) State and the Parasympathetic (Rest & Digest) State. Think of these as two different software programs that the hardware of your A.N.S. can run at any given time. In reality, the A.N.S. is not really this simple binary system, but the distinction is practically very useful and a sufficiently accurate one for many intents and purposes.) The Sympathetic state is a physiological state where your body’s various systems (circulation, musculature, vision, cell metabolism, hormone ratios, nervous energy, etc.) are all primed for the actions of dealing with the challenges and dangers threat – e.g. by fighting or running away. Whereas in the parasympathetic state our body directs more energy towards the physiological functions of resting, digesting food and replenishing cellular resources.
Both the Sympathetic and the Parasympathetic state can be very helpful and appropriate given the circumstances you find yourself in, but if you get stuck in one state it may have serious consequences for your health and functionality. For example, if you find yourself being physically attacked, its extremely appropriate for your A.N.S. to switch into full Sympathetic mode to help you fight off the attacker, but if you’re stuck in the parasympathetic state you may lose the fight because your body isn’t great at the functions required for fighting when its in the parasympathetic state. Conversely, if you’re stuck in a sympathetic state and you eat a meal you will not digest it as effectively as you would if you were in a parasympathetic state.
For everything to be groovy so that you’re primed for the activities at hand, whatever they be, your Autonomic Nervous System needs to be responsive to the environment and to orient itself appropriately to the task and situation at hand. The tricky thing is that changes in modern living environments, medications, supplements and diets all have the potential to create imbalance in your A.N.S. External stressors and internal body chemistry can create problems for the A.N.S. Listen in as Tony, Will and Kinna talk about how to understand, detect and correct imbalances in your Autonomic Nervous System.
In this Episode You’ll Learn
- About the sympathetic and parasympathetic states of the autonomic nervous system; e.g. what they are, why they matter and how our modern world impacts them.
- How the stressors of the modern world can trigger an inappropriately strong fight or flight response.
- How people stuck in a sympathetic state have more trouble digesting their food.
- How people stuck in a parasympathetic state are more susceptible to allergies.
- How to detect if your nervous system is in a sympathetic or parasympathetic imbalance by looking at your blood pressure and breath rate.
- About steps you can take to correct eight a Sympathetic or Parasympathetic imbalance using diet and nutritional supplementation.
Links Relevant to this Episode
- Will’s Blog Post on Stress and Meditation (with self test equation for detecting A.N.S. imblanace)
- Ray Peat Article: Autonomic Systems
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