Think of your nervous system as a network of access roads that feed into bigger roads, which eventually connect to the interstate. Using this analogy, the access roads are the nerves that serve the muscles and the extremities, while the interstate is the spine.
When the nervous system is working optimally, the "road network" transports messages to and from the brain without making any mistakes. The messages always reach the right destination, and neither the brain nor the extremities ever send wrong messages.
So what can you do to keep your nervous system working like a well-oiled machine?
How to keep your nervous system healthy
1. Provide the nerves with the supplies they need to transmit messages
In order for nerves to send electrical impulses, they need certain minerals, proteins and vitamins. Fortunately, the foods that contain these nutrients are delicious. These nutrients include:
- Dark chocolate, which is rich in tryptophan, an amino acid that acts as a neurotransmitter — a substance that transfers a signal from one nerve ending to another.
- Calcium and potassium — These minerals regulate the electrical impulses generated and transmitted by the nerves. If nerves are left to fire off impulses unchecked, a person may suffer from epilepsy or other diseases of the nerves.
- Bananas, oranges, pomegranates and prunes, which are good sources of potassium, while milk, leafy greens and eggs are rich sources of calcium.
- Vitamin B — Vitamins B1, B2 and B6 help the nerves to send impulses from the brain to the body.
2. Protect the nerves with B vitamins
Each nerve has a protective coating known as a myelin sheath. Much like the sheath of an electric cable, it acts as insulation for the transmitting nerve. Worn out myelin sheaths have been associated with illnesses like Alzheimer's, so it is important for a person to keep up their intake of B12.
The vitamin is found in beef, poultry, eggs and seafood.
Folate is a B vitamin that protects the nerves from chemicals that can cause damage. This vitamin is found in spinach, pomegranates and beets.
3. Use yoga and stretching to strengthen the nervous system
When a person gets stressed out by work, relationships or a difficult commute, they produce a worrying amount of the hormone cortisol. When produced constantly, cortisol affects the nervous system to affect a person’s reflexes, concentration and memory.
An important part of yoga is breathing exercises and relaxation techniques, which activate the part of the nervous system that is responsible for breathing and heart rate. As a result, a person’s cortisol levels decrease.
Regular practice of yoga will keep a person’s cortisol levels low, which will improve the health of the nervous system and produce a sense of well-being.
4. Pursue well-being to improve the health of the nerves
A person can use exercise to improve the functioning of the nerves that serve the muscles and other peripheral parts of the body. Increasing the activity in the peripheral nervous system strengthens the nerves, in the same way that exercise strengthens the muscles.
A person can also use herbal teas like green tea to stimulate the production of serotonin and dopamine. These hormones improve a person’s mood, focus, concentration and problem-solving abilities. This is made possible by theanine, a substance that is present in green tea.
The bottom line
Keeping your nervous system healthy is as easy as taking care of your overall health. If you are dealing with nerve issues, speak to one of our health professionals to set up an appointment with us today.
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