Nutrition and Lifestyle Strategies to Support Nervous System Stability - Part 1 - Tips to Stay Calm in the Eye of the Storm
During these tumultuous and dynamic times, it’s very natural to feel a sense of unease or instability as our societal systems and institutions we may have trusted as anchors of reliable information, lose much of their credibility.
Depending on our life circumstances and level of pre-existing stress, some people may even feel their nervous system getting completely overwhelmed at times.
This being the case, I feel it would be valuable to share some tools and strategies we can implement to help us ride the waves of the storm during this transitional time that may well get more turbulent as the months or years go by.
I have divided these recommendations into physical and emotional support sections.
Physical and Energetic Grounding
Affirming a good connection with our body and the earth means we can more readily maintain our psychological balance while transitional through epic epochs like these.
The philosophy of grounding is really emphasized by the Taoist approach to spiritual practice. The Taoists of ancient China demonstrated the importance of having a firm foundation and connection to the earth through a strong, activated lower Dan Tian. The lower DanTian is a energy centre found in the abdomen of our body.
Being well rooted into the earth creates a firm foundation in which to stand up tall and be able to expand our consciousness out into the more etheric, nonphysical realms, thus becoming a more interconnected part of the unified field. The torus field is a good representation of this.
The Taoists have a saying ’As the Chi sinks, the Shen rises’
To translate this; our Chi or life force energy sinks from our breath into the abdominal Lower Dan Tian area, which leads to our Shen energy, meaning our calm, peaceful spirit, raising up to the level of mind, reflected as a sparkle in the eye and the balanced and wisdom imbued qualities of Shen.
For this reason, breathing exercises, qi gong or other gentle movement exercises can be valuable techniques to calm an overactive, anxious mind.
Grounding to the Earth Electrically
It is also a good practice to connect with the earth with our bare skin as often as we can to access the abundant source of free electrons that flow through the surface of the earth.
When working on a computer a lot, I sometimes find I get a irritating build of static and positive charge in my body, especially during the winter months when we generally spend more time inside in heated houses and using electrical devices. Excess positive charge has been shown to disturb serotonin balance and create stress in the body.
By going outside touching tree or walking barefoot, we can absorb these negative ions into our connective tissue fascia network. Earthing as its known has been shown to lower our cortisol stress hormone and lower inflammation naturally. Just like a breath of fresh air, nature provides us abundant sources of negatively charged particles to ionise our blood to healthy levels.
Inflammation and Brain health
One of the biochemical conditions that keeps us from accessing our natural relaxed and peaceful state is inflammation and its associated oxidative stress. Inflammation in the brain is known as neuroinflammation.
Indeed, many mental health conditions including anxiety and depression all have chronic inflammatory states at their root. I wrote about inflammation more in my article called ‘What’s driving the increased rates of chronic disease and inflammatory conditions’. This can find this on our blog HERE at the Health Wisdom Network.
The Rejuvenating Effect of Physical Exercise-
Aerobic and moderate anaerobic exercise where possible, are hands down some of the easiest ways for our body’s to let off stress by increasing the metabolism many of the stress hormones that can build up during the day. This is especially the case for men.
Exercise can also increase the production of feel good neurochemicals like endorphins, dopamine, and serotonin for a lighter and more optimistic mood.
By temporarily activating the sympathetic nervous system during exercise, it primes us to rebound into a stronger activation of the rest and repair, parasympathetic side during the recovery phase after exercise.
Gentle aerobic exercise like walking, Qi Gong and Yoga can also be more suitable for certain body types.
For people unable to exercise in the traditional way, using breathing exercises and intermittent hypoxic training can be a good starting place.
Blood Sugar Balance -
Maintaining stable blood sugar levels is a critical foundational piece to enable all the other strategies to work effectively.
When we are stressed or tired we may often crave stimulants and sweet, starchy foods to pick ourselves up. However, these high glycaemic foods raise our blood sugar quickly.
The rapid rise in blood sugar is managed by the body releasing the hormone insulin and can often result in a blood sugar crash (hypoglycaemia) stimulating a cortisol stress response to raise blood sugar back up. This leads to a vicious cycle known as the ‘blood sugar roller coaster’.
Signs of being on the blood sugar roller coaster:
- Cravings, mood swings, inability to concentrate, impatience, frustration, energy crashes, faintness, fussy eating
- Stimulant use: coffee, tea, energy drinks, nicotine, caffeine, chocolate
- Sugar use: sweets, white flour products, snacks, breakfast cereals, com mercial sauces, tropical fruit s
- Liver stagnancy shown by weight gain and slow metabolism, headaches, dehydration, horm onal imbalances
- Pancreatic weakness – feeling sleepy after eating carbohydrates, poor exercise tolerance
- Adrenal HPA imbalance – shown by disrupted circadian rhythms (feeling sluggish in the morning, and being more of a night-owl)
- Mineral deficiencies shown by weak nails, teeth and bones, salt cravings, metabolism changes
- Candida overgrowth (yeast) or gut dysbiosis shown by poor digestion, bloat ing, wind, cramps, poor immunity
How to maintain balanced blood sugar levels:
- Eat balanced meals containing the right fats, proteins, carbohydrates and fibre for your constitution and metabolic needs – feeling hungry after 2-3 hours often means the previous meal wasn't balanced
- Support Fat metabolism to be able to run on fatty acid and ketones along with glucose
- Maintain adequate hydration by drinking clean, fresh water throughout the day
- If you eat breakfast, avoid the standard breakfast cereals with just milk – these are carbohydrate dominant without adequate fat and protein to help sustain blood sugar levels
- Chromium, magnesium, zinc, vanadium, acetyl l-cartinine and B vitamins are some of the nutrients needed for blood sugar regulation
- Nurture a healthy gut microbiome with probiotic rich foods to help mitigate cravings, especially after antibiotic use
- Support liver function to store and release glycogen reserves evenly
- Minimize or moderate stimulant use to restore healthy hormone balance function
- Exercise regularly to improve insulin sensitivity and glucose tolerance
- Use stevia to replace sugary foods and curb sweet cravings
Unrefined celtic sea salt –
One of the key grounding nutrients is humble salt. The appropriate level of salts maintains the balance of our electrolyte rich fluids within us, just like salt in the ocean stops it from evaporating away too rapidly.
During stressful times, our kidneys release a lot of salts out via our urine or sweat. Salts are essential for maintaining appropriate blood pressure and adrenal hormone balance.
Full spectrum electrolytes are critical for the electrical transmission between the synapses of our nervous system. The main electrolyte salts include Sodium, Potassium, Calcium, Magnesium and Chloride. These charged ions influence the electrical potential gradient between our intracellular and extracellular spaces.
Unfortunately, premade packaged food is often made using refined salt which is pure sodium chloride, without any of the balancing minerals found in natural sea salt. It is this form of refined salt, along with potassium and magnesium deficiencies that are more associated with high blood pressure.
In fact, many people anecdotally find that full spectrum salt can have a balancing effect on their blood pressure.
It is of course important to consider purity when sourcing sea salt, as our oceans are polluted with heavy metals and microplastics.
Icelandic sea salt would likely be the best, while celtic sea salt from the salt marches off the coast of Brittany, France is a traditional source.
Rock salts like Himalayan can also be used.
Hydration – The Water Element
Our stress response increases the rate of our cells dehydration. This then exacerbates a already stressed physiology.
Correct electrolyte balance is key to maintain appropriate cellular hydration.
Water is a powerful solvent for many substances, so sourcing clean fresh drinking water can really aid cellular cleansing and the channels of elimination. Consciously replenishing both water and electrolytes is important. Optimising hydration and water science is a whole fascinating discussion for another time.
My favourite tip for increasing the hydrating nature and energetics of water is to add a few cucumber slices to my glass of water and let it sit in there for a few hours or over night. The cells of cucumber are filled with structured water that entrains the water molecules within a glass to carry those natural coherent energetics.
PART 2 - Grounding Nutrition
For physical nutrition it is beneficial to use foods and nutrients that ground our physical form, support the regeneration of our nervous system tissue, as well as promote neurotransmitter balance for optimal brain and nervous system transmission.
I will account for some biochemical individuality and ethical dietary choices in these suggestions. However, from my current perspective and experience, there are some nutritional choices that may be more beneficial for the desired effect of building a robust and stable nervous system due to the bioavailability and form of their nutritional components.
Read more next installment....
Thanks for reading