The human body contains a number of systems that operate as a “check-and-balance” to keep us as healthy as possible given the stressors we encounter. Nowhere is this more prevalent than in the nervous system.
The nervous system has two main parts: the central nervous system (CNS) and the peripheral nervous system (PNS). The CNS represents the largest part of the nervous system and includes the brain and spinal cord. The PNS consists of all the other nervous structures that do not lie in the CNS. The large majority of what are commonly called nerves are considered to be in the PNS.
There is a part of the PNS called the autonomic nervous system (ANS) that acts as a control system, maintaining balance in the body. The ANS is divided into two parts: the sympathetic nervous system (SNS) and the parasympathetic nervous system (PNS). When imbalances occur between the sympathetic and parasympathetic nervous systems, our health suffers. (To learn more about these, please see our previous post.)
There are several ways to restore the balance between the sympathetic and parasympathetic nervous systems, including dietary, exercise and lifestyle modifications. We discussed how to determine whether you are SNS or PNS Dominant in a previous post. Most people, due to the increased and prolonged stress we endure, are SNS dominant.
We’ve discussed how to use exercise to balance the nervous system in a previous post. In this series, we’ll outline some ways you can use diet and lifestyle to calm an overly active sympathetic nervous system. Part 2 in this series will outline dietary measures.