What is the Neurological System?
The Neurological System is the body’s information processor. Without this highly advanced information and communication system, the body cannot function.
How Does the Neurological System Work?
The Neurological System is divided into two major parts: the Central Nervous System (CNS) and the Peripheral Nervous System (PNS). Central Nervous System is the body’s information headquarters, ultimately regulating nearly all body functions. The CNS includes:
- The Brain – Processes incoming information from within the body, and outside the body by way of the sensory nerves of sight, touch, smell, sound, and taste. Commands are then sent back throughout the body. The brain also stores and processes language, communication, emotions, thoughts, dreams, and memories. In other words, the brain is where all thinking and decision-making takes place.
- The Spinal Cord – Is the main pathway for information connecting the brain and peripheral nervous system. It extends from the brain about 18 inches down the bony spinal column, which serves as its protection. The spinal cord is a tube made up of nerve fibers. Electrical impulses travel through the nerves and allow the brain to communicate with the rest of the body.
The Peripheral Nervous System is responsible for the remainder of the body. It includes cranial nerves (nerves emerging from the brain), spinal nerves (nerves emerging from the spinal cord) and all the major sense organs. The PNS includes:
- The Somatic Nervous System (SNS) – Responsible for all muscular activities that we consider voluntary or that are within our conscious control.
- The Autonomic Nervous System (ANS) – Responsible for all activities that occur automatically and involuntarily, such as breathing, muscle contractions within the digestive system, and heartbeat. The components of the ANS work together to create a balanced response to outside stimuli. The ANS includes:
- The Sympathetic System – Stimulates cell and organ function. The sympathetic system is activated by a perceived danger or threat, very strong emotions such as fear, anger or excitement, by intense exercise, or when under large amounts of stress. Basically, anything the body perceives as an emergency will trigger a protective response. Once initiated, it speeds up heart rate, increases the activity of the sweat and adrenal glands, slows down the digestive system and sends blood to the skin and muscles; all of which prepare the body for a “fight or flight” response.
- The Parasympathetic System – Inhibits cell and organ function. The parasympathetic system slows down heart rate, resumes digestion, and increases relaxation throughout the body. This “rest and digest” response counteracts the “fight or flight” response and helps the body recuperate after a crisis is over. A person’s normal resting heart rate is determined by the parasympathetic system. If blood pressure is too high or blood carbon dioxide levels are too low, this system slows the heart down and lowers its output.
What Causes an Unhealthy Neurological System?
You may be wondering, “How did my neurological system become so unbalanced?” Well, the fact of the matter is that chronic health conditions do not just “happen.” There can be a genetic component that predisposes someone to becoming chronically “unwell,” but research shows there are other factors–often within our control–that are usually the cause.
An unhealthy neurological system may be caused by:
- Poor Diet – Vitamin, mineral, and amino acid deficiencies affect the neurological system’s ability to function effectively. This may lead to certain levels of neurological impairment such as mental confusion, loss of concentration, Depression and Anxiety, to name a few.
- Chronic and Acute Infections
- It is suggested that an overgrowth of Candida yeast may be responsible for a variety of neurological symptoms, including Brain Fog and Depression, due to the multitude of toxins that this fungus gives off.
- The bacteria that causes Syphilis (an STD) can invade the central nervous system (occurs in 3 to 7% of those who have an untreated infection) and may cause neurological impairment and stroke-like symptoms.
- Other illnesses that affect neurological function include bacterial and viral meningitis (inflammation of the tissues surrounding the spinal cord and the brain).
- Exposure to Pesticides – A study conducted on vineyard workers showed that long-term, low-level exposures to pesticides have measurable effects on cognition.
- Stress – Chronic stress and negative thinking can wreak havoc on the neurological system. Over time, chronic stress can trigger mental disorders such as Anxiety and Depression, among others.
- Heavy Metal Toxicity – Heavy metals such as aluminum, lead, and mercury accumulate in the brain. Ongoing studies are examining possible links between high levels of toxic metals and severe neurological disorders such as Alzheimer’s Disease (due to aluminum and mercury exposure); Autism (due to mercury exposure); and antisocial and behavioral disorders (due to lead exposure).
What Can You Do to Restore the Neurological System?
Diet. There are many things you can do to support the healthy functioning of your neurological system. Listed below are key dietary recommendations:
- Omega-3 essential fatty acids– Studies have shown that countries (like Japan) that eat a diet rich in omega 3 have lower rates of major depression. Obtain your omega-3 from different sources. While fish is an important source of omega-3, limit your intake since it may be contaminated with mercury (a neurotoxin that accumulates in the brain). Also, choose wild fish rather than farm-raised fish. Wild fish obtain omega-3 naturally through their diet. Fish farms, on the other hand, feed their fish land-based foods that may contain little or no omega-3. As a result, farm-raised fish may have little or no omega-3. Other foods high in omega-3 to consider adding to your diet are:
- Tryptophan – This essential amino acid can be obtained from the diet or through supplementing with tryptophan. 5-HTP, an advanced form of tryptophan, helps the body produce serotonin and melatonin which play a role in mood regulation and quality sleep. Consider adding foods to your diet that contain tryptophan:
- Whole grain rice
- Sesame and sunflower seeds
- Whole Foods – Fill your diet with nutrient-rich whole foods such as organic nuts and seeds, bright berries, and dark green leafy vegetables such as kale, spinach, parsley, cilantro, and oregano.
- Saturated Fats – Although saturated fats have a bad reputation, they are actually essential for fat-soluble vitamin delivery to the body, and a host of other body processes. In fact, 60% of the brain is made up of saturated fat. A good source of saturated fat to add to your diet is organic extra virgin coconut oil.
AVOID foods that can hinder the neurological system:
- Alcohol, which impairs brain function and motor skills
- Caffeinated beverages such as coffee, tea, and soft drinks that over stimulate the neurological system
- Energy drinks that contain extra caffeine and sugar that over stimulate the neurological system
- Refined sugars that may contribute to Candida yeast overgrowth
- Artificial sweeteners such as Aspartame and Splenda® that can have toxic effects on the neurological system
- Nitrites found in processed foods such as hot dogs, lunch meats, and bacon. Some studies have shown that children who eat hot dogs more than two times a week have a higher risk of brain tumors and brain cancers.
- Partially hydrogenated oils found in many processed baked goods and snack foods
- Deep-fried food, fast food, and junk food, which contain trans fats.
NOTE: A healthy neurological system depends on a healthy gastrointestinal/digestive system. Read about the gastrointestinal system to learn specific recommendations for a healthy digestive system.
Other Tips for Maintaining a Healthy Neurological System:
- Use light therapy to regulate your circadian rhythms.
- Get an evaluation from a mercury-free dentist who specializes in the safe removal of mercury amalgam fillings. Mercury accumulates in brain cells. Also, mercury in the body damages immune cells, which then lose their ability to ward off invaders like Candida. Candida overgrowth can impair neurological functions.
- Talk to your health professional about chelation therapy for the removal of heavy metals from the body. It is approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for treating lead poisoning and poisoning from other heavy metals. Chelation therapy, such as TD DMPS, has been scientifically proven to remove excess or toxic metals from the body.
- Eat organic foods and practice organic gardening to avoid pesticide exposure.
- Test your house to ensure that it’s free of lead-based paints, especially if you have young children. Make sure that the ceramic plates and cups you use for eating and drinking do not contain lead-based paints and glazes.
- As a preventive measure, reduce your exposure to aluminum. The presence of aluminum along with mercury creates an exponentially more toxic chemical reaction within the body, and especially the brain. Some suggestions include:
- Drink filtered or purified water. Some studies have suggested that people exposed to tap water with high aluminum content levels have higher rates of Alzheimer’s disease and other nervous system disorders like Lou Gehrig’s and Parkinson’s disease.
- Switch to stainless steel cookware instead of aluminum pots and pans.
- Switch to aluminum-free deodorant.
- Breastfeed your baby. Avoid soy formula as it contains the most aluminum.
Exercise. Follow a vigorous physical exercise program that really makes you sweat. Sweat helps the body release toxins from its system. In addition to your physical workouts, incorporate some brain fitness into your daily routine by challenging your mind. Some examples include crossword puzzles, brainteasers, hobbies, reading, socializing with friends, and learning new subjects that interest you.
Spirituality. The neurological system can be disturbed by emotional trauma, grief, anxiety, fear, depression, and other chronic negative outlooks on life. Keeping a positive spiritual attitude optimizes the health of the neurological system.
Products That May Help
You may want to consider some of the following products which aid in the promotion and regeneration of a healthy neurological system in their own specific ways.
- Neuro Bundle – 5-HTP, L-Tyrosine, L-Theanine
- Essential Bundle – Magnesium, Calcium, Multi Mineral, Vitamin B, Digestive Enzymes: Start your wellness program with the essentials!
- Melatonin – A naturally occurring substance that helps regulate your sleep cycles.
- Melatonin w/SRT™ – Get the melatonin you need to get to sleep—and stay asleep—all night long!
- L-Tryptophan – Find deeper, more relaxing sleep—and help reduce stress and manage pain!
Conditions Related to Dysfunction of the Neurological System
The neurological system is specifically associated with many conditions. Below is a list of related condition articles that you may find helpful:
- Adrenal Fatigue Syndrome – Learn more.
- Anxiety – Learn more.
- Candida – Learn more.
- Circadian Rhythm Disorder (CRD) – Learn more.
- Chronic Fatigue Syndrome (CFS) – Learn more.
- Depression – Learn more.
- Heavy Metal Toxicity – Learn more.
- Hypochlorhydria – Learn more.
- Infection – Learn more.
- Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) – Learn more.
Other related conditions include: Alcoholism, Alzheimer’s Disease, Autism, Brain Fog, Fibromyalgia,Lou Gehrig’s Disease, Multiple Sclerosis, and Parkinson’s Disease.