April 11, 2013
It’s difficult to imagine that the crick in your neck might be the result of ill-fitting shoes (but you do look great in those five inch heels), or that a pain in your stomach might be the result of something wonky in your brain (your head is not just a pretty place to put a hat). But it’s absolute gospel that all of our bodily systems affect one another, and an injury, illness, or weakness in one system can set the whole thing off kilter.
“Traditional medicine focuses solely on one system, one set of symptoms, and one injury or disease, but the truth is that every system interacts with each other, and when one system is not functioning properly, the other systems are affected,” said Ronnie Weir of Laser Wellness in Rapid City, SD. “It’s like having a rock in your shoe. Does it affect how you walk? Could you run very well with it? The rock becomes a focal point for the body, mentally and physically.” Life is not without its proverbial rocks in our Jimmy Choos, so how do we prevent a system meltdown rather than wait for the impending pebble to set us asunder? Here are a list of some of our important bodily systems and how to keep them running in harmony like the engine in a Ferrari – or at least the gears on a good bicycle.
The cardiovascular system includes the heart and the veins and arteries. It’s no secret that a good diet and regular exercise can contribute to a healthy cardiovascular system, but there are a few tricks to keep the ticker ticking – and the most important might be to simply chill out.
“In many cultures, the heart has always been valued as the source of emotions,” said Dr. Natasha Kassam, co-founder of 8 Hearts Health and Wellness in Portland, OR. “Poor psychosocial health, such as heightened stress, depression, and anxiety causes a cascade of chemical messaging, which affect not only the head, but also the heart. According to an international study in 2004, psychosocial health can contribute to myocardial infarcts (heart attacks) the same way smoking, high blood pressure, obesity, and cholesterol can. Atherosclerosis seems to advance faster in people who tend to be more angry or hostile. One Harvard study showed that one in every forty heart attack survivors reported an “episode of anger” within two hours before the attack.”
The endocrine system is a series of glands that secrete hormones that regulate other systems in your body, for example, the thyroid gland, which is responsible for the oxygen in your body and for energy consumption. “Stress has a major effect on the endocrine system,” said Dr. Smith. “The adrenal glands, in particular, are known to handle stress. Chronic states of stress, whether emotional or physical, can be detrimental to your adrenal gland function. When the adrenal glands lose the ability to combat stressful situations, health conditions can ensue, such as chronic fatigue, weakened immune function and greater susceptibility to infections, allergies, digestive disorders and thyroid conditions.” If stress can harm the endocrine system, a harmonious attitude can help it. “Speaking as a data-driven scientist, I believe love and positive attitudes can support good health because there is data to support it,” Said Sarah Miller, MD, of DIDISC Sports and Spine Centre in Marina del Rey, CACA. “Medical literature that explores these issues has shown that individuals who pray regularly, who are married and, yes, who have sex regularly, have less stress, better coping skills and may live longer. So, being the ‘glass is half full’ person has its rewards.”
ECSTATIC ENDOCRINE SYSTEM TIPS:
Optimize sleep for healthy pineal gland function. Use black out blinds and get rid of light sources (such as LED clocks) in your bedroom. Eat high quality protein sources, such as eggs, meats, fish, and legumes to balance hormones and endocrine functions. Flax seeds and flax oil help to balance female hormones and may help with PMS. Think happy thoughts. Emotions have a profound effect on the endocrine system.
They say you are what you eat – and only you know what that looks like. When you look in the mirror, do you see a pristine farm bathed in sunlight, dew clinging to ripe fruit, or do you see a cup of cold coffee and a glazed donut? Not only is it important to eat right – many nutritionists and doctors now recommend a heavily plant-based died – but it’s also important to appreciate your food. “The physical process of chewing your food is a key step in the breakdown of foods and digestion of nutrients,” said Dr. Kate Smith of Portland, OR. “Eating too quickly creates stress on the esophagus and stomach, and contributes to pathogenic bacterial overgrowth that creates bloating, indigestion and constipation. Research indicates that chewing each bite of food between 25 and 30 times before swallowing greatly improves overall digestion and the absorption of nutrients.”
Eat right, chew well – or else. “Stress on this particular system can range from the severe, such as ulcers, acid reflux, and malabsorption of nutrients, to more abstract issues like forgetfulness, worry, and lack of focus,” said the author of You Got Sick, Now What?, Tom Ingegno, Licensed Acupuncturist and Oriental Medicine Practitioner, from Baltimore, MD. “A diet that’s high in fried foods, dairy, and consumption of large meals is taxing on the digestive system. Smaller meals consisting of a good amount of fiber help keep the system working well. Abdominal massage can help if a person feels backed up often. Believe it or not, deep abdominal breathing increases pressure around the organs and helps ‘massage’ the GI tract.”
“integumentary” is a fifty-cent word for skin, your largest organ, and also includes your hair and nails. Americans spend 43 billion dollars a year on making their skin happy. Beyond the creams, dry brushes, and salt scrubs is the other part of what makes skin glow – diet. “Because skin is a part of our detox system, it’s good to eat an organic diet,” said Stephanie Kimber LAC., M.S.AC., of Glendale, CA. “toxins that are not removed by our internal organs exit through the skin. Many skin problems are rooted in either a poor diet or sometimes even an undiagnosed food allergy. Hydration is also very important. the best liquid to drink is water – there really is no better substitute.” as with other bodily systems, the skin is affected by stress. Karen downing, crystal therapist and spiritual coach, from Issaquah, Wa, said that stress or imbalance can lead to skin eruptions, hair loss, brittle hair and nails, and skin conditions such as eczema, psoriasis and keratosis pilaris. She uses crystals to support this system, including Zincite (entire integumentary system), Ulexite (skin), and Magnetite (hair). You can carry the crystals, and even add them to a bath.
The immune system is the body’s army, ready at all times to defend against invaders. if your army is robust, then your chances of staying healthy are strong. if your army is AWOL, then pathogens and allergens can get through and create illness and inflammation. every other system in the body relies on the immune system to work correctly – but you have to help it along with diet, exercise, a disciplined sleep regimen, and healthy habits. Holistic Wellness coach, Lisa Capehart, of Foster, KY, suggests steering clear of meats that contain hormones or antibiotics, as well as genetically modified and non-organic vegetables. “look for independent farmers in your area who use humane methods to raise the animals,” said Capehart. “and, drink whole raw milk. if you can’t find raw milk, then drink pasteurized whole milk, not reduced fat, because the fat content allows your body to absorb fat-soluble vitamins. adopting a ‘traditional’ diet, similar to the Paleo type diet, is a good idea.”
This system includes the lymph nodes and the spleen. In simple terms, the lymphatic system helps the immune system to ward off illness, and it also eliminates excess water in the bodily tissues. It is longer and more complex than the circulatory system, but it doesn’t have a central pump (the heart) to move lymph fluids around. So what moves the lymph? Movement and exercise. “The lymphatic system is connected to our ability to feel satisfied in life, to experience connectedness and faith,” said Laurie Heusinger LMT, NTS of Alpha Omega Therapeutics, author of Toggle It! A Guide to Reboot Your Emotional System, in Albuquerque, NM. “The stress that interferes with this part of our experience is worry, over thinking, indifference, and/or over sympathy. Balance is not specific to a single system, but instead indicates an overall synergy between all of the systems. When one system is out of balance, automatic compensations are made within the other systems. This happens physiologically and emotionally.”
The musculoskeletal system comprises the muscles, bones, cartilage, tendons, ligaments, joints, and connective tissue. Good diet and exercise keeps the bones and muscles healthy, but rarely do we think of how movement and posture affects this system. “One big concern is body symmetry,” said William D Charschan, DCCCSP, of Charschan Chiropractic and Sports Injury Associates in North Brunswick, NJ. “Many of us are built asymmetrically. The distribution of force is of vital importance. Asymmetry causes many knee, ankle, shoulder, neck and back problems, andathletic activity aggravates it. The best way tosupport this system is using foot orthotics, which actually change the mechanical way we bear weight.”
The nervous system is an intricate highway of cells that “speak” to each other about the internal and external stimuli that you are receiving. The central nervous system is in your brain and spinal column, and the peripheral nervous system is the “wiring” that extends all over your body. “The number one lifestyle choice that fries the nervous system is a high stress job that you have no passion for,” said Dr. Toni Galardi, author of The LifeQuake Phenomenon, in San Rafael, CA. “Sleep is essential for this system. Shut out external stimuli an hour before sleep. Melatonin and Valerian root can assist in relaxing the brain waves. Listening to theta wave music helps too.”
This is your breathing system, comprised of the lungs and respiratory muscles. You breathe about 20,000 times every day. Pollutants and irritants – such as cigarette smoke – can damage this system. That’s obvious, but as with the other systems, stress can also play a role in damaging respiratory health. “Stress can lead to shortness of breath, stress-induced asthma, bronchitis and other respiratory conditions,” said Downing. “A stressed emotional state can make the respiratory system gasp for air, as if there is not enough to go around.” Downing said to visualize breathing a beautiful golden pink energy in to the lungs. “As you breathe it in, imagine that it is the energy of pure love. Upon exhaling, breathe out all of the stress and worry of the day. Just by doing this for three inhales and exhales, you will find that you feel calmer and more centered.”