Patients often report issues with weight management, and as we know, most strategies deal with the dietary aspects of food selection, quantity and quality. Last week we answered patient questions about how much you may want to consume throughout the day to maintain ideal metabolism. While this is significant, it is important to consider something more fundamental, the control of metabolism via the nervous system.
For normal resting function of the body, two things must happen. First, there needs to be balance and maneuverability in the autonomic nervous system. The autonomic nervous system is comprised of two sub-components, the sympathetic and parasympathetic nervous systems. Consider these the gas and brake pedals of the body respectively. When stressors are applied from the environment in the form of physical, chemical and emotional stress, the nervous system must react and adapt. Under optimal conditions, the body can react to these stressors going into sympathetic dominance and quickly move back to parasympathetic control. This is critical since the parasympathetic component directs cognitive, immune and digestive function.
The second is what is known as proper tone of the Vagus nerve, which is roughly translated as the wandering nerve. The Vagus nerve exits from under either side of the skull above the first cervical vertebrae, courses along the neck and connects to every visceral organ in the body and more. Consider it as another set of brakes. Appropriate “Vagal Tone” is essential to keep the body’s systems in check for proper function- this includes metabolic processes.
When there are structural shifts of the spine that affect the tension or tone of the spinal cord and the branching nerves, a reduction in neurological efficiency is created. This in turn obstructs the ability of the body to quickly rebound from stressors as well as maintain proper Vagal Tone. Further, a reduction in the parasympathetic response that controls cognitive thought, immune function and digestion will ensue creating secondary conditions as foggy thinking, reduced immune response, fatigue and sluggish metabolism. Clearly the last point can directly affect weight management- we can all relate to this.
It is for this reason that specific NeuroStructural assessment of the neurological and structural systems is necessary to determine their current state. Restoring the balance of the autonomic nervous system is critical in restoring metabolism to proper levels which will promote proper digestion and absorption!
How does your digestion respond optimally after a chiropractic adjustment?
Photo thanks to Brooke Cagel at Unsplash