Whole Body Wellness Series: Chronic Disease and the Mind-Body Connection
What if you were told that you can be virtually freed from the confines of stress, anxiety, depression, fatigue and most importantly pain?
Many Americans give little thought to the quality of their lives due to the fast-paced, going-through-the-motions, brain-fog garb that you wake up in the morning and put on every day. Many people in Friendswood do not realize they have a problem until the mounting physical and mental stressors reach their precipice and the impending physical dysfunction really presents itself.
According to the Centers of Disease Control, the leading cause of death in the U.S is chronic disease. Chronic means long-term as to say, chronic disease does not occur overnight. It is a build up of the right (or wrong, rather) conditions in the body that accelerate the degenerative processes our bodies naturally experience as we age. The cycles of pain and dysfunction may persist, but it can be broken. Here are some of the factors that can cause chronic disease:
- Sedentary Lifestyles – The average American spends approximately 7.7 hours per day sitting, according to studies. Only 1 out of 3 children are physically active everyday and more than 80% of American adult fail to meet recommended requirements for aerobic exercise.
- Poor Diet – Only 1 in 10 adults meet recommended intake of fruits and vegetables in the U.S., according to the CDC. Fruits and vegetables are a vital source of micronutrients and phytonutrients that help support proper organ function and brain health.
- Poor Posture – Having poor posture Is not something that ‘just happens.’ Typically, a poor posture is the result of weakening of important muscles that support posture, such as the mid back, core, and glutes. When the spine becomes compromised due to improper alignment associated with poor posture, the nerves that tell the body’s muscles and organs what to do also become compromised. Growing children should also be taught the importance of proper posture.
- Poor Stress Management – Chronic stress related illness makes up to 90% of all visits to the doctor’s office. Stress is becoming more recognized as a potential trigger for some chronic diseases.
Although there are many different circumstances that may leave a person predisposed or more susceptible to chronic disease, such as high stress or low activity occupation, caregivers and genetics; the stark reality is that many of these factors can be prevented, managed, or even stopped if we chose to take a more proactive role in our wellness.
The Mind/Body Connection
Our nervous system is a very complex and intricate network of electrical impulses regulated by the brain automatically. The brain also regulates the stress response and is divided into two controls:
- Sympathetic Nervous System or “Fight or Flight": this is the primary stress response that acts to prepare the mind and body for action.
- Parasympathetic Nervous System or “Rest and Digest”: this is the reversal of the stress response and is designed to return homeostasis
The stress response is characterized by:
- Increased Awareness
- Increased Heart Rate
- Increased Respiration
- Decreased Digestion
- Decreased Hormonal Function
- Decreased Immune Function
If the body is in a persistent state of fight or flight, the body will reserve non-essential functions, such as digestion and immunity, to preserve energy to act quickly. Chronic stress may have impact on the body and the way it functions due to decreases in these functions.
If the digestive system is inhibited, the body may not digest food properly, which may affect nutrients and how they are absorbed in the body, as well as digestive hormone and enzyme production needed for proper digestion. Constipation or other bowel symptoms may arise. Furthermore, a person in a persistent state of stress may also experience inability to sleep, susceptibility to colds, and potential cardiovascular issues.
The Mind/Body Connection is a proposed connection between feeling or emotions and physical manifestation of disease in the body as to say, how the mind feels the body will also feel in turn. Rene Descartes, a French philosopher, is well known as the person to bring recognition to this phenomenon in his most famous saying “Cogito ergo sum” or “I think, therefore, I am.”
Sympathetic and parasympathetic responses to specific diversified adjustments to chiropractic vertebral subluxations of the cervical and thoracic spine: “It is preliminarily suggested that cervical adjustments may result in parasympathetic responses, whereas thoracic adjustments result in sympathetic responses. Furthermore, it appears that these responses may demonstrate the relationship of autonomic responses in association to the particular segment(s) adjusted.”
Sympathetic and parasympathetic responses to specific diversified adjustments to chiropractic vertebral subluxations of the cervical and thoracic spine: “Because of the proximity of the upper cervical vertebrae to the brainstem, parasympathetic influences dominate these segmental levels; and therefore, a cervical adjustment could likely result in a parasympathetic response (slowing down of heart beat, lowering of BP, constriction of pupils).”
Evidence supporting the mind-body connection in terms of how emotions directly affect the body may be limited, there is no question that the effects of long-term stress can directly affect the body on a multifaceted scale. Chiropractic manipulation has proven successful in the down-regulation or ‘suppression’ of the sympathetic nervous system and promote parasympathetic response, allowing the body to rest.
Forever Well Chiropractic in Friendswood, TX would like to welcome you to a Consultation with Dr. Haywood to discuss any questions regarding how chiropractic manipulation can help alleviate certain conditions related to chronic disorders and check back for the next in our Whole Body Wellness Series.
Next... Whole Body Wellness Series: Pain Signals and Postural Changes