Posted by: faithful | May 13, 2014

minding the body’s repair through healthy nutrition, sleep and self-care

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We now know we can improve our neurobiology and enhance our genetic adaptation by following simple steps are easy to follow and understand.

1. Meditation and mindfulness training

2. Walking and other movement and body conditioning programs

3. Nutritional adaptations to improve glycemic stability and complexity of sugars in daily diet.

4. Increase omega 3’s and other “healthy” fats

5  Avoidance of modern cocktail food and drink additives

6. Avoidance of caffeine

7. Obtain adequate sunlight exposure

8. Drink adequate water from a reliable supply

9. Add other minerals and vitamins for positive life balance (Vitamin D, A and C are important and their levels can be monitored)

10. Life balance strategies to prevent prolonged stress and ensure frequent change of pace and quiet time.

These lifestyle and diet changes both enhance rejuvenation of brain cells and encourage epigenetic changes that are critical to our long term well-being and health. They also effect our off-spring and studies now indicate that such life style changes can positively impact our children and as many as four generations of our progeny.

WHAT AND HOW  WE EAT and take care of our bodies effect our children and even our great grandchildren via the DNA pathways. Similarly, improving our health and taking care of ourselves can provide protection.

Epigenetics

The epigenetic landscape now demonstrates that the relationship between genotype and phenotype is non-linear and probabilistic, not deterministic and it is now possible to link epigenetic changes to environmental factors.

 

During sleep the body’s energy shifts focus from external activities such as processing information, movement and digestion to internal activities such as self healing, rejuvenation and repair. Some of the internal processes that occur during sleep include: (from Wikipedia)

Cellular Repair: The body must constantly keep up with the wear and tear of daily living. When awake the body is in a breakdown process or catabolic process, in which large amounts of adrenaline (the fight or flight hormone), noradrenaline and cortisol (two stress hormones) are released which helps the body deal with daily strains.[3]

At night, these hormones drop and the body shifts to anabolic processes where it releases growth hormone which stimulates the cellular repair process.[3] Growth hormone initiates protein synthesis, breaks down fats to supply energy for tissue repair, and stimulates cell division to replace old or malfunctioning cells.[4]

Growth hormone is released in stage 4 of sleep, the deepest stage of sleep.[4] Balancing catabolic and anabolic processes aids cellular repair which is vital for health and well-being. This also explains why it is necessary and common for a person to require more sleep when dealing with acute or chronic illnesses.

Immune System Replenishing: The immune system works hard to keep us free of illness by attacking anything that it does not recognize as self. The immune system also recognizes if one of the body’s own cells has mutated or become cancerous and attempts to kill it off to keep us healthy. If the immune system recognizes an invader, it releases interleukins (a specific protein) which signal other immune cells to come to the area to multiply and attack. Special proteins called immunoglobins or antibodies are called upon to identify and neutralize foreign bodies. During sleep the body releases large amounts of interleukin 1 and tumor necrosis factor.[4] Interleukin 1 is a powerful immune system messenger that allows the body to mount a fever if necessary and also helps to decreases inflammation.[5]

Tumour necrosis factor is a potent killer of cancerous cells and rises ten fold in the blood during sleep. Natural killer cells are also affected by sleep.[4] Although no change is noticed during a sleepless night, their number is 30% lower the following night.[4] Natural killer (NK) cells are essential to the body’s defenses. Decrease in NK cells indicates a weakened immune system making one more susceptible to illness. Sleep is of vital importance and assists the body’s ability to fight infections, cancer and inflammation. A chronic state of insomnia increases the risk of disease.

Increased longevity. Sleep duration is related to length of life, with a greater risk of death in those sleeping fewer than 6 hours a night. Sleep deprivation is also linked to vehicle crashes and deaths. Insomnia early in adult life is a risk factor for the development of clinical depression and mental health disorders.

Muscle relaxation: During the night muscles can take a break and relax. Respiratory muscles also relax, resulting in the breathing rate slowing down. During REM sleep, muscles become so relaxed that they actually become temporarily paralyzed, called muscle atonia. This is thought to protect a person from acting out their dreams. Muscle relaxation is a necessary component of sleep in order to allow the body time to recharge and replenish. When muscles are relaxed, there are less metabolites formed, allowing for additional cellular repair and replenishing.

Weight management: Adequate sleep is required for weight management. Sleep deprivation is linked to weight gain, typically because the amount and quality of sleep affect hormone levels, namely the levels of leptin and ghrelin. Many physiological processes depend on these hormone levels to function properly, including appetite. Leptin is a hormone that affects the feeling of fullness and satisfaction after a meal, and ghrelin is the hormone that stimulates appetite. When you suffer from sleep deprivation, your body’s levels of leptin fall and ghrelin levels increase. This means you end up feeling hungrier without feeling satisfied by what you eat, causing you to eat more and, consequently, gain weight.[6]

Free radical scavenging: Sleep is the body’s natural antioxidant. Throughout the night large amounts of free radicals are scavenged from the brain and other vital organs, protecting them from oxidative damage. Most individuals can handle a few days of sleep deprivation, but prolonged depletion of sleep creates advanced aging to the brain, neuronal damage and elevated night time cortisol levels.[7]

Cognitive enhancements: Without adequate rest, the brain’s ability to function quickly deteriorates impacting concentration, consolidation of memories, and the learning of new motor tasks.[8]

The brain works harder to counteract sleep deprivation effects, but operates less effectively. Sleep helps with memory in two ways; first, when someone is sleep deprived, there is an inability to concentrate and, therefore, an inability to learn efficiently; secondly, in the consolidation of memory. Memory consolidation implies storing short term memories to long term memory. Memory consolidation occurs during sleep through the strengthening of neuronal connections that form memories.[7] Another area of research is on sleep and procedural memory. Procedural memory is the remembering how to do something and REM sleep seems to play a pivotal role in this.[7] Insomnia early in adult life is a risk factor for the development of clinical depression and mental health disorders. [9]

Chronic sleep deprivation is linked with cognitive impairments, the decrease of the brain’s ability to problem solve and the impairment of an individual’s ability to perform optimally. Sleep deprivation has been associated with increased accidents and injury.[8] When decision-making abilities are compromised, the brain falls into rigid thought patterns that make it difficult to generate new problem-solving ideas. Insufficient rest can also cause people to have hallucinations.

Regeneration of personal essence: Adequate deep restful sleep is essential to a person’s overall sense of wellbeing. It allows a person to process and recover from each day and to feel rejuvenated and ready to handle the next. Sleep is tied to a person’s overall vitality and to their sense of inner strength and ability to heal. Lack of adequate restful sleep is associated with increased aging and with greater dissatisfaction in life. Sleep duration is related to length of life, with a greater risk of death in those sleeping fewer than 6 hours a night.[10]

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