Part IIA: The Chemistry of Stress
Yes! You can actually reverse the aging process! What I mean is that if you are aging more rapidly than is optimum, you can actually turn this around if you understand how to interpret and manage your urine and saliva pH. In Part I: The Chemistry of Aging, we talked about how attaining and maintaining a balanced pH is crucial in slowing down or reversing the aging process.
So, let’s get started on the way to understanding the first of four factors that contributes to your body pH: STRESS! Does the word itself cause your blood pressure to rise? Do you begin to think about all of those things that should have been done yesterday or last week, but you were unable to get accomplished due to factors out of your control?
Stress is a natural part of life, and we actually need some forms of stress in order to survive. Exercise causes stress on our muscles and bones, and this stress is a catalyst for healthy bone density and muscle mass. Without this stress, our bones and muscles atrophy and deteriorate, however, there is another kind of stress that is destructive to our bodies. This stress is the kind that gets our adrenaline pumping due to fear, anxiety, worry or over-commitment. Adrenaline actually produces acid in body, which affects our pH. Too much stress produces too much acid, and you will remember from Part I: The Chemistry of Aging that excess acid (or excess alkalinity) sets up an environment for disease in our bodies; the key is a balanced, average pH for urine and saliva between 6.4 and 6.5.
We can manage negative stress through learning to relax and not letting our minds get us all worked up. Remember the book called, Don’t Sweat the Small Stuff…. and it’s All Small Stuff? Yes, I know that there are real stresses in life like relational issues, financial struggles, health conditions…. But there are also hundreds of other little things that we get ourselves all worked up over (like the jerk in the fast lane on the interstate who is driving only 55MPH or the rude employee who took your order this morning)…. And it is simply NOT worth it to get all worked up and affect your own health negatively! So, the key is to learn the difference, and to not allow ourselves to go there. And for those really stressful things in life, we should focus on reducing that stress as much as possible through managing our thought life and getting support from other sources.
One source of stress relief is through the use of adaptogenic herbs. These are herbs that help us ADAPT to stress, thus reducing its effect upon our health. It is really amazing how G-d made plants to address this specific issue—isn’t He good? In order to determine which adaptogenic herbs are right for you, we first have to determine which branch of the autonomic nervous system is dominant in your body—each person is very unique, and even though most people tend to be on one end of the spectrum or the other, there are no hard and fast rules. The two ends of this spectrum are sympathetic dominant and parasympathetic dominant. Since each individual is unique, there are some people are neither extreme but in between. In these cases experimentation is necessary to determine which herbs will be most effective.
To determine where you fall on the continuum of autonomic dominance, it is useful to understand the function of autonomic nervous system: the nerves in your spinal cord branch out from specific vertebrae to every organ in your body. When we encounter stress, our adrenals release adrenaline which enables us to deal with the crisis; this is where we get the term “fight or flight.” Caffeine is a stimulant that activates the sympathetic nervous system and stimulates adrenaline release in most people. However, with some people it produces a sedative effect. This is why Ritalin (speed) works to calm down people with ADHD—most of these people are parasympathetic dominant!
So, which type of person are you? Take this quiz to find out, then...
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L'chaim-- To Life!
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