If you have read any material about Metabolic Typing you may have heard of Autonomic Nervous System (ANS) if not then this will all be new to you. The ANS is like our bodies own auto pilot setting, and it takes care of the body’s functions that are outside of conscious thought – like breathing, heart rate and digestion. There are two sides to the ANS referred to as branches; the Sympathetic Nervous system (SNS) and the Parasympathetic Nervous System (PNS) – both affect the body in different ways. Most people are SNS dominant – and that is holding them back from getting the results and the bodies they want – they need to restore the balance.
People who are SNS dominant show these indicators:
- Poor digestion
- Increased Respiratory / Heart rate
- Poor Sleep Quality
- Night Sweats
- Waking Un-rested
- Increased Muscle Tension
- Increased Inflammatory Conditions
- Susceptibility to colds & infections
When we face stress our SNS kicks in; it is known as the fight or flight response – humans are programmed this way. Stress whether it physical, mental or emotional is irrelevant the effects on the body are the same. The SNS releases stress hormones (cortisol) into the body that elevate your heart rate and blood pressure. The result is blood being shunted away from your internal organs to your skin and muscles (ready to fight or flight remember) – this stops the digestion and elimination processes. Our SNS is highest in the morning and should be tapering off in the mid to late afternoon. But most people whether it be due to high stress, poor diet, substance abuse (cigarettes, drugs, alcohol or caffeine) may find that they are SNS dominate all day.
The cortisol release that is triggered by the SNS means the body becomes catabolic – which means it breaks down muscle tissue and stores bodyfat (the opposite of what most of us want). While the other side the PNS is anabolic muscle building and fat burning. We run into trouble because the ANS is like a see saw, when one side is up / on the other is down / off. To be healthy we need both the SNS and PNS to work evenly – be balanced.
The PNS releases repair hormones – DHEA, growth hormone, testosterone and estrogen – as well as supporting the digestive system. The PNS should be at it optimal working levels between 10pm and 2am during the physical repair phase of your night’s sleep.
People who are PNS dominant show these indicators:
- Strong or Excessive digestion
- Hyperactive Bowel
- Orthostatic failure upon rising
- Decreased Respiratory / Heart rate
- Decrease Perspiration
- Poor Sleep quality, hibernation
- Thyroid Suppression
- Mucus secretions
- Depression, somnolence
- Hands warm and dry
- Increased Gag reflex
- WBC count and greater allergies
Balancing the autonomic nervous systems is extremely important if you wish to perform at your best. However to actually successfully achieve this requires you to address several areas of your life. Food and what you eat should be your first point of call – are you eating right for your Metabolic type? Followed learning to control and handle stress. There are many more steps but let’s get you started!