The nervous system made simple

The human nervous system is extremely complex – how it works can be understood easily if we see it in terms of a transport network made up of three main elements: the brain and the spinal cord (the central nervous system), and the nerves cells throughout the body (the peripheral nervous system).

The spinal cord is the motorway that travels to and from the brain, and nerves are the roads that carry messages to and from every part of the body to the brain via the spinal cord. The brain receives and interprets the messages and then takes action. If you burn yourself, nerve cells at the burn site will send a pain message to your brain, which will instruct your muscles to move away quickly to prevent further injury. These messages travel almost instantly – a healthy brain can react to stimuli in one-hundredth of a second.

The central and peripheral nervous systems are made up of billions of neurons (or nerve cells), which are supported by highly specialised cells that hold the neurons in place, supply them with oxygen and nutrients, and destroy bacteria, viruses and other microorganisms that cause disease. The spaces between neurons are called synapses, and neurons are linked to each other with chemicals called neurotransmitters.

Because the nervous system controls and coordinates movement it is vital to keep it healthy and functioning. The main essence of chiropractic is a concentration on the spinal cord to diagnose and treat problems that affect the rest of your nervous system and your body as a whole. You can also keep you and your nervous system healthy by:

  • Eating regularly to keep up your neurons’ glucose levels.
  • Including vitamins B-12 and D and healthy fats in your diet.
  • Not smoking or drinking too much alcohol.
  • Exercising your brain with activities like Sudoku.
  • Managing chronic stress – it produces cortisol which over time can harm your body and your brain

This article originally appeared in the January / Febuary edition of the Your Chiropractor Newsletter. Come into Jowett & Moulton Chiropractors in the Melbourne CBD to collect a copy today.

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