Vitality is not just a state of mind; it’s a physical condition and energetic component necessary for health and well-being.
Each of our cells contains hundreds of mitochondria, tiny “power plants” that combine the oxygen we breathe with the food we eat and then burn the combination to create energy. How energetic we feel largely depends on how well our power plants are functioning. To function optimally, your mitochondria need quality fuel, food and oxygen: a wholesome varied diet, restorative sleep (deep relaxation) and plenty of oxygen (exercise). You also need channels to take fuel into the internal environment of your cells. Fortunately, you are a tubular creature. All of your tubes (vasculatures, digestive and breathing tracts) have internal linings, called endothelium and mucosa, and smooth muscle fibers in the wall. Smooth muscle fibers in the walls of tubes and inner lining are under the control of the autonomic nervous system: sympathetic and parasympathetic branches. A balance in the sympathetic and parasympathetic branches is the foundation for radiant wellness. To prevent disease, you first need to start balancing the autonomic nervous system, addressing proper nutrition, appropriate exercise, developing a calm mind and finding a meaning and purpose for life.
Autonomic Nervous System
To promote health and wellbeing—and prevent inflammation–it helps to understand how your neurovascular system functions. Basically, your autonomic nervous system controls the muscle fibers in your tubes with two sets of nerve-fiber cables. Picture these nerve-fiber cables as blue and red in color. Imagine the blue cable as the brake and the red cable as the accelerator of an automobile. The foundation of your health is in the balance between the blue and red nerve-fiber cables, just as it is with the proper application of the accelerator and the brake as you drive your car.
Disease develops when there’s an imbalance between your accelerator and your brake. Health and wellbeing results when you maintain a balance between the two branches of your autonomic nervous system: the sympathetic and the parasympathetic. You take charge of your health and wellbeing by practicing serenity to bring about a balance in your sympathetic and parasympathetic nervous system.
The Importance of the Endothelium in Health and Well-Being
The endothelium, or inner lining, of our vasculatures is a very active and important component for our health and wellbeing. Dysfunction of the endothelium is the major cause of blockage of arteries that increases the risk of heart attack and stroke. Healthy endothelium maintains uninterrupted circulation by allowing blood to flow smoothly to every part of the body and by participating in blood pressure control. One of the most important functions of healthy endothelium is the release of nitric oxide, which then signals the surrounding smooth muscles of the arteries to relax and dilate, increasing healthy blood flow. Endothelial dysfunction takes place through inactivation of nitric oxide by harmful oxidative stress, which occurs in stressful situations, hypertension, hypercholesterolemia, diabetes and smoking.
Stress damages the endothelium’s structural integrity, compromising the interior wall of the arteries, until it is no longer able to protect the arterial walls against the infiltration of cholesterol, LDL and triglycerides. Thus, endothelial dysfunction is one of the first steps in the creation of atherosclerosis–the build up of arterial plaques that elevates the risk for heart attack and stroke. With increasing age, your body loses continually optimal endothelial function. Endothelial dysfunction is the beginning of inflammation.