The Missing Nutrient for Complete Health: Vitamin L (Love)
The body is a physical structure and usually what we do physically plays an important role in how healthy or unhealthy we are. Food, supplements, proper breathing techniques as well as movement and rest all represent important elements in the never-ending journey of well-being.
Still, the suggestion that all we have to do is leverage these types of somatic strategies to maintain our health is not entirely accurate. While it is obvious and beyond dispute that nutrition, exercise, relaxation and respiration are important components of maintaining our corporal condition — as is stabilizing blood sugar and employing correct digestive strategies — our emotions and thoughts are just as significant! And, the foundation of healthful thoughts and emotions is self-kindness!
The physiological benefits of self-kindness are rooted in the human neurology of the 10th cranial nerve which starts in the brain and travels throughout the body, affecting various structures and organ systems. Known as the Vagus nerve, this neurological pathway can be consciously harnessed via self-talk for numerous physiological benefits including lowering blood pressure, strengthening the heart, supporting digestion, stimulating growth and repair, enhancing creativity, and boosting the immune system. The relationship between seemingly imprecise emotional aspects of wellness, and the functioning of the Vagus nerve is so clear-cut that scientists have learned to measure self-kindness by monitoring vagal activity.
You can always tell if someone is being kind to themselves by how they treat others. Kind and loving internal dialogue will manifest externally as loving relationships and a healthy body, while hostile self-talk will show up in relationships and a physical body that are out of ease. The inner self is innocent and guileless like a small child. Try taking control of your inner dialogue and talking to yourself as you would to a baby or a child. If you like, you can even use baby talk at least for a little bit!
Treating oneself with gentleness and understanding is an indicator of inner strength, as well as a sign and precursor of good physical well-being. On the other hand, lack of compassion and self-compassion are always rooted in insecurity, uncertainty and angst, and subsequently leads to the protective posture that results in the defensive (inflammatory) response that is the ultimate cause of all disease.
The bottom line is physical health results from more than the physical; it’s just as dependent on our thoughts and emotions. Be kind to yourself and others! It will reflect in your body vitality and quality of life.
Why Do We Sleep? For More Reasons Than You May Think
Most of us spend about a third of our lives asleep, despite not really having an answer to the question, ‘why do we sleep?’ Now neuroscientists are realizing that sleep is more important than previously thought. They’re also realizing that the worn-out platitude, “you can sleep when you die,” is terrible advice, as that day will undoubtedly come sooner if you short yourself on a good night’s sleep.
You need to be getting seven to eight hours of sleep every night — there’s really no other way around it. And if you think you can healthily get by on less than that, there’s an almost 100 percent chance you’re fooling yourself.
Why is Sleep Important?
While the exact mechanisms of sleep are still being studied, neuroscientists like Matthew Walker, have discovered some interesting learnings about our bodies’ ability to function; what happens when we deprive ourselves of sleep; and the impacts sleep can have on society as a whole.
When we’re awake, Walker says that essentially, we’re causing low-level brain damage. By this he is referring to the build-up of the sticky, toxic junk in our brain, known as beta-amyloid. This accumulation of beta amyloid has been found to correspond with the onset of Alzheimer’s, among many other negative health effects correlated with a lack of sleep.
And sleep is beneficial as more than just a reparatory function, it also replenishes spent resources, and regulates hormone levels that dictate our appetite, cognitive function, and motor skills.
The two hormones that dictate whether we are hungry or full, leptin and ghrelin, have been observed to flare in the opposite direction when we are deprived of sleep. This inevitably leads to an increase in hunger, but even worse, it leads our bodies to crave unhealthy and fattening foods; those with heavy carbs, and less greens. In fact, people who run on four to five hours of sleep per night, tend to eat 200 to 300 more calories per day.
For men, sleep is an important regulator of hormones, most notably testosterone. Sleep deprived males can have the same virility and strength of a man 10 years their senior. For women, a lack of sleep can lead to a significantly increased risk of breast cancer and drops in immune hormones.
According to Walker, just introducing a single night of four-hours sleep among a normal eight-hour sleep schedule, can bring about a 70 percent drop in natural cancer killing cells; the immune assassins that target malignant carcinogens.
Every day our bodies produce these cells and others to fend off disease and maintain our health, and while a cat nap might make you feel refreshed, it won’t make up for the loss of these cells.
Listen to Kat Duff talk about the importance of a good night’s sleep on this episode of Open Minds: