Good Vibes with Sandeep Mall – Issue#49 – Toolkit to balance nervous system. Toolkit to relieve acid reflux without medicine
Do you feel exhausted all the time? Then this issue of newsletter is for you. It presents some relatively easy, evidence-based ways to recharge your batteries.
Do you take enough down time? From our cardiovascular and autonomic nervous system to our metabolism and circadian rhythm, each of them has the same pattern of functioning- build up resources, energy, and strength; use them to get something done, and then take some downtime to replenish them and be able to do things again. Our body has various downstate systems and processes for revitalising itself. By tapping into them, we can reap the benefits: more energy, less stress, and better physical and mental health.
Autonomic nervous system is the part of our nervous system that regulates bodily functions which aren’t under your conscious control, like our heartbeat and digestion. It splits into a few different branches. One of them is your sympathetic nervous system, which regulates many of your body’s upstate processes. The autonomic nervous system floods our body with stress hormones, increasing our heart rate, body temperature, and sweat production. Whether you are getting ready for that big presentation, running from a lion in the wild, or dribbling past those defenders in a game of soccer, the body behaves same.
All of these activities are crucial to your ability to do the things you need to do, to survive and thrive. But it takes a lot of energy for your body to do them, so it can’t keep doing them for too long without exhausting itself. And that’s where the next branch of your autonomic nervous system comes in – the parasympathetic nervous system, which regulates many of your body’s downstate activities. Its job is to tell your body that it can take some time to cool down and recuperate. This system enables your body to restore itself – relaxing our muscles, lowering our heart rate, replenishing our bodily fluids, and performing many other crucial downstate processes. Ideally both the systems should balance each other.
But instead of charging ourselves back, up to full capacity, many of us go through life feeling like smartphones with batteries drained to 10 percent. And that’s because we spend a whole lot of our time in upstate mode, without giving ourselves enough time in downstate mode. This imbalance can have serious impacts on your physical and mental health, including impaired memory and cognition, weakened immune system, premature ageing, emotional volatility, and increased risk of depression, anxiety, cardiovascular disease, type 2 diabetes, and cancer.
So what can you do?
There’s a simple way to get a hold on them, and it’s to do with something called your heart rate variability, or HRV. Your HRV measures the rhythmic pattern of your heart rate. You can either have a high heart rate variability or a low heart rate variability. If your heart beats steadily like a metronome then you have a low HRV; your heart rate isn’t variable. If, on the other hand, your heartbeat is more uneven, with longer and shorter intervals between the beats, then you have a high heart rate variability. When your sympathetic system is putting you under stress, your heartbeat not only gets faster but also becomes more uniform – with less variation in the intervals between the beats. Your HRV, therefore, goes down. In contrast, when your parasympathetic system lets you relax, your heart not only slows down but also becomes more variable – with variations of up to a few hundred milliseconds between the beats, which means your HRV goes up. Unsurprisingly, people with a healthy autonomic balance and a lack of stress tend to have a high HRV, whereas those with autonomic imbalance and chronic stress tend to have a low HRV.
There are some surprisingly simple ways of increasing your heart rate variability.
The first – and you’ve probably heard this a hundred times by now – is to take deep breaths. When you breathe at a rate of about ten seconds per breath, your heart rate and breath rate synchronise in a way that maximises the amount of oxygen that goes to your blood, which boosts your HRV. At least take 5 minutes in the morning and 5 in the evening to breathe this way. Spend these few minutes each day inhaling in for five seconds; then exhaling out for five seconds. Be sure to breathe through your nose – both when you’re practicing deep breathing and in general. Nose breathing is naturally slower than mouth breathing, and it maximizes the amount of oxygen that enters the bloodstream.
Another thing you can do to raise your HRV is to practice inversion yoga poses, like Downward Dog, Legs Up the Wall Pose, and Supported Bridge Pose. These are poses where your head ends up lower than your chest, which makes it easier for your heart to beat and draws additional blood and oxygen to your brain. Try practicing inversion poses for seven minutes, three times per week, in the morning or at night, and gradually increase your sessions to 20 minutes. If you have high blood pressure, just make sure to check with a doctor before performing these poses.
Finally, try spending some time in nature, at least once or twice a week. Simply wander around a natural environment and let your mind and senses soak in the sights, sounds, and smells. Research has shown that all of these activities produce a variety of benefits, including higher HRV, lower blood pressure, less stress, and better sleep.
Get enough Sleep. Get seven or eight hours of sleep. You’ve probably heard that a million times – and it’s true. Slow-wave sleep is your body’s deepest, most restorative downstate. Your body is able to do things like clean out toxins from your brain, synthesise proteins for cell repair, restock glycogen (your skeletal muscles’ main source of energy), consolidate long-term memories, and reset your brain’s neural networks to make them ready to learn new things the next day. The 8th issue of Good Vibes was completely dedicated to Sleep.
In the modern world, we are surrounded by stressful challenges every moment. By doing these simple routines, you will be able to balance your nervous system.
A few lifestyle changes are worth trying before resorting to drugs for controlling gastro oesophageal reflux.
If you are sounding a little hoarse and have a sore throat, you may be bracing for a cold or a bout of the flu. But if you’ve had these symptoms for a while, they might be caused not by a virus but by a valve—your lower esophageal sphincter. That’s the muscle that controls the passage between the esophagus and stomach, and when it doesn’t close completely, stomach acid and food flow back into the esophagus. The medical term for this process is gastroesophageal reflux; the backward flow of acid is called acid reflux.
Acid reflux can cause sore throats and hoarseness and may literally leave a bad taste in your mouth. When acid reflux produces chronic symptoms, it is known as gastroesophageal reflux disorder, or GERD. The most common symptom of GERD is heartburn—pain in the upper abdomen and chest.
Three conditions—poor clearance of food or acid from the oesophagus, too much acid in the stomach, and delayed stomach emptying—contribute to acid reflux.
If you’ve been having repeated episodes of heartburn—or any other symptoms of acid reflux—you might try the following:
1. Eat sparingly and slowly. When the stomach is very full, there can be more reflux into the oesophagus. If it fits into your schedule, you may want to try what is sometimes called “grazing”—eating small meals more frequently rather than three large meals daily.
2. Avoid certain foods. People with acid reflux were once instructed to eliminate all but the blandest foods from their diets. But that’s no longer the case. There are still some foods that are more likely than others to trigger reflux, including mint, fatty foods, spicy foods, tomatoes, onions, garlic, coffee, tea, chocolate, and alcohol. If you eat any of these foods regularly, you might try eliminating them to see if doing so controls your reflux, and then try adding them back one by one.
3. Don’t drink carbonated beverages. They make you burp, which sends acid into the esophagus. Drink flat water instead of sparkling water.
4. Stay up after eating. When you’re standing, or even sitting, gravity alone helps keep acid in the stomach, where it belongs. Finish eating three hours before you go to bed. This means no naps after lunch, and no late suppers or midnight snacks.
5. Don’t move too fast. Avoid vigorous exercise for a couple of hours after eating. An after-dinner stroll is fine, but a more strenuous workout, especially if it involves bending over, can send acid into your esophagus.
6. Sleep on an incline. Ideally, your head should be 6 to 8 inches higher than your feet. Don’t try to create a wedge by stacking pillows. They won’t provide the uniform support you need.
7. Lose weight if it’s advised. Increased weight spreads the muscular structure that supports the lower oesophageal sphincter, decreasing the pressure that holds the sphincter closed. This leads to reflux and heartburn.
8. If you smoke, quit. Nicotine may relax the lower oesophageal sphincter.
9. Check your medications. Some, including postmenopausal oestrogen, tricyclic antidepressants, and anti-inflammatory painkillers, can relax the sphincter, while others which are taken to increase bone density, can irritate the oesophagus.
If these steps aren’t effective or if you have severe pain or difficulty swallowing, see your doctor to rule out other causes. You may also need medication to control reflux even as you pursue lifestyle changes.
Only 9 weeks to go for The Growth Retreat, a networking event, I am hosting at Rishikesh from 8-11th December 2022. Every week we will bring you a write up by one of the esteemed guest speakers of the Retreat, giving you a sneak peak of what they will be sharing with the participants of the Retreat.
Removing Barriers to Growth
by Priti Rathi Gupta
Growth(noun) – the process of growing and developing
I like the Hindi definition better
“वृद्धि और विकास”
Mankind enjoys the entitlement of natural growth, from a new born to a child, to a teenager and then adulthood. This evolution is a given.
As we go through life, circumstances, abilities, skill sets become navigators to our destinations in life. It’s true that we cannot all be at the same destination. But we can definitely choose where we want to be in life led by our “North Star” of success.
I, for most of my life was okay to play along with the way life “happened to me”. Till I realised that I had drifted far away from my “North Star”.
At what point did I stop growing at a rate that increased the gap between my current version and that possible version? Was it possible to course-correct? To tackle all foreseen and unseen challenges – did I have it in me?
Some introspection and more importantly, a lot of extrospection shed some light.
I studied people around me, who were the absolute best version of themselves- Entrepreneurs, Executives, Artists, Homemakers, who were dazzling shining lights in their own field. Some even achieved great fame and became inspirations. What could they have done differently than most of us? Were they more privileged, smarter, intelligent or just plain lucky?
Probably some of these factors worked in their favour, but then should everyone with the same be as successful? What I have learnt can be summed up briefly in these beautiful lines I chanced upon:
Pick the path that lights you up,
Stop listening to doubts,
Start connecting with courage,
Do net let the idea of normal get in the way,
Know it’s not the easy path,
But great things take effort,
Lean into your determination,
Lean into your mission,
Lean into the “Real You”
Priti is the Founder of Lxme, a social Fintech focussed on women and Managing Director & Promoter at Anand Rathi Shares and Stock Broker Ltd, a 25 year old Financial services firm . At AnandRathi, she pioneered the commodity and currency futures desk, along with the wealth management business for the mass affluent. Having worked in the financial services sector for almost two decades, Priti understood that financial services industry considered men to be their primary audience and was keen to to make it more accessible for women. She envisioned a product where she would take her expertise in financial services and create something to help women achieve their dreams and overcome their financial fears, giving rise to LXME (read as ‘Lakshmi’).
An alumnus of Harvard Business School, Priti Rathi Gupta has also completed a Post Graduate Programme in Family Managed Business from S.P. Jain Institute of Management and Research, and has completed her B.Com from H.R. College of Commerce and Economics, Mumbai.
You can connect with her on Twitter @PritiRathiGupta
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We have also archived all the old issues and you can access them at www.sandeepmall.com. They contain some very good tool kits to take charge of your well being.
See you next week .
The information provided in this newsletter is not medical advice, nor it should be taken as a replacement for medical advice. I am not a medical Doctor so I don’t prescribe anything. Most of the tools suggested are based out of scientific research and my experiments with them. Your healthcare, your wellbeing is your responsibility. Anything we suggest here, please filter it through that responsibility.