Nutritional stimulation of the autonomic nervous system

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Nutritionally Controlling the Autonomic Nervous System by Pat Davidson
Ever wonder why you can tolerate citrus fruits but your friend can't? During digestion and absorption of vital nutrients, a fierce immune response to temporally present bacterial toxins, antigens and destructive endogenous lysozymes accompanying nutrition needs to be avoided. Pharmacological stimulation of the cholinergic antiinflammatory pathway. It is also suitable for people who are considering metabolic therapies approach for cancer — or any other health problem — to watch so that they can learn the basics of this therapeutic system. Your recently viewed items and featured recommendations.

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Activation of the pathway is possible via electrical or via pharmacological interventions, but is also achieved in a physiological manner by ingestion of dietary lipids. Administration of dietary lipids has been shown to be very effective in reducing the inflammatory cascade and maintaining intestinal barrier integrity in several experimental studies.

This beneficial effect of nutrition on the inflammatory response and intestinal barrier integrity opens new therapeutic opportunities for treatment of certain gastrointestinal disorders. Furthermore, this neural feedback mechanism provides more insight in the relative hyporesponsiveness of the immune cells in the gut.

Here, we will discuss the regulatory function of the autonomic nervous system on the inflammatory response and gut barrier function and the potential benefit in a clinical setting.

Disturbance of the inflammatory response in the gut is important in several clinical diseases ranging from inflammatory bowel disease IBD to postoperative ileus POI [ 1 , 2 ]. Although a fierce response to pathogens, ischemia, trauma and other forms of injury is necessary, the inflammatory cascade needs to be tightly controlled to avoid local tissue damage or systemic effects such as shock, organ failure or even death[ 3 , 4 ].

Especially in the gastrointestinal tract a delicate equilibrium is required; on one hand there needs to be a state of relative hyporesponsiveness to commensal bacteria, dietary antigens and biological toxins that are ingested along with nutrients, and on the other hand potential pathogens must be recognized and neutralized when necessary[ 5 ]. An unrestrained inflammatory response is not desired since it may cause local damage to healthy tissue, cause acute and chronic inflammatory diseases and even evolve into critical systemic inflammatory syndromes such as sepsis.

Controlling the inflammatory response has been a the-rapeutic target for many gastrointestinal diseases for a long time. For other syndromes such as POI, only experimental evidence is available that shows a positive effect of an anti-inflammatory therapy[ 8 ]. In the last decade, a new anti-inflammatory pathway has been discovered involving the autonomic nervous system. Several experimental studies have shown that stimulation of the autonomic nervous system can dampen the inflammatory response and prevent loss of gut barrier integrity[ 9 - 11 ].

In this way, activation of the autonomic nervous system can potentially ameliorate inflammation-based diseases and prevent complications. Both IBD and POI have been shown to be reduced effectively in experimental models using activation of the autonomic nervous system[ 8 , 12 ]. A more physiological and less invasive way of activating this anti-inflammatory vagal pathway is by administration of nutrition[ 13 - 15 ].

Nutrition and specifically dietary lipids activate the autonomic nervous system via afferent vagal nerve fibres and release of neuro-endocrine hormones[ 16 , 17 ]. In this way nutrition may be used as therapy to prevent excessive inflammation and the accompanying local tissue damage. Although the beneficial effect of nutrition on inflammation has been recognized by many for a long time in several clinical settings, this vagal feedback mechanism gives more insight in the mode of action of nutrition and individual food components and helps to develop new nutritional therapies.

Release of proinflammatory cytokines by macrophages and neutrophils is essential in the initial and rapid innate immune response. Additionally, exposure to bacterial ligands elict a complex orchestrated network of responses in which complement, chemokines, adhesion molecules, heat shock proteins and other late mediators play a role[ 18 ].

This pleiotropic cytokine causes activation of macrophages and stimulates neutrophils. Inhibition of this cytokine has been shown to be therapeutic in IBD and rheumatoid arthritis, although it may also be detrimental in patients carrying certain pathogens while also in sepsis[ 20 ].

The inflammatory response is often triggered by bacteria or bacterial products that have distinctive characteristics called pathogen-associated molecular patterns that are recognized by immune cells via Toll-like receptors TLRs [ 21 ].

To prevent an exaggerated inflammatory response and to manage the collateral damage caused by release of proinflammatory mediators, several control systems are activated at all levels. For example, IL has been shown to play a pivotal role in the intestinal recovery following surgery[ 23 ]. Another important pathway in the anti-inflammatory response is triggered by the catabolism of heme by the enzyme heme-oxygenase 1.

This results in induction of biliverdin which has been shown to protect against polymicrobial sepsis in cecal ligation and puncture[ 24 ]. Furthermore, carbon monoxide is formed which has been shown to ameliorate development of postoperative ileus via reduction of the inflammatory response and induction of IL[ 25 ].

To prevent an exaggerated inflammatory response several control systems are activated at all levels. CARS was at first considered to be a global deactivation of the immune system following systemic inflammatory response syndrome. However, new insights suggest that it is rather a reprogramming of leucocytes leading to a compartmentalized control to prevent excessive inflammation upon infection and injury[ 26 ]. Changes or defects in certain components of the intestinal barrier may lead to activation of the inflammatory system potentially leading to known gastrointestinal diseases such as inflammatory bowel disease[ 27 ].

The intestinal cells are bound together with several protein complexes including occluding, claudin and zonula occludens proteins, also called tight-junctions[ 30 ]. Breakdown of this barrier potentially leads to the translocation of luminal antigens, bacteria and their toxic products into the circulation[ 31 , 32 ]. In the case of transmural damage to all intestinal layers mucosa, submucosa, muscularis and serosa luminal content may pass into the abdominal cavity leading to detrimental effects as sepsis.

The immunological barrier is formed by enterocytes that are considered to actively participate as innate immune sensors of microbial pathogens and commensal organisms. Host recognition of microbial components is achieved by pattern recognition receptors, like the cytoplasmic NOD-like receptors and membrane-bound TLRs. Crypt Paneth cells secrete defensins e. It has also been shown that Paneth cells are equipped with the proper molecules to recognize and signal endotoxin, the major component of Gram-negative bacteria[ 34 ].

Goblet cells secrete mucus composed of glycoproteins and water providing a filter overlying the intestinal epithelium and secrete trefoil peptides; small proteins needed for epithelial growth and repair. Gut-associated lymphoid tissue is present in the lamina propria and provides immune surveillance. Finally, sampling of luminal antigens occurs by M-cells and dendritic cells, which present antigens to T and B cells, thereby inducing the acquired immune system. This response includes secretion of large amounts of IgA by plasma cells.

This secretory IgA covers the mucosal surface and has a major role in excluding antigen from passing the epithelium[ 35 ]. Interestingly, the process of digestion and metabolism of nutrients requires a physiological breach of the intestinal barrier, without noticeable activation of the immune response. This relative hyporesponsiveness to luminal contents during the process of food uptake is not fully understood.

The autonomic nervous system may be important in regulation of this process. Excessive release of inflammatory mediators following activation of inflammatory cells by bacterial products is amongst other pathways controlled by the central nervous system.

The hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal signalling pathway is activated causing an instantaneous release of serum corticosteroids that leads to inhibition of excessive inflammation. Plants do not have any desire to provide other animals with nutrition. Plants are trying to survive and pass their genes off to the next generation to keep their species alive on this planet. Plants have developed defensive strategies to be able to prevent their sex organs from being destroyed when an animal eats them.

The gluten protein is one such evolutionary plant based defense strategy. The human digestive processes are not capable of breaking down the gluten protein during digestion in the gut. This means that when we absorb foods with the gluten protein, the gluten casing is still intact when it enters the blood stream. Gluten is something that the human body perceives as being a foreign invader, and as a result, the immune system is activated, and a sympathetic state ensues.

Some of the signs and symptoms of an activated immune system include leaky gut syndrome, an increased prevalence of auto-immune conditions, inflammation, swelling, gas, and bloating. The medical community as well as many nutritionists seem to only focus on Celiac disease when it comes to gluten.

This is a mistake because anything that is activating the sympathetic nervous system and the immune system can exert effects on any organ system in the body, and which organ system is most effected will be a highly individualistic experience.

Gluten is probably the most insulting inflammatory and immune system activating food choice for most humans; however, it is certainly not the only food choice that can set off this cascade. Dairy, legumes, and nightshades are also high up on the list of offending agents. So what do I do from a food choice perspective and a nutrient timing perspective to maximize my autonomic responses on a daily basis?

First, I go with the bulletproof coffee BPC in the morning. Caffeine stimulates the sympathetic nervous system which gets me going. The sympathetic nervous system, with its release of epinephrine and norepinephrine is a powerful agent for causing fat burning because these adrenaline based hormones activate hormone sensitive lipase which liberates fat from fat cells. In addition to the fat mobilization properties coming from caffeine ingestion, the medium chain triglycerides MCTs that go into the BPC are optimal for cellular uptake at working cells that can burn fats.

MCTs do not oxidize within the blood vessel and therefore do not promote endothelial lining inflammation , and they readily cross the plasma membrane and can be quickly broken down to Acetyl CoA to enter the Krebs Cycle via Beta Oxidation inside the cell.

The protein that is added to the BPC provides an amino acid influx into cells for protein synthesis, which is nice for a strength athlete, and the ingestion of protein has a powerful satiety effect for preventing extreme food cravings during the course of the day.

I also add cinnamon to my BPC due to the fact that this substance has been shown to have outstanding effects on sustaining appropriate blood glucose levels. The second thing I do is I wait until late in the day to have a big meal, and this is the time when I deliver carbohydrates to my body. Typically I train during the middle of the day. Yes, the research shows that there is a tremendous uptake of amino acids post workout within the anabolic window, but it also shows that there is a big drop off in amino acid uptake and protein synthesis later on.

So, in my mind it all evens out, and worrying about getting food in during the mysterious and elusive anabolic window is something that could be stressful for people to have to worry about, which could ultimately do more harm than good for some people from an autonomics perspective.

The exercise bout during the day does something really fantastic for me though, it dramatically increases my insulin sensitivity. The primary function of insulin is to promote the cellular uptake of blood glucose.

Delivering glucose into cells is a very valuable action because it can promote increasing stores of glycogen, which is a powerful energy substrate for high intensity exercise bouts, and glycogen stores must remain high to prevent the release of high levels of cortisol. If I wait until later in the day to eat my carbohydrates, particularly if I perform exercise prior to carbohydrate ingestion, I will maximize the binding of insulin to its receptor on the plasma membrane, and this will drive a powerful response of cellular uptake of sugar and protein…the two primary ingredients for promoting muscle growth, and muscular performance.

In addition to these responses, it seems that glucose and insulin also promote a parasympathetic shift in the autonomic nervous system as well.

If I can drive this shift later on in the day, this will be a nice way to prepare my body for sleep, which is the most important regenerative activity for the human body. It seems that we are inundated with dietary recommendations on a daily basis in the United States. Every expert seems to have some kind of plan for you.

Whats the best exercises for a Healing a Nervous System, as Well? Bless You, and Thank You so much. Oler, ND on August 22, at 5: I would also suggest that you seek out the assistance of an ND in your area that specializes in thyroid disorders to provide you more specialized recommendations. Karen on August 25, at My son has suffered from seizure like dystonia affecting the left side of his body, mostly extremities for the last 7 years.

He also suffers from anxiety, depression, hyperhydrosis, poor sleep. We have seen many doctors and he's had several tests to rule out causes but was given the diagnosis of pseudoseizures or psychogenic seizures. He has tried many antidepressants and none got rid of the seizures only adding extreme side effects.

He has lost trust for doctors at this point so I was wondering if you have any suggestions at what direction to go, or what to try. We have tried many alternative treatment as well but to no avail. The only thing that stops them temporarily is medical marijuana. Everyone want to just treat the symptoms and not look for the cause. Oler, ND on September 6, at 7: Although we are not currently accepting new clients, you can contact NeuroSupport to find a provider that may be able to help provide you some guidance: MrsK on July 3, at I hope this is not a conflict for the site, but to the Mom of the son with seizures and to anyone interested, get the book called the Plant Paradox by Dr.

Read it and follow the dietary lifestyle changes. The foods are very similar to those mentioned here. You will not believe what all can happen to our bodies with so-called healthy foods; not to mention the real junk we eat. The book gave me hope and a plan. Trace on September 14, at 8: I'd like to also mention that medical devices or implants can wreck havoc on your immune system possible causing these issues.

I made a huge mistake many years ago,of having Breast Implants put in. And only after years of trying to convince doctors they were making me sick, and then having them removed, I found out the hard way.

Implants are FDA approved thus making patients feel it is okay to put into our bodies. And sadly, some doctors say they are without much consideration of the harm they may pose on their patients lives. Breast Implant Illness if you search, is now becoming increasingly well Known. Maybe this info might help someone else before it's too late. Cynthia on December 27, at 4: He began to loose weight a yr. Now is down to lbs!!

His naturopath mention that he could have a condition involving his "nervous" system not shutting off. She is in process of doing pages of blood tests. Would this condition be one for her to consider? Oler, ND on January 2, at 6: Good luck - Sincerely, Dr Chad Reply. Cheryl on January 19, at 6: Thank you so much for this wonderful article. I feel I have all the symptoms of a sympathetic dominance. Sometimes, at night, I have terrible digestive issues and feel like my heart and or breath is not right, and felt like I needed urgent medical care.

I'm just coming off a vegetarian diet. It's been a few days of eating lots of meat. But I just had another episode. Can I heal myself with diet, or do I need medical care? Thank you so so much in advance. Cheryl on January 19, at 2: I am also on synthroid for hypothyroidism, which I think I developed right after going vegetarian. I've seen a gastro specialist and regular doctors, and have had numerous ultrasounds to no avail.

Last night after an episode I was awake for hours trying yo calm down I also have been having cold hands, feet, body, allergies, sometimes frequent urination, brain fog, fatigue, etc. Just hoping going back to eating meat will eventually balance me out.

And I am not headed for a heart attack or heart failure. I appreciate you and your advice more than I can express. Thanks is an understatement. Oler, ND on January 23, at Hi Cheryl, Thanks for the comment and question. I recommend that you contact a naturopathic doctor in your area to assist you.

It is very likely that you can help correct the underlying imbalances causing most if not all of your symptoms with the correct guidance. Cheryl on January 27, at 8: Hi, I'm new to this. I have an acute case of fibromyalgia and at times especially when it's cold or it rains my nerves kick into overdrive. But lately the nerves in my face are really doing a number on me. I had my thyroid taken out last year around this time but haven't had any trouble with the nerves in my face until a couple of weeks ago.

Could it be my fibromyalgia or the taking out of my thyroid that maybe causing this and if so, what can I do about it? Oler, ND on January 27, at 6: Hi Cherly, Thanks for the question; it's really hard to say without a more thorough workup. That should help point them in the right direction. Amino acid therapy may also help; to learn more, please visit: Brady on March 5, at Hi, I was wondering whether the sympathetic nervous system can be overactivated by doing an intense crossfit workout.

I eat very healthy plant based diet , but now am experiencing high blood pressure, elevated heart rate, fatigue, and night sweats after my workout weeks ago.

Oler, ND on March 6, at 6: It is very unlikely that the SNS can be over-activated after a single intense bout of exercise. It is certainly possible over time, especially if recovery is impaired. Hope that helps - Dr Chad Reply. Brady on May 27, at 9: I also think I was inadequately recovering. Perrin on March 7, at 7: Does anyone notice an increased SNS most of the time.

However shortly after eating the PSNS kicks in and a nap is needed?