Is it that you don’t feel sick? Is it that you’re not feeling any symptoms? What about your energy levels? Or your performance? (Physical, mental, emotional) Does your quality of life factor into your measure of health?
Researchers have for many years been developing various measures of health. For one thing you can’t “plug” a human being into a computer and get a readout like you can with cars these days. So in order to be able to measure the health of the body, overall or various organs, you need to test indirectly. We can test through various lab tests, through various imaging procedures and then there’s exploratory surgery where they put a small camera scope inside you to see what’s going on.
Historically many of the procedures and tests that have been developed in the health sciences have their roots in aerospace programs (mostly U.S. or Russian).
One of the advances to grow out of the health sciences for astronauts has been Heart Rate Variability (HRV). HRV is becoming the gold standard of measuring optimal health. Not just physical health; mental and emotional health as well. HRV measures the balance of Symp and Parasymp in the Automatic Operating System of the body (AOS).
Symp (Sympathetic nervous system) is the part of the nervous system that is most active in stressful times. It enables the body to meet the energy demands of stress by helping to break down body tissues so that the body has enough energy to get through the stress. For this reason, Symp is referred to as catabolic (breaking down tissues for energy – like burning fire wood for heat). It is pro-inflammatory and puts your immune system on high alert. Because it’s pro-inflammatory, it makes the body release cytokines (chemical messengers).
The problem with Symp is that if there are unhealthy levels of it for a long enough time, chronic inflammation can set in. Unhealthy levels of Symp is what’s behind most diseases of the modern era. Chronic inflammation causes tissue damage and continued breakdown. This is what’s behind the changes we see with old age. It’s not actually the body breaking down with age, it’s unhealthy levels of Symp.
Parasymp on the other hand is anti-inflammatory and is referred to as anabolic (building up of tissue or healing). For example, proteins help rebuild cellular membranes and muscle tissue and other various tissues in the body. When the body has appropriate levels of Parasymp, the body can distribute energy into recovery, healing and growth and you’re less likely to have chronic inflammatory diseases.
HRV is the best measure of health that science has to offer; Better than VO2 Max (stress tests) and Heart Rate Recovery tests. This is why we use HRV in the clinic to measure a patient’s progress through care. As they heal and realign, they start to feel better. But we want to make sure that their nervous system regains a healthy balance because that is something that they will carry on into the rest of their lives. Not only do patients report an improvement of their pain levels, they also report improvement in a wide variety of areas such as sleep, digestion, relationships and work/life balance. With Neuro-Structural care, we’re showing that not only can people attain a healthy AOS; they can improve how well their body can adapt to life’s stresses. They’re able to maintain a healthier balance.
Science is even showing us that when we can achieve a healthy balance of Symp and Parasymp, we can experience an alignment between our hearts, minds and emotions. This makes it easier to sense our intuitive heart’s direction for more effective choices and guidance.