To See the Good in the Bad
I, like most everyone, grew up being taught right from wrong. I also quickly learned the difference between good and bad. To smile and be nice to someone was good and right while spitting in your sister’s hair was wrong and bad (yeah, I was that 3-year-old) never mind the fact that she stuck her tongue out and hit me with a toy when all I wanted was to play with her …. Looking back, it’s easy to see both sides. I was a pain in the ass, older sister without boundaries that stopped at nothing just to have someone to play with. She, being 18 months younger, was more interested in sleep; so, for me to climb into her crib, was a bit over the top … literally. Regardless, I still have to ask: which one was good and which one was bad? I mean, what if the person smiling at you is actually trying to manipulate you … is that good and right? And even though I now think spitting in someone’s hair is gross, back then, I was angrily expressing my feelings as only a toddler knows how to do. Nevertheless, my mother found out and chose to wash my mouth out with soap. Did I learn my lesson? You better believe I did …spitting at people is bad! ……. And so was defending myself ……..
This was unfortunately the takeaway that haunted me for years until I realized that through it all, I actually learned how to powerfully gentle ... assertive, if you will which wouldn't have evolved had I remained aggressive! However, the point of this post is not to bash the past. We all do the best we can with what we know.At the same time, our culture is overly motivated by the context of good and bad. We define nearly everything in this manner, from our children to health conditions, and while I realize there are a number of aspects to life that can easily be classified accordingly, I think we would do well to reshape this context.
What led me to even write about this was a recent ‘discovery’ I made regarding hypotension. When I think of the stress response, my head automatically flashes to high blood pressure, rapid breathing, heightened sensitivities to sound, smell and foods, etc. That was until I began assisting several people at the same time struggling with low blood pressure. However, before telling you what I found, allow me to just say that even though we think of stress as the fight or flight response that jacks your heart rate up, long term exposure to stress causes the body to make the necessary adjustments in order to maintain …. a.k.a. keep it together. How this plays out in each body varies depending on the individual genome. Keep in mind, the body is fluctuating every second of every day based on lifestyle, emotional load, etc. This is why some people end up with chronic high blood pressure while others find themselves experiencing hypotension. As I always say … anything is possible ….. That said, the information uncovered was awe inspiring because the body truly is amazing. Yes I know, degenerative illnesses are off the charts which I believe has everything to do with the way we are viewing health and treating the body.
You see, thousands of years ago, man / we addressed symptoms whether it was a cut, nausea, fever, etc. Today, we’re doing the same thing ….. experience a symptom and treat it. Should it get worse or another one come along, we become more aggressive, hoping to get things under control. Allow me to let you in on a little secret …. we are NOT the same species we were 100 years ago, let alone thousands. I know this may seem like an odd thing to say and it’s true. If nothing else, these primitive people were only then wanting to know more about what they could see inside the body … for them to even be remotely inquisitive about things they couldn’t see with their eyes was not an option. Fast forward to the late 20th century and we were not only interested in it…. we developed the technology to see, research and understand it; and continue to do so to this day. What’s more, they (the scientists) are becoming increasingly familiar with the way the DNA operates on a daily basis so to ignore this bit of information, or in most cases, attempt to control various genetic functions with the hope of relieving symptoms is out of line … why? Because the full extent of many pharmaceutical actions is unknown. Does this make medications bad? Absolutely not …. It just means there is a better way for assisting both … addressing the symptoms as well as relieving the stress being placed on the DNA due to environmental factors, in turn, regulating adaptation.
With that said, there are a number of chemicals produced by the body which are believed to be bad ….. hmmmmm
1) Peroxynitrite ~ a free radical that protects the body from invading pathogens as well as offsets hypotension; on the flip side, when not effectively deactivated, it is a neurotoxin that’s linked to cardiovascular, digestive, respiratory and / or neurological issues. Please know, the body is capable of managing this thru the production of uric acid, a purine metabolite and antioxidant which is diminished when on a low purine diet. (I know the purpose for this; yet, the body, when relieved of cellular stress, can deal with purine since it is needed as you can see)
2) Nitric oxide ~ another free radical that’s used to regulate vascular tone, neurotransmission and immunity. Chances are you didn’t know it was a free radical because it is available to purchase in supplement form; however, for all of the physiological benefits it offers, when combined with oxygen (which is a normal biological function in the body), it produces peroxynitrite….. even in the presence of superoxide (an antioxidant produced by the body but also offered as a supplement). Ok, so what’s the point … peroxynitrite has a purpose, right? It does and as I mentioned, it is potentially toxic at high levels; therefore, to supplement with nitic oxide is doubly problematic because as I also pointed out, nitric oxide is, itself, a free radical with the potential to cause excessive oxidative stress to the body’s membranes and tissues. This is reason enough to avoid supplementing with it
3) Hydrogen peroxide ~ a reactive oxygen species produced by the body when the immune system is activated… YAY! And at higher than necessary levels (which happens for reasons I’ll address in a moment), it begins damaging the DNA and other proteins…. BOO! Of course when this starts to happen, the system is activated to produce 2 enzymes, catalase and peroxidase, in order to remove the excess. Interestingly enough, the synthesis of these enzymes is suppressed in the presence of glucose …. just to review, the metabolism of glucose is inhibited during heightened states of stress which means, the stress response interferes with the deactivation of hydrogen peroxide which has been linked to the aging process and other metabolic breakdown and illness
4) LDL~ a.k.a. low density lipoprotein not only transports lipids into cells when additional cholesterol is needed, this lipoprotein and others are an important component of the innate immune system. Isn’t this interesting? However, when oxidized, which happens in the presence of necrotic cell debris and an abundance of free radicals i.e. peroxynitrite and hydrogen peroxide, the LDL is retained in the endothelium, putting the body at risk for cardiovascular issues….
5) Oxidative stress ~ this refers to a number of oxidized chemicals that I believe we know to be bad and linked to all manner of degenerative disease. Basically, they begin as one chemical and become altered when combined with oxygen. Is the body trying to make us sick? NO! So, what’s going on? Essentially, oxidative stress is induced by the inflammatory process for the purpose of tissue repair and regeneration … makes sense to me …. however, not unlike hydrogen peroxide, at some point, too much is too much and if the body cannot deactivate it, damage occurs
6) Oxygen ~ also produced in the cells of the body, is not considered bad because it keeps us alive and breathing. It is also one of the essential elements that we exchange with plants for carbon dioxide. So, you might be wondering why I’m including it here?! Well, just like anything … too much is too much. Remember, oxidation is happening every millisecond of every day. At the same time, we’re hearing more and more that we need to breathe ….. my goodness, we even have oxygen bars. Don’t get me wrong, I LOVE a good slow deep breath. It feels really good to stop and deliberately fill my lungs from time to time; although, maybe just 2 or 3 big breaths … just enough to feel the muscles in my chest relax and then …. I go about my day. Any more than that and I start to feel lightheaded and not so good. Anyway, the point to this is studies are suggesting that getting too much oxygen into the system can create free radicals and even though they have their benefit, we’re coming to understand that too much of anything signals the stress response which redirects many physiological activities, interfering with appropriate inhibition. What I find to be of particular interest is how often I hear or read that as a society, we aren’t breathing. While I can absolutely wrap my head around this because collectively, we are over stressed; therefore, taking the time to use the breath to soothe the system makes sense. On the other hand, I can’t help but wonder about the extremes … take cardio workouts. Now I’m not coming down on anyone, just consider the point about living in a heightened state of stress which is going to increase respiration already … shallower breaths … so, we go move our bodies hard and fast in order to get our breathing on. Sounds good so far, right; especially since oxidative stress repairs and regenerates tissue, not to mention the illusion of slow breathing afterwards. However, unless the person is taking the time to relieve the stress response, they are actually stimulating excessive amounts of oxidative stress. There is no better argument for moderation and truthfully, the body is wired to regulate respiration which tells me, we can relax and let the body do what it knows to do ……
7) Histamine ~ a neurotransmitter; that’s right, this infamous chemical that so many people are trying to eliminate from their body and diet is a very important chemical in the body as it is indicated throughout the entire system; the central nervous system for cognition, temperature regulation, pain, etc, the digestive system, immune system, hormonal system, respiration, and cardiovascular system to name a few uses. And if you’re not familiar with histamine intolerance issues, here are a few: depression, anxiety, irritability, bloating, pain, rashes of all kinds, insomnia, hypersensitivity, brain fog, inability to focus and so on. This is why it’s considered bad … yet, it’s not. The body, for reasons shared in prior examples, is experiencing an inflamed response to the world. Because of this, the ability to deactivate histamine is hindered due to the fact that the energy of the system is focused on immediate survival which then blocks the effective break down of macronutrients. This in turn potentially signals an adaptive immune reaction and the increased release of histamine.
Please know, as you read this, I am not suggesting you stop what you’re doing. You know your body better than anyone ever could; so, do what feels true and correct for you. At the same time, I encourage beginning slowly, with a more mindful approach to what you are working to resolve. Without question, less is more; however, this is not limited to reducing the amount of something you do or use …. by less, I mean, be less extreme. Therefore, if you are extreme with your diet, lighten up and give yourself permission to enjoy some of the foods you like from time to time. If your exercise program is intense, consider mixing it up with a gentler activity from time to time. A lesson I learned through practicing yoga was building strength and flexibility through ease and effort / active postures versus passive ones … it’s all about balance which is something the body is actually attempting to establish. Our role is to trust and work with it which is where intentional nutrition and essential oils come in. It’s an approach that implements the less is more concept. There is a growing amount of evidence demonstrating the harmful effects of mega-dosing on supplements. What we really need is for the body to break down and assimilate the macronutrients. Foods are a synergistic formula created by Life. We are life; therefore, life interacts with itself. When we try to get our nutrition from a series of supplements, we are confusing the system and potentially deactivating certain processes. Superoxide dismutase (SOD) and nitric oxide are prime examples. However, to include authentic essential oils with nutrition specific to your body’s needs enhances cell function and naturally assists the body with regulating its processes and producing the appropriate chemistry.
At this point, I admit, this is a lot of information; and at the same time, I believe it’s important. I totally understand the good / bad context; yet, as I’ve already mentioned, everything in moderation. This was my dad’s mantra when I was a kid and it used to bug the fool out of me. I am no different than anyone …. I can have extremist tendencies. You know, if some is good, more is better OR the unending need to control. All of this registers as stress in the body, now combine that with overthinking and the body is on high alert. Yes, it’s true, some is good, and there is no denying that we need to stop and think through a situation or two and possibly employ some degree of control; it simply comes down to regulation which is not unlike the way our body functions. How ironic. I have been known to say that the external reflects the internal and now wonder …. are our outward reactions indicative of what’s going on internally OR is our state of intensity signaling an inflammatory response in the body?! Neither one is good nor bad …. they are simply mechanisms for surviving this world that require a sense of awareness, modification and adaptation … hey! That’s how the DNA does it …. (stay tuned for my next post)