Dr. Nathan Jeffery of Perceptive Health uses biofeedback from Heart Rate Variability and food sensitivity testing to improve brain health. Make an appointment today!

Deep breath in, deep breath out. Let’s talk about stress.

Nutrition and mindful breathing can help your body ‘rest and digest’

Your body has two modes: “fight or flight” and “rest and digest.” Fight or flight response can make you feel like a superhero, but if you stay in that mode all the time you’re likely to get injured or burnt out.

“We live in a marathon of stress,” says Nathan Jeffery, a Naturopathic Doctor and co-owner of Perceptive Health in Campbell River.

“You may not be able to change your high-stress environment, but if you put on the brakes every once in a while you can help your body restore and recover.”

So how do you put on the brakes?

Talk therapy and prescription medication are very effective, and Dr. Jeffery encourages his patients to use anything that helps. Nutrition, breathing, and exercise can also be part of an integrated mental health program and taking a break from stress.

Just breathe

A marathon runner makes gains by pushing through stress, but if they don’t breathe, drink water, and take time to recover they’ll collapse before crossing the finish line. Winning takes more than deep breaths — they still need to run! — but every bit helps. You can train your nervous system the same way you train for a marathon.

“I remember the first time I was prescribed water, when I’d just started studying naturopathic medicine,” Dr. Jeffery laughs. “I thought they had to be joking. But these simple things can really help!”

Dr. Jeffery measures Heart Rate Variability (HRV) and practices breathing exercises to strengthen the vagus nerve. A strong vagus nerve can help your body reach that “rest and digest” mode.

“I incorporated it into my own routine and was really surprised at how beneficial it can be to the brain,” Dr. Jeffery says. “It’s popular in sports medicine — particularly sports with a high mental component like golf. A player will wear the heart rate monitor, practice the breathing technique, and someone will watch the readings and tell them the perfect time to take their shot. It’s fascinating!”

A high HRV is an indication that the brain and heart are well connected.

“It’s a great non-invasive biomarker of your nervous system,” Dr. Jeffrey says. “And once you’ve learned the technique, it’s free!”

Feed your brain

Dr. Jeffrey and Perceptive Health co-owner Heidi Jeffrey do food sensitivity testing and treatment with many of their patients to address a variety of symptoms, including brain health.

Read more about their food sensitivity testing here.

“Certain nutrients can help support the neurotransmitters in the brain. There are foods that can promote melatonin production, for example,” Dr. Jeffrey says.

Food can hold you back, too.

“Food sensitivities can stress your body and contribute to poor brain health. You might notice lower energy, or that the feeling of unsteadiness that comes with hypoglycemia triggers an anxious feeling.”

Intrigued? Use perceptivehealth.janeapp.com to schedule an online appointment, or call 250-286-3655.

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