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Stress – You are not a Zebra but a Primate

January 26, 2011 Stress/Cortisol, Videos 4 Comments

Worry about our social place in the world, what has happened to us in the past and what might happen in the future is a major factor in our health. Understanding this factor is going to be a major element in your health.

Our great evolutionary gift is our mind. Our greatest problem is our mind. We use our mind to worry too  much. We think all the time about our place in the world – we worry about the future, we fuss about the past. All of this drives the stress response. If you are being chased by a Lion, you need this. But if you are worry about stuff all the time, you are being bathed in Cortisol that damages your immune system and your health.

This social stress is one of the most important aspects of our health. It is part of the Trinity of the fit we need to be our most happy and healthy.

  • Fit to our evolved diet – the Insulin Issue
  • Fit to a healthy social community where we have a valued part – the cortisol issue
  • Fit to the natural world – where we experience the fullness of nature – the Circadian issue

Robert Sapolsky is one of the most accessible researchers in this field and this short video is an excellent introduction to this aspect of your health.  If you want to go deeper, here is his key lecture that goes all the way. If you find the science a bit baffling at the beginning – go to the last 1/3 where he puts it all in context with the baboons. Brilliant.

So what to do with all this chatter in our minds? Can we reduce this?

This of course is at the heart of most meditative practice – To reduce the chatter. I have found Tolle’s book The Power of Now a great help.

Currently there are "4 comments" on this Article:

  1. Brian McMillan says:

    I can’t say how excited I am that you are covering this topic next.

    There is also an interesting connection here between what the Tibetian Buddhists call LUNG and the ability to meditate well. The Tibetan (and western) meditators are constantly working with this “inner wind” because it directly reflects the chatter in your mind. One of the many ways to control this “monkey mind” is through diet. One low in complex carbs, sugar, certain beans, and high in clarified butter, oily, and other “heavy foods”. Typically this is a high fat vegetarian diet.

    So you could say unsurprisingly, that you can also use your diet to support your mind! It may may also be the case that there are “traditional” cultures which hold the Paleolithic Diet equivalent for our mind.

  2. Brian McMillan says:

    So on watching the lecture, I’m struck by a number of things. What I was not prepared for was the connection between our ability to buffer neuron damage with ketone bodies as an energy source. From an evolutionary perspective, I guess this makes perfect sense. Those who can evolve long term capacity to endure systemic stress without suffering from the effects would be at an evolutionary advantage.

    So if this is the case, and we had efficient method of providing ketones to our brain, we could repair even significant damage and perhaps eliminate the damage done by minor stresses. But the point isn’t to become good at dealing with the struggles of life is it?

  3. […] Here is Dr Robert Saplosky explaining this in summary and here he is explaining this in depth. […]

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