Diary of a Student Nutritionist - Week 15 - Nervous System

I am not sure if I was just having a day where my brain was like a sieve or if what I was learning was just really complicated.

Right from the first slide, I had brain strain, once again I wish I had looked over the biomedicine slides on the nervous system as this lecture got straight into building on what we had previously been taught. As I had studied the nervous system in biomedicine back in 2018 it was like trying to drag up what I had learnt from a very deep hole.

One of the hardest things with this lecture was that a lot of the words got shortened to just a few letters i.e., serotonin to 5-HT and gut-brain axis to GBA. This meant that if you didn’t see the longer version as your mind was busy thinking about the previous concept you found you didn’t know what the slide was talking about. However, having gone back through the slides after the lecture everything did seem a lot more simple than on the day as I was getting used to these shorthand ways of writing certain words.

In this lecture, we learnt about neurotransmitters (chemical messengers of the nervous system, such as serotonin and dopamine), how the gut and brain are connected, and finally a range of nervous system disorders, such as migraines, insomnia and anxiety. For each one, we were taught how to recognise when they are out of balance and ways to support them when they are.

It was so interesting to see just how genetics plays a role in the nervous system and when these imbalances are due to lifestyle. For example, Monoamine oxidase (MAO) is an enzyme involved in the breakdown of serotonin, adrenaline, noradrenaline and dopamine. If you are genetically very poor at making this enzyme then your ability to break down these monoamines will be affected. This could mean that when you get stressed the adrenaline stays within your system for a very long time compared to others, affecting your ability to relax back to a more manageable level. Now individual genetics is certainly something I will be doing a course in once I finish my nutrition course as it just seems so important to understand an individuals health!

It was so amazing to go through the nervous system conditions, such as migraines and insomnia and to be given a huge range of ideas of how to support clients. A lot of people suffer from these conditions feeling stuck, unsure why it is happening to them and lost as to how to get back to some kind of normal. Getting to understand the why and how is such a privilege and worth its weight in gold. This is certainly an area where I feel I could do with some additional education as I feel we just scraped the surface in this lecture but a very valuable one all the same.

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