This is a collection of nerves and specialized cells called neurons that transmit signals between different parts of the body. This system transmits information by nerve impulses conducted from one area of the body to another. The nervous system transmits signals between the brain and the rest of the body including internal organs therefore controlling the ability to move, breathe, see and think and more.
The nervous system is made of two main parts
- i. Central nervous system which comprise of brain and spinal cord.
- ii. Peripherals nervous system made of nerves that branch off from the spinal cord and extends to all parts of the body.
Parts of the nervous system and the their functions
- Neurones. These are nerve cells which communicate within the body by transmitting signals
- Neuroglia. They act as helper cells of the nervous system. They surround the neurones and also feed, protect and insulate the neurones.
- Brain. This is a soft, wrinkled organ located inside the cranial cavity where bones of the skull surrounds and protect it. Brain contains billions of neurones of which forms the main control centre of the brain. It controls major mental functions such as consciousness, memory, planning, voluntary actions, and maintenance of respiration, heart rate, blood pressure and digestion.
- Spinal cord. This is cord of tissues that extends from the brain along the back in the spine. It is connected to the brain and lies within the vertebral canal from which the nerves emerge. It gives pairs of the spinal nerves, carries impulses to and from the brain and serves as a centre for initiating and coordinating many reflex acts.
- Nerves. These are bundles of nerve fibres surrounded by sheath that connect the nervous system to the brain and acts as highway to carry signals between the brain and spinal cord and rest of the body.
- Meninges. These are the protective coverings, made of connective tissues, of the central nervous system.
- Cerebrospinal fluid. This is a clear, colourless body fluid that flows in and around the hollow spaces on the brain and spinal cord forming a mechanical barrier against shocks. The functions of this fluid include
- It acts as a shock absorber between the brain and the skull and also between the spinal and the vertebrae.
- It carries nutrients and chemical filters to the brain and removes waste products from the brain.
- It allows floating of brain and spinal cord within it allowing blood vessels of the brain to
remain open and prevents nervous tissues from being crushed by the weight of brain and spinal cord.
Sense organs include eyes, ears, nose, tongue and skin which aid the body to see, hear, smell, taste and touch. They sense touch, temperature and pain and send information to the nervous system for action to take place.
How to maintain a healthy nervous system
- Spend some time in sunlight. Sunlight helps body to produce vitamin D which regulates nervous system. Basking on the sun for 10-15 minutes per day is a simple way to increase this vitamin in our body.
- Avoid drinking alcohol and other drugs This not only avoid the injuries the drugs could have caused on your body but also reduces likely to get involved in other risky behaviours that could harm your nervous system.
- Eating of healthy foods Minerals such as sodium, calcium and potassium and vitamins are important for a healthy nervous system. Your brain also needs healthy fats which improve memory and increase learning and intelligence.
- Drinking plenty of water Water is important in maintaining our nervous system healthy. Drinking plenty of water prevent dehydration which cause confusion and memory problems.
- Get plenty of rest and sleep Brain requires adequate rest to enable strengthening of circuits which help in memory. A good sleep also helps to keep your brain to function at its best.
- Practice safe behaviours to protect your nervous system.
We can adopt some behaviour to protect our nervous system from injuries. These include
- Wearing protective gadgets to protect our eyes, ears and brain at workplaces when handling hazards.
- Wearing safety belt every time you ride a motor vehicle.
- Avoid diving on shallow waters which could cause serious injuries to our brain and spinal cord.
FOODS WHICH NOURISH OUR NERVOUS SYSTEM
- Fish. This is one of best food that nourish your nervous system. Nerves are protected with myelin sheath which contains high levels of fatty acids therefore insufficient amount of fatty acids damages the nerves. Fish contain these fatty acids (Omega-3) which help in healing of the nerves and nervous system.
- Broccoli. Contain Vitamin which improves brainpower and cognitive skills. It also contain compound which slows down breakdown of the neurotransmitters which are needed by central nervous system to perform its functions properly keeping our brain and memory sharp.
- Dark chocolate. Contains flavonds which have anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties these properties help to lower the blood pressure and improve blood flow to both brain and heart.
- Eggs. Eggs are rich in nutrients and vitamins. These nutrients help brain to make neurotransmitter (acetylcholine) which is important for memory and communication among the brain cells.
- Avocado. They are rich in Vitamin K and folate which prevent blood clots in the brain hence preventing stroke. They also improve memory and concentration.
- Salmon. Salmon is rich in fatty acids (Omega-3) which strengthen brainpower and memory
- Almonds. They have high levels of brain healthy fatty acids (Omega-3) and lots of brain-protecting vitamin E
- Pumpkin seeds. They contain powerful antioxidants that protect your body and brain from free radical damage. It also improves memory and also prevents neurological diseases.
- Nuts. They improve cognitive skills and prevent neurological disorders. Nuts also improve your memory They also contain nutrients such as fats, antioxidants and vitamin E which are good for our brain
FOODS WHICH DON’T NOURISH OUR NERVPOUS SYSTEM
- Alcohol. Excessive alcohol results in a reduction in brain volume, metabolic changes and disrupts chemicals which brain uses to communicate. It also damages our brain leading to memory loss, poor eyesight, confusion and unsteadiness. Alcohol consumption is associated with poor sleeping patterns which can lead to chronic sleep deprivation.
- Fish with high mercury. Most primary source of mercury in human body is from seas foods especially fish. These fish species include shark, swordfish, tuna, orange roughly, king mackerel and fieldfish. Accumulation of mercury is dangerous because it spreads in the body and concentrate in the brain, liver and kidneys. This affects the nervous system by stimulating neurotoxins which damage our brain. It can also affect developing foetus on pregnant women leading to giving birth to child with cerebral palsy and other developmental delays and deficiencies.
- Processed foods. These are foods such as chips, sweets, instant noodles, sausages and ready-made foods. They have high sugar, added fats and salts. They are also high in calories and low in other nutrients. Eating these foods in high amounts cause weight gain which has negative effect on our brain by increasing brain inflammation and impaired memory .
- Aspartame. This is a sweetener used to substitute sugar in foods and beverages. This sweetener has been linked with behaviour and cognitive problems. It also contains some compounds which can cross the blood-brain barrier which might disrupt the production of neurotransmitters. It also increases the risk of stroke attack and dementia.
- Foods high in unsaturated fats. These include animal products such as meat and milk, margarine, snack foods, cakes and cookies. Study has shown that people who consume high amounts of these foods are at risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease, poor memory, low brain volume and cognitive decline.
- Refined carbohydrates. These include sugars and highly processed grains such as white flour. These foods are easily digested by body causing a spike in blood sugar and insulin levels. Foods which raise our blood sugar also impair our brain functions
- Sugary drinks. These include beverages such as soda, energy drinks and fruit juice. These foods do not only add weight on our body but also increase risk of getting diabetes and heart diseases which have negative effect on our brain. They also increase risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease and Dementia which are mental disorders.
DISEASES WHICH AFFECTS OUR NERVOUS SYSTEM
This is a degenerative brain disorder that develops in late adulthood. This results in a progressive and irreversible decline in memory and deterioration of other cognitive abilities. It is characterized by destruction of nerve cells and neurones connection in celebral cortex of the brain and loss of brain mass.
- Memory loss
- Personality changes
- Severe mood swings
- Challenges in planning or solving problems
- Confusion with time or places
- Poor judgement
This condition is associated with combination of genetics, lifestyle and environmental factors that affects the brain with time.
Prevention and treatment
- Take healthy diets. Eating fish and leafy green vegetables (spinach, kales and lettuce) and cruciferous vegetables( broccoli and cauliflower) has positive effects in reducing the risks of Alzheimer’s disease. These vegetables also contain chemicals that help to protect brain cells from damage.
- Perform physical exercises and activities. A body exercise protects the brain and reduces mental illnesses with age.
- Exercise your brain. Mental exercises such as puzzles and brain-training games assist in slowing progress of cognitive disorder such as memory loss and thinking skills.
- Keep your heart healthy. This is through healthy eating, avoid smoking and maintain a healthy weight and normal blood sugar.
- Socializing. Social activities promote new connection between brain cells. People who socialize and share ideas with others have less memory problems.
There is no cure for this condition but several medications are available which help to reduce symptoms. Some medications aim at improving brain functioning to slow down progression of symptoms and others aim at controlling moods and sleeping problems
This is a sudden impairment of brain function as a result of substantial reduction in blood flowing to some parts of brain or as a result of bleeding in the brain. This leads to paralysis on one or both sides of the body, difficult in speaking or eating and loss of muscle coordination
Common cause of stroke is blood clot that has formed within the blood vessels in the brain. This reduces or stops the flow of blood in the brain cells.
Signs and symptoms
- Sudden trouble with speaking and understanding
- Numbness of the face arms and legs
- Trouble with seeing in one or both eyes
- Sudden trouble with walking
- Lower your blood pressure. By reducing the amount of salts in your diet, avoiding high cholesterol foods, eating fresh fruits and vegetables every day, exercising and quitting smoking.
- Exercise your body. This contributes to lowering your weight and lowering blood pressure which reduce stroke. This can be achieved taking a walk in the morning and afternoon, using stairs instead of elevators
- Drink alcohol in moderate. Drinking alcohol responsibly may decrease risk of stroke. This can be achieved by not having more than one glass per day and making red wine your choice.
- Quit smoking. Smoking increase risk of blood clot formation by thickening your blood and increasing amount of plaque build-up in the arteries.
This is a group of disorders characterized by paralysis which result from abnormal development of or damage to the brain either before birth or during the first years of life.
The cause of cerebral palsy is unknown but is linked to the following risk factors during brain development
- Gene mutation that can lead to abnormal development of the brain
- Maternal mutation that affect foetal development
- Bleeding of foetal brain inside the body
- Infant infection which can cause inflammation around the brain.
- Lack of oxygen supply to the brain related to difficulty labour or delivery.
- Involuntary movements
- Problems in swallowing
- Difficulty in breathing
- Walking problems
- Lack of balance and muscle coordination
- Vaccination. Vaccination against diseases such as rubella before becoming pregnancy might prevent infection that could cause foetal brain damage.
- Starting prenatal clinics early. Regular visit to your doctor during pregnancy is one way of reducing health risks to your and the unborn child.
- Avoid alcohol, tobacco and other illegal drug. These have been linked to cerebral palsy
The goal of treatment is to improve limitations and prevent complication. Drugs that aid in muscle relaxation can be used as first line of treatment. This can be done through assistive aid, medication and surgery. Assistive aid- eyeglasses, hearing aid, walking aid, body braves ans wheelchairs Drugs that aid in muscle relaxation can be used as first line of treatment. Surgery may be used to relieve pain and improve morbidity. Surgery may also be needed to release tight muscles or correct bone abnormalities.
This is a neurological disorder characterized by sudden or recurrent seizures caused by absence or excess of signals of nervous cells in the brain. These seizures may include convulsions, lapses of consciousness, strange movements in parts of the body and emotional disturbances.
Epilepsy results when brain is disrupted due to faulty electric activity which in many cases its unknown but linked to hereditary genes. Other risk factors include
- Head trauma in case of car crush
- Brain conditions such as stroke
- Infectious diseases
- Prenatal injury or brain damage
- · Convulsions with no fever
- · Confused memory
- · Intermittent fainting spells
- · Sudden bout of chewing
- · Panic attacks
- Avoid smoking, use of illegal drugs and alcohol drinking
- Use protective equipment such as helmets to prevent brain injury at workplaces
- Unsure you get enough sleep every night
- Talk to your doctor if seizures aggravation starts after taking a prescribed medicine.
- Manage your stress
Doctors begin by treating epilepsy with medication and if medication fails to manage the condition, surgery is proposed as another type of treatment. Medication aim at reducing the seizures and managing the symptoms
This is the inflammation of the membranes (meninges) which cover the brain and the spinal cord. The swelling of these meninges triggers symptoms such as headaches, fever and stiff neck. Meninges can be caused by various infectious agents viruses, fungi, protozoan but most producing chronic meningitis are bacteria.
- Stiff neck
- Sudden high fever
- Severe headache that seems different from normal
- Increased sensitivity to light
- Loss of appetite
- Maintain hygiene. Careful handwashing helps in prevent the spread of infection after visiting toilet, after spending time in overcrowded areas and after coming in contact with pets
- Avoid sharing food, drinks, straws, lip balms truth brushes and other personal items.
- Stay healthy. Maintain your body healthy by getting enough sleep, exercising regularly, eating healthy diet with plenty fresh fruits, vegetables and whole grains.
- Avoid drinking alcohol and smoking
- Vaccination. Ensure your child is vaccinated against meningitis. This gives immunity against the infection.. Vaccination also reduces morbidity and prevent future outbreaks.
Treatment depends on the type of meningitis you have. Bacterial meningitis must be treated immediately with intravenous antibiotics to reduce risks of complications such as brain swelling and seizures.