How to Maintain a Healthy Body Balance
If there is one thing that the body really hates it is extremes of anything for too long. That doesn’t mean, however, that you should want or expect a life devoid of difficult situations. Unexpected, scary and challenging events are a natural part of living and we deliberately experiment and take risks in the hope of achieving satisfaction. The body has a system to deal with the ups and downs of living, one that enables it to maintain, or return to a healthy balance. The body utilizes pairs of opposites to work together – for example, chemicals, responses, muscles – to enable controlled actions to occur throughout the body.
The easiest way of demonstrating this is if you look at a muscular movement. Any movement involves pairs of muscles working together but doing opposite jobs. For example, a simple act like lifting your hand to your mouth will involve one set of muscles contracting while the opposite set relaxes to enable them to expand. This system allows the contracting muscles to bend the arm while the relaxing muscles control its speed and position so that you don’t end up hitting yourself in the face. It also allows you to reverse the movement by instigating the opposite response. The body uses various systems of pairing to enable it to cope with continuing changes to your external environment, such as temperature fluctuations, and to deal with the constant changing demands of the internal environment, for example balancing blood sugar as resources are used up and replaced.
This is what is meant by maintaining a healthy balance. The body is equipped to deal with the constant fluctuations of living. Any short-term or one-off fluctuation is generally not a problem if the body is in good health and has plenty of resources – it can then do its job and restore equilibrium. What does affect the health of the body is an extreme imbalance that is not matched by an effective recovery programme, an ongoing imbalance that has no resolution or an action that pushes the body continually into the same sort of imbalance.
Let’s look at the actions of two key minerals, potassium and sodium, as an example of how the body maintains balance. These minerals control, amongst other things, fluid balance. Potassium acts as a diuretic that drains excess fluid out of the system and sodium retains fluid to prevent the body becoming dehydrated. This is an ideal pairing system as levels of fluid in the body are fluctuating all the time and need constant readjustment. It also acts as a safety mechanism if the body suffers an injury that results in an excess or loss of fluid, preventing it from further damage and enabling it to recover. If there is an excess or deficiency of either mineral then the healthy balance between the two is lost and the body will begin to develop health problems, such as dehydration or excessive fluid retention, as a result of fluid imbalance.
Much of our misunderstanding of what is and isn’t good for us stems from ignorance of the body’s need for balance. Everything you do has the potential to harm the body, even if you perceive it as healthy. Too much exercise or too much fruit can be harmful, while chocolate and alcohol can have beneficial qualities if consumed in moderation. It is all a question of balance. This same misunderstanding surfaces when we look at our love-hate relationship with stress.