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A SENSE-ble Look at Healthy Living: Stretch Receptors

I remember a conversation I had with my director when I was working at the Maine Public Health laboratory. He referenced the time he taught anatomy at Harvard and commented on the complexities of the human body. I replied that, based on all the processes that need to come together, it’s a wonder that we can walk and chew gum at the same time.

The next sense I want to refract on is the stretch receptor. I immediately thought about “stretching my muscles” before exercising. However, the stretch receptors are not only in our muscles.

unbuckled brown belt

A quick look at Wikipedia: “Stretch receptors are mechanoreceptors responsive to distention of various organs and muscles and are neurologically-linked to the medulla in the brain stem via afferent nerve fibers.”

As I share my journey to the healthiest lifestyle possible, I resist quoting the heavy science. Yet, I sense the need to remind everyone of the complexities of our bodies. This is the harsh reality of why there are no simple solutions in the battle against obesity.

Many things need to work in unison, which is why there are at least eighteen senses (and maybe more) we rely on. The sensation of a “full stomach” was always considered the cue to stop eating. Research is now showing the stretch receptors in the intestines have a part in the feedback loop of senses to the brain. Actually, the process starts before I take my first bite. Go back and review the senses we’ve already discussed. The smell, taste and others all have a part.

More research will provide a look into how stretch receptors could be manipulated to treat obesity. This is why, in my opinion, the folks who have bariatric surgery for appetite and weight reduction are making a courageous step on their journey to be healthy. With all the complexities of the human body, there are no easy solutions.

The only constant factor I learned by relying on my senses is the need for support. I need the support because of all the complexities of life — and it’s nice to sense that I’m not alone on this journey.

With more research, further data about these stretch receptors will be discovered. I’ll end with the results of my research: my belt and clothes will only stretch so far. When they start feeling tight, it’s a sense-ble time to make a course correction. That’s what makes sense to me.

Rick

This is part 7 of the multipart series, “A SENSE-ble Look at Healthy Living.” In my next blog, we’ll look to the human sense of sound.

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