Reflex Action

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The perilous panther sat very still, plotting his next move on an unsuspecting prey.

In slow, distinct movements his sleek black body inched forward towards his victim, eyes locked on the target behind the chair. In a furry flash, Whiskers the cat, alias panther, shot past the sliding glass door and pounced. I could only imagine the destruction being employed on the toy or doomed bug.

I slumped onto the other living room chair, amused but not really focused on the scene. After a 12-hour day, I really wasn’t sure what was going on as hazy hunger pangs reminded me of the pasta in the fridge.

The battle continued behind the chair as Whiskers scuttled back and forth obviously engaged in practicing his feline skills. It vaguely occurred to me that it shouldn’t take that long to annihilate a bug and toys aren’t his thing. But the fog hovering in my tired brain kept any kind of alarm at bay.

Soon the scuffle came closer to me. As I turned my weary head, a grey ball came rapidly rolling my way. While the thought, “Where’d that ball come from?” crossed my mind, it was suddenly rolling up my leg. As I wondered how a ball could roll up my leg at such velocity, it  exploded up into my face. Finally my brain fully comprehended that the ball was actually a mouse, running for his life, and that it had just landed on the side of my head.

I threw myself up out of the chair and like a madwoman was waving my arms all over my head. Luckily, I was just a springboard and the mouse had already leaped back onto the floor, where Whiskers had taken up the chase once more.

Soon Rocky was in on it, and the ruckus continued.

While I slowly became relieved, oblivious to the mayhem going on behind me, I asked myself, “Did I just scream like a girl?”

Sadly, it was true.  I had joined the ranks of stereotypical women and big gray scaredy-cat elephants, standing on a stool in a panic over a tiny rodent. I stood there in post-panic relief, embarrassed as heck, but totally impressed by my ninja reflexes.

I realize having a wild creature fly into one’s face, no matter how small, would prompt a quick reaction from anybody. Yet certain vitamins are essential to keeping those lightening-fast nerves and swift muscles in a healthy state and ready for anything, even a tiny mouse.

The whole array of B vitamins is always beneficial to nerve and muscle health. But vitamin B-6 stands out, since it is necessary for proper nerve functioning and nerve-muscle reaction that can give better body coordination and faster reflex time. Vegetables rich in B-6, or pyridoxine, include broccoli, asparagus and turnip greens. Slather some peanut butter or throw some sunflower seeds into a salad to enrich your meal with more B-6. Or enjoy some hummus made from chickpeas or a yummy lentil soup for more of this great vitamin.

Riboflavin, or vitamin B-2 is another one to include for energy metabolism and delay of muscle fatigue. Crimini mushrooms and spinach both are excellent sources, as well as almonds.

But how about faster than lightening nerve impulses? Myelin, a fatty substance that insulates the nerves, is important to keeping reflexes working properly. Well insulated nerves run clearer and faster signals, so by including omega fatty acids in the diet you can be sure that brain and nerve health continues. Omega-3s can be found in fatty fish such as mackerel, salmon and tuna. Be sure to eat avocados and olive oil as well as pecans, almonds and macadamias for their oleic fatty acid (omega-9) content.

With silence replacing pandemonium, it was time to search the house. I came upon both dog and cat staring straight into the fireplace. Sure enough, Mr. Mouse had miraculously survived dog and cat pursuit, which doesn’t say much for dog and cat. Prodded with a broom the mouse went up the flue and with a shake of my head and the roll of my eyes, it was the mouse’s very reflexes, along with a couple of clumsy pets, that won the little creature another day of life.

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