To really maintain a healthy body and mind we are constantly being told to listen to our bodies. The art of noticing how we are feeling seems to be a lost one. We rely on medicine to heal us once something is wrong, but how about trying to hear ourselves on a preventative scale? Perhaps a helpful tool in achieving this would be to fully understand the mechanics of our body in the first place. I’m sure many of us have forgotten the ins and outs of human biology we learned in school!
Here’s a breakdown to give a simple outline of how we work.
We have an incredibly complex and outstanding system consisting on trillions of cells, seventy-eight organs, and more than sixty thousand miles, yes miles, of blood vessels all working in unison to keep us going.
We have ten interconnected body systems which are dependent on one another in order for us to function effectively. The systems are as follows;
The skeletal system is composed of bones and cartilage and performs critical functions such as being its support system, facilitating movement, protects internal organs, produces blood cells and stores and releases minerals and fat.
The main function of the muscular system is movement, but it also helps stabilise our joints, maintain our posture and generate heat during activity. Movement of our body can be voluntary and controlled by the skeletal muscles, or it can be involuntary and controlled by smooth muscles.
This network consists of blood, blood vessels, and the heart and supplies tissues in the body with oxygen and other nutrients, transports hormones, and removes unnecessary waste products.
This system consists of the brain, spinal cord, sensory organs, and all of the nerves that connect these organs with the rest of the body. Together, these organs are responsible for the control of the body and communication among its parts.
The function of the digestive system is digestion and absorption. Digestion is the breakdown of food into small molecules, which are then absorbed into the body.
This system is a series of organs responsible for taking in oxygen and expelling carbon dioxide. The primary organs of the respiratory system are our lungs, which carry out this exchange of gases as we breathe.
The endocrine system is made up of glands that produce and secrete hormones, chemical substances produced in the body that regulate the activity of cells or organs. These hormones regulate the body’s growth, metabolism (the physical and chemical processes of the body), and sexual development and function.
The lymphatic system, or immune system, is a network of tissues and organs that help rid the body of toxins, waste and other unwanted materials. The primary function of the lymphatic system is to transport lymph, a fluid containing infection-fighting white blood cells, throughout the body.
The female reproductive system has two functions: the first is to produce egg cells, and the second is to protect and nourish the offspring until birth. The male reproductive system has one function – to produce and deposit sperm.
The integumentary system consists of the skin, hair, nails, and glands. Its main function is to act as a barrier to protect the body from the outside world. It also functions to retain body fluids, protect against disease, eliminates waste products, and regulates body temperature.
All these systems work in harmony with one another; for example, the heart wouldn’t beat unless your brain and nervous system instructed it to do so. Every single thing we do is a masterpiece of systematic function. To think that when we cut ourselves all the relevant systems kick into to gear and begin a process of sealing the wound and repairing the damage caused. We literally heal. It almost sounds like a superhero attribute.
The circulatory system is a good example of how body systems interact with each other. Your heart pumps blood through a complex network of blood vessels. When your blood circulates through your digestive system, for example, it picks up nutrients your body absorbed from your last meal. Your blood also carries oxygen inhaled by the lungs. Your circulatory system delivers oxygen and nutrients to the other cells of your body then picks up any waste products created by these cells, including carbon dioxide, and delivers these waste products to the kidneys and lungs for disposal. Meanwhile, the circulatory system carries hormones from the endocrine system, and the immune system’s white blood cells that fight off infection.
Each of your body systems relies on the others to work well. Your respiratory system relies on your circulatory system to deliver the oxygen it gathers, while the muscles of your heart cannot function without the oxygen they receive from your lungs. The bones of your skull and spine protect your brain and spinal cord, but your brain regulates the position of your bones by controlling your muscles. The circulatory system provides your brain with a constant supply of oxygen-rich blood while your brain regulates your heart rate and blood pressure.
Even seemingly unrelated body systems are connected. Your skeletal system relies on your urinary system to remove waste produced by bone cells; in return, the bones of your skeleton create structure that protects your bladder and other urinary system organs. Your circulatory system delivers oxygen-rich blood to your bones. Meanwhile, your bones are busy making new blood cells.
Working together, these systems maintain internal stability and balance, otherwise known as homeostasis. Disease in one body system can disrupt homeostasis and cause trouble in other body systems.
Homeostasis is what we need to maintain; a stable, constant environment – for example a steady temperature, a regular PH level, glucose levels, carbon dioxide level, and a stable level of ions in the blood for which the nervous and endocrine systems are predominantly responsible for. However there are many ways in which the body naturally achieves homeostasis, for example, if it is detected that there is too high a concentration of carbon dioxide in the blood your breathing will be triggered to work faster, causing the lungs to exhale more frequently and therefore lowering the CO2 levels. This self-regulatory system allows our cells to thrive, if the environment is off balance our cells cannot survive which then leads to health issues.
The failure or disruption of one system can lead to multiple health problems; if, for example, you became ill with the AIDS virus that affects your immune system, you may develop pneumonia in your respiratory system, a yeast infection in your reproductive system, Candida that affects your oesophagus in your digestive system or the skin cancer known as Kaposi’s Sarcoma; a hugely detrimental knock on effect from the malfunction of one of the systems.
Our personal responsibility is to ensure we allow all these vital systems to remain healthy in themselves so they may ensure our overall health. To eat well, sleep well, exercise right, keep hydrated, and keep a balance which compliments our body and mind. Mental health is equally important as physical health as symptoms caused by stress can incur all sorts of detrimental physical issues.
We need to be the watchmen over our bodily functions and note if something is not seeming to work as normal. If some slight alteration is observed we need to work to remedy this in order to prevent any tipping of the balance or disruption to homeostasis.
Stay aware of your vital signs and make sure you feel well, take good care of yourself and don’t allow anything other than moderation; excess always leads to difficulties or at least puts pressure on the body to recuperate. Prevention is the best remedy!
Become a qualified holistic therapist
Here at the School of Natural Health Sciences we offer over 60 holistic therapy distance-learning courses. If you want to learn more about how the human body works – foundational knowledge for anyone interested in becoming a holistic therapist – our Anatomy and Physiology Course addresses all the structures and compositions of the body.