When it comes to getting and staying healthy, knowledge is power.
What’s there to know about your body systems? Guts are guts, right?
Not so fast.
The body is comprised of groups of organs that perform specific biological functions but work together like the most complex of ecosystems.
Like an ecosystem, when one component doesn’t do what it is supposed to, it affects the health of all of the other systems that depend on it, like so many butterflies flapping their wings in your Lady Garden. To keep your human ecosystem functioning right, it’s important to understand how your body systems work and what you can do to treat them right.
Therefore, we present to you:
Comprised of the heart, blood and blood vessels, the Circulatory System is the “amazing superhighway” responsible for transporting nutrients, hormones, water, and oxygen to the billions of cells within our body, as well as carrying away the waste produced by those cells, such as carbon dioxide.
Starting at your lips, this elaborate highway takes food on a road trip of epic proportions from your mouth, down your esophagus, through the stomach, small intestine, large intestine, rectum, and finally through the anus where—ahem—well you know.
Whereas the nervous system sends instant messages through the central nervous system, the endocrine system is more like snail mail, relaying information via glands that secrete hormones through the bloodstream.
Your immune system consists of tissue barriers like blood vessels, hair, skin and tears. It also includes the adenoids, the appendix, Peyer’s patches, bone marrow and lymph nodes and vessels, the thymus and spleen (ever wonder what the hell your spleen is? Keep reading).
Think of your lymphatic system as a well engineered, highly sophisticated filtration plant. It is quite underrated as far as body systems go, but absolutely vital to our body’s abilities to detoxify, nourish and regenerate tissue, filter our metabolic waste, and keep up a healthy immune system.
Your muscular system is made up of different muscle types. The skeletal muscles are known as voluntary and comprised of muscle fibers and connective tissues. Next up, the “smooth” muscles are found in organs such as your stomach or uterus. Finally, there is the cardiac muscle, a.k.a. the heart.
Your nervous system is your body’s switchboard. It communicates messages all over your body: from triggering hormone releases into your bloodstream, to your heartbeat and respiration rate, to moving your hand closer to your mouth so you can drink from your water bottle.
The female human reproductive system consists of many (internal and external) organs in your pelvis as well as the hypothalamus and pituitary gland, which trigger important hormones that facilitate your menstrual cycle.
The respiratory system is comprised of a complex collection of tissues, muscles and organs responsible for converting the air we breathe into oxygen for the bloodstream, basically keeping us alive. No biggie.
270 bones rattle around in that pliable, little body you were born with; growing up fuses your adult skeleton into 206 pieces. This framework protects your vital organs and takes direction from the central nervous system as you move through life.
The urinary system works in tandem with the lungs, skin, and intestines to balance the water and chemicals in your body. What kind of chemicals, you ask? The most common is urea, which is waste found in the blood and created by digesting foods containing protein.
Kathie Bergquist, Marcia Brenner, Marian Sherrell Haas, Nikki Rinkus, Amber Ponomar, and Jessica Young contributed to this article.