The Human Body’s Ability to Self-Heal
The human body possesses an enormous, astonishing, and persistent capacity to heal itself. Disease generally occurs when we abuse our bodies or deprive them of basic requirements to keep us healthy over extended periods.
The Cell and Its Amazing Ability to Renew Itself
The most fundamental unit of the human body is the cell. All human life originally begins as one single cell, which then divides into many more cells, until a baby is born after nine months of cell division inside the mother’s uterus.
Every second that we’re alive, the cells in our bodies are endlessly working to bring us back to a natural state of homeostasis or equilibrium. When we turn to medicines or physical manipulations of our body’s systems to heal us, we are really only facilitating our bodies’ natural ability to heal from within.
Each cell is a dynamic, living unit that is constantly monitoring and adjusting its own processes, ongoingly working to restore itself according to the original DNA code it was created with, and to maintain balance within the body. Cells have the ability to heal themselves, as well as make new cells that replace those that have been permanently damaged or destroyed. Even when a large number of cells are destroyed — the surrounding cells replicate to make new cells, thereby quickly replacing the cells that were destroyed.
When a bleeding injury occurs anywhere in our bodies, blood vessels at the site contract and slow the bleeding. Next, blood platelets which come in contact with air, begin forming a blood clot where the injury is located. White blood cells then accumulate at the spot, and destroy and digest dead cells by secreting special enzymes stored in small packets in the cells called lysosomes. That way, dead-cell debris is removed and new space is made for new cells to occupy.
Almost simultaneously, the process of new cell formation begins. These new cells originate mostly from the newer layers of cells of a particular tissue, while older cells are pushed to the site of the injury, to gradually fill the space that was made by the injury. This remarkable and complex process automatically stops when the healing is complete.
This healing process is not just for injuries. It also takes care of normal, everyday wear and tear. Damaged, destroyed or dead cells are replaced in great numbers daily from our skin, mouth, intestines, and blood.
The definition of a free radical is any atom or molecule that has either a surplus or insufficient number of electrons in its outer shell, making it unstable and highly reactive. Free radicals exist within the body’s cells, and they are a normal part of the process of making energy within the cell (i.e., metabolism). A small percentage of the oxygen that is used to make energy, goes to making free radicals.
Free radicals chew up waste resulting from damage to the cell’s genetic code storage (the nucleus) or to the cytoplasm (the cell’s body, excluding the nucleus). But if free radical numbers become excessive, they create disease. Factors that increase production of free radicals in our cells include: inflammation, infection, and extreme stress.
More and more, people in the United States are getting wise to the fact that many diseases are avoidable, and preventing them is within our control. Whether it’s the common cold, or something more onerous such as heart disease or cancer, we have to work at keeping those illnesses away.
Leading healthy lifestyles and consuming healthful (as opposed to toxic) diets, will go a very long way in keeping us healthy, whether we are young or older.
Proper Sleep and Rest
A recent study by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention found that as many as two-thirds of all Americans don’t get enough sleep.
The optimal amount of daily sleep for the average person is eight hours, and for a child, 11-12 hours. But the myriad responsibilities that many of us, adults and children alike, juggle in this modern day, make it so that many are robbing themselves of one of the most crucial elements of maintaining good physical, as well as mental/emotional health.
The body is endlessly working to repair and regenerate itself. This happens to a great extent when we are sleeping — when our body’s energy is only minimally being used to sustain autonomic nervous system function (that is, involuntary functions such as heart beat), and most of it can be directed toward restorative and healing processes.
Shorting oneself on sleep is known to weaken the immune system. To get energy the artificial way (say, through caffeine) is to do the body a great disservice, by denying it the amount of rest that will make all its systems, including the immune system and the body’s healing and restorative processes, work at their best.
Another way in which we can greatly improve our body’s powerful self-healing properties is by eating a healthy, nutrient-rich diet.
It is important to minimize our consumption of processed foods, as well as artificial food additives, preservatives, colorants, flavors, etc.
A diet rich in vegetables and fruits, and low in animal fats and hydrogenated oils, is best for all of us. Lean sources of protein such as beans are also great. Nuts and seeds are rich in nutrients and fiber, and have beneficial oils.
Many nutritionists agree that eating raw vegetables is preferable to cooking them, as they have the most nutritional value when they’re in their raw state. However, lightly steaming vegetables is also good. If you add vegetables to a meat soup, add them after meat has been cooked for 30 minutes or longer; leave vegetables to cook for 10-15 minutes only. Fresh herbs (parsley, cilantro, thyme, rosemary, and many others) are also packed with antioxidants (free-radical fighters), add great taste, and can be added to dishes and soups after dish or soup has been cooked.
Organic foods are preferable over non-organic, as they have fewer traces of pesticides and growth hormones.
In addition, organic fruits and vegetables have been found to have higher contents of flavonoids, plant compounds with antioxidant properties believed to aid in the prevention of cancer.
Regular exercise strengthens and conditions the body’s cardiovascular network and helps reduce emotional stress. It also promotes better sleep. You and your children don’t have to go crazy with it — it can be a fun activity that the family can enjoy, such as bike-riding, or just a regular walk that will stimulate blood circulation, and help the body oxygenate and purify itself.
Each of us truly is in charge of our body’s health. And the more we work with our bodies, by giving them what they truly need, the less we will need to resort to…prescription medicines or doctor’s visits!