How The Body Heals Itself
Your body has an incredible capacity to heal itself. If you are injured or become ill your body should quickly and efficiently deal with the problem and restore itself to health. Why then, if our bodies are so well designed, are many Americans dealing with chronic pain and chronic diseases? The answer is in part due to the limits of our current knowledge. We know and understand some of the ways our bodies heal themselves quite well, scientists are just beginning to discover and understand others, and there are probably still more healing methods we have yet to find. For many decades, scientific research and medical treatments have focused on treating the symptoms, usually with medications or surgery. This approach is wonderful when you need antibiotics for a life-threatening infection or need to set a broken bone but in other situations, it completely fails.
Exactly how does our body heal itself?
It is important that you know how extraordinarily capable and complex your immune system is. Your body is constantly exposed to chemicals, toxins, pollutants, and other stressors. In addition, simple organisms such as viruses, bacteria, fungi, and parasites are capable of invading the human body and using it as a source of nourishment. Fortunately, the healthy human body has defenses against invasion by these organisms, these defenses comprise the immune system.
The immune system can be thought of as having two divisions, the general or non-specific immune system and the adaptive or specific immune system. First let’s take a look at the non-specific division of the immune system. The largest organ in the human body is not the heart or liver; it is the skin. The skin and its components form a very important part of the non-specific immune system. Most potentially pathogenic organisms and agents are prevented from interfering with normal function because of the barrier that the skin creates. The openings into the body, such as the mouth and nose, however, are not covered with skin, but with mucus membrane. This membrane can secrete various substances and is usually moist. In these moist secretions are other defense mechanisms, including chemicals such as lysozyme and c reactive protein, which can kill invading bacteria. The acid in the stomach, vagina and other organs also can act as part of the non-specific immune system by creating an environment in which potentially invasive organisms cannot survive.
Another type of white blood cell, called the “natural killer” cell, can recognize cells that have been invaded by viruses. The killer cells can bind to these infected cells and destroy them. Cells that are infected by viruses help the killer cells by producing chemicals called interferons, which activate the killer cells. The body also is capable of producing special proteins during an infection. These proteins coat the invading organisms, especially certain bacteria, and make it easier for the phagocytes to destroy them. This only works if the invading organisms have some general chemical markers that the non-specific division of the immune system can identify.
Fortunately, the immune system has another division called the adaptive or specific division. Unlike the non-specific division, the specific division of the immune system is capable of producing particles called antibodies. When an antibody attaches its specific end to an invading organism or foreign substance, it tags the invader in such a way that the phagocytes of the non-specific division of the immune system can recognize and destroy it.
What can you do to help your body heal itself?
These five tips are practical and easy to implement. Studies have shown that these simple changes will have a huge impact on your health!
- Sleep- The National Institutes of Health recommend 9-10 hours of sleep a day for teenagers and 7-8 hours of sleep a day for adults. Getting the proper amount of sleep will not only help the body to heal but will also allow it to function efficiently. Lack of sleep has been linked to an increased rick of injury. One study found that adults aged 45 years or older who slept less than 6 hours a night were 200% more likely to suffer a heart attack or stroke in their lifetime.
- Drink more water- When your body does not get enough water, it enters a state of dehydration which can lead to slower healing and increased fatigue. Water plays a large role in delivering nutrients and oxygen to cells in the body as well as providing protection for the body’s organs and tissues. It eliminates waste, improves immunity and increases lubrication around our joints.
- Eat nutrient dense foods- The definition of nutrient density is the nutritional quality of the food divided by its caloric density. High nutrient dense foods are rich in micronutrients such as vitamins and minerals, and macronutrients like proteins, carbohydrates, and fats. Foods that have the highest nutrient density include leafy greens such as kale and spinach and vegetables including broccoli, peas, beets, onions and peppers.
- Be positive- When you shift your thoughts to the more positive aspects of your life, you can actually change the way your body responds to pain. Some ways to improve your positive thinking include choosing words with a more positive thinking include choosing words with a more positive connotation as this starts to change the way you think about your situation, exercise regularly, surround yourself with positive people, and seek out positive experiences and laughter. Thinking positively can make you well.
- Exercise daily- Regular exercise is essential to both your mental and physical health. Exercise improves your energy by delivering oxygen and nutrients to your tissues and improves your ability to sleep. It also helps to improve your overall mood by stimulating various chemicals in the brain that help you to feel more relaxed and happier. Your body works so hard to keep you healthy. Be smart, sleep enough, stay hydrated, eat well, be positive, exercise and not only will you feel better sooner, but you may just keep sickness at bay!