Our human anatomy is arguably the most complex creation in the universe. We are assembled from an incredible array of body parts all beginning with the basic cell.
Even our cells have numerous parts, all working together like a smoothly running factory assembly line. Nutrients build cells; cells build tissue; tissue builds organs; organs build systems and systems make the body.
A little less than 3000 years ago, King David wrote in his 139th Psalm,”...I am fearfully and wonderfully made...". What an understatement but how right he was.
The strength and framework of our bones; our muscle system of
levers and pulleys; the flexibility of our joints; our network of pipes that carry blood, our network of wiring that carries signals; the sensors that provide sight, smell, sound, touch and taste all attest to the majesty of the Master Creator.
Then there's that extraordinarily complex organic computer that resides in our skull; the regulation of it all, the protection of it all, the feeding of it, the cleansing and disposing of garbage and the ability to reproduce itself are all wonders to contemplate and behold.
This section will examine our human anatomy at the systemic level, looking at the component parts, what they
do, what can go wrong and choices we can make to keep each system healthy and working as designed.
Photo: Da Vinci's Vitruvian Man
It seems like everyone has some vested interest in human anatomy. Biologists study it to understand what makes it tick. Medical doctors study it to keep it working right. Pathologists examine failed body parts and tissue to find out what went wrong. Nutritionists study it to understand what it needs to thrive and stay healthy.
Others find human anatomy pretty attractive and study it just because it makes them feel good...but that's another story.
At any rate, all these body parts form themselves into systems that work together to achieve some purpose in the functioning of the body.
According to Webster, a system is a regularly interacting or interdependent group of items forming a unified whole.
For our purposes, the system under consideration is a group of body organs that together perform one or more vital functions.
Some of those vital functions are digestion and absorption of nutrients, pumping of blood containing those nutrients to all parts of the body, exchange of carbon dioxide for oxygen, elimination of waste products from the body and defending the body from invaders, to name a few.
For some reason it brings to my mind the apostle Paul’s letter to Corinthians (1 Cor. 12:12-27) where he has several body parts talking to each other about which one is the most important.
Of course Paul was drawing an analogy between parts of the body and the body of the church, making the point that without the presence and cooperation of all parts, the system, body or church, ceases to function.
If our cardiovascular system were suddenly removed, our remaining life would be reduced to a few seconds. If our brain and central nervous system disappeared, life would be gone instantly.
Subtract our respiratory system and we might last a minute or so. No digestive system; we might actually last a few days. So for life to go on, we need all of our systems working properly and in harmony.
The rest of this section will focus the major systems of our human anatomy and you are invited to navigate to each one by clicking on the appropriate links that follow.
But first consider a DVD course from The Great Courses titled Understanding the Human Body: An Introduction to Anatomy and Physiology.
Click the Great Courses button link below to see this course offering and see if it belongs in your educational library. When the landing page appears, enter the course name in the search box and it will take you there.
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It needs exercise; it needs good choices in nutrition or else we get clogs in the pipes; along with the exercise, it needs rest; it doesn't like stress or inflammation; and the main part of this system, the pump,
better known as the heart, is truly awesome in what it does.
Next we will put on our neurologists hat and pay a visit to the Human Nervous System (CNS). The nervous system is defined as the brain, brainstem and spinal cord and cranial and peripheral nerves; in other words, the computer, wires and feedback loops of our human anatomy.
All of the divisions of the nervous system are examined in detail with a wrapup discussion on what can go wrong and the care and feeding of this vital system. To say that the brain has a mind of its own is no exaggeration.
It is far from an inert tube...it digests, absorbs, secretes, signals, and metabolizes. But if you have ever had ulcers, acid reflux, irritable bowel syndrome, Crohn's disease, diverticulitis or any other chronic gastrointestinal disease, you will know the agony it can inflict on its owner.
It would be a good thing if we can keep breathing nice and easy until it comes time to take our last breath.
That part of human anatomy known as the Respiratory System is the trachea, bronchials and lungs. Those lungs aren't just hollow balloons either; there is a lot going on in there which we will look at in some detail.
If we don't take care of our lungs, breathing easy won't be so easy. Want to know what COPD (Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease) feels like? Try breathing in and out of a soda straw for a few minutes.
All these systems that make up our human anatomy have to be regulated and that's where the Endocrine System comes in.
Imagine the chaos if we had no traffic regulation, no air traffic controllers, no railroad switches, no controls on the national electric grid, no FDA, IRS or FTC. Well, maybe those last three we could do without for awhile.
The endocrine system of our human anatomy is composed of our glands. Glands produce our hormones and those hormones are the regulators of our body's functions. The pancreas is one such endocrine gland and the hormone it puts out is insulin.
Photo: Pancreas showing 3 to 6 minute insulin release cycle
When the pancreas stops working we get diabetes; cause and effect.
One of the more complex systems in our human anatomy is the Immune System. It should come as no surprise that this is the system that keeps us well by fighting off bacteria, viruses, parasites, disposes of
mutant and damaged cells, repairs cuts, stems bleeding and a whole host of other functions vital to our state of wellness.
All hell breaks loose, however, if the immune system decides to turn on us and attack when there is no invader to attack. This happens all too often and is referred to as an autoimmune response and covers around sixty or so disease conditions.
Photo: Neutrophil (yellow) attacking Anthrax bacteria (orange)
The musculoskeletal system in our human anatomy is that vast collection of bones, muscles, joints and connecting ligaments and tendons.
This system does much more than just provide a skeletal framework to keep us upright or muscles that let us move around. What it does for the orthopedists is to create a lot of hip and knee replacements to pay for their BMWs and Florida condos.
With the musculoskeletal system, it's strictly a "use it or lose it" proposition.
The last part of our human anatomy is The Reproductive System. It seems to somewhat important since without this system, our human race would be extinct in one generation.
An asteroid is believed to have wiped out the dinosaurs and most religions have a story about a worldwide flood. Plagues have killed millions and a nuclear holocaust could take out a huge percentage of life.
But nothing would remove us from planet earth faster than the human race suddenly becoming sterile. Ever seen that series on TV, "The World Without Us"? Interesting series.
Here's another thought. What if something caused all babies to be born the same sex? It's not so far-fetched considering our brain is wired either male or female while still in the womb and the default setting is female.
Unless a small amount of testosterone enters the fetus's brain at the right time and "flips the switch", that baby will be born with a female-wired brain regardless of its physical sex. That would put a real crimp in worldwide birth rates if carried to the extreme.
Photo: Da Vinci's "Foetus"
Creating life is a lot more than "making whoopee" and considering all the things that have to happen at just the right time, it's a wonder any of us ever got born.
There is so much on the web and elsewhere about the reproductive system that we are not going to devote an entire page to it in this website. If we follow all the advice given in the various nutrition and lifestyle pages, everything should keep working just fine.
The purpose of including all the human anatomy pages in this Healthy by Nature website is to show how each one works, how to take care of them and how to keep them working naturally without the help of all the products flowing from big pharma.
Finally, our sensory organs while not viewed as systems, probably should be since the complexity and engineering that went into their creation is unparalleled. These will be discussed in the context of how they connect to and interact with the central nervous system.
Leave Human Anatomy and return to Home page.
Link to Cardiovascular System: keeping it pumping.
Link to Respiratory System: Breathing Easy
Navigate to Digestive System
Navigate to Endocrine System; It's In Our Blood
Navigate to Immune System
Navigate to the Human Nervous System
Navigate to The Musculoskeletal System
Visit the Site Mall for products to keep the whole anatomy healthy