The Human Body
( Originally Published 1927 )
To deal intelligently with any subject, it is necessary to understand it. Our subject is human life, so we should understand the human body.
In ye good old times when the human race was far more ignorant than we are today, the scientists said that there are four elements, namely, fire, air, earth and water. In our superior state of wisdom we know that the substances mentioned are not elements, but compounds, or in the case of fire the result of the interaction of at least two elements. In olden times it was easy to give the composition of the human body, but it did not teach one much. Now that we have the advantage of the microscope, chemical laboratory, differentiation of more than eighty elements, and centuries of observation, we can obtain a more helpful view. The human body is composed of three things-air, water and food. That is the simplest, WAY to view the matter. If we want a good body we have to have good building materials. That means enough pure air to burn up the debris and waste that is being formed in the body at all times. It also means enough good water to act as a solvent and internal cleanser and carrier for food going to the various organs find waste being brought to the four chief excretory organs.
This leads us to the conclusion that the three fundamentals of the human body are air, water and food, and that the basis of building a fine physical structure is correct breathing, drinking and eating.
That is a part of the truth. But added that are two other most important factors, exercise and thinking. One of the fundamental laws of health is that all warm-blooded creatures, man included, have to make use of their bodies (work and exercise) or else the bodies fail to develop fully, and soon decay. The thinking is also fundamental among intelligent beings, for constructive thinking develops the individuality, while destructive thinking causes retardation of development, disease, and pre-mature extinction.
The human body may also be viewed as a chemical compound, made up of sixteen or eighteen elements, such as, oxygen, hydrogen, nitrogen, carbon, iron, calcium, sodium, potassium, silicon, etc.
These elements are not found as elements in the body. They are found as organic compounds, such as fats and that are chiefly composed of carbon, oxygen, and hydrogen ; or proteins, which are a sort of organic hash of very complex composition, with nitrogen as a basic element, or blood, which contains all the elements in the body.
What good does it do to know the chemical composition of the body when we are unable to find pure elements to feed the body? It is most valuable knowledge, for we have also been analyzing the foods and the drinks that we consume. So it is necessary to see to it that we supply foods that contain all the elements that the body needs. If there is a shortage of any essential constituent, disease results. In rickets, for instance, there is a shortage of mineral salts, including lime. In anemia iron is the chief of lacking ingredients. Also, if we oversupply the body with the various elements the body functions will be perverted and in time the physical structure will be injured.
Fortunately, it is not necessary to know the chemistry in detail, but we need the general facts. We know, for instance, that if we par-take daily of fresh fruits and fresh vegetables we will obtain all the mineral salts we need for health. It is not absolutely necessary to re-member that spinach is rich in iron, that white potatoes contain considerable potash, that wheat has plenty of silicon, that peas are rich in albumin, etc.
Most fresh fruits and fresh vegetables are low in feeding values but high in health values the grains, starches of all kinds, sweets, fats and oils furnish fuel to heat the body and give it energy; lean fish, meat and vegetable proteins give the essential nitrogen, or albumin, which builds up, repairs, and lubricates the body. Water furnishes the moisture without which life can not be carried on, and the air gives the ready-to-serve oxygen which continually burns so that the vital spark is maintained. That, in brief, is the practical application.
The human body also is an aggregation of billions of cells. Each cell is an individual entity in a community, and is generally joined to the other cells by means of connective tissue. Every cell in the body has functions to perform. So long as these functions are well performed, there is health. But when the cells begin to neglect their work, there is disease; when they get inflated ideas of their own importance and expand beyond reason, as they do in. cancer, there is trouble.
Neither you nor I can pick out a certain cell —in fact the cells are so small that the naked eye does not see them—and command it to do anything beyond the ordinary. But when we know that there are billions of these individuals in one human body and that these billions of individuals must work in harmony, it ought to command our respect and impel us to do the gross things that are necessary for these minute beings in order that they may harmonize, for harmony means health. Just think of the nations on this planet, having a total population of perhaps one and one-half billions of human individuals. We have not sense enough to get along without going to war, mauling, maiming and murdering each other. But here is this body of ours, composed of billions of individuals, which will live in perfect peace and harmony if we appreciate their beauty and do our share as individuals to allow them to live peacefully. Think of these little individuals, so small that we can't see them, yet they have intelligence enough to expel matter that injures them and to select from the blood stream that which they need for their welfare.
These cells are not alike in every respect, for a muscle cell, a liver cell, and a mucous membrane cell appear and act far differently. But they have these points in common : They spring from parent cells of their own kind, they grow, they take nourishment from the blood stream, they expel waste matters, they are sensitive to stimulation, and they have the power of orderly reproduction. Truly we ought to treat ourselves with respect and consideration when we are so wonderfully constituted.
Again, we do not need to think about any individual cells in our body in order to build health, long life, and efficiency. We need only give the matter this attention : If we are fair to our bodies, as a whole, and direct the mind along the right lines, these billions of cells will enjoy health, and then we as individuals will have a sane mind in a healthy body.
A human being also is a great society, organized to function well. The stomach and upper intestines are the commissary department; the blood is the transportation depart-ment, conveying food and drink in one direction, and refuse in another direction; the skin, lungs, kidneys and lower bowels are the sanitary department, disposing of the accumulated waste; the nerves are the intelligence depart-ment, carrying messages from the whole coins munity and bringing back commands ; the brain is the central command ; the muscles are the work units ; the skin is the housing. This analogy could be carried on to include all parts of the body.
Again, if we are fair to ourselves, these departments will do their work so well that there is not a complaint, and that results in health and youthfulness. But mistreat one department, and let us see what happens. Let us illustrate with the commissary department: Supply it at the same meal with pork and beans, fried potatoes, fresh bread, doughnuts and coffee. In a short time the stomach is furious and shouts, "Let them feed trash like that to me, and I'll show them!" And Mr. Stomach does. Instead of making material for rich blood he starts to produce a souring mess, and two of the by-products are gases and acids in excess. The gas presses upward and down-ward and makes the whole community crowded, especially the central pumping station (the heart). The acids are absorbed into the blood and irritate the whole body. We have intelligence so that we can prevent such abuse. It is well to remember that when one part of the body is thrown out of balance, the whole body suffers. If the body is harmed, the mind is affected; and if the mind is abused, the body always suffers. During life, no one can draw a line and say that on this side is mind and on that side is body. We use these two words to convey ideas of two things which are bound up in each other.
All through animal life there runs the course of birth, growth, maturity, reproduction, physical decline, and death. But the animals live on the animal or physical plane. The question often arises, is there any need of decline and death, One reason for it, so far as man is concerned, is that such has always been the course of nature, and man expects to decline and die. In the physical and mental make-up of man, there is no reason for early death, because the body is a self-repairing and self-rejuvenating machine. Every student of health and human life knows that we have the knowledge which, if fully practiced, will more than double the years of man. But man is self-indulgent, and he who would live indefinitely has to be self-controlled.
Recently many illuminating biological experiments have been made. For instance: A piece of chicken heart was taken and given blood at the proper temperature. It continued to beat for days, and then slowed down. This slowing was due to the accumulation of toxins (poisons) caused by the work. When this piece of heart was washed and supplied with fresh blood, it started to work again at the original rate.
Skin, and other tissues, have been refrigerated for many weeks, and then fed blood at the right temperature, and they have started to grow and function again.
Bone, and other tissues, have been fed the right kind of nourishment, after being separated from the original animal, and they have grown. However, it has been noted that the tissues from old animals do not grow as fast as those taken from younger animals.
These experiments indicate how full of life the various tissues are. Tissues have been taken from newly dead bodies and used to help patch up some living being, and such operations have succeeded.
These experiments show that the blood (food supply of the tissues) must be kept pure and clean; that the waste (toxins) must be removed; and that when the body as a whole dies, most of its component parts can still live. They show that our vitality or ability to live is much greater than most individuals realize.
We have it within our power, through the proper use of air, drink, food, exercise, rest, cleanliness and constructive thought, to keep all our structures clean. Internal cleanliness means health. During health there is no deterioration. We can keep the cells young at all times, and young cells make a young body.
No one knows how long life can be prolonged. But this we do know: Man, merely from the physical side, has a constitution good for at least 125 or 150 years. If we add the mental advantage of being a knowing, reasoning being, who can shape affairs to his advantage, why can he not add many years to his life? Mental force is far greater in its ramification than mere physical force. The enduring assets of this world started as speculations, dreams, and ideas for which the originators were often soundly punished, even unto death.
The water, the wheat, the milk, the fruits, the vegetables, the meat—in short, all the food-that is given to the youth of twenty, producing healthy, vigorous structures, are the same kind of food that are fed to the man of seventy, and they are still capable of producing vigorous healthy structures.
This we do know : Growing old is largely due to allowing the body to grow foul and filthy within. It is almost a comedy to watch men and women give the outer surface of the skin most scrupulous care. But they allow their bowels, a very important structure, to be so foul and filthy that absorption of a little of their contents, poisons the blood. With a clean skin, they permit accumulation of filthy masses in the joints, the muscles, the nerves, the walls of the arteries, the surfaces of the mucous membranes, and the cavities of the head—they allow filth and poisons to gather in any portion of the body where filth and poison can cling. That is why they are diseased, and prematurely lose youth, and grow old and decrepit ; that is why they lose their good judgment; that is why they lose their physical agility and their mental dexterity.
Let it be known that internal filth and disease are one and the same thing. Then people who call themselves cleanly will feel the disgrace of disease, as they should. And as they become clean within they regain health, which prolongs life.
We can keep clean internally by giving the body the attention of which it is deserving. Internal cleanliness means health. Health prolongs power, beauty, and youth.