Our bodies are very interconnected, what affects one system will often affect another. It is important to understand the functions of the different bodily systems when beginning your nutritional health journey. Nutrition plays a huge role in every system of the human body. When we give our bodies what they need, nutrient-rich-whole foods, these systems will thrive and flourish. When we don’t give our bodies what they need, processed-junk food, these systems will have difficulty functioning and health conditions will often arise.
To better understand how the human body systems are important to nutritional health, here is a quick rundown of each system.
Respiratory System: The respiratory system is the organ system that is responsible for respiration, and internal and external gas exchange. In this system we have internal respiration which is the exchange of gases between blood and tissues. It also consists of the cellular metabolism which is the use of oxygen within the cells for specific activities. The respiratory system consists of the nose, throat, mouth, lungs, and windpipe.
Nervous System: The nervous system allows the body to communicate with, control and regulate the other systems for proper bodily function. It consists of the central nervous system and peripheral nervous system that provide all the sensory and motor neurons needed to transmit electrical signals throughout the body, which are translated into movement. In the nervous system we have the somatic and autonomic nervous system. The somatic is responsible or carrying impulses to and from the spinal cord, and to or from the brain. This allows the body to react to the external environment The autonomic nervous system is involuntary and controls the internal organs, including the heart, lungs, and glands.
Endocrine System: The endocrine system produces, releases, and controls the hormones that affect growth, development, and metabolic activities. It consists of the exocrine and endocrine glands. The exocrine gland has ducts that carry secretions to the surface. The endocrine glands are ductless glands with secretions that move directly into the blood stream to be carried throughout the body. The endocrine system also consists of the thyroid, pituitary gland, pancreas, testicle, ovary, and hypothalamus.
Digestive System: The digestive system breaks food down into smaller molecules for use on the cellular level. It has 6 functions that are responsible for breaking the food down for energy. The steps are ingestion, mechanical digestion, chemical digestion, movements, absorption, and elimination. The digestive system consists of the stomach, small intestine, large intestine, liver, esophagus, pancreas, mouth, gallbladder, pharynx, duodenum, jejunum, chyme, bile, colon, and salivary gland.
Muscular System: The muscular system is the collection of the muscle fibers throughout the human body with the main function being contractibility. It consists of three muscle types: the skeletal muscle, the smooth muscle, and the cardiac muscle. The skeletal muscle is the most prominent by mass. It voluntarily contracts and can be trained with physical activity. The smooth muscle has the largest amount of function in the body. It is found in all of the hollow organs and involuntarily contracts. The cardiac muscle keeps the heart beating as it involuntarily contracts.
Integumentary System: The integumentary system is the largest organ system covering the entire body. It protects the internal organ systems from damage and disease, prevents water fluid loss, and regulates body temperature. It has three layers: the epidermis, dermis, and the hypodermis. The epidermis is the external layer creating a waterproof barrier and gives its skin its physical tone. The dermis is the skin layer that is below the epidermis. It contains hair follicles, connective tissue, sweat glands, blood vessels, and lymph vessels. The hypodermis is the third layer of skin made up of adipose and connective tissue. The integumentary system consists of the skin, hair, and nails.
Skeletal System: The skeletal system provides the framework to protect the soft organs inside the body and protect the nervous system. It consists of the axial skeleton and the appendicular skeleton. The axial skeleton is made up of 80 bones in the adult human body, including the sternum, the cranium, and the vertebral column. The appendicular skeleton is made up of 126 bones and includes the bones of the appendages attaching to the axial skeleton. The skeletal system consists of bones, bone marrow, cartilage, ligaments, and tendons.
Reproductive System: The reproductive system’s major goal is procreation. It has four major functions: to produce sperm or ova, to transport and sustain sperm and ova, to grow and develop offspring in females, and to produce sex hormones. It consists of the vagina, uterus, fallopian tubes, cervix, ova, hymen, testicles, sperm, penis, spermatic cord, ejaculatory duct, and other gonads.
Circulatory System: The circulatory system is responsible for transporting oxygen from the lungs to the body’s tissues and metabolic waste in the form of carbon dioxide in the opposite direction. It consists of the heart, blood vessels, blood, arteries, veins, and capillaries.
Lymphatic System: The lymphatic system is responsible for working in conjunction with the circulatory and immune systems to prevent disease and maintain fluid balance. It consists of Lymph nodes and lymphocytes. The Lymph nodes are lymphatic organs that filter and remove foreign particles. The lymphocytes are lymphatic bodies within the lymph nodes that consume foreign particles.
Urinary System: The urinary system is responsible for producing, storing, and eliminating fluid waste or urine. It consists of the kidneys, ureters, bladder, and urethra. The kidneys filter out around 200 quarts of blood and fluid daily. Some of the fluid is reabsorbed by the body, especially with dehydration. The fluid not reabsorbed is called urine.
When we provide our bodies with nutrient-rich-whole foods, these interconnected systems will thrive. This improves our overall health and can be preventative for any other health conditions to occur.