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How does the body function and how do diseases develop?

How does the body function and how do diseases develop?

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The human body is the ultimate machine. If you think of it for a bit, you will find it difficult to wrap your head around how perfectly it works. How every part, every organ and every system syncs in perfect tandem to make us capable of performing various functions, and survive. In this blog, we are going to shed light on the basics of how our body functions, and how diseases develop.  

Living beings have two very basic objectives – survival and procreation (for the survival of their species). Our cells have learned to adapt and respond according to the environment through centuries of evolution. When the environment is suitable, the cells develop and express themselves. When the environment is not suitable, the cells go into survival mode and remain dormant until the environment changes in their favor.  

But how do cells know whether the environment is favorable or not?

Each cell has a subconscious memory. The cell membrane is endowed with numerous sensors which function like antennas. These sensors perceive the signal in the environment and respond to it with gene expressions in the nucleus. This impact of the environment on the genes is called ‘Epigenetics’.

More interestingly, each cell has an individual memory for cellular respiration, assimilation of nutrients, production of energy and excretion of waste. Each cell has all of the information pertaining to its specialized function embedded in it, and it takes billions of cells to form a tissue or an organ which performs a specific function. It blows the mind to think that all these trillion of cells came from a single cell called the Zygote.

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How does the body function?

Our body performs various functions such as respiration, digestion, assimilation, excretion, heart beat and adrenal activities. Most of these involuntary physiological functions are regulated by the automatic or Autonomic Nervous System (ANS). The ANS is further divided into the Sympathetic Nervous System (SNS) and the Parasympathetic Nervous System (PNS). The SNS controls ‘fight or flight responses, whereas the PNS regulates ‘rest, digest and repair’. Whatever the ANS senses (sensory information), is transmitted to the hypothalamus “master of masters”.

The hypothalamus is gland deep within the brain. It is a link between the nervous system and the endocrine system. Its job is to keep the body in a state of balance or homeostasis. According to the signal it receives from the nervous system, it sends a signal through hormones to the pituitary gland which controls the endocrine system. Thus, the Hypothalamo-Pituitary-Adrenal axis (HPA) modulates organ and cellular functions. We call this, the ‘neurohormonal response.’

Now that we know how the body functions in response to the environment, the next obvious question is – 

What does the body need to function properly?

The body functions well within a favorable environment and needs nourishment to express itself. Our cells are structurally made up of proteins, phospholipids, cholesterol and nucleic acids. Therefore, macronutrients are needed as carbohydrates and fats are essential sources of energy and protein is the primary structural component of our cells. 

Most of the metabolic and cellular functions are mediated by enzymes which require micronutrients as cofactors. The deficiency of micronutrients such as minerals, vitamins, antioxidants and phytonutrients impacts the functionality of our biology.

In an ideal world, our body functions would not be disrupted if we have enough macro and micronutrients. However, the fact is that diseases have become rampant with time. 

So we must ask ourselves –

Why do diseases occur?

Throughout human evolution we have survived in communion with nature. We ate whole foods like unrefined carbs and fat (tubers, fruits, vegetables, grains & pulses and meat).  However, in the last century, we have ultra processed our foods. That is, we have removed the fibers and the micronutrients from whole foods. So now, there is a mismatch between ultra processed foods and the human biological response. Most of the hormonal responses are deranged.

Present day society is hardly consuming 15-20 grams of fiber per day. This low fiber diet has affected our gut, which is the seat of health in the human body containing the microbiome. The role of the microbiome is to train the immune system, prevent the invasion of bad bacteria, improve metabolic function and help in the synthesis of neurotransmitters in the brain. The Gut-Brain-Microbiome axis (or GBM axis) is bidirectional and most of the psychiatric, somatic  and neurological disorders have their roots in gut imbalance, or Microbial Dysbiosis.

Fiber is food for the good bacteria in our gut. It slows down the absorption of carbs and lowers the glycemic response. This positively impacts metabolism. It is no wonder that in most indigenous tribes that consume 60-80 grams of fiber per day, chronic diseases are largely unknown. Whereas in our society, many people suffer from gastrointestinal disorders for years. 

Moreover, with the rapid increase in population over the last few decades and the shrinking of agricultural land, we have been compelled into industrial farming in order to increase food production to meet the growing demand. Industrial farming involves the use of hybrids, biocides and artificial fertilizers which damage our biology to say the least.

Modern medicine has been largely successful in controlling infectious diseases of the past. But adoption of a western lifestyle has led to an epidemic of chronic illnesses such as diabetes, obesity, fatty liver, hypertension, cholesterol issues, heart attacks and strokes.

The Epidemic of Chronic Diseases

At Least 75% of our current population is suffering from chronic disorders as of now. Interestingly, one of the predominant common denominator of most chronic disorders is insulin resistance. The reason for insulin resistance being the biggest culprit is that it mostly goes either undiagnosed for a long time (as in the case of heart disease and fatty liver), misdiagnosed (as hypertension) or mistreated (by ingesting insulin in the case of Type-2 diabetes).

Basically, people lack the knowledge and understanding of chronic diseases at its root, and therefore they fail to prevent or control it.

The Future of Chronic Diseases

Degenerative diseases were usually associated with age. However, now they are affecting the younger population as well. About 1/3rd of the pediatric population is suffering from metabolic disorders. To make matters worse, many of these disorders are not druggable. As a matter of fact, continuing drugs lifelong for palliation and to keep the disease control can actually have a negative impact on the progression of the disease.

Due to the heavy burden of chronic non-communicable disorders (NCBs), most of the health systems around the world are breaking down. And shockingly, this is happening when all subcellular pathologies underlying the chronic conditions can actually be treated with the right diet and nutrition. Hence, the need of the hour is a paradigm shift from sick care to healthcare, from control to cure, from illness to wellness.

Wellfinity is a pioneer in this paradigm shift. It is not just a healthcare platform, it is a movement to help people reverse their chronic ailment from the root and to prevent disease, by providing them the right knowledge and understanding of their health. 

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