The most fundamental unit of the human body is the cell. All human life originally begins as one single cell, which then divides into many more cells, until a baby is born after nine months of cell division inside the mother’s womb.
Each cell is a dynamic, living unit that is constantly monitoring and adjusting its own processes, according to the original DNA code it was created with, as well as containing the blueprint for the whole organism. Cells have the ability to repair themselves, as well as make new cells that replace those that have been permanently damaged or destroyed. Even when a large number of cells are destroyed, the surrounding cells replicate to make new cells – thereby quickly replacing the cells that were destroyed.
This innate intelligence is continually working day and night. Did you know that we make a billion new cells every hour – 24 billion cells every day! This allows our body to make a new liver every six weeks, a new stomach lining every five days, new skin every 30 days, and a new skeleton every three months.
This process happens naturally as we breathe in around 20,000 times every day, and with each breath we take in 1018 new atoms. While in return breathing out the same number of atoms with each our breathe.
What can have a detrimental effect on how this well-oiled machine operates is the intimate and dynamic relationship between what is going on with our feelings and thoughts and how our bodies responds to that information. It might be easy to understand that a scary thought can get our heart beating faster, but it can be harder to realise that loneliness, sadness or depression can also affect us physically.
Did you know, for example, that loneliness and social isolation was associated with a 29 per cent increased risk of a heart or angina attack and a 32 per cent heightened risk of having a stroke?
Researchers, from the universities of York, Liverpool and Newcastle in the UK, looked at previous studies involving more than 181,000 adults, and concluded that addressing loneliness and social isolation may have an important role in the prevention of two of the leading causes of morbidity in high-income countries.
Given that stress is linked with many physical diseases, it might be no real surprise to learn that a positive outlook can have health-giving effects. Results from a Dutch study that examined the attitudes and longevity of 999 people over the age of 65, reported a ‘protective relationship’ between optimism and mortality. Optimists were shown to have a 77 per cent lower risk of heart disease than pessimists.
The more you know about how your body and mind work in harmony with each other, the better able you are to make the right choices to enhance both the quantity and quality of your health and well-being.