Protect your amazing body | Sunday Observer

Protect your amazing body

18 October, 2020

Before doing anything else, take a guided tour through the universe within – the human body – and learn how it accomplishes various tasks efficiently. Your naked eyes cannot see the highways of blood and a burly bodyguard of an immense system hidden in a corner of your body. You may not know that your bones keep constantly rebuilding at least when you are young. However, most young people may not believe how brilliantly they have been designed. In addition, there are many extraordinary functions your body accomplishes every day.

When you are young, you will feel totally at home in your body – vibrant, alive, assured, in touch with yourself and aware of your sensual contact with the world around you. Still, you need to have an awareness of your body and how to maintain your sense of aliveness. When your attention is focused fully on your body, your body and mind can be united. When you are fully aware of your body, you can rejoice with a feeling of harmony and integration. Unlike old people, your movements are free and spontaneous. They are also well coordinated. Your perception is keen and your body is charged with feelings.

Elderly people may dismiss the whole idea of body awareness as something ridiculous. One reason is that they give more prominence to the mind or the brain and consider the body as something to be maintained with constant medical care. In contrast, young people have more body awareness. They want to stay young as long as they can. They seek the help of beauty parlours and use cosmetics to enhance their looks. Young girls want to have a fairer skin not knowing the inherent dangers involved.

Body and mind

Becoming more aware of your body will  calm your mind and reawaken your senses. When your body and mind become equal partners, you will experience a new sense of wholeness. When your energy begins to flow freely, you will feel more positive and alive. There is a body language you will have to understand. The body will tell you when to act and when to relax. When you are down with an illness, you will feel miserable. But when you recover from an illness, you will enjoy life in a more vibrant way. Most illnesses are not fatal and  those who suffer from them bounce back.

As children we considered our bodies as our homes. From the moment we get up to the time we go to bed, we are fully aware of what we do. Children respond to their feelings immediately. They cry when they are hurt, laugh when they are happy. They live in their own rhythm, unbounded by tension. When they grow up, they lose their directness of perception and some of them become alienated from their physical selves. The body that once felt like home begins to tense and stiffen slowly and steadily.

In Western societies, mind and body or body and soul are separate entities. In the East, however, there is no such distinction. They adopt a holistic approach to religious and medical practices. For instance, yoga involves both body and mind. The body is not something to be controlled and tamed by the mind. In reality, our thoughts and feelings, joys and fears are all mirrored in our bodies.

Medical breakthroughs

In recent years, there have been many mind-blowing medical breakthroughs in the West. If you experience severe dizziness, it is a sign of having a stroke. Precious life-saving minutes tick by before you decide to have CT (Computed Tomography) or MRI (Magnetic Resonance Imaging) to diagnose the cause. A new test in the United States will quickly determine the exact cause of the dizziness. The test, developed by Dr David Newman-Toker, a neurologist at Johns Hopkins Hospital in Baltimore, has identified the cause correctly. The rate of accuracy is higher than that of  a CT scan.

Your inner thermostat, located in the hypothalamus, is an engineering marvel. A change of as little as one degree triggers the body to make life-saving adjustments. For instance, when your temperature gets too high, blood vessels in your skin dilate to release heat. When it drops, they constrict and your sweat glands will shut down. Once your core temperature falls to around 36 c, you will start shivering as a way to produce heat.

Every day you breathe about 25,000 times quite unconsciously. If you had to breathe consciously, you would never get anything else done. So, you should thank your brain stem for making the habit of breathing automatic. What is the necessity to inhale and exhale so often? Scientists have found that humans have a very high metabolism. At rest you need about 250 ml of oxygen each minute. Your lungs have been perfectly designed to handle the intake of oxygen.

Breathe well

The way you breathe reflects the way you live. If you breathe well, your health and quality of life will be enhanced. If you breathe poorly, your vitality and capacity for feeling will be impoverished. When you breathe freely, the diaphragm, belly and chest undulate with the rhythm of each breath. As a result, the whole body will be energized with life-giving oxygen. Although most young people breathe freely, adults breathe shallowly. As we grow up we try to control rather than express our feelings. In the process we block the free flow of energy in the body and diminish our capacity for pleasure.

Due to lack of physical exercise and partaking fast food, many young adults have become obese. According to the American Medical Association, obesity is a disease. It can be a risk factor in many diseases as well. Stress can make us fat as people often eat for comfort, and obesity can increase our stress because slimness is equated with good health while obesity is equated with gluttony, sloth and ugliness. The guilt associated with such feelings can turn us to food for comfort and a vicious circle is perpetuated. Some young adults eat more because their parents did not love them. Other children eat more because their parents loved them too much. Whatever the cause, obesity certainly leads to stress because of the social stigma attached to it.

To maintain your body, you need a healthy and nutritious diet. Eating like a Greek was once touted as pure diet nirvana. Where else could you enjoy a snack with nuts and olive-oil-soaked bread? However, today nutritionists zealously promote vegan food. On the other hand, Mediterranean diet (MD) is back, after two studies that confirmed its health benefits. Healthy people who followed MD were 19 per cent less likely to develop memory loss. Those who took MD were 30 per cent less likely to die from cardiovascular diseases or have a stroke.

Hi-tech filtration

Very few young adults fully appreciate the wonder of the kidneys which form the most hi-tech filtration system in the body. Your kidneys filter the blood, adjust the electrolyte levels and get rid of waste. They also help maintain the proper level of hydration. Teenagers who think of experimenting with dangerous drugs and alcohol should be mindful of the dangers that will afflict the kidneys.

Whether you are young or old, music can do much to improve your health. According to a recent Ohio State University study, listening to your favourite music lowered anxiety among ICU (Intensive care unit) patients by about one third. When a group of young adults was given a task that required intense concentration, they did better while listening to soothing music.

I have taken you on a guided tour of your body just to drive home the point that the more you care for it the more you will reap the benefits.

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