You’ve got 12 main body systems: Circulatory, Digestive, Endocrine, Immune, Lymphatic, Muscular, Nervous, Reproductive, Respiratory, Skeletal, Urinary and Integumentary Systems. Use these descriptions along with the diagrams in the Workbook to troubleshoot which of your body systems need support.
Here’s a little bit of what they all do.
Circulatory System: Blood transport system: heart pumps, arteries and veins transport. Oxygen-rich blood leaves the left side of the heart and goes into the biggest artery, the aorta, which branches into smaller arteries, which branch into smaller vessels and finally capillaries that go all over your body. Capillaries give nutrients and oxygen into the body tissue and take away waste, excess water and carbon dioxide. The waste-filled blood, which no longer has oxygen or nutrients, flows back up to the heart to pick up more oxygen and get rid of the carbon dioxide. On the way, it drops the toxic waste off at other organs like the liver. The blood also carries hormones from the endocrine glands to organs and tissue throughout the body.
Digestive System: All the parts of your body that break down food, from your mouth to your intestines to your colon. This is where we get the proteins, vitamins, minerals, carbohydrates and fats we need for energy, repair and growth. Everything that happens before food gets to the small intestines is in an effort to make travel through the small intestines the most profitable, because that’s where we absorb nutrients. What we can’t use gets eliminated. The liver and pancreas are also big players in this work, but they are mainly a part of other systems.
Endocrine System: Glands that produce hormones. The hormones go directly into the bloodstream and get carried to organs and tissue all throughout the body. The hormones regulate all sorts of body functions like your metabolism, growth and sexual functions. The main glands in the endocrine system are the pituitary, thyroid, parathyroids, adrenals, thymus, pancreas, and sex glands.
Immune System: First line of defense! The team includes your lymph nodes, spleen, thymus, bone marrow, lymphocytes (the B and T-cells) and leukocytes (white blood cells). All work together to ward off and defend against bacteria, viruses and anything else harmful.
Within the Immune system, we have three response systems: Anatomic, Inflammatory and Immune.
Anatomic Response – Physically tries to prevent things getting in via skin and mucus membranes.
Inflammatory Response – If something does get in, its job is to get it out via sneezing, runny nose, fever etc. Your body is in “fighting off illness” mode.
Immune Response: If your inflammatory response isn’t successful, your Immune Response begins fighting by sending out your white blood cells to eat up antigens (the stuff making you sick). Some of your white blood cells (the lymphocytes) hit the lymph nodes to produce new antibodies to fight off the disease. You’ve got a little war zone happening with replacement warriors being created to fight.
Lymphatic System: System Defender. It filters out the disease-causing organisms, makes white blood cells and creates antibodies. It needs to get the lymph fluid distributed throughout your body, which contains nutrients, and helps collect proteins that need to be excreted along with excess fluid and dumps it back into your blood stream, so your tissues won’t swell up. It does not have a pump and relies on body movement to do its work. You have twice as much lymph as blood.
Muscular System: All 650 tissues that make you go. Works with the skeletal system to control movements. Some are voluntary (you decide when to move – arms, legs) and other are not (you don’t control – heart, intestines). Involuntary muscles are controlled by the Nervous System and your hormones.
Nervous System: Master control system of the body. Includes Autonomic (p.169) (in charge of involuntary actions like heart beat and digestion, includes the Sympathetic, Parasympathetic and the Enteric systems), Central (nerve impulses, sight, hearing, smells, taste and feel) and Peripheral (carries the nerve impulses from the central nervous system to muscles and glands) nervous systems.
Reproductive System: Reproduction of the species. Males have sperm, females have eggs. Sex glands are part of the Endocrine System.
Respiratory System: Oxygen comes in, carbon dioxide goes out. Includes nose, trachea, bronchial tubes and lungs.
Skeletal System: 206 bones, ligaments and tendons. Works with muscular system to move the body. Marrow, found inside the bones, produces your red blood cells, some white blood cells and immune system cells. Your teeth are also part of this system, but they aren’t exactly bones.
Urinary System: Eliminates waste from the body. Kidneys remove waste from blood, which combines with water to form urine, traveling down the ureters to the bladder and then emptied out the urethra.
Integumentary System: Your skin and largest body organ. Protection from the world of viruses, bacteria and pathogens. Skin helps with temperature regulation and eliminates waste by perspiration. Also included is hair and nails.
Vital Organs: Brain (control center), heart (pumps blood), kidneys (removes waste from blood, controls the PH of blood), liver (filters blood, detoxes body from chemicals and the breakdown of drugs, secretes bile, produces proteins), lungs (removes oxygen from air and transfers it to blood, removes carbon dioxide on exhale).
All your systems are interdependent on each other, meaning they are each relying on the others to do their job so they can do theirs. This is why when you get a breakdown in one system, some other ones will begin to fail as well.
When looking objectively at your situation to problem solve, it’s important to take into account all the current symptoms, not just the main ones. For example, you may be experiencing a high level of stress at work and that’s giving you stomach and headaches along with a crabby attitude.
Let’s break that down into what body systems might need support.
Prolonged stress activates your Flight or Fight hormones, your adrenaline, on a pretty consistent basis. That means your body systems are being bathed in adrenaline all day long instead of in a short burst inviting a quick response immediately followed by a cool-down by the parasympathetic nervous system to remove the adrenaline from your body.
When your body gives you a rush of adrenaline, it stops working on your immunity and digestion. Your adrenals work all day long preparing you for the “fight” and during that time, no work is being done in other areas — which means exhaustion in the adrenals, food that doesn’t get digested, and a severely impacted immune system so you get sick. It also means your body isn’t getting oxygen to all the parts of your body because it’s conserving it for when it needs it to get in action, which means you’ll get a headache and experience brain fog. Your muscles and chest will hurt. You’ll hit emotional walls and not have reserves to deal with other stressors.
In problem solving this issue, you can see there are many interdependent systems at work here that need support and you’ll need to address them all. If that feels overwhelming, start with one and then add the others, but realize they all need some support for healing to last.
Your endocrine system and kidneys will always ask to heal first, so maybe make that the first thing you address. The reason for that is because without the hormones created by the endocrine system, we simply don’t function and other systems shut down. So when you start to make dietary or supplement improvements, the adrenals say, “Hey! I’d really like you to work with me here!” and demand attention before the other body systems even get a chance to speak. Which is fine, but you need to think about that and know it’s happening.
What does that look like in a practical sense? In the scenario above, let’s say you want to improve your digestion because your prolonged stress is causing you some major tummy distress. You decide to cut out spicy/sugary foods and eating after 7pm so you’ll quit getting heartburn from what you figure is going to eventually become an ulcer in your stomach due to the high cortisol coursing through your system.
One reason that might not work well is because your adrenals, which are tired, are going to be asking you to put in some sugar to help make up for the depletion that’s happening. You’re going to cut out those foods and suddenly, those particular foods are going to be all you can think about. They’re doing that because you’re tired and sending you messages to eat high sugar foods and simple carbs is the only way your adrenals know to get what they need – some quick energy. So essentially, you’re going to be fighting yourself.
Better to start by asking yourself, “What do my adrenals and kidneys need?” and do that first so the rest can fall into place easier. In this case, you’d research adrenal support and create a plan of action. Let’s break it down.
- Adrenals need you to eat good proteins and fats early in the day so they feel like they have enough to create your hormones without going into bankruptcy.
- If you’re going to eat a sugar, you need to make sure it’s a whole-food type and not a simple type because that just exacerbates the problem.
- Drinking too much coffee is really working against you here, so cut that out.
- Taking a break at lunch to do some deep breathing for 5 minutes or taking a short walk will change your entire afternoon.
- Making sure you have enough serotonin in your system by upping your B Vitamins will change your entire outlook on life, making your endocrine system mellow out.
All of that work will help your kidneys because they won’t have simple sugars to contend with. Your kidneys have to keep your blood PH between 7.35 and 7.45 for you to function. Otherwise you slip into a coma or die. So they will take what they need from your organs, bones and teeth if they can’t effectively regulate your blood sugar.
Both of those systems being soothed will automatically help your digestion issues, so yes, you’re addressing that, too. You’re simply supporting the systems that demand to be addressed first.
Check the following pages and the Body Support checklist to cross-reference a plan of support for yourself.
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