The human body is a very complex machine when it comes to how it works. But, it is also quite simple in what it needs to function. Human physiology is a very compelling and in-depth topic, so I will try to simplify it here.
What does the human body need to function? The answer…really not that much. The human body is so efficient, in most cases, it can function on minimal resources. Obviously we are not just trying to survive like one of the people on a Discovery or History channel survival show, we want to thrive. So what does our body need to be truly healthy and have the ability to thrive?
The human body needs water and nutrients (food) to function, movement to maintain its functionality (exercise) and rest (sleep) to recover and heal. Pretty simple right?! The challenging part is that it needs these components in proper proportions and intervals to maximize its potential. If we utilize these basic concepts, we will be healthier and provide our bodies with the proper building blocks and tools to maintain, grow, repair, and defend.
The human body has an innate intelligence. This means that it is programmed to know what to do with each and every element and situation it encounters… most of the time. Sometimes we interfere with these natural processes consciously and/or unconsciously, usually having adverse effects on our health. And unfortunately, on rare occasions, these processes are faulty in some individuals. But in most situations, if you give your body the proper nutrients, exercise, and rest in the proper proportions, you will be physically healthy.
Let’s talk about these three components and how they enable us to thrive.
Nutrition (Food and water): These two key elements provide the building blocks, the environment, and the energy for the body’s cells, tissues, and organs to function and repair. Adequate water intake is essential for the body’s processes to function. Proper nutrition, which involves both macronutrients (fats, carbohydrates, and proteins) and micronutrients (vitamins and minerals) are essential for building tissues and providing fuel for cells and the body’s processes.
Exercise: Regular movement is essential to keep the human body functional and aid in many of the natural processes that occur throughout the body all the time. Keeping joints lubricated through controlled movements will slow degenerative changes. Processes like circulation and lymphatic drainage are greatly enhanced with regular movement. Our bodies become stagnant and toxic without regular movement and therefore, not healthy. So we need to move to stay healthy. Luckily, exercise comes in many forms. Activities like cutting the grass or gardening can be considered exercise, as well as more intense activities like lifting weights, hiking, or distance running.
Rest: Probably the most underrated aspect of being healthy is proper sleep and rest. When our body is resting, it has the opportunity to reset, rebuild, and heal damaged tissues and faulty components. Rest is just as important as exercise and nutrition in order to create an optimal environment within the body. Without the ability to rebuild and heal properly, we will break down more frequently and usually with increasing severity.
So as we put these three components together, we think of it like this:
If we give our bodies the proper nutrition before and after activity and challenge our bodies within limits during the activity, and then provide our bodies with proper rest or healing time, our bodies will function at an optimal capacity, enabling and promoting overall health. Too much or too little of any of these components will be detrimental to our health. The challenge of obtaining optimal health is that no two individuals are the same. Therefore, no diet or exercise program or sleep routine will work for everyone. It’s up to you to figure out how your body works and implement the proper pieces to the puzzle. It may take some trial and error but it will be worth it in the long run!