pediatric housecalls Robert R. Jarrett M.D. M.B.A. FAAP

Do You Take Your Body For Granted

In younger years, I was in a play in which a very interesting song was sung.

“Did you ever think in the middle of a wink what your eyes are doing for you? Your nose when it blows, your hair when it grows, consider what a job they do” went the lyrics.

There are many things (in fact most things) about the human body that we do, in fact, take for granted.

During youth and health, hair grows approximately an inch a month, that’s a foot a year and approximately 70 feet over an average lifetime.

And it does all of that in spite of a wide variety of diets and abuses like hairsprays, permanents, dyes, curling irons, “teasing” and “frizzing.”

The hair, to some extent at least, seems to reflect the varying chemical and element levels in the body.

Years ago during a war a French physician noticed that some soldiers lost their hair following extensive burns. He analyzed their hair immediately after being burned, and then two months later he found that it had almost been totally depleted of zinc.

Hence, the use, for many years, of zinc oxide ointment in burn care.

By the way, cutting hair does not make hair grow in thicker or faster; neither on the face, under the arms, nor on the legs.

If a foreign particle gets in the nose, the body has a marvelous defense mechanism – the sneeze. This force of air can be several hundred miles an hour, enough to dislodge even, the tiniest particles (and sometimes cause embarrassing situations).

Ok now, reach out and grab someone and make them stand in front of you.  Watch their eyes as they look up and down nervously wondering if you are nuts.

Their eyelids automatically follow just barely above the top of the pupil no matter which direction they move … neat huh?

If you are fast enough you can catch a blink, which washes and moistens the eyeball several times a minute without awareness.

Eating carrots, and other yellow vegetables, incidentally, does help the vision.   Especially night vision through their vitamin content.

The skin is another organ that we take for granted.   It’s the largest organ in the body.   Layed flat it’s 20 square feet. (150 lb. person)

One child told me that skin “keeps the air (and bugs) out and holds your insides in.”

There are tiny cells in the skin that respond to the amount of light shining upon them and produce melanin, which turns the skin darker, and protect it from future burns and damage.

It has it’s own little oil glands to keep the skin soft and pliable and it even helps the body with temperature control and waste removal through sweating.

Sweat forms automatically when the body temperature rises and has composition similar to that of urine (that’s why you should bathe after sweating heavily).

Then there are the clever little “finger like” brooms (cilia) that line the lung, moving out quarts of liquid mucus a day.

And the clever hard things that grow on the ends of the digits to protect them from injuries. (nails)

Think about what it would be like without the bladder, having to dribble all day; or without thumbs, having to pick everything up with two hands; or without a tongue, making all kinds of faces trying to chew.

Or with only one eye, not being able to see depth relationships; or one ear, not being able to tell where sound is coming from; or even no hair in your nose, getting all kinds of dust and particles down the back of your throat and lungs.

Yes, the body does many things on its own for which we owe it a great deal of gratitude … and care … and concern … and respect.

The heart pumping 2,000 gallons of blood a day, the 6 quarts of blood, the 30 feet of bowel, the brain’s 50 billion neurons, 60,000 miles of blood vessels and the 600 muscles over the 200 bones in the skeleton.

It seems so easy to neglect it when it is healthy. And we often find that it’s “too hard” to do the things to keep it that way.

Health comes in four areas: physical, emotional, intellectual, and spiritual.

I have found that without a conscious effort to continually evaluate and grow in all four areas, an individual becomes imbalanced and unhealthy.

And this goes for children as well. The lonely book worm with no friends; the frustrated adolescent with friends but no job; the anxious and depressed overweight child who can’t be on the team he wants; and others.

May this upcoming year find you all making the choices and taking the step to maintain balance and health in all four areas of your life; and, that of your children.

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