The human body has seventy-eight organs, but if you count each bone and tooth separately, there are 315. Day after day, your organs work behind the scenes to keep you healthy, and it’s amazing how harmoniously they function to get the job done. When one organ fails, the others often step up to compensate.
Read on to learn interesting facts about some of your body’s hardest-working parts and how you can care for these organs in small ways every day to make a big difference to your quality of life.
Did you know the biggest organ in the human body is the skin? Skin accounts for about 15 percent of the average adult’s body weight and contains over eleven miles of blood vessels. Humans shed about 600,000 particles of skin every hour (about nine pounds per year), and your skin cells completely renew themselves every twenty-eight days. So why is it important to take care of your skin if it sheds and replenishes itself?
As well as protecting your organs, your skin absorbs vitamins and minerals into your bloodstream, which means it can also absorb unwanted toxins that can affect other systems in your body. When you take care of your skin regularly, you’re promoting good circulation for your skin to do its job of protecting organs, regulating body temperature through sweating, and delivering important nutrients to the body. Be sure to do the following as part of your self-care routine:
- Use sunscreen with an SPF of 30 or higher, and reapply regularly, especially when swimming or doing other water activities.
- Moisturize once a day, especially your face. Consult a dermatologist about the best moisturizer ingredients for your skin.
- Wear breathable clothing as often as possible so your skin can sweat without restrictions.
- Pay attention to new marks on your skin, and consult your doctor about abnormalities as soon as possible.
Many medical professionals consider the brain to be the most important organ of the body. It’s unlikely that you’ll ever see your brain or touch it in your lifetime, but it’s there, firing electrical signals at over 268 miles per hour from about 100 trillion possible neural connections—that’s enough electricity to power a light bulb!
It’s important to strengthen these neural pathways throughout your life to improve your memory, learning, and motor control, among other functions. Your brain is incredibly resilient and will adapt its pathways to changes in your body. For example, studies show that the human brain shrinks slightly during pregnancy but gains more pathways in social cognition and caregiving behaviors to be able to understand the newborn’s needs.
Even though your brain can do a lot on its own, here are a few things you can do to train your brain to be at its healthiest:
- Get plenty of sleep to let your brain rest and process information. Adults should get between seven and nine hours of sleep a night.
- Wear a helmet when doing activities such as biking, skiing, and roller-skating. Even a minor concussion can scar your brain and increase your risk of cognitive impairment.
- Eat a diet full of healthy fats and complex carbohydrates, such as whole grains and beans. Your brain is made of nearly 60 percent fat and is powered by glucose that it converts to fat, so it’s important to give it plenty of “brain food.”
- Stay mentally stimulated with crossword puzzles, books, chess, sudoku, and other fun brain workouts that can improve memory and create new neural pathways.
Most people are born with two kidneys, which perform the life-sustaining function of filtering your blood and urine. However, you can survive with one kidney and still have up to 75 percent of your total kidney function. And even though your kidneys are about the size of a cellphone and each weighs about four to six ounces, they receive more blood—about 150 to 200 quarts a day—than any other organ aside from the liver.
The one to two trillion nephrons (filtering units) in each kidney could cover about ten miles if they were laid end to end—that’s a thorough filter! Do the following to help your kidneys keep filtering your blood and urine smoothly:
- Drink sixty-four ounces or more of water a day, depending on your activity level and environment. Water helps the kidneys remove waste from your blood as urine.
- Exercise regularly to help lower your blood pressure, which can put less strain on your kidneys.
- Use over-the-counter medication only when necessary. Medications like ibuprofen can damage your kidneys if taken in excess.
Your liver is the second-largest organ in your body, and it can perform over two hundred functions at any given moment, including supplying glucose to your brain, creating new blood, storing emergency nutrients, and combating infections. Simply put, you cannot live without your liver. However, it can regenerate itself. If you needed to donate or remove a dying part of your liver, you could expect it to grow back to its normal size over time.
While your liver may not be at the forefront of your mind normally, it will be if you ever suffer from liver damage. Fortunately, there are simple ways to help prevent liver disease.
- Drink alcohol responsibly to prevent liver cirrhosis. Talk to your doctor about what safe alcohol consumption would be for your body, which can vary depending on age, gender, and medical history.
- Wash your produce thoroughly before eating it. Pesticides and other chemicals can damage your liver over time, so be sure to choose pesticide-free produce whenever possible.
- Prevent hepatitis A, B, and C by getting vaccinated and washing your hands after touching food and potentially contaminated water.
- Eat right to combat fatty liver disease. Enjoy plenty of fruits, veggies, and healthy fats, and cut out trans fats completely if you can.
Your body works hard to keep you going. Be sure to take care of your organs and talk to your doctor about your organ health when you have questions.