Our bodies have so many levels of organization within it. From the chemical level to the cellular level. The cell is the smallest structural and functional unit that can exist as a self-sustaining entity. It’s as if the cell is its own little city the way it’s structured. But that is only the beginning. Then at the cellular level, there is the there is the tissue level. The tissues then create the organ level (Heart, Lungs, Stomach, etc). And then the organs then come together to create the organ system level. We have 11 different systems that keep us working like a well-oiled machine. Can you name them all?

1. Skeletal System (ex: bones, joints, cartilage)

2. Muscular System (skeletal muscles – attached to bones)

3. Integumentary System (skin, hair, nails)

4. Nervous System (brain, spinal cord, nerves)

5. Endocrine System (thyroid, adrenals, hormones)

6. Reproductive System (male & female reproductive organs & glands)

7. Cardiovascular System (blood, blood vessels, and heart)

8. Lymphatic System (lymph & lymphatic vessels)

9. Respiratory System (nasal cavity, trachea, lungs)

10. Digestive System (mouth, stomach, small & large intestines)

11. Urinary System (kidneys, ureters, urethra, and bladder)

All these systems in our body maintain a functional balance. When one system is out of balance the others step up and help to try to regulate the imbalance.

Take for instance an overindulgence in sugar. Sounds simple right? Obviously, the digestive system would be involved. And maybe the cardiovascular system.

Well, let’s take a closer look to see what happens and the effect it has on the body…

Digestive System is the first to respond. First, the sugar mixes with the latent bacteria in the saliva to form an acid which erodes tooth enamel.

Enzymes and gut flora/bacteria break down the complex sugars into simple sugars. Which then can be easily absorbed into the blood stream. but there is also another complication in the gut, that can be exacerbated by consuming too much sugar. It’s an overgrowth of yeast / “bad” gut flora (bacteria) called Candida, SIBO and/or Helicobacter Pylori. Sugar is the main staple of food for them. An over growth in even one of these can cause immunity (cold/flu), autoimmune, leaky gut and flatulence issues. The Liver goes into overtime trying to process all the extra sugar. The extra sugar above and beyond the storage requirements will then be stored as fat. Excess build up can then cause fatty liver.

Nervous System treats sugar much like an addictive substance (like drugs, alcohol, tobacco). Pleasure sensors in the brain release dopamine. Each time sugar is used it helps to reinforce the pathways. This can greatly increase the risk of developing depression and anxiety. Sugar can also cause headaches due to the inflammation properties.

Endocrine System contains an organ called the Pancreas which controls the sugar in the blood. Insulin is released to counteract the higher than normal blood sugar. When insulin is released it communicates to the liver to start storing the extra sugar as fat. Also, too much habitual sugar use can cause insulin resistance – hello diabetes.

Endocrine System reacts by releasing cortisol and epinephrine which causes the bodies heart rate to increase anybody to sweat.

Cardiovascular System is in the game now. Blood pressure increases and inflammation of the arteries and veins increase a risk of stroke and heart attack.

Skeletal System experiences the same inflammation effect but in the joints. Arthritis can flare up at this point and become very painful.

Reproductive System is experiencing an impaired blood flow. Which then could increase the risk of erectile dysfunction in men or sexual arousal disorder in woman and infertility issues.

Integumentary System is not friends with sugar. Sugar increase skin’s aging (wrinkles) process by breaking down collagen and elastin and preventing any further from being made during periods of high levels.

These are just some of the reactions. There are more that were not covered. So do you see how interconnected our 11 systems are? One system is taxed and it causes a chain reaction amongst the rest of them. Much like a domino effect. Amazing huh? Your machine (aka body) is doing all this to maintain health, without as much of a thought from you. Given the right fuel, your machine can run for years!

Heather Lu, student class of April 2018