Now that we have discussed the various tissues that the human body is composed of, we are going to zoom in even further into those fabrics and discover the basic unit of life: cells.
Cells are like the bricks that allow for a wall to stand.
In order for a brick wall to withstand gravity, wind and changes of temperature, it must have perfectly rectangular resilient bricks that have been stacked in the most stable shape. In a similar manner, in order for the human body to function properly it needs to be composed of healthy cells which communicate well amongst each other. They are the basic structural and functional unit of life, and the overall activity of the human body depends on both the individual and collective functions of cells. The human cell consists of three main parts:
The Plasma Membrane
This is the outer boundary of the cell that controls what can enter/exit the cell and what cannot. It also protects the cell from any physical threat outside of it. The plasma membrane is like the walls of a building and the channels that allow substances (salts, water, and calcium) to enter the cell are like doors and windows to the building. It’s essential that the channels function well so that they don’t let harmful substances in or non harmful substances but in dangerous amounts.
The cytoplasm is a jelly like fluid that fills the inside of the cell. It keeps the cell plump and it allows different organelles to float inside of it. The organelles are not to be confused with organs which we discussed a few posts back. Organelles are microscopic components of the cell that each serves a different function essential for the cell’s survival. For example, the smooth endoplasmic reticulum is a type of organelle which breaks down fats, creates cholesterol and some sex hormones. Meanwhile, the mitochondria are the power house of the cell. It’s a type of organelle which is our energy factory and essentially breaks down sugar in order to provide the body with available energy. Lysosomes are spherical organelles which detect and destroy invading bacteria and cell debris. In a similar way, perioxisomes destroy harmful chemicals like alcohol, formaldehyde, and free radicals. Another essential organelle is the golgi apparatus; it’s like a traffic director or a postage office. The golgi apparatus packages proteins made inside the cell and sends them in the right direction. The proteins that it packages are made in the cell inside organelles called ribosomes.
The nucleus is like the control centre of the cell. It’s a computer or a design department. This spherical organelle usually lies in the centre of the cell. The nucleus is a genetic library which contains instructions needed to build nearly all of our body’s proteins. Most cells only have one nucleus, some specialized cells (like muscle, bone, and liver cells) have multiple. And mature red blood cells are the only cells which don’t contain a nucleus at all.
These organelles are essential to the cell function; if one of the organelle types begins to malfunction the entire cell may suffer and as a consequent our whole body may be thrown off balance. And so, in our journey on body wellness we will ensure that our lifestyle aids us in maintaining appropriate function of all part of the cell.