As we dive further into wellness, we will continue to explore the way that the incredible human body is built.
The body is like a machine with many small parts which work together to keep us moving and living.
These parts are made of very specific materials that allow our bodies to function the way that they do. Just like the stretchy elastic properties of a balloon allow it to expand and fill with air, the properties of our bodily tissues also allow them to function and fulfill their jobs appropriately. Our bodies are composed of four main types of tissues.
Epithelial tissue is the material that forms our glands (carrier tubes which release and carry hormones). It is also the tissue that lines the internal and external surfaces of our organs. Epithelial tissue is made up of layers of closely packed cells which have the ability to quickly regenerate. This means that if part of the tissue gets damaged the organ it surrounds remains protected as the epithelial cells rapidly grow to patch up the damage. This tissue also acts as the gatekeeper to many organs. It regulates the movement of molecules in and out, assisting the passage of some and restricting the entrance of others. It’s essential that epithelial tissue only permit entrance to the appropriate substances so that damaging ones do not have a way in.
This material is found in many different areas of the body; it is diverse and versatile. Connective tissue makes up the body’s bones, fat, blood, ligaments (attaches bone to bone), tendons (connects bone to muscle), cartilage (allows more flexibility than bone), and dermis (the outer layer of our skin). The bones and dermis serve to provide structure and protection. They have rigid properties. Meanwhile, the fat acts as a reservoir for energy. The connective tissue that comprises the cartilage, ligaments, and tendons has string like strands of elastic fibres which provide flexibility and movement.
There are three types of muscular tissues: skeletal muscle, cardiac muscle, and smooth muscle. Muscle is soft, elastic, and is filled with contractile protein filaments (bands that can shorten or lengthen the muscle). Skeletal muscle is attached to bones and contracts when we want it to. It’s a voluntary muscular tissue which allows us to walk, sit, dance, and form facial expressions. Cardiac muscle on the other hand is involuntary; it steadily contracts without us thinking about it. Cardiac muscle cells all contract simultaneously. This happens because of intercalated discs (tunnels) that allow the electrical signal causing contraction to instantly move through the cells. Although smooth muscle tissue is also involuntary, it contracts in different patterns. It lines our organs and ensures that our blood vessels adjust in diameter to allow appropriate blood pressure, that our bladder holds our urine before we get to the restroom, and that our stomach digests our food and keeps it moving through our body.
Much of the nervous tissue lies in our control centre, the brain and the spinal cord (as mentioned in the last post). This tissue allows for information to be relayed and for commands to be sent out. Some of the tissue acts like the touch pad on a tablet, picking up sensation and sending it to the control centre. The control centre responds by then displaying something on the tablet, or in the case of a human body, by causing our hand to move away from a hot surface.
When we discuss wellness we will focus on maintaining the appropriate properties of each body tissue. If we imagine constantly stretching out a balloon, it will eventually lose its ability to recoil.
In a similar way if we do not take appropriate care of our bodily tissues they will lose their essential characteristics that allow them to function in the right way.