Greetings, dear readers
Within the confines of our bodies, we host a surprising number of systems, all of which work together to keep us alive and functioning. Some of these biological networks, such as the digestive, reproductive and nervous systems, are well known by many people who have often learnt about them during the period of time spent in school. Other systems, for example the integumentary, lymphatic and vestibular systems, often go unappreciated by those who have not been informed of their existence. In this post, our aim is to briefly identify each of the eleven main systems and what they do for the human body.
The circulatory system, also known as the cardiovascular system, is responsible for carrying blood all around the body. By doing so, it delivers oxygen and nutrients to the cells, takes any cell debris and other waste products away from them and distributes heat throughout the body. The main components of the circulatory system are the heart, the blood vessels – which can be divided into arteries, veins and capillaries – and blood itself.
The digestive or excretory system manages the processing of food, breaking it down into protein, carbohydrates, fats, vitamins and minerals so that they can be absorbed into the body and used to energise it, fuel its growth and enable any repairs that need to be made. It also allows the body to remove bulk amounts of waste from the body that cannot be handled by other systems. The organs involved in the digestive systems are the mouth, oesophagus, stomach, intestines and anus.
Another recognised physiological structure is the respiratory system, which is in charge of drawing air into the body, exchanging the oxygen brought by it with carbon dioxide that is produced by the body and filling the blood cells with small amounts of oxygen before sending them off to the circulatory system. The components of the respiratory system are the nose, the larynx, the trachea, the bronchi and the lungs.
The muscular or skeletal system is responsible for exactly what it sounds like it would be responsible for. It is comprised of bones, cartilage and joints as well as different kinds of muscle such as skeletal, smooth and cardiac muscle. The bones are mainly used to support the body and its organs whilst muscles facilitate movement of the aforementioned bones and other processes, such as shifting digested food along the intestines or causing the heart to pump blood around the body, and further stabilise the skeleton.
It has been said that the nervous system is the most important system in the body. This could be because it organises the collection and processing of information delivered to the body via the five senses, using this information to control and coordinate the rest of the body. It is often split into two parts: the central nervous system – which gathers biological data from the body seeing, hearing, tasting, smelling and feeling, and sends out nerve impulses in response to it – and the peripheral nervous system – which carries messages from the brain and spinal cord to the muscles and glands. The peripheral nervous system is further divided into the autonomic and somatic nervous systems. The autonomic nervous system regulates involuntary bodily actions, such as the heart beat, whereas the somatic nervous system is associated with conscious movements of the muscles and bones, such as movement of the limbs. Its components include the brain, the spinal cord, the nerves and nerve endings.
Running parallel to the nervous system is the endocrine system, which consists of glands – mainly the pituitary, thyroid, parathyroid and adrenal glands – that produce messengers known as hormones after communicating with the nerves via specific signals. Hormones control a good number of significant functions, such as metabolism, growth and sexual development. Other organs involved with the endocrine system are the liver, the pancreas, the kidneys and the gonads – which are the testes in males and the ovaries in females.
As mentioned before, the integumentary or exocrine system is less well known compared to others despite how visually it aids the human body. It exists to protect the body from external damage and is made up of an individual’s skin, hair, nails and other exocrine glands such as their sweat glands. The integumentary system protects deeper tissues by being waterproof, removes waste from the surface layers of the body, helps to regulate body temperature and is attached to various sensory receptors such as those that detect pressure, temperature, pain and other sensations.
The lymphatic and immune systems work hand in hand to defend the body from pathogens or disease causing agents and rid it of excess fluids and other waste that could be obstructing cell function. It is made up of four components known as lymph vessels, central lymphoid tissues – such as bone marrow – and peripheral lymphoid organs – such as the spleen and lymph nodes. Lymphocytes are the fourth components, which travel around the body to guard it against any infectious agents that may enter it.
The renal or urinary system is responsible for the excretion of nitrogenous waste, which is produced by the body during certain metabolic processes, and for balancing the amount of fluid and acid in the body. Retaining excess nitrogen, acid and other fluids can disrupt the natural function of other systems and cause damage to the body, particularly over long periods of time. The renal system is made up of the kidneys, ureters, bladder and urethra.
As its name suggests, the reproductive system exists to facilitate the production of offspring and is comprised of the testes in males and the ovaries and uterus in females. Physiological problems with any of these organs can lead to changes in the hormone production of the body and result in the integumentary system being compromised.
The vestibular system allows the human body to have a sense of balance and controls their spatial orientation. It is made up of the utricle, saccule and three semicircular canals, all of which can be found in the ear. Diseases or damage to the vestibular system could cause symptoms, such as loss of balance and a lack of spatial awareness, which may vary from mild to severe depending on the state of the individual suffering from them.
We hope that this information has benefitted you, our dear readers, and we would love to hear from you. Comments, questions and weekly topic suggestions are always welcomed and greatly appreciated.
Thank you for reading!
The Pure Therapy Team