Structure and Function
“Daddy, how does my body heal when I get sick?”
Imagine having to try to answer that question in depth! Very few people can. And not knowing the answer can cause you a lot of trouble:
- You won’t really know if what your doctor is telling you is valid or not.
- You can’t take effective action that you know will help your body to heal; you have to rely on the opinions of “experts” who don’t have all the specifics of your condition.
- You won’t know if your diet and lifestyle are helping or hurting your health.
What people most need to understand about their bodies are the basics of healing. You could call this “Understanding my Body 101.”
Here is my first installment of this series, “Understanding Structure and Function”
Your body exists on two different planes:
Structure: The physical part of your body, made up from cells and the material in between the cells. This is the part of your body that you can see.
Function: The intelligence and information that operates the body’s structure. You could think of this as the function of the nervous system and hormone system, since these control the tissue of your body by following the commands coming from your body’s intelligence.
An example of Function and Structure: If you use a business as an analogy, the STRUCTURE would be the business’s building, the desks, pencils and any equipment. The business’s FUNCTION would be the strategic planning, information on how to create the products, training the staff had about their jobs, etc.
- If you burned down the building and destroyed the structure, then the function (the founder, executives, staff and the business information) could recreate the structure and the business could resume operation.
- On the other hand, if you eliminated all the function (fired all the staff and executives, shredded all the files and sent the founder of the business on a permanent trip to Tahiti), you’d be left with a building containing a bunch of used furniture and equipment… but the business would be gone.
You can see from this example that FUNCTION monitors and controls STRUCTURE, not the other way around.
This is critical information in healthcare, because medicine operates by using drugs and surgery to change STRUCTURE with the hope of fixing FUNCTIONAL problems. This works in short-term emergency situations where the function is largely undisturbed and the damage is mainly structural (trauma, for example). It does not work for chronic (long-term) illness and conditions where the problem is mainly functional and structural damage is DUE TO FUNCTIONAL FAILURES.
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