Communication! It permeates our lives. We communicate for many reasons such as: 1) to get what we want, 2) to get rid of what we don’t want, 3) to let people know how we feel, 4) to show people we care, 5) to work productively with co-workers, etc. As members of the human race we are fortunate to have various ways to communicate our needs and desires. We can talk, use body language, write our requests or key them into the computer.
But what would happen if we spoke one language and the intended receiver of our message spoke another language. Or perhaps we are speaking on the phone to a friend and static interfers so much that they only hear some of our words or we say one word and they hear it as a different word. Perhaps we are sending our message via computer but some of the keys are either missing or mixed up. That could cause some confusion, right? And the more static or more keys that are missing, the more confused the message is. On the other hand the better we can communicate with other people, the higher level we can function at.
Did you know that the same thing happens in our body? Our body is designed to function at an amazing level. When we think of how complicated our body is, of all the things that could go wrong, and of how much actually goes right without our even thinking about it, it is truly amazing. But why do things sometimes go wrong?
Our body is made up of various systems (circulatory, nervous, muscular, etc) that are made up of organs (heart, lungs, blood vessels) that are made up of cells. To understand the importance of communication in our body, let’s take a look at what would happen if our body was a business.
If our body was a company, our systems would be the various departments in the company, our organs would be the teams of people working together within each department, and the cells would be each individual person within the teams. The individual people are the powerhouses of the company. If they are doing what they are supposed to do, when and how they are supposed to, and if they are communicating well to each other to get their individual needs met, then the team will work well. If the teams are working well and communicating so their needs are met, the department will work well. And if all departments are communicating and getting their needs met, the company is successful. But if communication brakes down at any level, it puts the success of the company in jeopardy.
Just as people power companies, our cells power our bodies. So what do our cells need and how do they communicate to each other? Let’s look at their needs first. In order to work optimally our cells require nutrients which they use to produce energy and repair themselves. This process produces waste materials which they must eliminate. And they must identify themselves as to what kind of cells they are and if they are native to our body or if they are an intruder (virus, bad bacteria, etc). Each cell is covered with glycoproteins (much like a fuzzy ball). When our cells touch each other these glycoproteins pass messages from one cell to another. The glycoproteins are comprised of variations of 4 proteins and 8 essential sugars (also called carbohydrates or saccharides).
If all glycoproteins are completely formed (no missing sugars or proteins), the message gets passed along intact and the needs of the cell are satisfied. However, just like having static on the phone lines or missing keys on the computer keyboard; if something is missing from the glycoproteins, communication breaks down and the cell either doesn’t get what it needs or is sabotaged by sending out a wrong message.
What happens if a cell doesn’t get the nutrients it needs to produce energy or repair itself?
Oooh! Energy drain! Premature aging!
What happens if it‘s message to get rid of waste material is not understood?
Ouch! Toxin build-up! Yuck!
What if it is an invading virus but the body doesn’t know it because of faulty cell communication?
Cold? Flu? Pneumonia? _____?
What if it is in fact a native cell that gives out a message that is interpreted by another cell that it is an invader?
Oh-oh! The macrophages are called in to eat it up pac-man style. If this happens frequently enough, we will eventually be diagnosed with one of the 85 known auto-immune diseases.
Wow! Did you have any idea how important each of your cells is (yes, all trillions of them). So how do we keep our cells communicating? It is in the glycoproteins. If our glycoproteins are complete and properly formed, our cells are happily sending and receiving the right messages. Highly functioning cells make highly functioning organs, which make highly functioning systems, which make a highly functioning body for us. The bottom line is getting the right nutrition so our cells can make complete and properly formed glycoproteins.