The Body’s Traffic Controller

I find myself in awe every time I am at an airport, taxiing up the runway and anxiously anticipating take off. (Disclaimer: I do not fly often, which adds to my amusement.) Say what you would like about check-in, security, flight delays, and the baggage claim-it takes some amazing orchestration to keep everything running smoothly with relative ease and only seldom hiccups. Air traffic controllers handle an average of 64 million take-offs and landings in one year. Thinking about the communication that goes into handling 70,000 flights daily, and 7,000 planes in the US skies alone at any given moment, I can’t help but think if there is anything else that comes close to that level of coordination.

I didn’t need to stretch my brain too far to come up with something. When is the last time you had to consciously think to breath, or think about whether your heart was beating or not? Do you ever think about what goes on with the food you eat once you have consumed it? How is it breaking down to be converted to fuel for your body and eventually reaching its “end stage”? When you go outside to walk or run wherever your destination may be, do you have to consciously alert all of the muscles and joints in your body to move and function, keeping you upright and mobile?

The simple answer? Our bodies are AMAZING and performing countless processes all of the time to not only keep us alive, but to keep up with the daily demands we place on ourselves.

Our bodies do all of these things, for over 75 years on average. The conductor behind all of this is our brain, sending messages through our spinal cord and out to where they need to be. Our brains are master communicators, sending messages throughout the body through nerve cells called neurons. We have over 100 billion of these neurons, each firing over 200 times per second and individually connecting to 1,000 other neurons. Doing the math, about 20 million billion bits of information move around our brains every second. Wow.

Keep this in mind the next time you pull an all-nighter or find yourself mentally fatigued. Your body is working hard for you all the time. It is typically only when problems arise that we really pay close attention to our bodies. Treat it well, and it will continue to do the best it can in keeping your most vital functions going all while being largely unnoticed.

What are some things you can do to be nice to your brain and body? Dr. Zak and I like to give each other weekly adjustments to keep our bodies functioning at their best. Making sure the nervous system is free to function without interference in the spine allows all of the communication between our brain and body to take place most efficiently. We also work to get plenty of rest, exercise, and staying fueled properly (food AND adequate hydration!).

Now that you know how hard your brain is working for you all the time, remember to slow down once in awhile and give yourself a break.


In good health,

Dr. Emily