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Running The Human Automobile
Category: WHY WE HAVE A STOMACH
Source: A Handbook Of Health
The Body-Automobile. If you were to start to-morrow morning on a
long-distance ride in an automobile, the first thing that you would do
would be to find out just how that automobile was built; how often it
must have fresh gasoline; how its different speed gears were worked;
what its tires were made of; how to mend them; and how to cure engine
troubles. To attempt to run an automobile, for even a ten-mile ride,
with less information than this, would be regarded as foolhardy.
Yet most of us are willing to set out upon the journey of life in the
most complicated, most ingenious, and most delicate machine ever
made--our body--with no more knowledge of its structure than can be
gained from gazing in the looking-glass; or of its needs, than a
preference for filling up its fuel tank three times a day. More
knowledge than this is often regarded as both unnecessary and
unpleasant. Yet there are few things more important, more vital to our
health, our happiness, and our success in life, than to know how to
steer and how to road-repair our body-automobile. This we can learn only
from physiology and hygiene.
The General Plan of the Human Automobile is Simple. Complicated as our
body-automobile looks to be, there are certain things about the plan
and general build of it which are plain enough. It has a head end, where
fuel supplies are taken in and where its lamps and other look-out
apparatus are carried; a body in which the fuel is stored and turned
into work or speed, and into which air is drawn to help combustion and
to cool the engine pipes. It has a pair of fore-wheels (the arms) and a
pair of hind-wheels (the legs), though these have been reduced to only
one spoke each, and swing only about a quarter of the way around and
back again when running, instead of round and round. It has a steering
gear (the brain), just back of the headlights, and a system of nerve
electric wires connecting all parts of it. It gets warm when it runs,
and stops if it is not fed.
BE REGARDED AS FOOLHARDY]
There is not an unnecessary part, or unreasonable cog, anywhere in the
whole of our bodies. It is true that there are a few little remnants
which are not quite so useful as they once were, and which sometimes
cause trouble. But for the most part, all we have to do is to look long
and carefully enough at any organ or part of our bodies, to be able to
puzzle out just what it is or was intended to do, and why it has the
shape and size it has.
Why the Study of Physiology is Easy. There is one thing that helps to
make the study of physiology quite easy. It is that you already know a
good deal about your body, because you have had to live with it for a
number of years past, and you can hardly have helped becoming somewhat
acquainted with it during this time.
You have, also, another advantage, which will help you in this study.
While your ideas of how to take care of your body are rather vague, and
some of them wrong, most of them are in the main right, or at least lead
you in the right direction. You all know enough to eat when you are
hungry and to drink when you are thirsty, even though you don't always
know when to stop, or just what to eat. You like sunny days better than
cloudy ones, and would much rather breathe fresh air than foul. You like
to go wading and swimming when you are hot and dusty, and you don't need
to be told to go to sleep when you are tired. You would much rather have
sugar than vinegar, sweet milk than sour milk; and you dislike to eat or
drink anything that looks dirty or foul, or smells bad.
These inborn likes and dislikes--which we call instincts--are the
forces which have built up this wonderful body-machine of ours in the
past and, if properly understood and trained, can be largely trusted to
run it in the future. How to follow these instincts intelligently, where
to check them, where to encourage them, how to keep the proper balance
between them, how to live long and be useful and happy--this is what the
interesting study of physiology and hygiene will teach you.
Next: What Keeps Us Alive