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Why Aren’t We Taught How Our Bodies Function?

Even though those of you reading this are a variety of ages, I’ll bet most, if not all of you, never learned anatomy and physiology in Junior, Middle or Senior High School. I certainly didn’t. I knew how to do Algebra I and II and III, learned about Chemistry (a lot about the periodic table!), managed to skip Physics, and struggled through many years of French, of which I remember maybe a couple dozen words! But not how my body works…not how digestion begins before we even eat the first bite of food. Not how fats are emulsified or not and where, and what happens when they aren’t. Why some folks can eat fast food and don’t seem to be adversely affected (at least for awhile), and I throw up if I eat fried foods.

We are bombarded with “diets” and the “experts'” opinions (which seem to change drastically over time) and is it no wonder that so many of my clients don’t know what is healthy FOR THEM. And that is the key: what is healthy for each individual, not a one-size-fits-nobody approach to nutrition. There are many “ways” of eating, and many preachers and apostles of what is “correct.” I’m going to put some highlights of our classes here on anatomy and physiology, as well as Michael Moore’s approach, and walk everyone through the process of digestion and its sometimes discontents. And those “problems” or symptoms turn out to be keys to what is not functioning properly and why! what a concept…

and here’s a little graphic that says a lot….:

4 thoughts on “Why Aren’t We Taught How Our Bodies Function?

  1. Well, I do remember learning about body systems in grade 9 (?) biology because I had to get up in front of the class and review the reproductive system!! I didn’t learn any of the above topics until nursing school and that came with the Western medicine bias, so I will enjoy reading what you post over the nest little while.
    btw, in response to your previous article, I still haven’t found the discipline to write down what I eat but I think about it daily.

    1. Well, maybe we did study it and I was staring out the window! At any rate, not much stuck…though I do remember doing various drawings of parts of the body. That seemed pretty fascinating.
      At least you are thinking about what you eat! When I did that process 13 years ago I was shocked; I changed my diet after the week was up…

  2. Hi Cathy,

    I must be unusual with my educational experiences. Graduated hs in 1970. 7th grade I had my first biology class, dissected frogs and worms and learned also the human organs and what they did… Of course no info on the immune system… Spleen? It’s not important, we were taught…

    Then, sophomore yr in hs, more biology. Still loved it. Had to memorize the major bones of the body. And we did interesting experiments, like mapping/categorizing the tasting areas of our tongues, tasting PTC paper (some could, others couldn’t), and we def learned more about body parts/organs… but of course they still skipped the sex organs, lol! But the other organs? Had to memorize their functions & major parts, like parts of the heart, the three sections to the intestines, etc. Learned the appendix was “vestigial”, ie, had no known use and whatever it used to be back in evolution, it had no use cuz it could be removed and we’d still live… Learned very little about the hormone system, still.

    And I loved biology! Btw, I was educated in north central Illinois, on “track two” – for college bound kids. I had a science class each year: 7th grade: biology; 8th grade: earth science; 9th grade: physical science; 10th grade: biology; 11th grade: chemistry.

    My Sr yr, science was optional and I could choose either no science, or adv biology or physics. Well I didn’t like chemistry (poor teacher combined with dislike of math) and physics was said to be similar to chem, so I opted for adv biology. Loved it, went into much greater depth, memorized lots more bones, learned lots more about the organs, dissected a fetal pig, learned muscles & did lots of experiments – learned about the Krebs cycle, mitochondria, cell parts, DNA, rna, learned abt genetics and did fruit fly experiments… and lots more!

    So I had lots of biology ed in Jr high and hs. Def learned the digestive system, what foods were healthy, learned the 4 parts to the foods (dairy, meat, veggies, breads) and how to eat healthy (this info was also taught in mandatory home ec classes, which I hated!) and I was taught what the vitamins/minerals were and what they did for the body, and what could happen when we were deficient (think beri-beri and scurvy, etc). Learned digestion starts with one’s first bite if food, so chew yr food well so it would mix with your saliva, the very first step of digestion…

    But it was all blah-blah to us rebellious teenagers. We wolfed our foods and loved candy and pizza and MacDonalds!!! We’d eat what we wanted! Eff those adults!!! LOL!!!

    I was prepared well to continue studies in biology in college, where in Anatomy and physiology class I already knew 90% of the muscles and bones, and the body’s organs. Finally, I was formally taught about reproduction & the sexual organs!!! Learned the female reproductive cycle and various hormones associated with it. Dissected another fetal pig – boring, already had done that! And so it went.

    So I guess my secondary science ed was unusual…

    But truthfully, biology was only my second love… gym class was def my first love!!! Lol!!!

    Yes, I had 4 yrs of French, too. And four yrs of despised math. Did ok in algebra 1&2 and adv algebra, loved geometry, hated trig (bad teacher). What remains of the French are various words and phrases, like I’m hungry /thirsty (j’ai faim/soif), where is the bathroom (ou est la salle de bain), and odd things… Conversation? Not really.

    I was greatly involved with our city food co-op during college and afterwards, till I went to massage school. The Co-op was where I learned a LOT about various nutrition theories and approaches to eating. A lot was extreme, great emphasis on fasting. And there was much info on the importance of organic food and the nastiness of chemicals/additives put in foods.

    Nutrition was a favorite self-taught subject for me.

    But being poor and living on the road taught me one never refuses what food is offered, be it great womyn’s festival foods or mac n cheese and hotdogs in the homes of other working poor. There were times, more often than not, when all I cld afford was to eat off Micky d’s dollar menu. Def cldnt afford organic food, and those that wander don’t hv gardens… and I’m a super taster, I can taste the chems pesticides on veggies… So I rarely ate veggies cuz of that.

    Now? I’m settled. Still no place for a garden, tho, living in the city. Won’t eat most veggies unless they’re organic cuz if the taste. Esp potatoes. What a taste diff there!

    I like the “macrobiotic” approach to food – eat what grows in your geographic region and eat with the seasons as they turn thru the year. Fruits when they’re naturally available, ditto for most veggies. Root veggies and meat in the winter. Yogurt and butter are very good. And eggs. That’s me in the upper midwest/Wisconsin.

    Two rules I try to live by. If you can’t eat it, don’t put it on yr skin, is the first. Second one is, nature knows what she’s doing, eat as close to nature as possible. Butter vs margarine? Is margarine found in nature? Nope. Therefore, choose butter. Ditto ditto ditto… apply as needed.

    So I’m off on a diatribe combined with a walk down memory lane. Thanks for listening, if you made it this far…

    I miss seeing you at Michfest. I miss all the womyn’s fests that used to be…

    Hope all is well with you, Cathy, and that love in its many forms continues to bless you.

    Ah ho, Mullein

    Sent from my Windows Phone ________________________________

    1. yes I read the whole thing! thank you!!
      The major difference between what I’m learning/teaching and the medical approach is the difference in paradigms. That’s what is so interesting to my class, which includes 3 professional bodyworkers. Although the nurse studying to be a nurse practitioner had to drop out because of time constraints, even she was fascinated by the difference in what gets presented to nurses versus what we’re studying…

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