Homeostatic Balance — The Perfect Diet

why-we-need-antioxidans-360x240     For us humans, comprehension of homeostatic balance can bear much fruit and be of great value.  Look at our own bodies; enormously complex living organisms. Our body requires supplies in order to maintain optimal existence. To maintain homeostatic balance, it is very beneficial to understand what kind of supplies are needed by the body and how much of each.  What is the perfect diet?  In the past eons of time, our digestive system evolved to break down and assimilate the supplies that were found in our natural environment; vegetables found growing around us, and meats from the animals we could catch or raise.  Our life mechanisms are specifically designed to process the types of supplies in the living vegetables and meats we find around us.

At present we have evolved to a state where we have a choice about the things we put into our body, yet we cannot cheat physical laws.  For our 70 trillion living cells, there is nothing more important than the supplies we choose to give them.  We can see this even in very simple systems, like a car motor.  If we put sugar in the gas tank of a car, we will soon find that the motor is not designed to handle sugar and soon the sticky residues that build up will cause the motor to stop working.  Even though the sugar has ample energy, it cannot be utilized by the engine.  The same principle is true when dealing with the cells in our bodies.  If we were to drink gasoline, for example, then our cells would eventually stop working and our body would die.  Our cells are not built to utilize the energy in gasoline.  If we supply the body with things it cannot use, it must get rid of them somehow or store them. If we do not supply the cells in our body with the needed supplies or too many of these supplies, life processes slow down, healthy homeostatic balance is disturbed and eventually life ceases.  In other words, if we do not eat well, we will literally get sick and die.

One poignant feature of the Standard American Diet (SAD) is the excess of easily digestible calories and abundance of ingredients the body cannot use.  When scientists examined hundreds of factors that could correlate to a long life in the U.S., they found that there was only one aspect of our diet that correlates to a longer life; only a diet with caloric restriction (less calories) correlates to a longer life.  There is nothing else; they found no magic food or vitamin, no drug, no mineral, no antioxidant or exotic plant that helped prolong life. This means for us that if we wish to live longer, we simply need to eat less calories.

Over time, life will evolve and adapt to new types and quantities of foods, but it takes tens of thousands of years for any organism to adapt to a new environment it is not equipped to handle.  So one of the first things we learn about ourselves from the principle of homeostatic balance is that proper diet is the most important factor in recovering, maintaining and sustaining health. If we do not give the body the perfect balance of the supplies it requires, some of the processes of life will not be sustained and we will sufferThere is no way to get around it.

After years of studies, using the best information we have available about micronutrient theories and in understanding the supplies made available to and needed by our cells, I have finally found the perfect combination and proportion of nutrients, vitamins, minerals, probiotics to exactly supply us with an optimal supply of nutrients. The perfect solution I found is … broccoli … also squash, carrots, kale, leafy greens, cucumbers, carrots, peppers, herbs…all the raw living foods that are found in the produce section of our markets. I have found that in living plants we find perfectly packaged bundles of the exact combination of nutrient supplies and probiotics that our body uses to sustain abundant life, ideal packages of nutrients found nowhere else.

Whole grains satisfy our demand for energy and meats and proteins for the building materials. The perfect diet is: Lots of veggies and some fruits every meal, a little meat once in a while; a bit of carbs in the mornings to get things going and a bit of protein at night to help repair muscle…nothing else.  Your body will tell you when you get it right. Pass up the chips and sodas, the convenience foods, processed sugar, bleached grains, processed foods, or fads.

Extending this to a larger view.  Our society must be set up to provide us with the supplies we require individually. Farmers get up every morning to grow the crops needed to supply nutrients needed for our bodies. Here is again a perfect example of the principle of homeostatic balance. A farmer takes the right amount of seeds and supplies, derived from nature: water, natural fertilizers, and relies on the energy from the sun to grow the seeds into the nutrients we use in our bodies.

With this, another factor comes into play, the farmer’s labor is an essential asset. In fact, if you think about it, our whole economic system is set up to motivate us to supply the required materials we all want and need. Every farm and business operates on the principle of homeostatic balance. We use acquired resources and work to provide supplies and/or resources for other people and organizations. By doing so living societies sustain themselves, all of their members have the required resources to sustain life. Ideally, governments and social norms are set up to detect and correct the imbalances that appear from time to time.  It is all about homeostatic balance.


Universal Truths of Life Will Prevail

Why do scientists and researchers go rambling on about universal principles, such as gravitation and homeostatic balance discussed in the last post?  A universal principal creates the framework for understanding truths that can generate immense advances in technology.  As a medical researcher, these truths can translate into technologies that not only save lives, but give us dominance over our health and quality of life.  As a counterexample, modern pharmaceuticals largely have only one “active molecule” that have to be present in large amounts in order to force themselves past the liver and other filters in our body that are designed to keep the homeostatic balance of these molecules.  Forcing an invasion of one molecule on the body may solve one problem, but often will place other body systems out of balance.  Such “side effects” can then be treated with other pharmaceuticals designed to solve such problems.  Costly cocktails of medications are sometimes needed to keep everything in balance.  The irony is that often inexpensive natural foods have the same active ingredients found in these medications, but in relatively perfect balance already.  The pharmaceutical industry, however, largely ignores foods as medication, somewhat because they can patent and sell a single molecule for a large profit, but the same profit is not possible for a food.  Natural foods do offer balanced solutions to our body systems.  Ignoring the principle of homeostatic balance will ultimately have serious negative consequences.

Have you ever heard the children’s story where an industrious hen goes to bake a loaf of bread. Along the way she seeks help from a lazy cat. She asks the cat, “Will you help me thrash the grain?” The cat replies that he has better things to do. The hen replies, “Then I will do it by myself”. She asks a cow “Will you help me grind the grain?” The cow also refuses to help. Along the way she asks other barnyard friends to help her mix, knead, roll and bake the dough. They all refused. At the end, the hen has a steaming hot tray of fresh homemade bread sliced and covered with melting butter. “Will any of you help me eat the bread?”, she asks her friends who have gathered around the house, attracted by the irresistible aroma. They all answer, “I will”. In the story the hen refuses, saying that she will eat it by herself.  You cannot help but notice that this story represents a system in severe homeostatic imbalance and supposing that the bread were the sole source of nutrition, could not be sustained very long. Maybe the hungry animals would riot and steal the bread or perhaps her kindly uncle Sam would insist that she share her “plentiful” bread with her friends. In a perfect world, she would give all of them a taste and then if they wanted more, she would teach them all how they could make her delicious bread for themselves, or perhaps ask for “mouse service” or “milk service” or some other compensation in exchange for bread. In some instances, I have heard that governments have taken almost everything from the laborers, giving everything it to the “urban starving masses” (or entitled) leaving the laborers only scraps from the fruits of their own labors. Obvious, to most of us, this represents a severe homeostatic imbalance and will inevitably end in the destruction of society, history is full of the details.

In order to have a stable, sustainable, living system, a homeostatic balance must exist. Every cell in our body, every body in our society, indeed every form of life on earth relies on regulated systems to bring them the supplies they need to sustain life. In our bodies, these systems are already built and in place. Our blood in the circulatory system distributes the molecular supplies needed by each of our trillions of cells. Insulin, and a host of other messengers, regulate the amount of sugars and other necessary supplies in our blood. Our cells form tissues, supplied by blood vessels, coexist in vast connected and interrelated communities that provide structure and produce the hundreds of supplies that the other tissues and organs use. It is easy to see that if any of these systems failed at their task, the whole organism would eventually die. All of this regulated and governed by the universal principle of homeostatic balance. I hope we can fully understand the extensive implications of this principle in time.

The most fundamental systems in our body are designed to maintain homeostatic balance.  Providing all the cells in the body with a balance of nutrients is our job.  We can discuss the perfect diet in this light in future posts.  The repair and replacement of dysfunctional cells is the job of the reduction/oxidation (redox) signaling system.  We can discuss how to keep the redox signaling system in balance.  I just could not resist to talk about the beautiful concept of homeostatic balance first.  I hope we can continue this journey of discovery together.


The Universal Truth of Life – Homeostatic Balance

What is the greatest scientific discovery of all time? If we were to ask ourselves this question, some of the greatest accomplishments of science during the last centuries might come to mind: rockets launching into space, microscopic images of cells, electrical power, lasers firing, the discovery of a seemingly infinite variety of complex living organisms. As a physicist, my vantage point for all these impressive accomplishments is a little different than for most people. After years of study, it is clear that all of these accomplishments are based on the understanding of just a handful of basic universal truths that have been discovered along the path. When I see the fiery tail of a rocket disappearing into the clouds, I think of our understanding of the laws of universal gravitation, enabling us to plot the trajectory into space. Our comprehension of universal principles enables us to accomplish extraordinary things. Our understanding of the nature of light enables us to build lasers, our understanding of the quantum nature of the atom enables us to make new materials, build molecules and electronics and extract vast amounts of energy from atoms. So I measure the greatest discoveries of mankind as those that give us universal truths. What universal truth allows us to understand life in all its complexity and beauty?

The greatest discovery about life and living organisms may be based on just one simple universal truth, one underlying governing principle applicable to all life. Our comprehension of this principle gives us perhaps the better insight into life than any other. It has to do with what keeps us alive and how we work as living organisms in society. If we fully understand this one fundamental principle, we have immense power to build and affect all life. The name given this principle is: homeostatic balance. Actually, it has many names; in economics it is known as supply and demand, in chemistry it is known as dynamic equilibrium, the common general term is simply “balance”. Life is literally is a dynamic process, a system that keeps everything in homeostatic balance. Without such a balance, life cannot sustain itself. In order to survive, life must have the necessary mechanisms required to bring things back into balance just when they start getting out of balance.

This concept is so rich that we could spend years exploring all the implications. This principle applies to all aspects of life, from the molecular interactions inside and outside cells and tissues to the rules that govern our societies and govern our relationships to all life in the universe. To get quickly to the core of this principle, consider the fact that all types of life (cells, tissues, organs, organisms, societies, nations, global communities) must be supplied with basic materials (like oxygen, food, water, etc.) All life processes require basic supplies in order to produce the biological molecules and structures needed for life. In order for the processes of life to be sustained, a homeostatic balance must be maintained between the supplies coming in and the products of life. This means that the needed supplies must come in just fast enough to match the demand for the required products. If there is an imbalance, then life cannot be sustained. For example, in our bodies, if the oxygen supply is cut off, then the processes of life do not have the necessary supply of oxygen to sustain production, life will come to a point where homeostatic balance cannot be maintained and life processes will cease.

This same principle also applies to any manufacturing industry in our society, the lack or excess of any supply throws off the balance. The cost of storing excess inventory or dealing with supply shortages over time becomes a prohibitive obstacle and things slow down. If there are not enough or too many supplies coming in to match the demand, or if production speed does not match demand, then over time inventories will become excessive or depleted, the cost to manage the imbalanced system will be prohibitive, competition will dominate, the business will fail and all activity will cease. With industrial as well as economic systems, homeostatic balance is essentially health and life.

At first it might seem a bit strange that this principle of homeostatic balance is truly a discovery, when it comes to living organisms and organizations, it seems like a fairly obvious principle. Yet if you spend just a minute or two in contemplation, you will see that all life, all society, all economic systems, all our motivations, wishes and desires are governed by this very principle. We, as organisms, are built to desire the objects that give us an ample supply of the things that we need to sustain life. Food provides security. Cars supply us with mobility and wider influence. Houses shelter us and make us secure. We work hard to secure such objects.   In order for such a secure, abundant life to be sustained, homeostatic balance must be maintained. It is worth every effort to secure systems that will maintain homeostatic balance. Isn’t it ironic that all the greatest discoveries in history are obvious, only after they have been discovered?


Welcome the new year!

I can’t help but be a little excited about the prospects of the coming year.  I felt a little buried in the last year but finally have had some time to catch my balance again.  I have had time to write down some thoughts for those who read my blog from time to time.  Early this year I aim to publish a book on Redox pathways and keep up with the posts.  In the past months, I have missed the experience of sharing ideas.  The truths that surround us fill our senses and minds.  Blogs are a wonderful way to share our vantage points on these items and come to an every greater multifaceted understanding of what is really out there.  For the first few posts, let’s start the year by looking at some of the most interesting aspects of life.

May we all take full advantage of life in the time we are given!

-Gary L. Samuelson Ph.D.


Redox Signaling — How do we get diabetes?

Diabetes is an insidious, degenerative disease causing gradual loss of organ and limb function, often resulting in rotting of tissue, ulcers, amputation, blindness and a miserable death. Throughout thousands of years of recorded history it has been relatively rare affecting less than 0.1% of the population, as far as we know. Since the late 1920’s however the prevalence of diabetes has climbed, in 1958 in the U.S.A. it was almost 1%, steadily growing to over 11% in 2014. At the current rate of growth, it will affect about 50% or more of the children being born this decade. How do we get diabetes? It is not infectious. It might be genetic, it seems to run in families. Genetic factors, however, do not account for the sharp increase over the last 50 years (2 generations). So the question remains open.

Advances in redox biochemistry, during the last 10 years, give us some great insight into the cause of diabetes on a cellular level. In the last post, we explored the analogy that sugar in the blood is like “gasoline” to the hundreds of mitochondrial furnaces that are burning inside every cell in our body. Putting too much sugar (glucose) in the blood is like throwing too much gasoline on these fires. They flare up, throwing off “smoke” (oxidants and free radicals) into the cells. The beta cells in the pancreas are a bit strange when compared to other cells, they have a great many glucose “windows” (receptors) wide open to bring in the glucose molecules, and yet they do not have very many of the antioxidant (smoke scrubber) molecules that get rid of the oxidants and free radicals (smoke) that are produced. So when an incoming flood of glucose flares up the fires inside these beta cells, there is a real crisis. Too much glucose gets in, the fires in the mitochondria flare up to dangerous levels and the oxidants and free radicals (smoke signals) quickly build up and start causing damage. As usual, the standard “smoke alarm” messengers are sent out to alert the beta-cell control centers in the genes. When beta cells in the pancreas receive the “smoke signal”, they start producing insulin. The beta cells are both sensitive and vulnerable to high levels of glucose in the blood; the bigger the oxidative stress (smoke build-up) crisis, the more insulin is produced.
The crisis workers inside the beta cells furiously manufacture and package insulin molecules, and must work in an environment choked with free radical smoke. All the workers in the beta cells are waiting and hoping for the fires to go down, for the smoke to clear up, and for the crisis to pass. Some beta cells will not make it through a bad crisis and will end up dying in the process. Recall also that high oxidative stress (smoke build-up) can cause the cell to shut itself down and kill itself. High oxidative stress also releases messengers that cause inflammation and call the immune system to combat possible infections. The immune system also tends to accidentally kill the poor beta cells on occasion when the smoke signals get too large. As you might imagine, getting the blood glucose levels down to normal is the first priority for the beta cells (as it is for the rest of the glucose-stressed, inflamed cells in the body).
Insulin is the messenger sent out to get rid of the sugar in the blood. It signals most of the tissues in the body to burn or convert the excess blood sugar into fat molecules and to store them away in our fat cells and muscles. In our modern diet, we eat easily digestible refined sugars and white breads, causing blood sugar levels to rise many times above the amount we are built to handle. The excess insulin produced in this “crisis”, in an hour or so, converts too much of the sugars to fats and causes blood sugar to drop well below healthy levels, leading to hunger pangs, loss of energy and consumption of more sugary foods. Thus causing us to repeat this destructive cycle. Imagine the poor pancreatic beta cells, working overtime, choked with smoke and when the sugar crisis is finally over, it starts all over again; literally exhausting.
Incidentally, the beta cells are not the only sugar sensitive cells like this in the body, there are glucose sensor cells found in the emotional center of the brain that react to glucose quite a bit like the stressed beta cells, except instead of producing insulin, they produce a cocktail of “feel good” hormones, including serotonin, that serve to put us in a better mood and unfortunately also reinforce our drive to eat sugar.
It often takes many thousands of years before organisms can successfully adapt to a new set of molecules found in a new environment (before they can effectively be converted and utilized as effective supplies or fuel sources). These evolutionary hypotheses have been well supported by evidence from over a century of scientific discovery. Consider this sobering fact: in just the past several decades, all of us in the world have drastically changed the types and quantities of molecules that we ingest. We instinctually go toward the easily digestible bleached grains and highly concentrated processed sugars that supply us with many times the glucose fuels that we need at any given time and are poor sources of the other nutrients. Perhaps we are programmed to crave these readily available sources of quick energy, and there is economic potential there, but we are not physiologically equipped to handle or process this amount or composition of molecules.
At the same time, we tend to avoid the less “sexy”, but most needed, nutrients in our diets, like those in broccoli. In the next few decades, we might be forced to realize that we simply do not have many millennia to adapt to the new types and quantities of molecules we have in our “modern” diet. Natural selection will play itself out. Diabetes will kill us off. All scientific evidence, so far, strongly points to the established fact that nutrition is by far the most important factor in restoring, sustaining and maintaining health. Those that eat healthy natural diets testify to this fact, they have excellent overall health; some food for thought.


Redox Signaling — Smoke Signals from Metabolic Fires



As we sit inside our cozy homes, in front of the fireplace that brings us warmth and energy, we feel the benefits and all seems well. What happens if smoke from the fire started billowing out into the room? We are immediately alerted, smoke alarms go off, we are moved to immediate action. We realize that besides providing energy, fires can be dangerous. Fire produces smoke, free radicals, carbon monoxide, sparks and ash, fires can get out of control. In order to harness the ample benefits of fire, we have made special places in our homes where the fires can be controlled. We have devices that control the fire, harvest the energy, and alert us if the smoke builds up. This scenario provides us a great analogy of what is happening inside our trillions of cells. Inside every one of our cells, fuels are delivered, like oils and gasoline (fatty acids and sugars), that burn with the provided oxygen inside an average of 200 controlled furnaces (called mitochondria) in every cell, this fire produces smoke (ROS) that is eliminated by scrubbers (antioxidants) and detected by smoke detectors (thioredoxin semaphores, Nf-kappaB). All of these devices must be in place inside our cells to harness the energy of these metabolic fires.

At the junctions inside the cells where the oxygen pathways and fuel pathways merge, the fire of life provides energy. Even on a molecular level, nothing happens without energy. The major reason that we search for food and take in oxygen is to provide the fuel molecules and oxygen molecules maintain these vital fires of life inside our cells. Within this fire of life, the universal energy molecule, ATP, is forged. ATP powers all of the molecular machines, players, instruments, everything that requires energy in our cells. Every time you blink an eye, think a thought, twitch a muscle or feel a breeze, trillions of ATP molecules are spent to fuel the action. If the fire of life were to go out, in seconds the cell would run out of its supply of ATP energy molecules and the concert of life in the cell would quickly come to an end. There is nothing more important to a cell than to keep these fires burning.

The “smoke” that comes out of these cellular fires, reactive oxygen species (ROS), composed mostly of superoxide free radicals (O2*-) and hydrogen peroxide (H2O2), increases when the fires of life flare up inside the mitochondrial furnaces. These ROS (smoke) molecules affect the semaphore molecules (smoke detectors) that, in turn, change “color” and redirect molecules along the pathways. In other words, these smoke detectors are intelligent and are wired to make changes inside the cell. This is at the essence of redox signaling. The ROS superoxide free radicals (O2*-) and hydrogen peroxide molecules (H2O2), just like smoke, are highly energetic and reactive, and can also damage certain sensitive structures in the cell (like the DNA). Thus plant and animal cells have adapted to produce various types of antioxidant enzymes (smoke scrubbers), such as glutathione and SOD that can eliminate ROS “smoke” and keep it out of sensitive areas. As might be expected, these antioxidant enzymes are tightly regulated and controlled by redox signaling networks. For example, too much hydrogen peroxide in the cell will activate the redox signaling semaphores along pathways that turn down the metabolic fires and increase the production of antioxidants (smoke scrubbers) needed to eliminate the ROS (smoke).

Many of the redox regulatory processes are aimed at maintaining proper homeostatic balance of redox potentials in all the fluids in the various parts of the cells and tissues. Shifts in the redox potential (smoke signals) of vital fluids in and around the cells will generally activate redox signaling pathways that are designed to ultimately return the redox state to “normal” again. In the past decade, we have learned that it is dangerous to try to force the elimination of all superoxide free radicals or hydrogen peroxide in our body. In fact, the body will try to counterbalance any efforts to change the established natural balance by producing more of the lacking species to compensate. In order to maintain life processes, we require well-balanced control of these types ROS in our body. There are a variety of redox signaling pathways that naturally maintain normal redox balances and potentials throughout all the fluids in our body. Without both the oxidants and the antioxidants inside these vital fluids, this homeostatic balance would quickly be destroyed, and we would surely die. ROS is an essential signaling molecule.

If we were to completely eliminate the smoke from the fires inside our cells, the smoke detector semaphores would not be activated when the fires flare up and get out of control. ROS smoke is required to make the whole system work. Without ROS smoke, the damage detection mechanisms are shut down. In the vast majority of cancer cells, for example, the redox signaling system has been shut down, the mitochondrial furnaces have been shut down, the redox detection semaphores (smoke detectors) are not able to work. Without the aid of this redox signaling system, these damaged cells cannot be effectively detected, repaired or destroyed; they become immortal and remain broken. Smoldering fires are not extinguished, damage is propagated. Life is threatened.

As we contemplate these concepts, we realize that life is preserved by those devices inside our cells that maintain proper redox balance. It creates that cozy space inside our cells, where all is well; the fires are burning at their proper level, the smoke is being handled and the energy efficiently harnessed. When fires flare up, smoke billows out, alarms go off, smoke detectors are activated that will push the genes that will bring it all back into control. That is one description of redox signaling.


Redox Pathways Interconnect the Body

These last few weeks, much has happened in the world of Redox Signaling. James Watson, who co-discovered the 3-D helical structure of DNA, has stepped forward with an article in the prestigious Lancet journal to champion this field of science, stating that he considers his work in this field to be his greatest accomplishment since DNA. You can type “Watson Redox ROS” into any search engine to explore this. The formal research on redox signaling has to do with how reactive oxygen species (ROS, examples: H2O2, O2*-,ClO-,etc.), reactive nitrogen species (RNS example: NO) and reactive sulfur species (RSS example: H2S) interact with the molecular semaphores in the vast ocean of fluids inside us. These molecular semaphores are proteins (like thioredoxin) that change conformation and state when they come into contact with these reactive molecules and redirect molecular traffic in our cells. Imagine the implications.
Amazing as these molecular processes of life inside our cells may seem to us, possibly even more amazing is that trillions of individual cells combine to form the complex tissues and organs that pump our blood, think our thoughts and move our muscles. The enormity and complexity of any one of these machines is mind-boggling. Take a moment and ponder the importance of the proper function the cells, with all of the molecular machinery inside them, to the vital functionality of the whole organism. These tiny molecular machines are all seemingly unaware of the crucial role they play in the big picture as they complete their tasks with incredible precision and speed. And yet they cannot be completely oblivious to everything that is happening even trillions of cells away. The tiny molecules that move our muscles, for example, must react to signals from our brain originating from relatively vast distances away, they are sensitive to these signals and know exactly what to do when they come. In fact, it would be wrong to say that all of these tiny molecular machines act independently of each other, even if they are separated from each other by truly astronomical distances on the atomic scale. In a very real sense, they all are connected by the signals that they send to each other.
Single-cell organisms do not have to be connected to anything beyond what is happening in their immediate environment. Signals from the outside mostly help the single-cell organism to find food or light and help it avoid dangers. In a sense, single-cell organisms are selfish, their biological mechanisms are tuned mostly to their own individual survival, their molecular machinery is focused on sustaining proper internal function and they do not need the complex, elaborate external messaging systems that exist in multi-cellular organisms. This gives single-cell organisms, like bacteria, a disadvantage when compared with multi-cellular organisms. We will see, later on, that our immune system is able to detect and kill bacteria with the help of a combination of reactive oxygen species (ROS) that rips apart bacteria and simultaneously activates redox signaling networks in and between our cells. Over hundreds of millions of years, bacteria and primitive single-cell organisms have not been able to adapt to dominate multi-cellular life. In principle, our immune system is universally effective.
It might be interesting to contemplate, for a moment, what the fundamental differences are between single-cell and multi-cellular organisms. Cooperation, almost by its definition, seems to be the key to success in multi-cellular organisms; cooperation that is mediated by the connections made between the cells. If we are working on the scale of the molecular machinery inside each of the individual cells, then being connected means that cells can send messages between each other that will alter the way these tiny molecular machines conduct business in each of the connected cells. It may even mean that individual cells can be asked to sacrifice themselves and shut down for the good of the whole organism. The individual cells are programmed to obey the directives that are sent through their connections. These connections become absolutely essential for the survival of the organism.
Suppose, for example, that a single cell in your body cuts off the connections it has to all the other cells. This rogue cell can no longer receive the messages and directives from the rest of your cells and starts to act in a way as to preserve its own survival, similar to a single-cell organism. It becomes a cancerous cell. If it is successful in its struggle to survive and duplicate itself, then the whole organism will eventually die. In a very real sense, it is the connections made between cells that allow them to cooperate and to fulfill their own appointed role. Through these connections, billions of your cells every day realize that they are damaged and are called upon to selflessly sacrifice themselves, to die and to be replaced by the division of neighboring healthy cells, in order to help preserve the health of the organism as a whole.
On the most fundamental level, the molecular machines in your cells react, shift and change based on the messages that come into them through the connections that exist between your cells. They all work to fulfill their appointed roles, precisely and faithfully. There are literally thousands of different types of messages that are sent between cells, both chemical and electrical, that influence the way these tiny molecular machines function. In a very real sense, all of the 50 to 100 trillion cells in your body are all intricately connected and unified to provide you with the precious gift of life that you now possess.