Have you ever really considered how much you depend on every breath? Every heartbeat? Every living cell that makes up your person? So many things we couldn’t survive without — both in and around us — barely get the recognition they deserve. The things you never think about that keep you alive every day aren’t unimportant. They’re just, mostly, there.
These are the things you have to thank for keeping you alive and as healthy as you could be all these years. Try not to take them all for granted.
Earth would be too cold for humans to live on without the sun. We rely on it for a lot of things, including heat, light, and food (plants need sun to grow so we can harvest and eat them). Too much of it can hurt you, but let’s be honest: too much of anything is a health risk.
Next: This habit is vital to your short- and long-term health.
Brushing your teeth
Have you ever wondered what would happen if you just stopped brushing your teeth? Would they fall out? Would you get sick? The answer to both of these questions is: yes. There are a lot of bacteria in your mouth, and the best way to keep them under control is to brush — and floss. Always floss.
Next: Many people still don’t have access to this — but they should.
You (hopefully) refill your glass or water bottle from a tap or some kind of filtration system multiple times per day without even thinking about it. Even those without access to clean, non-contaminated water still have to drink it to stay alive.
Next: Too much of it can kill you, but still.
The average human takes at least 20,000 breaths every single day. Most of us don’t have to worry about whether or not that air is safe to inhale — we just do it. It’s the perfect mixture of nitrogen, oxygen, and other compounds — and we’re very good at getting rid of the stuff our bodies don’t want.
Next: Sometimes, you just have to go with your gut.
Your gut bacteria
You’ve likely heard that you have bacteria in your digestive tract. People like to blame them for a number of illnesses, but overall, they’re actually the good guys. You actually need a healthy population of beneficial bacteria in your gut to stay alive.
Next: You do it every day — but have you ever really thought of why?
Humans are a bit strange. Every night our energy levels plummet, and we have to lie still for at least six to eight hours straight to recharge. You cannot live without resting — sleep deprivation happens to be one of the most bizarre and life-threatening states you can put yourself through. Don’t do it, or try not to.
Next: You probably have some of these in your house.
In many ways, people depend on plants for survival. Even the ones we don’t eat, like trees, still provide plenty of oxygen, shade, and warm, fuzzy feelings. Here are a few varieties of houseplants you probably won’t immediately kill.
Next: You don’t notice this organ doing its job, but you’d die without it.
Your heart beats, on average, over 100,000 times every day. It’s such an important part of the rhythm of your life that you forget it’s there. But your heart is your life support system. That’s why it’s hard to stay healthy when it can’t do its job right.
Next: This chore might actually be vital to your survival.
Cleaning your house
It’s important to keep your living space clean — and not just when you’re expecting guests. It’s not good to breathe in the dust and mold particles — and germs — that can accumulate over time. You can even burn a few hundred calories while doing it.
Next: You do it for a reason.
Yes, really. It has physical and psychological benefits that go beyond releasing sexual tension. You feel less stressed, happier, and probably have fewer issues relating to body image. Physically, you probably sleep better and feel less tension in your muscles. It’s good for you.
Next: Keep these around — they might save your life.
You probably don’t consider your friends part of your daily survival kit. Humans depend on social encounters to survive, though, so you might have your friends to thank for your health. Keep them around long enough, and you all might live well into your 90s.
Next: You hardly know these organs are even there — or do you?
At least one kidney
You need at least one kidney to stay alive — but most people have both. These tiny organs filter your blood and rid your body of potentially harmful toxins — more than 100 liters every single day. You can’t see them, but they’re vital to your survival.
Next: They’re not just for show — but they do look nice.
We’ve been wearing clothes for a long time. In many ways, it’s helped us survive for thousands of years. But humans don’t just wear clothes for warmth and protection. Culturally, fashion is part of what connects us to the people around us. Psychosocially, it may even keep us healthy.
Next: Don’t be ashamed of this — it has proven health benefits!
It’s perfectly normal to cry often. Actually, it’s good for you. It’s a natural pain reliever, and one of several ways your body can naturally rid itself of potentially harmful toxins. When you’re grieving, tears really do help you heal.
Next: Everyone does it. But only because they have to.
Everybody poops. And yes, we’d really die if we didn’t have our toilet time. One woman participating in the “Hold Your Wee for a Wii” contest even died of water poisoning because she didn’t listen to her body when it told her to pee. It’s your body’s primary way of eliminating waste — not always pleasant to discuss, but absolutely essential to your long-term survival.
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