So You Want a New Body?

So You Want a New Body?

So you want a new body? Scientific American (April 2021 issue) published an article titled “A New You in 80 Days.” It contains news of a study by the Weizmann Institute of Science in Rehovot, Israel. It includes surprising information about how rapidly the human body generates new cells.

Different parts of your body turn over new cells at different rates. Fat and muscle cells make up 72% of our bodies by mass. Those cells last an average of 12 to 50 years. By number, there are far more cells in our blood, and they last only three to 120 days. The cells lining our gut live less than a week.

Every day, your body replaces 330 billion cells, which is about 1% of the total. That means in 80 to 100 days your body will replace 30 trillion cells. That is approximately the total number of cells in your body. So you want a new body, but don’t forget the larger fat and muscle cells will last for years while the smaller cells get replaced. Some cells last a lifetime, including brain, heart, and eye cells.

The study does not include the bacteria and viruses that are in our bodies. There are about 38 trillion of them. That is more than the number of your body cells, but they are much smaller and have a total weight of only seven to eleven ounces (200 to 300 g). By mass, cells make up 68% of our bodies. Fluids outside of cells make up 25%, and solids such as minerals in our bones complete the other 7%. By number, 87% of the cells in our bodies are the microscopic red blood cells.

A report like this can help us understand how complex the human body is. I remember how simple cars were 50 years ago when compared to today. When I was in high school, I had a friend who could tear his car down and put it back together in less than a day. That was in 1950. Today’s cars are so complex that such a feat would be impossible, but that also means it is difficult to fix when something goes wrong. The complexity of our bodies makes the treatment of our bodies difficult when something goes wrong, and, like today’s cars, there is a lot that can go wrong.

So you want a new body? That won’t happen in this life. We are reminded of the words of the psalmist in Psalms 139:14, “I will praise you, Lord, because I am fearfully and wonderfully made, your works are wonderful. I know that full well.”

— John N. Clayton © 2021