10 Organs You Can Live Without!

October 17, 2019

"While it’s possible to live without these organs, we want to do everything we can to keep all of our organs healthy."

Believe it or not, while every part of our body is important, there are several organs that we can survive the loss of. Tune in to today’s live show with Dr. Nancy Lin, PhD, to find out which 10 organs we can live without, including a few that may come as a surprise. Dr. Nancy will discuss what these organs do, how to keep them strong and healthy, and what happens if they are removed. 

Video Highlights

  • 01:02: Internal Organ Facts
  • 04:31: Appendix
  • 07:56: Colon
  • 09:51: Spleen
  • 12:00: Gallbladder
  • 13:19: Bladder
  • 15:11: Thyroid
  • 15:54: Tonsils
  • 18:05: One Kidney
  • 20:02: One Lung
  • 22:18: Stomach
  • 25:43: Wrap-Up

Internal Organ Facts

First, let’s go over some internal organ trivia facts!

  • Your chances of getting appendicitis are about 1 in 15. Approximately, 7% of Americans will suffer from appendicitis, forcing them to undergo surgery and have the organ removed.  
  • The colon, or large intestine, measures 5 feet in length and about 3 inches in diameter. The small intestine, on the other hand, measures at a whopping 20 feet in length but only about an inch in diameter. 
  • The spleen’s functions in the body include: filtering the blood, helping to fight certain bacteria, and storing blood. It can even expand and contract depending on what your body needs.

Now, let’s get into the ten organs you can live without!

Appendix

This is one of the most common organs – if not the #1 organ nearly everyone knows they can live without. Aside from that, what do you really know about your appendix? 

The truth is, even doctors are stumped. 

What they do know is that the appendix is an organ roughly the size of your pinky finger and is shaped much the same way. In fact, the ancient Egyptians called it the “worm of the bowel,” and it’s still referred to as vermiform in some medical textbooks, which means “worm-like” in Latin. 

The appendix is located in the lower right part of your abdomen and is connected to the end of your large intestine. 

The appendix does produce immunoglobulins, meaning it could play a role in helping the body fight infection, namely in the gut. However, the appendix is considered a secondary immune organ since lymphatic tissue also helps the growth of good gut bacteria. 

Appendicitis occurs when bacteria builds up too quickly within the appendix and causes it to clog. It then becomes swollen and inflamed, causing extreme discomfort or even causing it to burst. Surgery is then required.

Since doctors still aren’t 100% sure what the appendix’s function is within the body, it’s difficult to offer advice on how to keep your appendix healthy. Since it is potentially linked to immune function and gut health, it’s important to maintain a healthy balance of beneficial gut bacteria by:

Colon

The colon is part of the large intestine, which, as we mentioned earlier, is about 5 feet in length. It is the food’s last stop before elimination, and while it is responsible for forming waste into a solid and then pushing that solid waste along, most of the nutrients from your food have already been absorbed. This is one of the main reasons why it is possible to live without it.  

In fact, 10% of all surgeries performed in the United States are colectomies, which involve removing all or part of the colon. 

Reasons for having to have your colon removed include:

  • Polyps
  • Cancer
  • Crohn’s disease
  • Diverticulitis
  • Colitis

Some of those issues can be prevented by, again, exercising regularly, as well as maintaining a healthy weight and eating anti-inflammatory foods rich in fiber, vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants

Spleen

The spleen is located on the left side of your abdomen, just beneath your ribs. As we already talked about, the spleen serves a number of important functions:

  • It filters the blood
  • It helps fight certain bacteria
  • It stores blood and can expand and contract depending on what your body needs

How then, can we live without it? 

Well, the liver is also responsible for filtering the blood and can easily assume the spleen’s duties in that regard. Also, the tissues that make up the lymphatic system throughout the body can take over the spleen’s duties of fighting bacteria and infection. 

Because the spleen expands and contracts easily, it is more susceptible to damage and injury, especially when it expands and fills with blood. When a trauma occurs, due to a surgery or an accident, the spleen can become punctured by a broken rib or can burst, causing massive internal bleeding. 

Maintaining a healthy immune system and finding ways to keep stress at bay are the best ways to keep your spleen from having to work overtime. Choose low-impact exercises like walking, cycling, or swimming. Take a yoga class and practice deep breathing techniques daily. 

Gallbladder

Like the appendix and the spleen, the gallbladder is another organ you might already be aware you can live without. 

Bile is produced in the liver, and when it’s not being used to aid in digestion, it is stored in the gallbladder, which sits underneath the liver. 

People with high amounts of cholesterol in their bile can develop gallstones, solid pieces of digestive fluid that can build up in the gallbladder. If the stones become too large, or they build up too frequently, you might have to have your gallbladder removed. 

It’s okay, you can survive without it. 

Instead of the bile being stored somewhere, it flows right into the intestines as soon as the liver produces it. That is why it’s a good idea to avoid foods that are high in fat, especially if you’ve had your gallbladder removed, since high-fat foods can cause a lower concentration of bile, which can then lead to digestive issues. 

Bladder

Did you know bladder cancer is the fourth most common form of cancer? Depending on its severity, it might be necessary to remove the bladder altogether, and believe it or not, you can survive without it too. 

Certain inflammatory diseases may also lead to a need to have your bladder removed, and with that being said, doing all you can to reduce inflammation in the body is a crucial element in maintaining the health of your bladder. This includes many of the tips we’ve already touched on:

Something else you can do to maintain the health of your bladder and surrounding organs is to make sure you’re drinking enough water. Every day, you should be drinking half your weight in ounces. This will help eliminate toxins and prevent bacteria from forming and building up. 

Thyroid

The butterfly-shaped gland in your neck is called the thyroid and it can wreak havoc on your body if it’s thrown out of whack. 

The thyroid is responsible for producing hormones responsible for regulating the body’s metabolism. While it is possible to live without it by taking medications that then take over performing the thyroid’s main functions, that’s not something you want — there are things you can do to prevent ever reaching that point in the first place. 

Again, this is where taking an inflammation-fighting supplement like Smarter Curcumin may prove beneficial. Inflammation causes the body to slow the production of hormones produced in the thyroid. You can also reduce inflammation by avoiding refined sugars, gluten, and dairy, as these all can exacerbate issues of the thyroid. 

Eliminating gluten can be especially beneficial, since thyroid disease has been strongly linked to digestive disorders like celiac’s disease and leaky gut syndrome

Tonsils

Located on either side of the back of the throat, the tonsils collect germs after they enter your mouth. They then send a signal, telling the body to make white blood cells. The white blood cells, as you may already know, are responsible for fighting infection. 

Sounds like the tonsils are pretty important, then, right?

They are, but you can live without them. The body has plenty of other ways of fighting infection. In fact, the tonsils can actually slow down immune function as we get older. 

Good oral hygiene, using mouthwash after brushing, and gargling with saltwater can help you maintain the health of your tonsils. 

One Kidney

You can’t survive without both kidneys, but it is possible to survive without one. 

The kidneys filter toxins found in food and medications out of the blood which then leave the body in the form of urine. The kidneys are also responsible for making the hormones responsible for regulating blood pressure, producing red blood cells, and stimulating bone health

One kidney can most certainly do the work of two, and you can function normally if you were either born with only one kidney, or if you lost one due to trauma or illness. 

There are ways to promote good kidney health to avoid the risk of ever having to lose one:

  • Regular exercise can help keep high blood pressure down.
  • Staying properly hydrated will benefit you here, as well. Drinking enough water every day can help flush toxins away from your kidneys.
  • Cut down on your salt intake. Too much salt can cause mineral build-up in the blood, which then makes the kidneys work overtime. Fruits and veggies, lean protein, and nuts are excellent dietary choices.

One Lung

Technically, you can also breathe without one lung. In fact, did you know that the current pope, Pope Francis, only has one lung? He had to have it removed due to an infection when he was a teenager. 

The lungs are responsible for taking in oxygen and getting rid of carbon dioxide. They work in accordance with each other, but each is fully capable of functioning on its own. 

When a lung is removed, it’s called a lobectomy, and reasons for needing to have a lung removed include:

  • Emphysema
  • Cancer
  • Fungal infection
  • Tuberculosis
  • An abscess that can’t be treated with antibiotics
  • A benign tumor that affects the function of additional organs

Dr. Nancy recently did a 2-part series on pollution, detailing all the ways you can limit your exposure to pollutants in the air both outside, and inside your home. A few of the things she recommended included:

  • Avoid cleaning products with harsh, toxic chemicals. Instead, opt for cleaning products with all-natural, organic, non-toxic ingredients. 
  • Use an ozone-free air ionizer or air purifier in your home and office space.
  • Exercise away from busy streets and avoid exercising during times of high traffic, like rush hour. 

Stomach

This one may come as a shock, but… yes, people can actually live without a stomach! We don’t recommend it, but it’s not impossible.

Of course, many of you may have heard about the many weight-loss surgeries like gastric bypass and gastric banding that either remove part of the stomach or alter the amount of food you can consume, but it is possible to live without your stomach, entirely. 

Your stomach serves four main functions:

  • Breaks down food into digestible pieces
  • Releases acid to break up that food
  • Absorbs nutrients
  • Eliminates non-nutrients

These four things can still be accomplished in the absence of the stomach. When the stomach is removed due to trauma or cancer, the esophagus is connected directly to the small intestine. People to whom this happens go on to eat as they normally did, but they need added daily vitamin and mineral supplementation. For that matter we all need to make sure we are getting enough essential vitamins and minerals each day, which is where Smarter Nutrition’s Smarter Multivitamin comes in.  

Many of the things we’ve already mentioned today also apply to promoting good digestive health for a healthy stomach, including 

  • Drinking plenty of water
  • Taking a probiotic
  • Eating foods high in fiber and low in fat
  • Eat lean proteins like chicken, turkey, and certain types of fish
  • Exercise regularly
  • Find ways to cut down on stress

Wrap-Up 

Today we talked about 10 organs your body can live without:  

  • Gallbladder
  • Appendix
  • Spleen
  • One kidney
  • One lung
  • Bladder
  • Stomach
  • Tonsils
  • Thyroid
  • Colon

However, while it’s possible to live without these organs, we want to do everything we can to keep all of our organs healthy. In order to do that, you should do the exact same types of things you do to keep the rest of your body healthy, like: 

  • Eat foods low in fat, high in fiber and that reduce your chances of developing chronic inflammation
  • Exercise at least 3 times a week for 30 minutes a session
  • Get 7 to 9 hours of sleep every night
  • Reduce your stress levels by taking yoga or practicing deep breathing
  • Drink half your body weight in ounces every single day
  • Take daily supplements, like Smarter Curcumin and the Smarter Multi

We hope you found today’s episode interesting and helpful! Tune in for more great health information and education every day on the Smarter Nutrition Facebook page.

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