Last week we talked about how breathing affects everything in our entire life. We begin and end life with a breath. Yet we have other very basic needs to survive and live a long healthy life. Without them, we cannot think about anything else.

So what are these needs? We need to go back to the beginning, starting with birth. When we are born, most babies take their first breath, cry, and are cleaned off the moisturizing protective barrier that is also antimicrobial, called vernix caseosa. Most animals lick this protective barrier off of their babies after birth. 

Once we are clean, we are given to our Moms for skin-to-skin contact, Nutrients, and sleep, all with a roof over our heads. 

We will continue to need these things to sustain the health of the one body we have for the remainder of our life. 

Most of us get those basic needs provided to us by our parents until we are old enough to fend for ourselves. We all strive to live happily, fulfilled lives; we are taught at a young age we will need to learn a skill, get a job, and work hard to provide those basic needs for ourselves and our own families. 

The world teaches us we should focus on providing money and wealth in order to be happy. So money buys happiness. Right?

It is all over the internet how to make more, get rich, and have more time with your family.

Here is the thing, you can live without money and wealth, but if you do not have these simple basic things, you won’t have your health. Without your health, nothing else really matters. If you are sick, you will spend your time and your wealth on ways to get your health back. 

Why do we feel taking care of our bodies and putting ourselves first is selfish? 

I don’t know about you, but I suffer from mom guilt if I want to do something for myself before my family. I put a whole lot of thought into it before I make a decision, or I put it off until I don’t have a choice.  

Why do we do that? Why do we not put our health first?

Why do we feel taking care of our body is too expensive, takes too much time, or is not a priority? 

I can’t answer this question for you.  I only asked myself this question after I lay in bed for six weeks while my friends and family took care of me because I could not care for myself.

I had cancer because of the choices I made, because of what I put into and on my body, because of my thoughts and holding on to the past and repeating bad habits. I did not know any better. I was not intentional about anything when it came to the needs of the body I am in. I didn’t ask questions. I just did what I was taught, what others around me were doing. I never questioned the decisions I made when it came to the foods I ate or the products I used. I did not know that my body kept score and every choice I made for myself added up to sickness or health.

So now that I know, I make better choices. Am I perfect? Nope and I never will be. I am human, after all. 

What if we put our health first from the beginning? There is so much information out there it makes your head spin. The more I know.., the more I know… I don’t know. But you need to start somewhere. 

I am choosing to share my story and my journey. I feel like I have learned so much over the past two years it would be selfish if I kept this all to myself. 

We all make choices every minute of every day. Some are good, some not so good. But we do our best with the information we have at the time. 

I had a lot of the information I am sharing. What I did not have was how it all fit together. That is my goal to share how this all fits together from the beginning starting with our basic needs. 

There are six things we all need as humans need to survive and thrive:

The # 1 thing we need is Oxygen, and we need to breathe to get it.  No one can live without oxygen and being able to breathe.

Abraham Maslow is a psychologist who studied basic needs.

Maslow found that all human beings have five levels of needs to be satisfied and Self-fulfilled; he called them the needs in a hierarchy.

1: Physical Survival Needs

The truth is there are only five basic needs; Oxygen, Water, Nutrients, Sleep, and Shelter. The first and most basic of all needs have to do with physical survival. The need for oxygen, food, water, sleep, and shelter. If a person cannot satisfy these basic survival needs, it dominates their thoughts and concerns. A person who is cold, hungry, sleep-deprived, or sick will not be very interested in learning or working because they are in survival mode, known as fight or flight.


We cannot survive without oxygen, brain damage begins after only 4 minutes without oxygen, and permanent death can occur as soon as 6 minutes without oxygen. 

Between 30-180 seconds of oxygen deprivation, you may lose consciousness. At the one-minute mark, brain cells begin dying. At three minutes, neurons suffer more extensive damage, and lasting brain damage becomes more likely. At six minutes, death becomes imminent.

The longest any human being ever went without breathing took place in 2012 when Danish freediver Stig Severinsen held his breath underwater for 22 minutes.

Severinsen cheated death by breathing in pure oxygen for about 20 minutes beforehand, which saturated his body with oxygen so it could continue to keep his brain functioning while he was underwater. However, he trained to do this.


Drinking water does more than just quench your thirst. It’s essential to keeping your body functioning properly and feeling healthy.

Nearly all of your body’s major systems depend on water to function and survive.

Water is important for every cell in the body to function properly. The digestive system functions better with adequate hydration, preventing constipation. Water also helps flush toxins from the body, promotes good kidney function, keeps your joints and muscles lubricated, supports healthier and younger-looking skin, and helps regulate body temperature.

Water makes up 45-75% of the adult human body. The amount of water in the body changes slightly with age, sex, and hydration levels.

Every day, you lose eight to 12 cups of water through breathing, perspiring,  urination, and bowel movements.

People who are more muscular have more body water because muscle cells tend to retain more water. The more fat in the body, the less water.

Water is found in 3 main locations:

  1. Within our cells (almost 2/3 of water)
  2. Spaces between our cells, extracellular space
  3. Our Blood

Experts do not recommend plain water for infants before the age of 6 months.

Children over 12 months of age should be encouraged to drink water.

The CDC recommends that if infants over six months of age need additional fluid on hot days, they can consume water in a bottle. However, their primary form of fluid and calories should be breast milk or formula. Before the industrial revolution, as infants, we nursed until we were 3-5 years old. 

An adult person can survive without water for about three days.

A practical way to monitor hydration is by observing the color of your urine right after you get up in the morning. Dark-colored urine — about the color of apple juice — indicates dehydration.

That’s why it’s important to replenish your body’s water supply.

Developing healthy water habits isn’t hard. You should be able to meet most of your fluid needs by drinking water, milk, 100% fruit juice, and decaffeinated teas, and eating soup is an option. Fruits and vegetables also contain a fair amount of water. You’re helping your body function better and improving your overall health

Water flushes body waste, helps maintain blood pressure, opens the airway, prevents kidney damage, and forms saliva and mucus.

Saliva helps us digest our food and keeps the mouth, nose, and eyes moist. This prevents friction and damage. Drinking water instead of sweetened beverages helps balance the pH and can also reduce tooth decay.


An adult person can survive three weeks without food. For the human body to remain alive, it needs energy, which we get from fueling our bodies. 

Cellular respiration is a metabolic process where cells get energy by reacting oxygen with glucose to produce carbon dioxide, water, and energy.

How efficiently energy from respiration converts into physical—or mechanical— power depends on the type of food eaten, the type of physical energy, and whether muscles are used aerobically or anaerobically.

In other words, we need calories to fuel bodily functions like breathing and thinking. We also need mechanical energy for our skeletal muscles to maintain our posture and to move around.

Around 20 percent of the energy we take in with the foods we eat is used for brain metabolism. Most of the rest is used in basal metabolism, the energy we need when in a resting state, for functions such as blood circulation, digestion, and breathing.

In a cold environment, we need more energy to maintain a constant body temperature as our metabolism increases to produce more heat. In a warm environment, we need less energy.

The type and amount of food we eat determine how many calories we consume. For many people on a weight-loss diet, the number of calories in a food is a deciding factor in choosing whether or not to eat it.

How and when we eat can also make a difference, as the body uses energy differently throughout the day. Our body’s energy use will depend on how active we are, how efficiently our body uses the energy and our age.

According to the 2015-2020 Dietary Guidelines for Americans, women are likely to need between 1,600 and 2,400 calories. However, this depends on their age, size, height, lifestyle, overall health, and activity level.

Sunlight is an important source of Vitamin D, which helps the body absorb calcium for bone health. It also triggers the release of serotonin, which regulates sleep, mood, and appetite.


Sleep is essential for building memory, and skills, feeling more alert, as well as repairing our body. 

Recent studies also suggest that both inefficient and excessive sleep can affect memory and other cognitive processes. A good night’s rest not only promotes good physical health but also enables our brains to function properly. So getting the recommended amount of sleep each night is key to memories and overall health.

While we may not think about why we sleep, most of us recognize that sleep makes us feel better. We feel more alert, more energetic, happier, and better able to function following a good night of sleep. However, the fact that sleep makes us feel better and that going without sleep makes us feel worse, it only begins to explain why sleep is necessary.

One way to think about the function of sleep is to compare it to other life-sustaining activities: eating and breathing. Hunger is a protective mechanism that has evolved to ensure that we consume the nutrients our bodies require to grow, repair tissues, and function properly. And although it is relatively easy to grasp the role that eating serves— given that it involves physically consuming the substances our bodies need—eating and sleeping are not as different as they might seem.

Breathing, eating, and sleeping are regulated by powerful internal drives. Going without food produces the uncomfortable sensation of hunger, while arousal and going without sleep make us feel overwhelmingly sleepy. And just as eating relieves hunger and ensures that we obtain the nutrients we need, sleeping relieves sleepiness and ensures that we obtain the sleep we need. 

Still, the question remains: Why do we need sleep at all? 

Is there a single primary function of sleep, or does sleep serve many functions?

The relationship between sleep and overall health is well-documented. Sleep allows both the body and brain to recover during the night. A good night’s rest ensures you’ll feel refreshed and alert when you wake up in the morning.

Sleep deficiency not only leaves you tired but can increase your risk for a wide range of health problems, including Alzheimer’s, obesity, heart disease, high blood pressure, diabetes, and stroke. 

Studies suggest up to 19% of U.S. adults don’t get enough sleep on a regular basis.

Lack of sleep Impairs Your Judgment And Makes You Delirious.

A lack of sleep can also pose a threat to your physical safety. 

Sleep plays a vital role in your mental and physical well-being. 

Different stages that occur during sleep help to promote healthy brain activity and maintain good overall health. For children and teenagers, sleep is also key for proper growth and development.

Sleep deficiency can interfere with these bodily processes. The term “sleep deficiency” refers to the inability to get enough high-quality sleep. This may occur due to sleep deprivation, sleep apnea, or simply not getting enough sleep, or there may be other underlying reasons, such as a sleep disorder, breathing, or circadian rhythm disruption. 

A lack of high-quality sleep means your body has less time to recover during the night. This can also lower your body’s defenses against diseases and create inflammation.

The effects of sleep deprivation on physical health include:

  • Obesity: Your body produces and regulates various hormones during sleep. 
  • Heart Problems: Blood pressure is generally reduced during sleep.  
  • Insulin management: Insulin regulates blood sugar levels. Sleep deprivation or poor sleep quality can affect how your body reacts to insulin, which in turn puts you at a higher risk for diabetes.
  • Cognitive Performance: A good night’s sleep can improve your ability to concentrate, be creative, and learn new skills. People who don’t get enough rest often have a hard time paying attention,
  • Memory: Sleep is essential for memory. During the non-rapid eye movement stage of your sleep cycle, your brain begins organizing and consolidating memories. As a result, not getting enough sleep can affect your ability to remember important details.
  • Mood: People who don’t get enough sleep may have a harder time controlling their emotions, making good decisions, and coping with different aspects of daily life. Sleep deficiency can also lead to mental health issues, such as depression.
  • Growth and Development: For children and adolescents, deep sleep triggers the release of hormones that promote healthy growth, increase muscle mass, regulate puberty and fertility, and repair cells and tissues. Children who don’t receive enough sleep may feel angry or sad, struggle with schoolwork, and have a hard time engaging with their peers in positive ways.
  • Safety: Sleep deficiency can reduce one’s reaction time and lead to a higher risk of being involved in an accident.

The amount of sleep you need changes with age. 

Sleep apnea is characterized by the temporary cessation of the airway during sleep that can cause people to choke or gasp for air. Teeth grinding, heavy snoring, and excessive daytime sleepiness are other common symptoms of sleep apnea., 

Millions of people across the globe live with obstructive sleep apnea (OSA), a disorder that occurs when a physical blockage impedes the airway. OSA has long been linked to chronic depression. 

After only three or four nights without sleep, you can start to hallucinate.

Sleep and memory share a complex relationship. Getting enough rest helps you process new information once you wake up, and sleeping after learning can consolidate this information into memories, allowing you to store them in your brain.

Not sleeping or getting enough sleep can lower your learning abilities by as much as 40%.

During these NREM stages, the brain sorts through your various memories from the previous day, filtering out important memories and eliminating other information. These selected memories will become more concrete as deep NREM sleep begins, and this process will continue during REM sleep. Emotional memories are also processed in the REM stage, which can help you cope with difficult experiences.

Although it’s unclear exactly how long humans can survive without sleep, it isn’t long before the effects of sleep deprivation start to show. 

The longest recorded time without sleep is approximately 264 hours or 11 consecutive days.

You can see now how our survival needs trump everything else. However, there are still a few other things that are important to our overall health and happiness.

 2: Physical Safety Needs

Shelter and Clothes

Once the physical survival needs are met, a new set of needs emerges. Physical survival needs will always still exist, but by having these needs satisfied regularly, a person becomes aware of the next level of human needs to feel safe from personal danger and threats.  Besides protecting you against the elements of Mother Nature’s raging mood swings, shelter shields you against criminal and animal attacks: being deprived of this results in fear. When a person is fearful, all concentration goes to calming the fear with no thought for anything else. 

Some people may argue that you can survive indefinitely without clothes.

Your short-term survival is affected by clothing during extreme weather. Longevity and long-term survival are affected a lot more. Without clothes, you may be at higher risk for infections, burns, and skin cancers and deal with a lot more hygiene and body issues.

3: Feeling Love and Belonging Needs

Once the physical survival and safety needs are being regularly met, a need for love, affection, and belonging begins to emerge. Level 3 needs in Maslow’s pyramid result from the fact that human beings are sociable and need relationships with others. Maslow states: “The person … will hunger for affectionate relationships with people in general for a place in the group.”

People deprived at this level seem bored and joyless, even if they are doing well at their chosen tasks. They have feelings of loneliness, pain, sadness, separation, and unworthiness.

4: Self-esteem Needs

Generally, people in our society have a need to feel heard and valued and to count for something. This is called the need for esteem. It is a degree of self-respect and respect from others. Self-respect includes the need for confidence, achievement, independence, and freedom. Respect from others includes recognition, attention, and appreciation. 

It is a basic desire of most human beings.

5: Self-fulfilled 

If the first four needs are being met, a new one will probably develop the need for self-fulfillment. This is to become more – physical, social, emotional, and spiritual. Among the characteristics of self-fulfilled people are awareness of living, completeness, joyfulness, and unforgettable moments with periods of joy, unity, and understanding.

We do not worry about being fulfilled until all our other needs have been met. 

It is believed that a positive attitude may help you combat disease and protect you from psychological harm, both self-inflicted or by other people’s hands.

It has been proven that attitude and a big part of increasing your chances of survival.

Where do you think you are on Maslow’s chart?

I think many of us feel our basic needs are being met. Until we get sick or our health is challenged. 

Many of us are getting a say about our bodies, and we are being left to deal with the consequences of our choices. 

We are running on a hamster wheel many of us never get off. If we want to live a longer, healthier life, we need to start living intentionally and really thinking about how our choices will affect us long term.

With Covid, a lot of people realized they did not need to keep up with the Joes to be happy.  Going back to the basics with the things we need for survival, we see how we can live a much simpler life and still be happy. Having to be off of work for 12 weeks made us appreciate more of what we had and not worry about what we didn’t.

I think many people realize to be grateful for what they have. I realized I had all of the material things I needed, and my health and my family were what mattered most. For years I put work before everything else, thinking that was getting me to where I wanted to be. 

Once I got sick, I realized I was fooling myself. The more I worked, the more I bought, and the more I wanted. It was a vicious cycle that made me sick.  I no longer do that. 

My health and my family come first. Less is more, and being able to help others is what makes me happy. Cancer made me rethink what I was working for and what I wanted going forward.

What do you want? Is what you are doing making you happy? If not, you may want to take a look at where you are and where you want to be and see if the choices you are making now are getting you closer or farther from that goal.