Our skin does not just protect everything that is underneath it – like muscles, organs, joints, bones, and vessels – it also works as a large detoxification mechanism. The average adult human body has a surface area of between 1.5 and 2 square metres and it varies in thickness depending on the body part we look at, and it is also differs based on sex and age. Our skin consists of several different layers that are made of different types of cells. The very top layer, called epidermis, works like a waterproof barrier that protects the other layers beneath where vessels, sweat glands, and nerve endings are located. The other two main layers are called the dermis and hypodermis. The dermis is where we can find both blood and lymphatic vessels.

LYMPHATIC SYSTEM

The lymphatic system is a major part of our immune system. Lymphatic vessels create a network in the body that carries lymphatic fluid (or lymph for short; lympha means water in Latin) all around the body, flowing towards the heart, into lymph nodes. Swollen lymph nodes are usually a sign of infection, typically due to a buildup of bacteria. Lymphatic fluid can also be found in various cavities in the body, like joint cavities, where it works as a lubricant. Lymph is derived from intestinal fluid and its composition is similar to blood plasma, with the addition of white blood cells called leukocytes. It constantly changes its composition depending on our diet or exposure to toxins. Lymph delivers proteins to the bloodstream, and transports toxins and bacteria to lymph nodes where they are destroyed by lymphocytes. After the lymph is cleaned, the purified fluid goes back into circulation in our blood stream.

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Jan
03

NATURE’S GUIDE TO BEAUTIFUL HAIR

by Nina Vachkova

The hair on our head is basically the only feature (aside from color changing contact lenses) we can instantly modify to completely change our appearance. By changing our haircut or hair color, wearing our hair up in a bun, ponytail, or braided hairstyle, curling or straightening, we suddenly look and maybe even feel different, even more confident and attractive. We use crazy hair colors and hairstyles to express our mood and personality; we sometimes use our hair (or beard) as a security blanket, and a new haircut is very often what we use as an emotional outlet. Bad breakup? I am getting a haircut – he loved my long hair! Unhappy at work? Maybe a new haircut will make me feel better! Winter is approaching? Oh, maybe I should dye it a few shades darker. You might have heard all those silly jokes about blondes, questioning their intelligence, or sayings like blondes have more fun. Hair length is often the first clue we use to determine whether the person in front of us is male or female, and with identical twin babies for example, the only publicly visible difference between a boy and a girl might be a pink hairbow.

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Dec
21

BEYOND THE TOOTHBRUSH

by Nina Vachkova

When I was little, probably around five years old, I lost almost all of my baby teeth because of terrible cavities. When I entered first grade at school, I already had a mouth full of permanent teeth and also two mercury fillings. My teeth were crooked because there was an extra tooth growing in behind my front teeth, which made them deformed. They basically did not fit in my little mouth at that time and some of them had to be pulled out. My brother, who is only a year younger, never had dental problems. His mouth was (and still is) full of healthy, strong, and white teeth, even though we both had the same diet as kids and we share the same genes from our parents (and to make it even less fair for me, his dental hygiene was never really thorough, very often he just wet his toothbrush to trick our mom into thinking that he had brushed his teeth in the morning). Very soon I had to get more dental fillings, reaching a total number of seven, and also braces. I never had a sweet tooth as a child, so I didn’t understand why I still kept getting cavities that were so deep and had to be painfully removed by a dentist’s drill. Oh the pain, oh the fear.

To this day, I fear the dentist. Each time they drilled into my poor enamel, I promised myself I would take better care of my teeth. I will brush after each meal, I will floss, use mouthwash religiously, and always use the best possible toothpaste. But my teeth never got better, until I started seeing dental health as part of a bigger picture – as a piece of a puzzle called general health. I discovered a few techniques that improved my dental health and I realized that brushing alone is very often just like taking a pill – it might cover the symptoms (in this case remove the tooth plaque), but not address the cause. I don’t know anyone who enjoys visits to the dentist – we don’t usually see them to show off our pearly whites, right? Let’s take a closer look at our dental health, so next time we are sitting in the waiting room and hear the sound of a drill from the office, we can stay calm and not panic. Let’s bite into it!

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Dec
13

POWER OF SPICE: GINGER

by Nina Vachkova

A warming cup of spicy ginger tea is a wonderful, comforting beverage for cold winter days when you don’t feel your best, whether you are starting to feel something scratchy in your throat, or have an upset stomach. We are usually advised to add ginger to our foods and drinks to boost our energy, metabolism, or to treat a wide range of symptoms ranging from sore throat to digestive issues. Is ginger really that powerful and versatile? Let’s find out! Zingiber officinale is a perennial plant with pale pink or yellow flowers. The origin of this plant is not really clear; some say it was first grown in China, others claim it comes from India. What matters more than it’s origin is the fact that ginger has been used in both China and India for over three thousand years for it’s medicinal properties. Similar to turmeric, ginger root is actually a rhizome of the Zingiber plant, and it is widely available all over the world as a fresh root, as a dried powdered, and also as an essential oil. It is used all over the world as a herbal remedy and also as a culinary ingredient. Let’s examine the health benefits first, before running to the kitchen.

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What do you turn to when you need to be motivated? What inspires you, what drives you forward? What makes you want to improve professionally, reach a fitness milestone, lose ten pounds, or improve your foreign language skills? Each of us is motivated by different incentives and we are all driven by different forces. My goals will be different from yours, but even if we share a common goal, we will both live with different circumstances and conditions, different challenges and obstacles, different ways of looking at things, and probably also differences in the speed at which we will decide to go forward. Some of us like to wade into things slowly, while others like to approach things by diving into them head-first. When I quit smoking, I did it cold turkey, but for my father, this didn’t work when he wanted to ditch nicotine; he had to slowly cut back on the number of cigarettes until he finally reached zero. Our reasons were different too. He quit when I was 12 years old, because I asked him to (and then I started three years later, duh) and I quit when I was 25 because I wanted to be healthy. The source of motivation was different for both of us.

TYPES OF MOTIVATION

There are generally two types of motivation – extrinsic and intrinsic. How they work is pretty self-explanatory: my dad was driven by an extrinsic motivation (somebody else made/encouraged him to quit, he did it mostly because of an external stimuli), while my decision was based on an internal drive, I did it for myself, to get healthier, to live longer and with a higher quality of life, the idea came from my own mind. Neither of these types of motivation is wrong per se, even though being motivated intrinsically is ultimately the better option, and I will explain why in a second. What matters the most with external motivation is the source and the reasoning behind it. Sometimes extrinsic motivation can literally save us. For example, when our lifestyle related behavior is damaging our health and well being, we very often take it very lightly, until a doctor shocks us with some bad news. Unfortunately, very often this type of warning from the outside comes when it already is too late. We feel unstoppable when we are young, not giving a thought to how our actions today will impact our life tomorrow (or some ten or twenty years later). Read the rest of this post

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