Organ Systems

The Human Lymphatic System (The Immune System)

Artiphoria.AI

Lymphatic system (aka the ‘immune system) – organs, tissues, and vessels work as a team to transport lymph (excreted fluid from cells or tissues in the body) back into the bloodstream.

This immune “system” of organs remembers every microbe it has ever fought and defeated.[1] It works in unison to prevent pathogens from invading the body.

Lymph fluid plays an extremely important role in the immune system and evolves over the course of a lifetime. The current body of research suggests that hydration is essential for overall health and can support various bodily functions, including the immune system and definitely cognitive functions including memory, attention, and concentration[10]. However, more targeted research is needed to fully understand the direct impact of hydration on adaptive immunity. The role of hydration in the immune system, particularly its impact on adaptive immunity, remains an area that could benefit from further exploration and research.

The immune system is separated into two parts: Innate (genetic, including phagocytes (macrophages and neutrophils), dendritic cells, mast cells, basophils, eosinophils, natural killer (NK) cells and innate lymphoid cells) and Adaptive (characterized by specificity, immunological memory, and self/nonself recognition). T cells and B cells are the two major components of adaptive immunity[2].

Human Lymphatic System from BioDigital.com

Lymph is a clear fluid that contains a high concentration of white blood cells and plays an important role in the immune response. Lymph nodes and organs filter and transmit nutrients, lymph fluid, and waste between the body’s tissues and the bloodstream. Humans have over 4 million exocrine sweat glands and all of them are involved in immune function.

Sweating and the Lymph System

Perspiration[3] is the process of sweating and comes from the Latin word spirae which means to inspire, exhale, blow, breeze, breathe, or emanate. “Physiologists have long regarded sweating as an effective and safe means of detoxification, and heavy metals are excreted through sweat to reduce the levels of such metals in the body.”[6] Heavy metals are excreted through dynamic exercise moreso than simple exposure to a heated environment (saunas, steam rooms, etc). Certain heavy metals are excreted far more effectively through sweating such as Nickel (ni), Lead (pb), and Chromium (cr).[6] Mercury and arsenic can also be added to the list. There is a specifically higher rate of toxicity release through sweat during extreme forms of exercise. One can imagine that a heated yoga room can be extremely effective for the waste removal of heavy metals.

The Organs of the Lymphatic System

Kidneys (Dall-E)

However, this sweating hypothesis doesn’t portray a complete picture of the excretion of toxins from the body because there are several very specific organs that are also involved in this process which include:

Primary Organs of the Immune/Lymphatic System:

Bone Marrow (Dall-E)
  1. Bone marrow: The soft, spongy tissue found in bone cavities. Bone marrow produces all the cells of the human body, including lymph and blood cells and are primary immunological organs.
  2. Lymph nodes: Small organs shaped like beans, which are located all over the body and connect via the lymphatic vessels. This is where Killer T cells mature and differentiate.
  3. Kidney’s: play an underappreciated role in the immune system. While it’s primarily known for its functions in filtering blood, removing waste products, and regulating electrolytes, the kidney also has several key roles in immunity including: barrier function, Innate Immunity, Adaptive Immunity, Cytokine Production, Interplay with Systemic Immune Responses, and Resistance to Infection and Autoimmune Diseases.
  4. Lymphatic vessels: A network of channels all over the body that carries lymphocytes to the lymphoid organs and bloodstream. They play a key role in maintaining fluid balance in the body and in immune surveillance
  5. Thymus : Two lobes that join in front of the windpipe (trachea) behind the breastbone. The primary role of the thymus is in the development of T-lymphocytes (T cells), which are a type of white blood cell crucial for the adaptive immune system. These T cells are responsible for fighting off pathogens and are central to the body’s immune response.
  6. Adenoids : Two glands located at the back of the nasal passage. Infection of the adenoids is called adenoiditis. This can cause symptoms like a sore throat, stuffy nose, swollen neck glands, difficulty swallowing, and breathing problems. Adenoids are more prominent in children. They begin to grow from birth and reach their maximum size between the ages of 3 and 5 years. After this, they usually start to shrink and may nearly disappear by adolescence. Adenoids are part of the Waldeyer’s ring, which includes the tonsils and other lymphatic tissue in the throat and nasal cavity. They help detect and fight off pathogens that enter the body through the nose or mouth.
  7. Spleen: A fist-sized organ located in the belly (abdominal) cavity. One of the spleen’s primary functions is to filter blood. It removes old and damaged red blood cells from the bloodstream. This process is crucial for maintaining healthy blood cells in circulation. The spleen is an integral part of the immune system. It produces lymphocytes, which are white blood cells that fight infection. The spleen also helps identify and destroy bacteria and other pathogens in the blood. When the spleen breaks down red blood cells, it recycles the iron contained within them. This iron is then used to make new blood cells.
  8. Peyer patches: Lymphoid tissue in the small intestine. These patches are rich in B and T lymphocytes. B cells within Peyer’s patches can differentiate into plasma cells that produce immunoglobulins (antibodies), particularly IgA, which is crucial for immune functions in the gut.
  9. Tonsils: Two ovular masses in the back of the throat. Tonsils are part of the body’s lymphatic system and contribute to the immune defense. They act as a first line of defense against pathogens that enter the body through the mouth or nose. Tonsils contain immune cells that help fight infection. This is most likely WHY breathing through the nose can be so beneficial and stimulating for the immune system.
  10. Skin: Often overlooked as part of the immune system, the skin acts as a physical barrier to prevent the entry of pathogens. It also contains specialized cells of the immune system, such as Langerhans cells, which help to detect and fight infections.
  11. Liver: The liver contributes to immune defense by producing acute-phase proteins that increase in response to inflammation and by removing pathogens and toxins from the blood. The liver plays a crucial yet often underappreciated role in the immune system. It’s known primarily for its functions in metabolism, detoxification, and nutrient storage, but its immune-related roles are equally significant. The liver has a unique role in promoting immune tolerance, particularly to food antigens and gut microbial antigens. The liver contains Kupffer cells that are a type of macrophage, which means they can engulf and destroy bacteria, damaged cells, and other potentially harmful substances. Kupffer cells play a vital role in removing debris and pathogens from the blood. In summary, the liver’s role in the immune system is multifaceted. It acts as a sentinel for pathogens, produces vital immune proteins, helps regulate immune responses, and plays a unique role in promoting tolerance to food and gut microbes. This underscores the liver’s importance not just in metabolism and detoxification, but also as a key player in the body’s defense mechanisms.
Liver (Dall-E)
References:
  1. John Hopkins – The immune System
  2. Science Direct – Adaptive Immunity
  3. BioDigital – Lymphatic System
  4. Wikipedia – Spirae
  5. Biology Corner Anatomy
  6. BJD – Sweat Glands
  7. Taylor Francis Online – Physiology of sweat gland function: The roles of sweating and sweat composition in human health
  8. Pub Med – Excretion of Ni, Pb, Cu, As, and Hg in Sweat under Two Sweating Conditions
  9. Science Direct – Sweat and the Skin
  10. PLOS – The impact of water consumption on hydration and cognition among school children
  11. Science Direct – Waldeyer’s Ring
  12. Chat GPT – research
  13. DALL-E (OpenAI’s Image Generation Model)
  14. Artiphoria.ai – Image creation

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artiphoria-prana-entering-the-body

The Anatomy of Breath: A Yogi’s Guide

Artiphoria.ai AI generated image

To sustain life, a body must produce sufficient energy through aspiration. Breathing is perhaps the only system of the body that is both autonomic and conscious depending completely on the awareness and focus of the breather.

Breathing through the nose, all the time, is part of the true yogi’s path. I can remember 6 months into practicing yoga, I attained the ability to breathe through my nose and it complete changed my yoga practice and my life. I got hooked on the feeling of yoga (call it a healthy addiction) and never looked back.

In Yoga, the energy of breath is called prana (प्राण, prāṇa) which can be described as solar wind in the atmosphere, or liquid light[6]. Through ventilated aspiration, the yogi ingests the prana into the nervous system. In Hindu literature, Prana is described as originating from the Sun and connecting the elements through the Chakras of the human nervous system and conscious awareness.

Yousun Koh

The nervous system is completely dependent on your breathing to function: The parasympathetic system slows your breathing rate. It causes your bronchial tubes to narrow and the pulmonary blood vessels to widen. The sympathetic system increases your breathing rate. It makes your bronchial tubes widen and the pulmonary blood vessels narrow.[4] This process of is also known as the “fight or flight” response. This happens through ventilation, or respiration as the body mobilizes itself to a threat. However, this system is over-active in our cultures because of our stress responses to non-life threatening stimuli. It is healthier for a human to regularly breathe through the nose.

The Nasal Cavity

“The function of the nasal cavity is to warm, moisturize, and filter air entering the body before it reaches the lungs.[1]” Here are the additional benefits:

Nose breathing is beneficial primarily because it allows your nasal cavities to:[2]

msdmanuals.com/home/lung-and-airway-disorders
  • reduce exposure to foreign substances.
  • humidify and warm inhaled air.
  • increase air flow to arteries, veins, and nerves.
  • increase oxygen uptake and circulation.
  • slow down heart rate.[3]
  • improve lung volume.
  • help your diaphragm work properly.

In essence, hairs and mucus lining the nasal cavity help to trap dust, mold, pollen and other environmental contaminants before they can reach the inner portions of the body and the lung’s organic tissue. Air exiting the body through the nose returns moisture and heat to the nasal cavity before being exhaled into the environment.[1] The mouth, also known as the oral cavity, is the secondary external opening for the respiratory tract. The mouth is mostly for filtering in eating and drinking.

Oblique muscles (accessory breathing muscles)

Focus on the Exhale

Nasal exhalations are an extremely important focus in yoga. The muscles in your chest and abdomen tighten or contract to create a slight vacuum around the lungs. This causes air to flow in. When you exhale, the muscles relax and the lungs deflate on their own, much like an elastic balloon will deflate if left open to the air. The lungs are extremely flexible sacks of tissue that have the ability to expand and contract.

References:
Yousun Koh
  1. InnerBody.com
  2. Dentallogictruro
  3. YogaU Online
  4. National Institute of Health (Govt)
  5. Himalaya Institute – science of breath
  6. NASA – Solar Wind
  7. kenhub.com
  8. Sivananda

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Henry Gray – the Father of modern anatomy

By H. Pollock - [1] [2], CC BY 4.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=1458730

Henry Gray was an innovator and disruptor in the medical field with his surgically precise incisions and methodically meticulous explorations of the human anatomy. I love his work and have used the depictions from his book for much of my anatomy articles due to their lack of copyright.

Gray was born in Belgravia, London in 1827 and spent most of his life in London.

His book on human anatomy, Gray’s Anatomy, is still regarded as the anatomical bible of the scientific world. He was extremely precise and through his experience making painstakingly exact incisions and methodically mapping the physical anatomy of the human body. While still a student, Gray received the triennial prize of Royal College of Surgeons for his essay The Origin, Connexions and Distribution of nerves to the human eye and its appendages, illustrated by comparative dissections of the eye in other vertebrate animals.

The following year, at the age of 25, Gray won another prize for his essay on the Spleen(this is a fascinating read when you have time), and was elected a fellow of the Royal Society.

In 1858, Gray Published his first anatomy book of 750 pages and hundreds of figures by his friend Henry Vandyke Carter. They met at St. George’s School of Medicine. At first, when Gray wrote his essay on the spleen, Carter thought Gray was a snob. Over time and as they worked together more their respect for each other grew, largely due to their seriousness and commitment to the field of medicine. Initial conflict occurred with respect to the payment that Carter received from Gray for his designs, being in need of money, and that he judged inadequate for his commitment.[5]

The images from these two scientific heroes are timeless. And luckily for me, they are copyright free due to their age and remain some of the most powerful anatomical depictions. I use many of them in my anatomical articles on this website.

Henry Gray’s Death

Gray was struck by attack of confluent smallpox, a most deadly kind of disease. On 13 June 1861, the day he was to appear for an interview as a final candidate for a prestigious post at the St. George’s Hospital, he died at the age of 34.[3] He was buried at Highgate Cemetery.[4][5] Gray had been vaccinated against smallpox as a child with one of the early forms of the vaccine.[6]

He is assumed to have been infected due to his passionate care giving for his ten-year-old nephew, Charles Gray, who did recovered from the deadly disease.

The Style of the Book

had a major influence on science that has since but irreplaceable. It is reminiscent of the evolution of art from Classicism to Hellenism in Ancient Greek art, throughout the Renaissance and afterwards, in that the accurate and precise portrayal of the human form was the primary goal. Read more about the stylistic evolution of anatomy here.

You can buy a cool version of Gray’s Anatomy Here.
References:
  1. Henry Gray’s Anatomy of the Human Body
  2. Henry Gray on the Structure and Use of the Spleen
  3. Henry Gray Wikipedia Page
  4. Vandyke Carter (Henry) Wikipedia Page
  5. Royal Society Wikipedia PageRoyal Society Website
  6. The Making of Gray’s Anatomy
  7. Internet Archive of Gray’s Anatomy
  8. Style and Non-style in Anatomical Illustration

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nose breathing example

Nose Breathing & the Lungs

The Benefits of Nasal Breathing

Ventilation and The Sympathetic Nervous System

Breathing is a fundamental act of life. In humans, breath represents the gateway between the mind and the body. Also called ventilation, it is the first action we take when we are born, and the last before we die. The lungs are the primary mover of energy within the body; when stressed, the breathing rate elevates. Yogis and practitioners of meditation are particularly interested in breathing as a way of becoming more aware of the body.

Ideally, a yogi can breath in and out through their nostrils ceaselessly. Some people have physical limitations in their ability to do this, so as always, consideration must be taken the unique deviations of an individual skeleton. The physiological difference between breathing through your nose and through your mouth is tremendous. Clearing your nasal and air passageways can be a simple part of daily maintenance, or caring for the body’s optimal organic function. Yoga is the exercise of “stilling the mind” through the restricted the flow of breath. Using the nostrils is key to that restriction.

The “Energy” Organ

The lungs are the primary source of your energy level. They extract oxygen from the air we breathe primarily on the exhale. About 5% more of the oxygen in the air is extracted into our lungs when we exhale through the nostrils as well (air has been measure to enter ~21% and leave ~12% while breathing through the nose | ~21% and leaves at 16% through the mouth).

“When you exercise, carbon dioxide levels increase significantly which alert the chemoreceptors, which subsequently notify the brain’s respiratory center to increase the speed and depth of breathing. This elevated respiration rids the body of excess carbon dioxide and supplies the body with more oxygen, which are needed during aerobic exercise.” (Sarah Novotny and Len Kravitz, Ph.D, UNM, “The Science of Breathing”)

Nose Breathing and the Diaphragm

Because the nostrils are smaller then the mouth, air exhaled through the nose creates back flow of oxygen during the exhale. It slows the air escape so the lungs have more time to extract oxygen from them. They also increase the humidity of the air that travels into the lungs and Similar to closing the end of a teapot, breathing this way creates pressure in the diaphram and allows for a deeper exhale. A more complete exhale activates accessory breathing muscles to the fullest capacity which includes all of the abdominal muscles. All of this occurs muscularly while the sustained, increased oxygen level affect the muscles and nervous system regenerating it and allow the yogi to continue practicing. The key is slowing down the pacing so that the body can sustain its oxygen level.

Let’s look at the different parts of the anatomy involved with breathing.

Muscles involved with Breathing

  • Sternocleidomastoid
  • Scalenes (neck)
  • TrapeziusMuscles of Respiration
  • Latissimus Dorsi (upper back)
  • Pectoralis
  • Diaphragm – primary breathing muscle
  • Rectus
  • Internal Obliques
  • External Obliques
  • Transverse Abdominus
  • Serratus Muscles (ribs)
  • Illiocostalis
  • QL (lower back)
Thoracic Organs

The bottom of the diaphragm is extremely important as it separates the upper portion of the torso from the lower and assists in the ventilation process. This is key to understanding why full capacity respiration is so important to the human body. Most of the organs lie within the Thorax, or chest cavity, so the lungs have a very complex and interesting relationship to the rest of the organs, especially the organs of the digestive tract.

How your Lungs Affect your Organ Anatomy

Because the nostrils are smaller than the mouth, air exhaled through the nose creates a back flow of air (and oxygen) into the lungs. And because we exhale more slowly through the nose than we do though the mouth, the lungs have more time to extract oxygen from the air we’ve already taken in. This affects the vital nervous system connections to your lungs and heart. Not breathing well through your nose can alter your heart rate and blood pressure. It can also increase the intensity and frequency of the human stress response. Many researchers have said that mouth breathing can also be misdiagnosed as ADHD. This is why yoga can be extremely important and useful for children and to alleviate the negative aspects of stress response (cortisol release).

That about does it for the known effects of respiration through the nose, although I’m sure the benefits to the organs, specifically the digestive tract are understated. Share what you know below!

References:

  1. Physiopedia
  2. National Heart, Lung, and Blood Association
  3. Fitbit Blog- 3 Reasons
  4. IFL Science – Increase memory and Recall
  5. Science Direct – Article Aggregate
  6. Rhythm of Breathing Affects Emotions
  7. Pre-frontal and Mouth Breath
  8. Harvard Health
  9. Conscious Health

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Cold 1936_Pneumonia_prop_strikes_like_a_man_eating_shark

What Does Cold Weather do to Your Body?

Cold Weather and Lower Temperatures Affect the Human Body

The Human Body is made to deal with the Cold

Cold Temperatures stress the body, but the human body is meant to adapt to colder conditions. You see, low temperatures stress the body; but in a way, it is a very psychological phenomenon. It happens in your mind. The way that you react mentally can have a big effect on how the stress of cold affects you. However, for this article we will discuss primarily the physiological response of the human body to low temperatures.

Over time, the body will adapt to colder conditions. Even brief exposure to low temperatures lead to increased levels of norepinephrine and cortisol, lymphocytosis, decreased lymphoproliferative responses, decreased levels of TH1 cytokines and salivary IgA, and increased lactate levels during exercise. It takes time for the body to de-stress itself in the cold.

Does Exercising Help in the Cold?

Exercising in the cold doesn’t seem to help too much. It can for a short period of time though. Just try not to sweat! Exercising exhausts the bodies energy reserves for immediate heat. Though in general, exercising is a good way to keep the immune system strong. Sweating also causes the body to lose heat quickly.

It seems that previous exposure to cold temperatures is one of the few things that helps the body to adapt. But acute exposure of the skin can have a huge effect on the body’s immune response, so be sure to keep your skin covered in colder temperatures until your body has adapted. They say it takes about 2-3 weeks for your body to adapt to those lower temperatures.

The Cold and the Human Heart’s Health

Cold weather and Cardiovascular Health

People die more often of heart and respiratory diseases in the winter. Vasoconstriction increases blood pressure during the bodies cold-stimulus response. The decrease in cellular plasma also creates a lot more work for your heart.

The Body’s Response to Cold over Time

Exposure to cold causes the sympathetic nervous system to heat the body by constricting blood flow to the extremities and superficial tissue. The body then begins to constrict the flow of the immune system, as well as the nervous system. As the nervous system restricts flow, the extremities lose blood flow until frostbite and more serious, permanent damage occurs.

Who do Mammals Shiver?

Why do you Shiver when it’s Cold Outside?

Over time, the blood pressure increases to cope and the body begins to shiver at a certain point. Once you are shivering heavily, you are at the point where you can get frostbite, or even hurt yourself because the body convulses so strongly. But this can also happen well above frostbite temperatures due to the body’s tolerance level. As people get older, they shiver less, which results in a more rapid drop of temperature upon exposure.

Here’s how Shivering works Neurologically:

Located in the posterior hypothalamus (brain) near the wall of the third ventricle is an area called the primary motor center for shivering. This area is normally inhibited by signals from the heat center in the anterior hypothalamic-preoptic area but is excited by cold signals from the skin and spinal cord. Therefore, this center becomes activated when the body temperature falls even a fraction of a degree below a critical temperature level.

Humans heat themselves Naturally by Burning Fat

Humans also have regulatory neurotransmitters and hormones to help the body burn fat for heat when the body is cold. This is primarily how the newborn and elderly bodies create heat. As we get stronger immune systems, the body shiver response gets stronger, apparently.

Injuries from cold temperatures:

frostbite, hypothermia, heart attacks due to decreased blood flow

References

  1. Human Responses to Cold
  2. Cold exposure and winter mortality from ischaemic heart disease, cerebrovascular disease, respiratory disease, and all causes in warm and cold regions of Europe

  3. The Association of Cold temperature and low humidity with increased occurrence of respiratory tract infections

  4. Exposure to cold and respiratory tract infections [Review Article]

  5. Cold Exposure Human Immune Responses and Intracellular Cytokine Expression
  6. Acute Cooling of the Surface of the Body and the Common Cold
  7. Immune Responses to Exercising in a Cold Environment

  8. Can Exercise Make Us Immune to Disease?
  9. Cross-Talk between the Immune and Endocrine Systems

Common Cold Wiki

No antibiotics, Cough Meds are BS… eat some candy:

Possible explanations may include temperature-induced changes in the respiratory system,[42] decreased immune response,[43] and low humidity causing an increase in viral transmission rates, perhaps due to dry air allowing small viral droplets to disperse farther and stay in the air longer.[44] The apparent seasonality may also be due to social factors, such as people spending more time indoors, near infected people,[42] and specifically children at school.[37][41]

There is some controversy over the role of low body temperature as a risk factor for the common cold; the majority of the evidence suggests that it may result in greater susceptibility to infection.[43] Herd immunity, generated from previous exposure to viruses, plays an important role in limiting viral spread, as seen with younger populations that have greater rates of respiratory infections.[45]

Poor immune function is a risk factor for disease.[45][46] Insufficient sleep and malnutrition have been associated with a greater risk of developing infection following rhinovirus exposure. Due to their effects on immune function.[47][48] Breast feeding decreases the risk of acute otitis media and lower respiratory tract infections among other diseases,[49] and it is recommended that breast feeding be continued when an infant has a cold.[50] In the developed world breast feeding may not be protective against the common cold in and of itself.[51]

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Yoga's Heart Benefits

Five of Yoga’s Heart Benefits (Heart Health)

5 of Yoga’s Heart Benefits

Yoga’s Heart benefits are rather robust, ranging from increased circulatory function to decreased heart rate, to reduced cortisol levels in the bloodstream. Considering modern western yoga’s intensity, I think it is quite obvious that the longer duration vinyasa classes can have aerobic component to them.

Cardio-vascular disease affects more than 1 in 3 Americans, making it the most deadly disease in the United States. 600,000 Americans die of heart disease every year. Coronary Artery disease is the most deadly disease in the world.

Breathing through the nose helps to strengthen heart tissue, bronchial tubes, lung tissue, and the valves of the heart. Check out my previous article on breathing through the nose.

1. Cortisol (Stress) Regulation

“Cortisol is a steroid hormone that is produced and released by the adrenal gland and functions as a component of the hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal (HPA) axis in response to stress. Hatha yoga promotes physical relaxation by decreasing activity of the sympathetic nervous system, which lowers heart rate and increases breath volume. We believe this in turn has a positive effect on the HPA axis,” said Curtis. (PsychCentral) Studies differ in talking about the role of yoga in regulating cortisol, but all agree that it helps with the regulation of stress hormones. It also helps in the way that stress is perceived having drastic effects on how stress is processed by the body. Yoga essentially helps these circulatory functions to achieve higher levels of function by increasing flow.

“Cortisol and the stress response have known deleterious effects on the immune system. High levels of perceived stress and increases in cortisol have been found to lengthen wound-healing time in healthy, male adults.”

2. Lower Blood Pressure

“Elevated blood pressure is a powerful predictor of congestive heart failure and other Cardiovascular Disease (CVD) outcomes” (Journal of Clinical and Diagnostic Research). Plaque builds up in the walls of arteries and makes it harder for blood to flow. Yoga helps to relieve this by increasing circulatory function through purifying the blood stream through oxygenation, which also helps with metabolism. Hypertension is one of the leading causes of stroke, which yoga has been clinically shown to reduce.

“Yogic practices significantly reduced systolic blood pressure, diastolic blood pressure, mean arterial pressure, and orthostatic tolerance.”

3. Improved Circulation

Circulation of hormones and various chemical messengers throughout the body is necessary for new tissue growth, tissue repair, and anti-inflammatory disease prevention. Myokines are excreted during muscle contractions, which could be a major reason why the increased duration of stretches is so beneficial for healing. During yoga, joints are used in full range of motion and articulation helping to soak them in new oxygen, blood, and nutrients, assisting with osteoporosis and arthritis.

“Yoga increases blood flow and levels of hemoglobin and red blood cells which allows for more oxygen to reach the body cells, enhancing their function.”

4. Lowering Cholesterol

Yoga helps to control cholesterol and hypertension. The relationship between the growth of plaque within arteries is still being explore in conjunction with yogic exercises, but several clinical studies have shown that yogic exercises reduce the speed at which the plaque builds-up, a process known as atherosclerosis.

5. Improved Heart Rate Variability

“There is also evidence that yoga practices help increase heart rate variability. Heart rate variability is an indicator of the body’s ability to respond to stress flexibly.” One of yoga’s heart benefits is the ability to perceive stress differently. This affects the entire hormone system, including the stress response system. We are continuing to learn more about how yoga benefits our bodies in this way.

5 of the Best Foods for Heart Health

  1. Salmon
  2. Blueberries
  3. Dark Chocolate
  4. Citrus
  5. Broccoli, Spinach, and Kale

Quotes about Yoga’s Heart Benefits

American Heart Association

“The more energy you put into it, the more you’re going to get out of it,” she said. “After 12 weeks, you may see a dramatic increase in exercise functionality, and blood pressure and cholesterol levels may decrease.”

American Osteopathic Association

“Between lowering blood pressure, increasing circulation, and lowering bad cholesterol, it’s no wonder that yoga helps to lower a person’s risk of heart disease.”

MedicineNet

“Your heart beats approximately 60-80 times per minute at rest.
100,000 times a day.
more than 30 million times per year.
and about 2.5 billion times in a 70-year lifetime!”

References:

  1. http://www.ijcep.org/article.asp?issn=2348-8093;year=2016;volume=3;issue=2;spage=57;epage=58;aulast=Pal
  2. https://www.hindawi.com/journals/ecam/2013/743504/
  3. http://www.scielo.br/scielo.php?pid=S0066-782X2009000600008&script=sci_arttext&tlng=en
  4. https://academic.oup.com/cardiovascres/article/38/2/332/299270/Effect-of-respiratory-rate-on-the-relationships
  5. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3978938/
  6. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3415184/
  7. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3573542/
  8. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3939525/
  9. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3193654/
  10. http://bmjopen.bmj.com/content/1/1/e000085
  11. https://bmccomplementalternmed.biomedcentral.com/articles/10.1186/s12906-016-1286-7
  12. http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S2225411017300172
  13. http://www.osteopathic.org/osteopathic-health/about-your-health/health-conditions-library/general-health/Pages/yoga.aspx
  14. http://www.medicinenet.com/aerobic_exercise/article.htm
  15. http://www.heart.org/HEARTORG/HealthyLiving/PhysicalActivity/Yoga-and-Heart-Health_UCM_434966_Article.jsp#.WYDdWf_yvq0

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human bone anatomy

Human Bone Anatomy | Osteology

What are Bones?

Bones are not inanimate rock like structures in the human body; bones are organs that produce red and white blood cells, store minerals, enable mobility, and provide structural support for the body. They are lightweight, strong, and hard, and function within the body in many different processes, including autoimmune function. , There are two types of mineralized osseous tissue, or bone tissue, cortical and cancellous, and gives the bones rigidity and a coral-like three-dimensional internal structure. Other types of tissue found in bones include marrow, endosteum, periosteum, nerves, blood vessels and cartilage.

Primary Nutrients

Most literature proposes Calcium and Vitamin D as the primary nutrients for healthy bones.

Calcium is important in bone creation and repair. Your muscles, organs, and nerves also need calcium to function properly; nerves use sodium to pump electricity through nerves in the form of action potentials. Calcium helps to keep these actions potentials from excessively firing by working in concert with GABA receptors, most notably in high intensity auditory transduction. (http://phys.org/news/2007-03-calcium-life-death-nerve-cells.html). Leafy greens, fish, and some fruits are great sources of calcium.

Vitamin D is a group of secosteroids responsible for intestinal absorption of primary nutrients such as calcium, iron, and zinc. Vitamin D is synthesized in the skin is the primary way that the body produces the nutrient; though it acts as a hormone because the nutrient travels to become active in the liver and kidneys. Vitamin D has a significant role in calcium homeostasis (balancing) and production in the kidneys and liver. It also affects neuromuscular and immune function.

Protein, magnesium, Vitamin K, and phosphorus are also suggested as beneficial nutrients for bone health.

Bone Structure

bone_layer_image

Bone tissue, bone marrow, blood vessels, epithelium, and nerves make up the different types of bone cells. Tissue includes Osteoblasts and osteocytes, which are involved in the creation and mineralization of bone; osteoclasts reabsorb bone tissue. The mineralized matrix of bone tissue has an organic component of mainly collagen called ossein and an inorganic component of bone mineral made up of various salts. Bone tissue refers specifically to the bone mineral matrix that forms the rigid sections of the organ. There are two types of bones: cortical and cancellous. Cortical bone tissue create hard exteriors for protection while cancellous bone is more spongy and allows for the metabolic processes on the interior of the organ; the two are biologically identical, but the expression of their microstructures are specialized.

Bone marrow is flexible tissue and reproduces red and white blood cells as well as lymphocytes that support the immune system. Cores of marrow in the heads of long bones create about 500 billion red blood cells per day in hematopoiesis. 4% of human physiology is bone marrow; so about 5 pounds if you weight ~125. The body creates two types of marrow: red, the only type in the body at birth; and yellow, which increases in proportion during the aging process. Transplants can cure extreme diseases and is one of the primary reasons why stem cells can be so beneficial. The body stores marrow in the femur, hips, vertebrae, and ribs.

Osteo Factshttp://training.seer.cancer.gov/index.html

At birth, there over 270 bones in the body, which during the aging process turn into 206 by fusing together (joining). The biggest is the femur
(thigh) and the smallest is the stapes in the inner ear.  The hard cortical tissue (outer layer) comprises 80% of mass and networks of trabecular marrow comprise the rest. Bones are mineral reserves for the body and marrow stores fat. They are metabolically very active and work in tandem with the digestive system, immune system, and endocrine system in balancing nutrients, defending against disease, and releasing hormones, respectively. 22 bones fuse together after birth to form the skull. 26 aligned, specialized bones called vertebrae make up the spine, protect the spinal cord, and form the primary support structure for the body.

Aging and Osteoporosis

The problems arising from bones occur in osteoporosis, fractures, arthritis, tumors, and infections can affect the organic tissue. Fractures are breaks in tissue, from repetitive force or trauma. Aging causes osteoporosis; the body stops producing the necessary amount of building material for the body and literally means “holey bone” (porosis meaning hole). Tumors and malignancy’s can occur in various forms in bone tissue as well. This makes it much easier for the bones to fracture.

Cancer

Cancer can also occur in tissues structures and is a common site for it to metastisise to. Several primary cancers occur within the bones and some even within the marrow, such as Leukemia and multiple myeloma. The tissue distorted by cancer is normally more prone to fracture and weakness, which becomes particularly painful when it occurs in the spine.

References:

  1. AAOS – http://orthoinfo.aaos.org/topic.cfm?topic=A00317
  2. Wikipedia – https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bone_marrow
  3. ASU Ask a Biologist – https://askabiologist.asu.edu/bone-anatomy
  4. Wikipedia – https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Neuroregeneration
  5. NOFG – https://www.nof.org/patients/what-is-osteoporosis/
  6. Skelton – http://www.innerbody.com/image/skelfov.html

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nose breathing

The Anatomy of Nose Breathing

Why is Nose Breathing Important?

Nose breathing is the most essential part of yoga. It is also poorly understood in modern culture. Breathing through the nose is nasal_cavityphysiologically much different than breathing through the mouth; there is far more space in your nasal cavity than in your mouth to start. There is also a filtration system in the nose that doesn’t exist in the throat. You can see this on the right; the tongue takes up the vast majority of the space in the mouth and the nasal passageway is very small at certain points. The mouth actually makes for a more narrow and less effective breathing passageway, especially when you consider the benefits of the pressure system that exists in the nasal cavity. Your body craves breathing through the nose, especially while you sleep! Human breaths are more powerful through the nose.

There are studies that have shown all kinds of benefits of breathing through the nose; it is even considered the proper method for breathing by the scientific community. “[Nose breathing] increases circulation, blood oxygen and carbon dioxide levels, slows the breathing rate and improves overall lung volumes ” Swift, Campbell, McKown  1988 Oronasal obstruction, lung volumes, and arterial oxygenation.

Breathing through the nostrils has also been proven to improve brain function; opposite nostril breathing stimulates the opposite hemisphere of cortex and the nervous passageways in the cortex (ie left nostril nasal cavity side viewbreathing is associated with stimulating right brain activity).

There is also significant research being done on the relationship between the prefrontal cortex and the passageways to the lungs. It is being shown that there are major correlations between ADHD and sleep disorders and breathing habitually through the mouth. Information beyond the clinical applications for sleep apnea where hard to find; obviously the health need ($$) for assistance with sleep apnea is somewhat sizable, therefore there is more research done around it. However, it has been proven that alternate nostril breathing affects the brain’s physiology; there are some extremely close relationships between specific portions of the brain and the respiratory pathways, especially in the hindbrain (medulla and pons).

There is an ever-increasing body of research on the relationship between sleep apnea, asthma, and on the negative effects of breathing habitually through the mouth. Nose breathing is more protective and efficient at fueling the human body’s need for oxygen; however, the passageway is relatively easily obstructed. The mouth has been shown to be more efficient at releasing carbon dioxide quickly than the nose, although exhaling through the nose has notable benefits for the mucus membrane and cilia of the nose. Let’s explore how the nose is a powerful filtration system for the lungs.

Filtration Systems

When I was 25 I visited Beijing with some of my friends from the time that I studied abroad in Paris. While I was there, I noticed myself continually nose breathing due to the large particles in the air. I was fairly deep into my yoga practice so I was used to breathing through my nose for long periods of time, but I instinctively understood that breathing through my nose would help to filter the air and keep the large bronchitis and cancer causing particles out of my trachea and mouth.

“The nose serves as the only means of bringing warm humidified air into the lungs. It is the primary organ nose breathingfor filtering out particles in inspired air, and it also serves to provide first-line immunological defense by bringing inspired air in contact with mucous-coated membranes that contain immunoglobulin A (IgA).”

The nose assists in stimulating the immune system. The changes in pressure stimulate the physiological processes associated with the maintenance of the mucus membrane and help to retain oxygen in the lungs. It also provides humidity and heat for the air entering the lungs, as well as increased filtration from the cilia and small hairs that line the nose. In the picture above, you can see the olfactory(smell) nerves and the organization of blood vessels within the nasal cavity. Overall, it is a good idea to concentrate on breathing through the nose, whether sleeping, awake, or even during milder forms of exercise.

Why is this important for yoga?

This information helps to explain a large portion of why yoga is so beneficial for the body. Breathing intensively through the nose for one to two hours creates space for the habit of constantly breathing through the nose. This is probably the biggest reason that in clinical studies, sleep quality of subjects who practice yoga is higher. Breathing’s relationship to the functioning of the brain is also interesting; some studies have shown that yawning helps to cool the brain, but the act of yawning is probably far more complex than that simple generalization.

Questions?

How does nasal breathing affect the hippocampus and memory?

How does nose breathing affect the hypothalamus and the regulation of your emotions through the endocrine system?

What parts of the brain does yawning cool?

What portions of the cortex received the greatest benefit from breathing through the nose? How about the mouth?

These questions, at least as far as I can tell, science has yet to answer. But we do have clinical evidence that yoga positively affects mood disorders, PTSD, anxiety, depression, and there are a lot of very positive findings between yoga and cardiovascular health, while simply nasal breathing is proven to positively affect the heart and lung tissue. It is probably just a matter of time before we discover more of the benefits of yoga and of nose breathing.

Don’t be a mouth breather! 🙂

 

References:

  1. http://emedicine.medscape.com/article/874771-overview
  2. http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/store/10.1111/j.1398-9995.1999.tb04402.x/asset/j.1398-9995.1999.tb04402.x.pdf;jsessionid=AECDFA5F44190494D5E7B315E7A6FEB2.f01t03?v=1&t=ilmeorkg&s=c4bc17315db2cd2d969feca8ad933515fa409e02&systemMessage=Wiley+Online+Library+will+be+unavailable+for+up+to+3+hours+on+Saturday+19th+March+2016+from++11%3A00-14%3A00+GMT+%2F+07%3A00-10%3A00+EDT+%2F+19%3A00-22%3A00+SGT+for+essential+maintenance.++Apologies+for+the+inconvenience.
  3. http://care.american-rhinologic.org/nasal_physiology
  4. http://medind.nic.in/iad/t05/i4/iadt05i4p251.pdf
  5. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/8063359
  6. http://journals.lww.com/neuroreport/toc/2013/12040
  7. http://online.liebertpub.com/doi/abs/10.1089/acm.2005.11.711

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vegetable protein

Vegetable Protein Sources for the Average Vegetarian

Vegetable Protein Sources

Vegetable protein isn’t hard to find. In fact, it’s probably already in your house, disguised. I am a pescetarian. I am not a vegan, but I was once. I stopped because it was too hard to stay healthy without eating tons of sugar and it was very difficult to avoid eggs and dairy products (especially goat cheese, that stuff is amazing).

It is extremely hard to be vegetarian in the United States. The system is literally working against the health of the American people; beef companies get huge subsidies, as do dairy farms and monoculture crops are the norm. This is the opposite of biodiversity, which is necessary for health gut bacteria (see the human body is an ecosystem part 4). I won’t even mention that animal agriculture is the cause of over 50% of the planet’s greenhouse gas emissions. I call myself a vegetarian, which isn’t wrong because pescetarianism is a branch of vegetarianism.

Let get to the good stuff; if we don’t eat meat, then where does our protein come from? The answer is vegetables. Consider for a moment that a 350 Lbs low-land gorilla eats almost exclusively leafy greens.

But what vegetables? Here the top 10 from most concentrated to least concentrated:

  1. Lentils & peas – eat lots of these, if you don’t already
  2. Soybeans – you probably already eat a lot of this
  3. Lima beans & corn – you probably eat a lot of this too…
  4. Kale – cook it to change the nutrient quality
  5. Broccoli – see above, can give you energy if you feel down (lots of B vitamins)
  6. Mushrooms – aren’t they great?
  7. Artichokes – yup
  8. Spinach – Popeye, duh
  9. Parsley – I exclusively drink this one…
  10. Potatoes & Carrots – always great!

Da fuq? All of the veggies have tons of protein. Is vegetable protein healthier? Why do I feel like I need meat?

Your body habituates itself to eating meat when it becomes a normal part of the day. After my first week of being vegetarian (at 24, after eating meat daily until that point…) I felt like I had to go back to eating meat and did. After a couple of weeks of eating meat, I realized that I didn’t like it as much and went back to vegetarianism and eventually hardcore veganism. Now I eat fish when its available and a little chicken here and there (probably once a month).

There is a very popular cultural myth in the United States that you need meat as a protein source. This is one of the health tragedies currently plaguing us, as hamburgers are cheaper than salads. For someone trying to be healthy, it really sucks. Besides, where do those enormous cows get all of their protein to grow far larger than humans? It’s in the vegetable protein. Grass. But if you are really serious about losing weight, you’ll do what I did. I didn’t eat sugar for about six months.

You’ll never see it advertised, but if you really want to lose weight, stop eating sugar and drink more water. It’s that simple. Don’t even worry about protein. I’m speaking from my personal experience in a world that will do anything to make you think you need more food to be healthy. If you’re American, less is probably best. And no, I’m not talking to any girls out there with anorexia. You should be trying to eat early in the morning to maintain healthy metabolism. Try salad for breakfast. Dieting is far more important that exercise for weight loss, especially once you are in good physical shape. Trust me, I’ve been fat and in amazing shape. There is a lot of truth to the myth that abs are made in the kitchen. The only part that’s a myth is that you need to do ridiculous amounts of abdominal exercises to have your abdominal muscles be visible. Or just do yoga twice a day for 3 months and weight lift a few times a week.

Limiting your meat consumption could be the healthiest thing you can do for your body today. The second could be a yoga class 😉

Another excellent source of protein that I didn’t mention is quinoa. I love the stuff and its full of protein, but it’s not a vegetable protein so it isn’t on the list. Stick to leafy greens and remember how much protein lowland gorillas get from eating leaves all day long.

 

Sources:
  1. Healthalicious
  2. Cooking Light
  3. Body Building
  4. Women’s Health
  5. Mind Body Green
  6. Livestrong
  7. No Meat Athlete
  8. Wikipedia

 

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