Anatomy of the Femur Bone: The Pillar of Support for the Human Skeleton

Femur

Introducing the most Massive and Strongest (in most ways) Bone in the Human Body

There are 62 bones in the legs: 10 trunk/hip bones, 14 ankle bones, and 38 foot bones. The femur (thigh) is the largest and strongest of these bones. Most land mammals capable of jumping also have femur bones, also lizards, frogs, and other tetrapod vertebrates. Its length on average is 26.74% of a person’s height, a ratio found in both men and women and most ethnicities with only restricted variation.

A Few Femur Bone Stats

  1. the Femoral neck sits at a 125 degree angle
  2. Femurs can resist 1,800-2,500 pounds of stress
  3. Vehicular accidents are the primary cause of breakage

The Greater Trochantergreater_trochanter_grays

The Great Trochanter is a large, irregular, quadrilateral eminence on the upper portion of the femur bone. This portion of the bone has several, extremely important muscle insertions for the thigh and hip bones:

The lateral surface, quadrilateral in form, is broad, rough, convex, and marked by a diagonal impression, which extends from the postero-superior to the antero-inferior angle, and serves for the insertion of the tendon of the gluteus medius.

Above the impression is a triangular surface, sometimes rough for part of the human_ape_femurstendon of the same muscle, sometimes smooth for the interposition of a bursa between the tendon and the bone. Below and behind the diagonal impression is a smooth triangular surface, over which the tendon of the gluteus maximus lies, a bursa being interposed.

The medial surface, of much less extent than the lateral, presents at its base a deep depression, the trochanteric fossa (digital fossa), for the insertion of the tendon of the obturator externus, and above and in front of this an impression for the insertion of the obturator internus and superior and inferior gemellus muscles.

Reference: (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Greater_trochanter)

The Lesser Trochanter

The Lesser trochanter is on the underside of the femoral head and also has several muscular insertions: The Psoas Major on bottom and the Illiacus on top.

The Femoral HeadFemur_insertion_point

The Femoral Head is the highest part of the femur bone, support by the femoral neck. It inserts as a ball/socket joint into the Hip/Ilium via the structure depicted to the right.

The Femoral Neck

The Femoral neck usually sits at a 120-135 degree angle with some variation. A fracture of this area is known as a hip fracture and happens during aging. This structure supports the head of the femur bone and its insertion into the hip.

femur_pic_grays_2The Femoral Body

The Shaft of the femur is somewhat curved and has a protruding ridge called the linea aspera (rough line). The area of the bone supports the strongest muscle tissue in the body, including the hamstrings, Quadriceps, and thigh musculature. The Vastus Laterallis (outer quadricep) and adductor magnus (inner thigh muscle) connects into the linea aspera.

Lower Portion of the Femur

lower_femur_graysThe Lower portion of the femur bone consists of two condyle (from the Greek word for knuckle), lateral and medial that create the surface for the upper tibia bone and the knee-joint. Coated meniscus tissue layers on top of the bone and provides synovial fluid for frictionless movement within the knee. The medial (inside) condyle is the larger than the lateral due to its increased weight-bearing. 

How the Femur Bone affects your Holistic Health

Femur bone fractures correlate with increased disease in the elderly. It is safe to say that the femur bone is an organ that houses much of the mineral deposits for the body. Therefore, as we age and the bone tissue become more porous, this bone become one of the primary areas of decomposition.

One of the primary aspects of bone health is acquiring enough calcium to maintain bone density. Most calcium is available via leafy green vegetables, notably kale, bok-choy, and broccoli. Sodas and carbonated beverages make it harder for the body to absorb calcium and should be avoided by those with osteoporosis (orthoinfo.com). Vitamin D is an important catalyst for absorbing calcium into the bloodstream.

Phosphorus is another vital nutrient to maintain bone health. Nuts, Sesame Seeds, peanut butter, parsley, crab and prawns are all foods high in phosphorus. Don’t feel like you have to eat meat or drink milk to get these essential nutrients.

References:
  1. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Femur_neck
  2. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Greater_trochanter
  3. https://orthoinfo.aaos.org/en/staying-healthy/calcium-nutrition-and-bone-health

What Does Cold Weather do to Your Body?

Cold 1936_Pneumonia_prop_strikes_like_a_man_eating_shark

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]

Teaching Yoga as an Outlet for Creativity

istockphotoyogastockphoto

Teaching with Passion

Over the past few months I have fallen into a new depth of relationship with teaching yoga. It is kind of parallel to my production of music in that I feel that my ability to express myself becomes more and more robust. All of the mediums I have at my disposal, including this website, are going to help me to connect in the world in a way that is so cool! I really enjoy being able to share all this stuff.

I’ve settled into 8 classes a week as a slight downgrade from the 9 I was teaching a couple months ago. A pace that I am glad to slow into because I need to continue my own yoga practice! It is a continual endeavor and honestly, I still like practicing my own yoga more than teaching. But that gaps gets smaller and smaller with time. I love the way that people take their time at the end of my class and the things that people say to me are so incredible sometimes. One of my students was telling my that he’s had tons of firsts in my class and that makes me stoked! It’s easy to get in your head about yoga and I try to involve the inner dialogue as little as possible. Feel that shit yo.

Evolution within communities

Anyways, I can’t believe how East Wind continues to create waves in the community and there are tons of people starting to sign up for classes and you can feel the community growing. The newer teachers are a big part of that and I’m super excited to teach alongside them. Obviously Scott, Tess, and Julie  hold down the fort, but its really nice to have some additional support to truly believe in and practice with. Ben and I have been friends for a while and I’m really supportive of him teaching yoga because the dude is a natural guru. Same with Francesca (also new to EW), I’m actually a little bit jealous about how well she connects with her squad. Anyways, both of them are going to be great teachers for me, once I get back into practicing in a studio. I just don’t want to practice anything but different ways to get into handstands right now, for some reason. Obviously that means that normal studio yoga classes aren’t quite “doin’ it” for me. It’s just me being an introvert.

Moving onto new things

Oh yeah, and Buck opened a new studio! Buck has always been a great teacher to me and I’m super excited to see how he evolves while doing his own thing. MomentOM is the name lol. I actually think that exact name was already taken by a studio in Pennsylvania ha. But shit man, he had like 60 people in that room in his Instagram post doing bicycles, it was nuts!!

Right now, I just want to be in my cave of yoga. practicing by myself, observing how the cogs of my mind reel and churn and do what they do. I need to spend the time alone, simply to post-process the amount of stuff that I am dealing with while creating all of this art. I want to stay as balanced as possible for this teaching yoga thing. Also, all that EDM music! Album on the way! (It might be called Galactic, or something like that..)

Also also, I am working on the free downloads of yoga classes. Hang in there. I might buy some software tonight to help, I want it to be working tomorrow.

Also also also, Yoga Tuesday nights at East Wind in Roseville are about to be off the chain! I’ve really tuned in my playlists lately #DJ

Well, of too spend my day off making music, first I’m gona run with a homie. Here’s to livin’ the dream!! <3

 

Vegetable Protein Sources for the Average Vegetarian

vegetable protein

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

 

Yoga’s Primary Benefits: Control of the Autonomic Nervous System

Yoga's Primary Benefits_autonomic_nervous_sytstem

Yoga’s Primary Benefits

Honestly, yoga’s primary benefits are still unknown. Our science isn’t good enough yet. Not really. Science is just starting to catch up to the power of some of the world’s most ancient healing traditions and are learning their meaning in a whole new light. Yoga’s primary benefit  is certainly related to the functioning of the central and peripheral nervous systems, but how is something that has yet to be explained. The Ujjayi breathing technique, or breathing slowly through the nose is almost certainly related to yoga’s primary benefits; how is something that we have yet to learn. The Western world is slowly learning that the Eastern traditions, medicines, healing techniques, and ritualistic traditions are grounded in some serious observational science, even if it isn’t quantifiable and measurable by current methodologies and technologies. Even if the causes aren’t completely explained. This is happening in Acupuncture, herbology, nutrition, Ayurveda, and even Yoga is one particular field where we are learning a lot about how beneficial something as simple as breath control can be. The human body is more complex than we can currently understand; we are continually learning more about the human ecosystem that is what we define as our body.

Yoga is one particular tradition that reaches very far back in civilization, but our scientific knowledge about how yoga can help the body to heal is fairly rudimentary. We know from clinical studies that yoga helps with sleep duration and quality of sleep, we also know that it helps with anxiety, depression, and stress. But yoga in our modern society mostly means exercise, something that is vastly under-rated in American culture and in our society; 66% of Americans are overweight.

Yoga almost certainly has benefits to the endocrine system, the respiratory system, the circulatory system, the heart, and the digestive system, but many of these benefits have yet to be measured. Even our understanding of the functioning of the respiratory system is still somewhat archaic, especially in terms of the lungs interacting with the heart, especially in the paradigm of disease. We have a lot to learn, but another, even more powerful benefit that we are learning about is the control one gains over the nervous system.

Yoga and the Nervous System

The nervous system is the central source of energy for your body; the electricity in your body is the fundamental source of energy for your body and therefore your consciousness to exist. The electricity that runs down your spine and into your peripheral nervous system, or the legs, torso, arms, organs, and every other part of your body is a continually firing process that continues from before birth and ends with our final breath. This is what allows us to be alive and is the fuel for our internal fire, passion, love, and existence.

This nervous system that we have evolved into over billions of years is extremely adaptive; different aspects of it have partitioned and specialized; we have a parasympathetic part of the autonomic nervous system and a sympathetic part; a conscious part of the nervous system and an unconscious part of the nervous system.

Yoga and Stress Regulation

The parasympathetic autonomic system is largely outside of conscious control and regulates most of the “background activities” of the body, such as digestion, sexual activity and arousal, urination, etc. The sympathetic nervous system allows us to control our fight or flight response or panic responses. Yoga allows us to tap into both of these systems Yoga's Primary Benefit LiveScience_Nervous_Systemand influence their activities and awareness breeds control, making awareness of the proprioception of the nervous system a primary benefit as well. That’s why balancing in yoga is such an important part of the practice.

One of yoga’s greatest benefits that is also a byproduct of meditation is alleviation of tension from the muscles, cortisol from the bloodstream (stress hormone), and slowing down of the heart and therefore circulatory system. Control over the nervous system helps us to do this because it allows everything else to slow down as a result of slowing the mind, and allowing the body to reach equilibrium and decompress. This can help us to fully relax in preparation for strenuous activity and the two can balance each other out really nicely because of yoga’s benefit to slowing the nervous systems.

I’ve done yoga in airports, on airplane bathrooms, in buses, in random hotel rooms, in airplanes, in cars, in RV’s, while camping, after long days of strenuous activity, etc and I will always use it to keep my circulatory system “feeling good” while traveling. The benefits of yoga for the body are undeniable and we are just starting to learn about the real consequences of this powerful, healthy, spiritual, and enlightening practice.

 

sources:

  1. Wikipedia
  2. Live Science
  3. Ride the Breath

 

The True Meaning of Yoga

yoga_dancer's_pose

Yoga provides exercises and experiences that allow you to experience life more fully and vitally. This means that the breathing exercises, stretches, calisthenics, abdominals, standing poses, back-bend, inversion, spinal twists, and hip-openers that you do during a yoga class are pretty useless by themselves. The idea is that they free you up inside to be present to everyday life and can therefore appreciate everything a little bit more and make you healthier to enjoy them. I think this is why looking at pictures of people doing yoga can feel so hollow, there is so much going on in that simple picture and you can’t really see the after effects of what the yoga is doing.

A human being performing an asana, or a positive postural alignment of their body is an incredible thing, if simply because the human being is alive and functioning in the compromised position, especially if they are doing ujjayi breathing. When you start to combine muscular stretches and skeletal alignments to focused the consciousness of that human in asana, postures can assist their body in realigning, strengthening, increasing flexibility and endurance. Yoga does this by innervating muscles that may not normally be flexed or contracted and distributing weight evenly among muscle groups while inversions provide your circulatory system with some much-needed filtration and release from gravity’s constant pressure. Yoga can help your body to recover from intense exercise and to stay young by keeping the fluid systems functioning properly.

Yoga is much more than an ancient Indian philosophy because it has evolved alongside American culture in today’s world, even if it is very romanticized in much of the western world’s culture of yoga studios, classes, teachers, etc. It is a part of the West’s culture now in a way that people really do appreciate and take advantage of in a good way. It is also a part of Hinduism and may be very old in India.

From science we have learned that the biggest benefits of yoga are usually the stress releases. Yoga is a powerful tool for mental and physical sensitivity, meaning that it gives you a good idea of how functional parts of your body are and how much endurance you have. It is especially useful in aligning nerves, which is why lots of people with sciatica find relief in yoga. We are just beginning to explore the effects of exercises such as headstand, shoulderstand, back-bends like camel pose, reclined hero pose, wheel pose, bow pose are all extremely powerful postures that science still has a lot to learn about. But it seems to have huge effects on nearly every system in the body because of the controlled levels of stress input and release and overall stimulation and fitness of the body’s muscular systems.

Yoga becomes an aspect of appreciating life. Sometimes yoga may come and go and I really think everyone experiences a little of this from time to time and that it isn’t a big deal. Sometimes life is just good and we are very happy and yoga can be in the background for a while, especially if everything is really good. But yoga is something that doesn’t really leave you. When you stand up straight, when you stretch your back while standing in line, the yoga is still a part of how you do things if you internalize it. The #yogaeverydamnday hashtag is kind of funny because I don’t think anyone does yoga 365 times a year. Even Ashtangis are supposed take the full moon of every month off.

Yoga doesn’t have to be something very formal, we don’t even really know much about the origins of what we practice now. Its not super religious, or ultra sacred, or anything more than what you want to make of it. You can practice in small quantities by yourself at home to really get things moving for your body in terms of flexibility and mobility. Teachers are good for more advanced things like inversions, breathing exercises, or advanced arm balances and advising you on how to advance in your practice. But its also something you can learn on your own and that can provide stability or whatever you may need it to be.

The Human Body is an Ecosystem (Part 4/5 : Gastro-Intestinal Micro-Organisms)

E.Coli

Part 4: Micro Organisms of the Gut

Please see the other parts of the article; once they are completed the links will be active:

Part 1: anatomy of the human microbiome
Part 2: micro-organisms on the skin
Part 3: micro-organisms in the mouth
Part 5: implications for modern medicine

The increased knowledge of gut bacteria is a an excellent example of a paradigm shift in the health community. The scientific community has obtained an incredible amount of knowledge from this new field of microbiology. The gut flora is sometimes considered an organ because of its importance, this community of micro-organisms is evidenced to protect its host (that’s us) from pathogens and allow us to extract nutrients from our diet.

Your colon contains over 100 trillion micro-organisms most of which are bacteria. It also has the most complex and intricate interactions of the human micro-biome. The flora in the stomach and upper intestine are not as diverse or populous. This “gut” ecosystem is complex with over 400 species (identified genomes) but not quite as numerous as the 1,000 different genomes of skin micro-organisms. This is probably because of the skin’s increased interaction with the environment.

Bacteria populations within the gastrointestinal tract differ greatly depending on the host: geographical location, diet, genetics, even the behaviors of different species are vastly different based on the history of the host. Not surprisingly, diet is probably the largest factor in the populations of bacteria in the gut.

These bacteria have lots of different functions: synthesizing vitamin B and K, nutrient extraction, metabolizing bile acids, sterols, and xenobiotics, defense against pathogens, cell growth stimulation, and response to disease. They are often referred to as the forgotten organ because of the immense role they play in digestion and little attention they have received until more recently.

Gut flora evolve during the course of an individual’s life. These microbiota are non-existent until birth, and mature at the age of 3. Micro-biota are normally associated with nutrient intake, and concentration of communities are indicative of the type of diet of the host. This ecosystem, or microbiome in the gut is essentially your metabolism and what allows your body to breakdown and re-intake nutrients from your food sources. They believe this may be a reason why breastfeeding is important for infants; the nutrients help to form the initial microbiome of the child.

Without these bacterial cells, our bodies wouldn’t be able to breakdown certain nutrients. They also help the gut to maintain efficiency, especially in the colon. The colon has a lower pH level than the rest of the body, preventing harmful bacteria from proliferating and possibly even enhancing the excretion of carcinogens (cancer causing agents).

Gut bacteria have a primary role in nutrient absorption, especially electrolytes, and help the body to control its fat levels. They also help to fight allergens including over-action of the immune system. Some bacteria can even stop inflammation during the digestive process. Some genus’ of bacteria aid cancer growth, while some fight it. There is increasing evidence to suggest that obesity might be caused by bacteria populations and that the two could be intricately related.

The populations of micro-organisms in your gut is not to be under-estimated, we will be learning more about the implications of gut ecology on diet, health, and especially in obesity regulation over the next few decades. This is one of humanity’s primary links to the environment and is essential for optimal immune function. As we learn more about allergies, we will also be learning more about the ecological properties of our own bodies.

The last article in the series should be out soon, stay tuned for the implications this research has on the future of modern medicine. Questions or corrections are always welcome!

Sources:

  1. http://link.springer.com/article/10.1007/s11894-009-0045-z#page-1
  2. http://journals.cambridge.org/action/displayAbstract?fromPage=online&aid=909284&fileId=S0007114502001782
  3. http://www.sciencemag.org/content/308/5728/1635.short
  4. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC1379087/?page=2
  5. http://journals.lww.com/jtrauma/abstract/1987/02000/endotoxin_but_not_malnutrition_promotes_bacterial.12.aspx
  6. http://link.springer.com/chapter/10.1007/978-94-011-2364-8_4#page-1
  7. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK7670/

 

The Human Body is an Ecosystem (Part 3/5 : Oral Micro-Organisms)

CDC/ Rodney M. Donlan, Ph.D.; Janice Carr (PHIL #7488), 2005

Part 3: Micro-organisms in the Mouth

Please see the other parts of the article; once they are completed the links will be active:

Part 1: anatomy of the human microbiome
Part 2: micro-organisms on the skin
Part 4: micro-organisms in the gut
Part 5: implications for modern medicine

"Gingivitis (crop)" by Lesion - Own work. Licensed under CC BY-SA 3.0 via Wikimedia Commons - http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Gingivitis_(crop).jpg#/media/File:Gingivitis_(crop).jpg
this human really needs to floss

Your mouth harbors a diverse, abundant, and extremely complex community of microscopic organisms. These bacteria form biofilms on the soft and hard tissues of your mouth, tongue, cheeks, tonsils and upper throat; this adhesion allows them to stick on the surface. Essentially, these bacteria form a sticky or slimy film that builds-up over time. These biofilms are known as plaque and their build-up is what causes dental diseases, such as periodontal disease (which research suggests is always preceded by gingivitis) and dental caries (cavities) as well as other diseases if they are able to enter the bloodstream.

Plaque (oral bacteria) build-up in the mouth is normal; its control is what prevents tooth decay and gum disease. These bacteria have evolved mechanisms to evade and modify the host; the host in turn has a defense system that monitors bacterial colonization and prevents invasion. This equilibrium between the host and bacteria is dynamic and varies greatly from person to person.

When we are born, our mouths do not contain any bacteria yet; during the course of development bacteria accumulate to allow for the dynamic equilibrium that I previously mentioned. Some major landmarks are the growth of teeth, and full maturation at about the time of puberty. Some names of the bacteria are streptococci, lactobacilli (common in probiotic supplements), staphylococci, corynebacteria and some other anaerobic bacteria (non-oxygen consuming); streptococcus salivarius (think saliva) is very interesting because it colonizes the mouth and upper respiratory tract just after birth and is an opportunistic pathogen, meaning it rarely finds its way into the bloodstream to cause harm (usually a decrease in white blood cells) and is mostly beneficial to digestion.

You can probably see why disrupting the bacterial growth in your mouth is a daily activity; plaque build-up can cause unhealthy amounts of bacteria in the mouth, especially with large amounts of sugar consumption. Flossing should be a daily activity as well because it performs the same functions as brushing in that it reaches the places that your toothbrush doesn’t in between the teeth and along the gum-line. However, I think that brushing three times a day is probably somewhat of a myth promoted by the dental industries; once a day is probably all you need, unless you are eating food with high bacterial content or sugar content regularly, or food with high acidity (which is probably the case if you are vegan, vegetarian, or just eat lots of fruit).

The WHO (World Health Organization) says that nearly all adults have dental carries during their life. It’s estimated that currently 36% of the population has carries and that number is steadily increasing as the world becomes more developed because of simple sugar consumption. Remember that bacteria love sugar!

Interestingly, kissing with full tongue contact is evidenced to provide exposure to the oral micro-organisms of  the other and could be an indicator for the hosts about the bacterial health of their partner. This might indicate mating compatibility, amongst other things. Some of the bacteria that are shared on the tongue’s surface have long-term colonization effects, meaning that kissing might lead to increased diversity in tongue bacteria. Cool, right? So kissing might be some kind of a test for bacterial compatibility in your potential mate during the courting process.

This article is probably the shortest in the ecosystem of the human body series. I hope you are enjoying it! Part 4 is all about gut bacteria, so check back soon to learn all about gut health.

Please leave any questions or feedback in the comments, thanks for reading.

Sources:

  1. http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0095454313001073
  2. http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1046/j.0906-6713.2002.003421.x/abstract;jsessionid=3363B7658E220D69B2BDB670F2CE5436.f04t02
  3. http://my.americanheart.org/professional/General/The-Complexity-of-the-Periodontal-Disease_UCM_439052_Article.jsp#mainContent
  4. http://www.homd.org/
  5. http://jb.asm.org/content/192/19/5002.full
  6. http://www.microbiomejournal.com/content/2/1/41

 

The Human Body is an Ecosystem (Part 2 of 5: Skin Micro-Organisms)

By Photo Credit: Janice Carr Content Providers(s): CDC/ Segrid McAllister [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

Part 2: Micro-organisms on the Skin

Please see the other parts of the article; once they are completed the links will be active:

Part 1: anatomy of the human microbiome
Part 3: micro-organisms in the mouth
Part 4: micro-organisms in the gut
Part 5: implications for modern medicine

On your epidermis (skin), there is an estimated 1 trillion micro-organisms known as skin flora, or skin microbiota. The word microbiome actually refers to their genomes, and there are about one thousand different species. Most live on the top-most layers of the skin and on the top of your hair follicles.

Skin flora are usually commensal (non-harmful) or mutualistic (beneficial). A primary benefit from these micro organisms is protecting against transient pathogens (traveling from another host) by competing for nutrients, secreting chemicals, or stimulating the skin’s immune system. Resident microbes (native to your skin) can cause skin diseases and enter the bloodstream creating illness and disease, particularly in people with weakened immune systems.

There are three different categorizations for the ecology of skin flora: sebaceous (oily or fatty), moist, and dry. sebaceous areas tend to have the greatest richness of bacterial species. The spaces between fingers and toes and inside of the belly button are the most diverse, and the nostrils and back tend to be the most similar between people. Interestingly, one study has shown that the area behind your heel has the greatest fungal diversity of the body. It also seems that as you go up the body from the ground (feet to head) there is a decrease in diversity of fungus, which intuitively makes sense because the ground has a huge amount of bacterial diversity that your body probably wants to protect against. Your feet have lots of fungus and the oily places on your body have lots of bacteria. Interestingly, most of the species of bacteria studied occasionally have pathogenic capabilities. It seems that there is a balance on the body, that when disrupted, can lead to many of the micro-organisms to become pathogenic. Let’s look into that a little bit more.

Flora can be beneficial, pathogenic, or commensal (non-harmful). Often, they can be all three, depending on the strength of the hosts immune system. I recommend reading this study on the balance of flora on the skin and how they interact, because it is extremely complex and very interesting. Essentially, the work in balance to keep each other from becoming too numerous and killing one type of bacteria can lead to growth of fungus.

Odor, interestingly, is not caused by sweat. It is caused by bacteria consuming it and creating byproducts that we consider smelly and unattractive.

Lets get back to the idea that the bacteria on your skin are actually mutualistic and beneficial when in balance. The skin creates antimicrobial peptides that control the growth of skin microbes. One example is cathelicidins which in addition to directly controlling bacterial populations, secretes Cytokine, which induces inflammation, skin regrowth, and blood vessel regrowth. Atopical dermatitis is linked to suppression of cathelicidin production; a major factor contributing to its production is Vitamin D3 (which actually isn’t a vitamin because the body produces it instead of needing to ingest it).

Your skin is slightly acidic when healthy. It has a PH of 4-4.5 due to lactic acid in sweat and produced by skin bacteria. Antimicrobial substances secreted by the skin are enhanced in acidic conditions and in alkaline conditions are more easily shed. The shedding of skin is one way that your body manages the buildup of flora on its surface. The immune system can produce cell mediated immunity against microbes, but some fungi have evolved to limit the immune response against them.

Micro-organisms also play a role in non-infectious skin diseases, like acne, atopic dermatitisrosacea, and psoriasis. Damaged skin can cause bacteria to become pathogenic. P acnes is a particular bacteria that causes acne, which can be healthy in some people and pathogenic in others. Probiotics are being used to balance the imbalance of skin bacteria that can cause acne.

Atpoical dermatitis is linked with low bacterial diversity; low gut microbial diversity in babies have been associated with increased risk in dermatitis. Other diseases will likely have probiotic cures in the future, used again to balance the populations of bacteria on the skin. These bacteria can also build immunities; the use of bacterial and fungicidal soaps will inevitably lead to bacterial and fungal populations which are resistant to the chemicals employed.

Skin flora also do not readily pass between people. This doesn’t mean you shouldn’t wash your hands after the bathroom (fecal bacteria are different from skin bacteria and make up close to 50% of your feces). The most effective (60 to 80% reduction) antimicrobial washing is with ethanol, isopropanol, and n-propanol. Viruses are most affected by high (95%) concentrations of ethanol, while bacteria are more affected by n-propanol. Unmedicated soaps are largely ineffective at controlling bacterial populations.

Over washing your skin can lead to damage through loss of water creating dryness. There are lipids in the skin that can be removed by detergents and alcohols and wearing gloves can exacerbate the problems of already irritated skin. Damaged skin can lead to normally mutualistic or commensal bacteria to become pathogenic.

Skin flora is less diverse than gut flora. Both are less diverse than soil flora. Next time, we’ll talk about oral bacteria and how your mouth has an ecosystem all its own. Stayed tuned for part 3: Oral microbiology.

I hope you’ve enjoyed this article. Please feel free to ask any questions in the comments, or to add anything you’ve found in your own research. Always happy to start a conversation.

<3 from Vietnam, Elliot