The Human Body is an Ecosystem (Part 1 of 5)

Microbiome_Wikipedia

Part 1: Anatomy of the Human MicroBiome

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

Part 2: micro-organisms on the skin
Part 3: micro-organisms in the mouth
Part 4: micro-organisms in the gut
Part 5: implications for modern medicine

Your ability to think of yourself as one whole being is an incredible phenomenon; especially considering that the human body is made up of 37.2 trillion human cells that can act somewhat independently, which is really a gross estimate at this point. What is really interesting is that the majority of the cells in your body are actually bacteria cells, mostly that reside in the human gut. Modern estimates say the proportion is about 10 to 1 (baceria to human cells). That means there are possibly over 300 trillion bacteria cells in your body. In fact, there is evidence to suggest 90% of our cells are microbes or micro-organisms. (small animals,fungi, bacteria, archaea, algae, and protozoa). Outside of the body, on the skin, there are also a fair amount of micro-animals that are excluded from the human microbiota, or the aggregate of the micro-organism genomes on the skin, in the gastrointestinal tract, in the saliva, oral mucosa, and conjunctiva.

Your body might have a proportion of 10 to 1 micro-organisms to human cells, according to one study, which makes it important to consider your body as an environment. Basically, you have an entire ecosystem in your digestive track and this aspect of your body is what merges you with your environment. The digestive tract, from the mouth to the rectum and anus, is essentially a part of the outside world which is why there is so much bacteria and other micro-organisms living there. This is also the reason behind recent skepticism of the effectiveness of antibiotics for certain illnesses and why there is so much emphasis on probiotic in modern nutrition science.

With our new understanding of the micro-organisms that co-exist within humans, we have also begun to study and catalogue the different genomes, however, scientists have found a nearly infinite variation in how the micro-organisms interact and function. The same bacteria cells might function completely differently within the body of another, making the biome extremely difficult to study. The Human Microbiome Project (HMP) is the organization fueling the majority of this research and they are attempting to catalogue the different bacteria and their functions in the body in a similar way to how the Human Genome Project catalogued the human genome.

What this means is that there are not baseline calculations for micro-biome health because it varies so greatly from person to person. Also, different sites on the body have their own distinctive communities; skin and vaginal sites have a smaller amount of diversity than the mouth and gut. Different bacteria like to inhabit different places in the mouth from person to person and can also have different, specialized functions. Over 500 types of bacteria live in the gut alone, mostly in the large intestine or colon. These bacteria are incredibly useful because they break down food and allow for the absorption of nutrients into the human body, however, in times of lowered immunity they can also act as opportunistic pathogens (meaning they can cause disease). E. Coli is one of the bacteria that exist in the gut, and certain mutated strains of this can also cause disease (as you probably heard in the news). But this is a healthy bacteria that when balanced against a strong immune system provides enormous benefit to the digestion and absorption of nutrients.

Here are the elements that create the chemical balance of your body and their associated proportional mass:

  • Oxygen = 65%
  • Carbon = 18%
  • Hydrogen = 10%
  • Nitrogen = 3%
  • Calcium = 1.4%
  • Phosphorus = 1.1%
  • Potassium = .25% (can be radioactive)
  • Sulfur = .25%
  • Sodium = .15%
  • Chlorine = .15%
  • Magnesium = .05%
  • Iron = .006%
  • Fluorine = .0037% (toxic in large amounts)
  • Zinc = .0032%
  • Silicon = .002%
  • Rubidium = .00046%
  • Strontium = .00046%
  • Bromine = .00029%
  • Lead = .00017% (toxic in high amounts)
  • Copper = .0001%
  • Aluminum = .00000087%
  • Cadmium = .00000072% (toxic in high amounts)
  • Cerium = .00000057%
  • Barium = .00000031% (toxic in high amounts)
  • Tin = .00000024%
  • Iodine = .00000016%
  • Titanium = .00000013%
  • Boron = .00000069%
  • Selenium = .00000019% (toxic in high amounts)
  • Nickel = .00000014%
  • Chromium = .000000024%
  • Manganese = .00000017%
  • Arsenic = .00000026% (toxic in high amounts)
  • Lithium = .000000031% (toxic in high amounts)
  • Mercury = .00000019% (toxic in high amounts)
  • Caesium = .000000021%
  • Molybdenum = .00000013%
  • Cobalt = .000000021%
  • Antimony = .00000011% (toxic in high amounts)
  • Silver = .00000001%
  • Niobium = .0000016%
  • Zirconium = .000006%
  • Lanthanum = .00000137%
  • Tellurium = .00000012%
  • Gold = .000000140%
  • Vanadium = .00000026%
  • Uranium = .0000000013% (toxic in high amounts)
  • Beryllium = .00000000005% (toxic in high amounts)
  • Radium = .0000000000000000001% (toxic in high amounts)

You’ll notice a few very interesting things about some of these elements. The first is that many substances can be toxic in high dosages, and obviously you can be malnourished if you have less of these elements. The second is that there are radioactive elements in your body; yes you are radioactive, just like the Earth. The radioactive elements are particularly interesting: Potassium40 has over 4,000 events per second in the human body; Carbon14 has over 3,000; Rubidium has over 100; and Lead210, Tritium, Uranium238, Radium228, and Radium226 all have under 20 events per second. To me, this emphasizes the need for balance in the human body; not too much and not too little.

It is astonishing to think that there is a hole, a series of tubes really, inside of you that is really a part of the outside environment. But this makes perfect sense to a Taoist, who would say that a human ‘is the same’ as the environment they are in. Two sides of Yin and Yang that are always playing together to continue life. Most research suggests that our gut flora (or the collective bacteria in an ecosystem) is symbiotic and has a direct relationship with the functioning of the body.

The functions of the flora are the following (though it has been found that some people can function without gut bacteria):  fermenting unused energy substrates, training the immune system, preventing growth of harmful species, regulating the development of the gut, producing vitamins, and producing hormones. Extensive modification and imbalances of the gut microbiota and its micro-biome or gene collection are associated with obesity. However, in certain conditions, some species are thought to be capable of causing disease by causing infections or increasing risk for cancer (paraphrased from Wikipedia).

So obesity might be better understood as an imbalance in gut bacteria that leads to slower digestion and less nutrient absorption. It also makes sense that there is a cascade type of effect, where the body has “momentum” to digest with large amounts of built up gut bacteria. So a ‘fast metabolism’ might be summarized as healthy gut flora. Interesting stuff right? In my opinion this is some of the most exciting science being researched today.

This is part of the reason why a balanced diet is key to being healthy. There is a lot more information coming, I’m especially excited to get into the gut flora and their implications for mental and cognitive health. The next article will be about the skin, and all of the micro-organisms that live on you. Stay tuned, hoping to have it out tomorrow.

Ayurveda | आयुर्वेद

Ayruvedic Oils: from right to left, Lavender, Saffron oil, Sandalwood oil, Lotus oil

About 80% of the world’s population relies on tradition remedies for their health care needs. India has many alternative medical practices that date back over 5,000 years, alongside yoga in the Indus Valley Civilization.

Ayurveda means “knowledge of life” and includes the use of herbal medicines, mineral or metal supplementation (rasa shastra), surgical techniques, opium, probiotic, CannabisIndica, and application of oil bymassages. In the laboratory, Ayurvedic techniques have shown promise, however, due to the enormous amount of confounding variables associated with the healing techniques, many applications of Ayurveda have yet to be proven. Part of the reason for this is that Ayurveda is used to promote vitality, wellness, and optimal health, which is hard to measure in the body, compared to illness and  visible cellular degeneration.

The other reason that America has no idea about the effectiveness of Ayurveda is that there is little money in it. Almost all of the plants used grow naturally and are therefore unpatentable. However, I believe that Ayurveda has tremendous value in application and am going to explore the Indian knowledge of its uses while I am here. But it is very hard to find real scientific data behind the practice of Ayurveda here.

There is one major problem with Ayurveda; many of the processing and mixing techniques are not effective in mass production. This can lead to oils having too many heavy metals and toxic chemicals such as Mercury and Arsenic. The answer to this problem is toxicology and spectroscopy of the final produced products, which is not a readily available practice in India due to the economic circumstances. However, the higher quality oils are somewhat guaranteed, at least this is what I have learned from foreigners and locals alike. The best manufacturers create pure oils.

Within the first four nights of living in Mysore, I have met two of the major pure oil suppliers (not-mixed) and the most renown statue maker in India. All were very persuasive business men that I kind of had to dismiss because they were so interested in selling to me, partially because I am an American and partially because I am a potential customer. I’ll talk about the statue maker later with some of the Hindu religious practices, temples, and deities.

The first supplier was excellent. I could see the quality of his oil, pure, and the distributor assured me that they were highest quality and that he used them himself. He said there was only one distributor with higher quality oils than himself. I will be returning to him, but he sold me lavender, which I find to be extremely soothing and helps me to sleep. It also has anti-septic and anti-inflammatory properties and is relatively easy to find and process into oil.

The second supplier was even better. He assured me that he was the highest quality supplier in India and that Kino MacGregor and other yogis come to him personally to supply themselves with oil. He showed me letters from satisfied American customers and all had amazing things to say about him. If possible, I will be starting an export business in the US with him, which he agreed to. But I also stipulated that I would need toxicology reports on the chemical mixtures of the oils. He agreed, but has no idea how to do it. Maybe I can figure out how to use spectroscopy to measure this, but I am pretty sure I will need to find another partner skilled in pharmacology, or some similar discipline.

I bought Lotus oil, Saffron oil, and Sandalwood oil, all at very good prices $10 for 25mg. Saffron is very rare, it should last me a long time and is used for energy, known as a mood enhancer because of the way it interacts with serotonin in the gut, and is used to increase respiratory health. Lotus oil is used for meditation, but is relatively unstudied in the lab. Major uses include arthritis, diabetes, and fungal infections. Sandalwood oil is the final oil I bought and is used for mental health, focus, and raises blood pressure. All of the oils have anti-carcinogenic properties.

I am very satisfied with the quality of the oils, but I am really interested to learn more about how they interact with body chemistry and affect the different organs. It is really silly that we don’t know more about these basic remedies, instead of finding new chemicals that can be patented. It shows the corruption of the current American pharmaceutical industry, that is not interested in healthy people, but making money. It’s not really a criticism, just an objective observation. There is interest in helping people, but the corporations are not regulated appropriately to really produce the most efficient, quality results. The problem again, is mass consumption and production instead of personalization and customization for the unique qualities of each individual.

Here are a few more pictures from the last few days:

Mysore Garbage Collectorbuilding_under_construction desolation in India indian_workers

The Respiratory System

Anatomy of Lungs and Respiration

Get ready to be blown away by something you have done every moment of your conscious life. Humans have two lungs and five lobes, two on the left and three on the right (the right is bigger), each of which can be from 70-100 square meters in surface area, about the same surface area as a tennis court. The lungs have 2,400 kilometers of airways and 300 to 500 million alveoli which are gas exchange points for the bloodstream. These are powerful organs of exchange with the environment, with power and functioning that should not be taken for granted.

The respiratory system is a series of organs responsible for intaking oxygen from the atmosphere and expelling carbon dioxide back into the air. This basic gas exchange between the body and the atmosphere is completely dependent upon the respiratory system and almost every vertebrate animal has one. This exchange affects every other system, as they oxygenation of blood is necessary in every organ. The nervous system also seems to draw energy from the respiratory system, and the cardiovascular system takes cues from the respiratory system (both cue off brain activity) to determine how much blood it should be pumping based on breath rate. When the sympathetic nervous system becomes active (the flight or fight mechanism), heart rate is increased, respiratory rate is increased, the sensitivity of the nervous system is heightened to allow for survival, but this comes at a cost.

Yoga focuses primarily on the respiratory system’s functioning to move the muscular-skeletal system in the opposite way. In our modern world full of non-environmental stress and high levels of adrenaline in non-life threatening situations, the sympathetic nervous system is overactive and is probably the biggest contributor to the high fatality rates from cardiovascular disease (nutrition would be the other competing contributor). The respiratory system is vital to the functioning of every mammal on the planet and is one of the most intricate and powerful tools for surviving, prospering, and thriving on planet Earth.

I honestly think the vast majority of people take breathing for granted. Most Americans are in such a rush that they don’t even notice their superpower of consciousness. We don’t learn about breathing in school, or in early sports, which is really a shame because breathing concentration allow for intense amounts of focus. Every athlete should learn breath control techniques from young ages; I can remember when I learned to run with proper form at 15 and I think that learning about breathing should happen even younger. This is what keeps us all alive, after all, and we really should learn how to keep our nervous systems functioning optimally through breathing exercises.

To really understand how intricately related the nervous system and respiratory systems are, we need to go back in time to when you were born. At birth, a babies lungs are full of fluid, but once the child is released from the birth canal, the central nervous system trigger a huge change in reaction to the environment, which then triggers the first breath, about 10 seconds later. From there, the lungs develop rapidly until at about 2, the alveoli are fully developed, then the lungs begin to grow normally until full adult muscular maturity is reached. The lungs are muscular and most mammals use their musculoskeletal systems to support their breathing, as humans do. This is why yoga can alleviate many hampering disabilities having to do with lung functioning, because strengthening the accessory muscles to the diaphragm strengthens the overall functionality of the respiratory system.

The muscles of the respiratory system are the following:
  • the diaphragm (primary)
  • the external intercostals
  • the internal intercostals (intercostals interlace on the inside and outside of the ribs).
The accessory muscles are:

As you can see, there are a tremendous amount of accessory muscles involved in breathing. I interpret this a particular way, that there is an enormous spectrum between thriving and breathing with ease and freedom contrasted to breathing for survival, or breathing only with the diaphragm and ribs, which puts extreme amounts of stress on those muscles. I think the idea of balance between the primary and accessory muscles is the right idea, and the stronger the accessory muscles, the more powerful breathing will follow. This takes time, muscles build strength in increments, and this is probably the biggest reason why yoga is so difficult for many Americans. Because we need it the most!

What kinds of breathing exercises do you practice for optimal health? What kinds of breathing exercises would you like to learn about?

 

 

3 reasons why you should start practicing yoga

health_symbol

Yoga has changed western lifestyles for a reason. It is a powerful healing and rejuvenation system that cleanses the nervous system, cardiovascular and circulatory systems, the respiratory system, and the digestive system of the human body. With new techniques of Yin yoga, originally brought to the West by Paul Grilley, the development of the Ashtanga series by Patthabi Jois brought to the West by David West, and the spread of yoga through systems created by modern-day teachers like Bikram and Baptiste in the Americas, yoga has become a powerful tool for mastering the body and mind. The West has gotten some potent and powerful exposure to the healing art that originated in India, but we are in the infancy of using yogic techniques to target and heal different parts of the body.

I once heard yoga described as the most advanced form of physical rehabilitation. I like that. Yoga takes the body beyond its current limits by enhancing neurological, muscular-skeletal, and circulatory efficiency. Essentially, yoga heals disruptions and stagnation in the circulation of the bodily systems through alignment. This creates more efficient pathways for  the body to recycle energy and to operate at full efficiency, especially the muscular-skeletal system.

Most yogic theoreticians would tell you that a large amount of the benefits of yoga actually come from the alignment of the respiratory system with the rest of the body; in the vast majority of studies breathing effects are shown to have profound effects upon the mind and body, in many cases even greater effects that the practice of asana by itself. However, all of the studies I have read included a ‘light’ form of yoga; as far as I know there hasn’t been an incredible amount of research on the primary series of Ashtanga and how the more advanced yoga postures effect the nervous system, or the true benefits of a rigorous yoga practice.

All yogis and yoginis will admit to the tremendous mental benefits of yoga: clarity, focus, calm, patience, rejuvenation, energy; Brian Kest is famous for describing the tremendous release of endorphins that yoga causes as a yoga ‘high’. It gets you kind of stoned. But with more clarity and focus. So if you like feeling good, yoga is probably for you. Think of being able to dive into the deepest muscles of your body and release tension after a long race; to be able to slow your breathing and take time to calm yourself after an intense discussion with a significant other; or just being calmer and less reactive during the course of your day. Reducing anxiety, stress, and depression are just a few of the clinically proven mental benefits of yoga; on top of that you can add more efficient sleep cycles, and major improvements in osteoporosis and arthritis. But those aren’t even the most beneficial reasons why you should start a yoga practice. Here are my top 3 reasons why everyone should practice yoga.

Reason #1 why you should start yoga now: Cardiovascular Benefits

Guess what the top killer in North America is? Heart disease. Stress. Yoga continues to be proven to contribute to a healthy heart and cardiovascular system and we are learning more as the studies surrounding the science become more and more regimented.

Reason #2: Respiratory benefits

Have you ever had a hard time breathing? Breathing is something that I don’t think the majority of people think about on a daily basis, but they should. Breathing affects both the heart and the mind in very integral ways: the heart is encased by the lungs and can absolutely contribute to accelerating or decelerating your heart rate (listen to the breath of someone in a panic attack, or after large dosages of stress; their breathing tends to be more shallow). Scientists also say that lifespan tends to be measured in terms of breaths rather than heartbeats or time. This is not new information, in Science News in 1981 you can find this quote on page 74:

Findings resulting from a 5,200 clinical study group observed over a 30 year span showed that pulmonary function measurement is an indicator of general health and vigor and literally the primary measure of potential life span.”

I’m not sure if you know, but Science News is kind of big deal. Breathing also has enormous unexplored and unproven mental benefits; the peace, appreciation, and tranquility that a yoga practice can bring to your life are nothing short of miraculous.

Reason #3: Mental Benefits

This is the final reason to practice yoga, and probably the most important. Internal peace can change the world, creating non-reactivity allows cycles of anger, violence, discrimination, and intolerance to end. Even in your own life, turning down the volume of stressful situations will help you to live longer.

Many people consider the brain to be the regulator of the body and this is absolutely the case; the entire body is mapped to different areas of the brain and all proprioceptive information flows through the spinal cord (which yoga also focuses on and is also intricately linked to breathing). Many scientists are uncovering that the origins of the vast majority of disease, some estimate as high as 95%, originate in the mind. By disciplining the body, the mind unveils itself and lends itself to be forged by meditation. The body creates consciousness (the brain is a part of the body) and the mind is not necessarily limited to the brain so tempering the body through breath leads to freedom from fluctuations in the mind (high and lows). With yoga, you can obtain a constant bliss, that bring awareness and appreciation to even the hard and crappy parts of life. But you can also do all of that without yoga, but it’s probably quite a bit harder.

When you consider the increased length of time for high-focus activity, freedom from distraction, calmness in the midst of high pressure situations, most high performance athletes and thinkers should consider and intensely personalized yoga practice. The benefits seem to be unending.

I’ve never participated in anything so physically and mentally challenging. Yoga will take you to places inside that don’t exist outside of your consciousness. It places you closer to your humanity and gives a holistic perspective of the world, society, and subjective consciousness’ place in the universe.  Give it a chance, you won’t regret it.

 

The Best Way to Wake up

Phillip Miller's photo

I got a chance to visit the Sierra Hot Springs last night and came back this morning. It was an interesting experience, both because of the Hot Springs and the relaxing atmosphere of the mountains. The elevation is probably about 6,000 feet high and the springs are 108 degrees. Extremely hot.

It took some getting use to, that was for sure. But the water was so relaxing; when I put my shoulders under the water, I couldn’t keep my eyes open. There were two cold pools as well, with water that was about 55 or 60 degrees, for cooling down in between sessions of the hot pool. It was a pretty cool experience. After a couple rotations in the hot tub, I went straight to sleep.

I woke up to a brisk gust of wind and birds chirping loudly in the evergreen trees, some were sequoias. I did the hot/cold rotation in the spa a couple more times, then went in the 80 or so degree pool outside and let the sun dry me off. The most relaxing part of this whole experience were the shifts and changes in my breath and how my body relaxed drastically with the heat and changes in temperature. It made me rethink the ways that I wake my body up in the mornings. I think that the changes in temperature in the shower are probably similarly therapeutic. Kundalini practitioners wake to cold showers to stimulate the nerves. Needless to say, it was a blissful way to wake up. But after its relaxation, this experience made me miss something… waking up to do yoga.

That may sound a bit weird, but meditation are beginning to become a really special part of the day for me. Right when I wake up, if I can get 10 minutes of breath focus and a few yin asanas I feel amazing. But I am getting back into a routine of working, which means that I am also getting back into my ashtanga routine. The stimulation of sun salutations and breathing exercises in the morning is an incredible way to wake up the mind.

Sun Salutations are probably the most powerful exercises I know of to wake up the spine. They sooth the body, stretch arms, legs, and flex and bend the spine back and forth, then proceed to increase heart rate and stimulate the circulatory system over time. Throw some jump-backs, jump-throughs, chair poses, warrior 1s, handstands, and of course everyone’s favorite chaturanga in there and you have some extreme burpee-like calisthenic exercises. Tomorrow I am going to start a sun salutation video series, or at least try to get one rolling without a goPRO.

I am planning on starting a new video series tomorrow teaching the fundamental poses of surya namaskara A. Surya is the sun god from Hinduism, to whom the poses are devoted. I’ll show you some of the techniques I use to wake my body up in the morning with the sequence. Stay tuned and check back tomorrow yogis…

Kale’s Nutritional Qualities

kale

Kale is fresh and in season because it loves frost and winter’s chill. Cultures around the world use the plant in various dishes and praise it for its versatility. Kale can even make good chips (crisps if you’re british), though I don’t like them.

Some people really don’t like the taste, but I don’t mind it in salads, or cooked with some light oil. Cooking of course alters the nutrient properties, but there is so much awesome stuff in Kale that you are still getting massive amounts of nutrition.

Here are the nutritional properties of the flower-like veggie, they are pretty incredible:

  • Beta Carotine – interesting nutrient, small amounts seem to be really healthy
  • Vitamin K – super good for us, from leafy vegetables (photosynthesis), greases the metabolic passageways
  • Vitamin C – anti-oxidizer, necessary for metabolic reactions and is a powerful enzymatic enabler
  • Calcium – combined with phosphate to form hydroxylapatite is the mineral of our bones. It is also extremely involved in neural functionality, including action potential release in muscles and neurotransmitters. Too much can be bad and it is regulated by vitamin D (sun exposure)
  • Sulforaphane – has possible anti-cancer properties
  • Indole-3-Carbanol – is the subject of on-going Biomedical research into its possible anticarcinogenic,[3] antioxidant, and anti-atherogenic effects. Inverse relationship to prostrate and breast cancer because of increased estrogen regulation.
  • Magnesium – essential nutrient for every cell (allows for photosynthesis in plants)

There are also Phosphorus, Potassium, Maganese, and several other trace minerals, including all the electrolytes and Vitamin B6. Kale is basically your multivitamin’s ingredients in raw form, similar to broccoli. Most could stand to eat more.

Like anything else, moderation is necessary, so find some balance among other food groups and don’t go kale crazy.

Daily consumption might not be a bad idea, especially for heart and artery health due to its digestive and anti-oxidant properties. Green drinks, Kale/almond ice cream, omelets, find a way to make the taste insignificant. It’s always interesting how nutrition inevitably becomes biochemistry.

The 5 Easiest Ways to lose weight

I am constantly seeing advertisements for “secrets to weight loss”, “fat burning tricks”, “slim down”, or whatever with a supplement. To me all this is pretty silly, because weight loss isn’t really a secret. It takes a little time, discipline, and willingness to just ignore everyone else about it.

Everyone wants to feel secure in the way that they treat their body, workout, etc, so they have their excuses, reasons, and stories and they want to feel validated about what they do. In order to validate themselves, people will often try to bring down what you do, or claim superiority. Get prepared for this, because everyone thinks they are a genius when it comes to working out, losing weight, or trying a new diet. Just listen shake your head, smile, then leave and ignore them.

  1. Fruits and vegetables. Just eat a little more. Especially broccoli. Did you know they make broccoli tips into vitamins? Vitamins are expensive and they have less nutrient density and are harder for your body to completely assimilate. Ya, so eat the broccoli. This might mean a couple smoothies, some grilled veggies, omelets, whatever you need to do to eat less meat. Not eating meat everyday is okay, I swear it! You could go like a few weeks without eating if you had to. If you have to eat meat, eat chicken and just know that pork has about 2x more density, and beef has 3x density. Accordingly, they take more time to digest and can slow down the rest of the process, especially if the meats are packaged and processed because of the chemicals and additives used to store the meat for long periods of time without spoiling. They slow down everything because that is what the chemicals are made to do.
  2. Sleep as much as you need to. For some people this is 4 hours, for some its 9. It oscillates between 6 and 8 for me. This is really important, it replaces neurotransmitters, replenishes hormones, gets some deep tissue rest and REM for the big guy upstairs.
  3. Drink enough water to make your pee almost clear. For me this is about 3 liters, when I don’t practice hot yoga. When I practice, it is 6 or 7. This will allow your body to keep your metabolism and circadian rhythm on a good trajectory, water is used as a primary regulator of heat. I hear people say they don’t drink a lot of water and I start thinking about colon cancer. Seriously.
  4. Be social about it. Don’t workout alone, don’t do everything by yourself, it’s not healthy and can lead to depression. Meeting other people in running groups, yoga classes, workout places, gyms, wherever you are can be fun. If you are just friendly, I can almost guarantee that the other people are capable of being friendly too right? Because they are probably stoked to use their body too. People are nice if you give them opportunities to be nice.
  5. Find ways to be happy using your body. That does not mean that you have to go doing crazy things. Walking is the second most beneficial activity I know of and its pretty awesome. It gives your body a chance to move through its primary functionality, to stand upright and move your hips and shoulders side to side. I think cavemen probably walked and hiked around a lot, so you know it’s good. The most beneficial activity I know of is yoga, it actually purifies the inner organs and gives you a bit more control over the body and mind. But anything that you enjoy, your body enjoys. Unless that’s climbing mount Everest. Your body does not enjoy that.

Be prepared to change your mind and habits according to what you need, but these general guidelines will have you losing weight if you are not already doing them. It’s really simple, it just takes time and effort.

Sinuses and Respiration

drawing of the respiratory passageways
The nasopharynx, oropharynx, and laryngopharyn...
The nasopharynx, oropharynx, and laryngopharynx can be seen clearly in this sagittal section of the head and neck. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
English: Paranasal sinuses Polski: Zatoki przy...
Paranasal sinuses (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

In latin, sinus means a fold, or pocket, particularly the front pocket of a roman toga. Humans have many sinus cavities in the body:

Paranasal Sinuses

Anal Sinuses – separate the columns of the rectum

Dura Venous Sinuses – venous channels found between layers of dura mater in the brain

Heart Sinuses

It becomes pretty obvious after a brief review that the sinuses are imperative to breathing, heart function, and homeostasis within an environment. This is why sinus infections will often flair with allergic reactions, or major changes in environment.

Currently the evolutionary role of the sinuses are in huge debate (meaning we really don’t understand their complete functionality as it applies to adapting to the environment), but there are a few theories:

  • Decreasing the relative weight of the front of the skull, and especially the bones of the face.
  • Increasing resonance of the voice.
  • Providing a buffer against blows to the face.
  • Insulating sensitive structures like dental roots and eyes from rapid temperature fluctuations in the nasal cavity.
  • Humidifying and heating of inhaled air because of slow air turnover in this region.
  • Regulation of internasal and serum gas pressures
  • Immunological defense

I’ve bolded the few that I think make the most sense: environmental protection against temperature changes (hence runny noses when you fluctuate too quickly between cold and hot), defense against intruding particles in the air (sneezing and allergies), and pressure equilibrium (fluctuations in altitude). But I do think that we have a large amount to learn about how these parts of the body work, questions that Eastern sciences can address, but for which the Western world still has no answer.

Allergy medicine is mostly steroids and stimulants, which solves the problem short-term, but weakens the immune system with just one dosage by killing probiotic organisms already in the body.

Breathing with your nose instead of your mouth is extremely important as it adjusts the air entering the lungs to body temperature, air is humidified, and dust particles are halted from entering the body. When I was in Beijing for 5 days, I breathed almost exclusively from my nose, because I was afraid that the large dust particles would harm my throat.

The nasal cavity then connects to the trachea, which is kind of the second line of defense. It is coated with mucus to either expel or digest particles by lifting them to the pharynx and larynx which are the structures in the throat that lead to the stomach and lungs, respectively.

The air then flows into the bronchi which branch to the left lung and the right lung, where the alveoli exchange oxygen for carbon dioxide. The sinuses are the first purification center for this process to take place, and are a kind of first line of defense for the air entering the body.