Did you know that the largest organ in your body can weigh up to 8 pounds? This organ can cover up to 22 square feet (2 square meters). It has a most important function as a water-proof, insulating shield, which guards the body against extreme temperatures, damaging sunlight and harmful chemicals. It manufactures vitamin D for converting calcium into healthy bones. It is a huge sensor packed with nerves for keeping the brain connected with the outside world. What is this amazingly, versatile organ? It is called skin.
Skin is made up of three layers. The outermost is the epidermis. This consists mainly of cells called keratinocytes, made from the protein keratin (also the material in hair and nails). Keratinocytes form several layers that constantly grow outwards as the exterior cells die and flake off. It takes approximately five weeks for newly created cells to work their way to the surface. This covering of dead skin is known as the stratum corneum, or horny layer, and its thickness varies considerably, being more than ten times thicker on the soles of the feet than around the eyes. The epidermis harbors defensive Langerhans cells, which alert the body’s immune system to viruses and other infectious agents.
The epidermis is bonded to a deeper skin layer below known as the dermis, which gives the organ its strength and elasticity thanks to fibers of collagen and elastin. Blood vessels here help regulate body temperature by increasing blood flow to the outer skin, allowing heat to escape, or by restricting the flow when it’s cold. A network of nerve fibers and receptors pick up feelings, such as, touch, temperature, and pain, relaying them to the brain.
The dermis houses hair follicles and glands with ducts that pass up through the skin. Sweat glands bring down the internal temperature through perspiration, while ridding the body of the waste fluids – urea and lactate. Apocine glands, which develop during puberty, produce a scented sweat linked to sexual attraction that can also cause body odor, around the armpits. Sebaceous glands secrete oil-like sebum for lubricating the hair and skin.
The skin’s base layer is the sub cutis, which includes a seam of fat laid down as a fuel reserve in case of food shortage. It also works as insulation and cushions us from knocks and falls.
Skin is totally multi-functional:
1) Protection from pathogens and damage between the internal and external environment.
2) Sensation: contains a variety of nerve endings that react to heat, cold, touch, pressure, vibration and tissue injury.
3) Heat regulation: the skin contains a blood supply, which allows for precise control of energy loss by radiation, convection and conduction. Dilated blood vessels increase perfusion and heat loss, while constricted vessels greatly reduce cutaneous blood flow and conserve heat.
4) Control of evaporation: the skin provides a relatively dry and semi-impermeable barrier to fluid loss. Loss of this function contributes to massive fluid loss in burns.
5) Aesthetics and communication: others see our skin and assess our physical state, attractiveness and mood.
6) Storage and synthesis: acts as a storage center for lipids and water, as well as a means of synthesis of vitamin D by action of UV on the skin.
7) Excretion: sweat contains urea, however its concentration is 1/130th that of urine, hence excretion by sweating is at most a secondary function to temperature regulation.
8) Absorption: In addition, anything placed on the skin can be absorbed within 30 to 60 seconds. It behooves us to not use products that contain chemicals or substances, which will enter the bloodstream in this manner. The blood will transport these chemicals to the liver, which in many cases can be overwhelmed trying to handle them. Sunscreen, lotions, creams, shampoo, conditioners, cosmetics, soaps, etc., may all contain ingredients, which are toxic to the body.
The skin needs sunlight, water, air and proper nutrition in order to keep it healthy. It needs to be fed internally by the bloodstream. When people eat the wrong type of processed food, the skin appears to be dry and lifeless. Pimples and other skin eruptions stem from eating foods that don’t belong in the human diet. Fried foods, dairy, grains, sugar ,excess honey, along with chocolate can cause skin problems. Teenagers who eat wrong suffer with skin problems, such as, acne. Adults can experience skin eruptions too, if they eat wrong.
Some childhood diseases which affect the skin can be attributed to eating the wrong food. Measles and chickenpox cause skin eruptions, which could be avoided, if people ate more fresh fruits and vegetables; and less processed, greasy, acid-forming foods.
Cleansing the skin can be damaging, if you use the wrong cleansing agents. Anti-bacterial soaps are dangerous to the body and to our environment. These antimicrobial soaps are not necessary – hot water and a good chemical free soap are just as effective. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the levels of triclosan, have jumped 50% in the human body, since 2004. It is being found in 97% of nursing mothers‘, breast milk. It is in antimicrobial products.
It isn’t easy finding a decent soap that has no chemicals in it. I am using Jason’s Satin Soap, which states that it has NO: Lauryl/Laureth Sulfates, NO Parabens, NO animal-byproducts, NO animal testing and it is Bio-Degradable. The shampoo I am using is Wen, which is supposed to be top flight, but it has chemicals in it, which are questionable. I guess the only way to avoid chemicals would be to make our own soaps and shampoos.
The skin care industry is a multi-billion dollar industry, but is it really doing our skin much good? I always read labels and when I see 50 ingredients, I question the value of the product. Less is more. Many ingredients in the products that people are using on their skin and body work their way through osmosis into the bloodstream, then are carried to the liver. Beautiful skin can’t be created, if the liver is over-burdened with toxic chemicals.
Sunscreens burden the liver too. There are many substances in them that do not belong in the human body. They also contribute to osteoporosis and rickets by blocking the formation of vitamin D on the skin.
Another chemical assault on the body can come from showering and tub-bathing, where one submerges the body in a chemical stew of chlorine, fluorine and other chemicals. These are damaging to the skin, lungs, liver and other organs. Many people love hot water, which turns to steam and is inhaled into the lungs. If you aren’t using a water filter, when you bathe, you are damaging your health.
I could recommend a very good unit, which can be installed on showers and on the bathtub…check out www.ewater.com They have some very good products. If you want to have a healthy shower or bath, you need to avoid all the chemicals, which come along with it.
What causes oily skin? Oily skin is caused by over-active sebaceous glands, that produces a substance called sebum, a naturally healthy skin lubricant. When the skin produces excessive sebum, it becomes thick and heavy in texture. Oily skin is typified by shininess, blemishes and pimples. This can be propagated by the wrong diet. However, the oily-skin type is not necessarily bad, since such skin is less prone to wrinkling, or other signs of aging, because the oil helps to keep needed moisture locked into the epidermis.
The negative aspect of the oily-skin type is that oily complexions are especially susceptible to clogged pores, blackheads and build up of dead skin cells on the surface of the skin. Oily skin can be sallow and rough in texture and tends to have large, clearly visible pores everywhere, except around the eyes and neck.
Dry skin is another condition, which is accelerated by lack of fluid in the body. It stems from not eating sufficient raw produce. The natural fluid in both fruit and vegetables is better assimilated into the body, rather than simply drinking water. It took me a lifetime to discover this information, which is just now surfacing.
Regarding skin color: Skin color is due to melanin, a pigment produced in the epidermis to protect us from the sun’s strong rays causing ultraviolet (UV) rays. Dark-skinned people produce more numerous and deeper-colored melanin particles. People with the darkest complexions are native to tropical regions, particularly those with few densely forested areas.
Fair skin is an adaptation found in people from northern latitudes where solar rays are relatively weak. Here the benefits of dark skin are outweighed by the need for bone-strengthening vitamin D, produced through exposure to UV rays. But hotter, sunnier environments bring the risk of serious skin damage. Australia, where the majority of the population is of Northern European descent, has the world’s highest rates of skin cancer, accounting for more than 80 percent of all cancers diagnosed there each year.
Aging skin: As skin ages, it becomes thinner and more easily damaged. Among other things, skin aging is noted by a decrease in volume and elasticity. There are many internal and external causes to skin aging. For example, aging skin receives less blood flow and lower glandular activity.
Another cause of damage is excessive sun bathing. Intense rays can cause the skin to lose its collagen.
We do need the sun, but the thinner ozone layer today permits some very damaging rays to attack our skin and cause photo aging. It leaves the skin with unnatural redness (erythematic/telangiectasia), brown discoloration (dyspigmentation), yellowing (solar elastosis), keratoses (abnormal growths) and poor texture. Cortisol causes degradation of collagen, accelerating skin damage.
For almost all my life I have been in the sun – and I feel that sunshine is very important. It is becoming known today that lack of sun can contribute to cancer too. I would advise people to get sunshine every day without sunscreen…if only for 15 minutes. We need the light too. It is a food for the glands in our bodies. It regulates the glands. Sunlight is important for healthy skin, along with the right nutrients and the oxygen and nitrogen in our air supply.
Benjamin Franklin in his Poor Richard’s Almanac advised Air Baths for health. This was excellent advice. He also said that Early to Bed and Early to rise makes a man healthy, wealthy and wise. Speaking of which, proper rest is also conducive to beautiful skin. Eight hours, more or less daily should be sufficient.
I do hope that you are aware that your skin is a very important organ and that in order to treat it properly, you need to be giving it the proper nutrients that it needs; primarily fresh fruit and vegetables; sunshine, fresh air and rest. I would suggest feeding it pure virgin coconut oil…which is great used externally and internally.
Hopefully you have found this information regarding your largest organ of benefit.