This weeks feature - Skin Nutrition 4

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Skin Nutrition 4 05 - 03 - 2003

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Skin Nutrition 4 Good day, We trust that you all had a good week and feel fit & well! Let's carry on with the subject of nutrition and skin. The skin can be separated into 3 rather distinct, but nevertheless intimately related, parts known as membranes. The outer skin is that part of the skin which all of us recognize as THE SKIN, the outer covering which we can readily see and touch, the part that holds everything else together and prevents this and that from wandering off and leaving us behind! It is known by various names such as the hide, the epidermis, the cuticle, and also as the scarfskin. This outer layer develops from the ecoderm, the name given to the outermost layer of cells in the embryo. The epithelial ectoderm separates out at about the 4th week of fetal life and from that point on the epidermis (outer membrane) starts to develop and, in the process, splits into several specialized compartments. The epidermis varies in thickness in different parts of the body. Sometimes it is thick, hard, and even horny in texture as, for example, in the palms of the hand or on the sole of the feet. It is interesting to note that these particular areas are somewhat thickened even at birth as if anticipating their future roles. The epidermis is several cells thick and is composed of 2 distinct layers. The external or horny layer is made up of dead cells, which are constantly shed from its surface. This layer is known as the stratum corneum. The stratum corneum consists of slabs of flat, plate like cells, which have no nucleus and thus no viable function. This is why they are called "dead" cells. They are dry and scaly and are continuously being sloughed and then replaced, this process taking from 3 to 4 weeks. The cells of which it is composed are pushed up from the living layer, which lies just below. As new cells are born they simply move forward to replace those sloughed off. This is why correction of the diet produces rather spectacular and rapid changes in the appearance of the skin. The cells in the lower level form a single continuous sheet of somewhat flattened cells. This layer is also known as the stratified epithelium. Nature has been most ingenious in building this part of the outer membrane. Between some of the cells there is a thin layer of intercellular mortar, a kind of "stick-um" which is secreted by the cells themselves, the secretion holding one cell to the other, just as mortar holds one brick to the next. There are still other cells which have intertwining plasma membranes which reach out "like the tentacles of an octopus" locking the cells together somewhat like pieces of a jigsaw puzzle. These intertwining cells represent the true barrier to the penetration of the inner sanctum by undesirable foreign matter. The ingenious locking- together arrangement also blocks the pell-mell exodus of body wastes so that they can be sent to the more appropriate and designated channels. This unique physical arrangement serves to keep the inner body intact and also prevents it from melting away during a heavy rainstorm or from going down the drain when we take a shower! It permits the skin, as part of a total nutritional program, to be bathed while, at one and the same time, the diluting force of water cannot adversely affect body fluids. The epidermis is insensitive since it possesses no nerve endings. It has no blood vessels and, since the cells have no functioning capacity, they therefore require no nutriment. Thus it is that there is no provision for any kind of transportation mechanism to this surface collection of cells. It has no need for capillaries, for arterioles, so these are non-existent. Afferent and efferent nerve fibers end beyond this dead layer. Since they do not penetrate into it, this is why the epidermis itself is insensitive. Constantly we observe that, in the living body, where there is no need, the body does not provide! Thus it is that the body meticulously guards its resources. Next week we will explore the second layer of the skin. We wish you a healthy and productive week. The Crazy Nut team. P.S. If you have missed any of the previous articles and would like to read them, please visit our archives at

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