The Common Cold. Sniffles. Head Cold. Upper Respiratory Tract Infection. So many names, just one annoying sickness! It's time to get nerdy about the common cold, since fall and winter are coming up! The medical name for the main virus that causes a cold is the rhinovirus. This virus is more common in the cooler months because it likes to reproduce in cooler temperatures. This is the same reason it only affects your nose and throat - further inside the body is too hot for the virus to make copies of itself. The goal of the rhinovirus is to make the cells in your throat and nose miserable! It can also make you tired, give you a sore or scratchy throat, make your head stuffy, and give you a runny nose. One of the reasons why your cells make more snot under a rhinovirus attack is because white blood cells that are called to the scene (neutrophils) unload an enzyme that breaks down the granules of goblet cells. Granules are little packages that hold mucin, which gets mixed with water to become snot. Goblet cells are just the cells that hold the granules and are in charge of letting snot into your nose. Lucky you!
"Cleansing is ridiculous. You know what's been around longer than that state-of-the-art juicer? Your kidneys. And your liver," says author Sloane Crosley. Livers have been around since mammals have existed. But for all their hard work, most of us couldn't name 3 of the liver's tasks. And we're not to blame. The liver does a LOT. Main chores are to detoxify, digest, and store nutrients. Thanks, liver! If the liver gets sluggish or diseased, though, things start to back up. The first sign is yellow skin or eye whites. Why, you ask? Bilirubin, a yellow molecule, comes from the breakdown of red blood cells and normally gets added to bile. When the liver slows down, bilirubin backs up in the blood and things start to look yellow - ie, jaundice. It's normal for newborns to have jaundice for a few days after birth. In the womb, the placenta filtered the bilirubin for the baby. Over time the liver catches up on its tasks and everything goes back to normal.
With Halloween and the holidays right around the corner, it might come in handy to speak the language of your intestines. Do you have any food allergies? Do you know the difference between allergy, intolerance, and sensitivity? According to Wed MD, almost 30% of Americans think they have a food allergy, but only 4 to 5% have true food allergies. Allergies cause the immune system to get involved. This means your body makes histamine, which starts an allergic reaction. Allergic reactions can show up as hives, eczema, itchy mouth, nausea, diarrhea, sneezing, and even anaphylaxis. Food intolerance, on the other hand, is caused by not having enough of the specific enzymes needed to break down what you ate. The most familiar example is lactose intolerance, which can be fixed by taking lactase enzymes when eating dairy. Other tell tale signs of intolerance include diarrhea, gas, bloating, stomach pain, nausea, headaches, and migraines. See the University of Maryland's write up about common food intolerance culprits here. Lastly, food sensitivity is a general term that includes any adverse reaction to a food (unless, of course, you get food poisoning, which is caused by eating spoiled food). Do you have a favorite dessert recipe that makes your intestines happy? I'm dying to make this raw, vegan, non-gluten, no refined sugar dessert (Has nuts, though). Let me know if you try it!
In honor of International Talk Like a Pirate Day (this and every September 19th), the guts have come up with a guide to help you release your inner pirate! Popular Phrases Include: Shiver me timbers, sing a chantey, land ho, sail the high seas, X marks the spot, and walk the plank. Remember to say Arr, Arghh, and Aye as many times as possible. Throw in some mouth slurps to recreate the sound of poor dental health. Be sure to sprinkle in words like: booty, pillage, mate, ye, scalleywag, loot, prisoners, mutiny, surrender, jolly, and treasure map. Bonus: Wear an eye patch ! Have some insider tips on how to speak Pirate? Let me know in the comments!