Women getting her skin examined at the doctors.

Understanding the Two Types of Melanin

Hair dye.  How we love our hair dye.  Because of hair dye, we don’t have to hit the genetics lottery. Little girls born with  brown hair can grow up to be blondes and red heads. Blondes can grow up to be goth chics. From the bleach blond of Marilyn Monroe to the honey blonde of Beyonce, from the jet black of Nikki Sixx  to the sometimes blue of Katy Perry to the sometimes pink of, well Pink, we have to have our hair dye and are willing to take some extreme measures to make sure we have it.  For years, men and women would prefer to  damage, torture and strip their hair rather than have it be (gasp!!)  their natural color.  Even though many of us would rather trade their natural hair color for, well almost anything else,  melanin is the pigment that is responsible for it. Melanins are also responsible for our skin and eye color.  Most melanins are dark, from black to brown, but other melanins are reddish or yellowish.Animal melanins are divided into two groups, eumelanin (eu = good) and pheomelanin (pheo +cloudy or dusky)

Skin
In her book, “Skin: a natural story, Dr.Barbara Jablonski says,  “In Homo sapiens, skin colors make up an exquisite palette varying in almost imperceptible degrees from the palest ivories to the darks browns.”  pheomelanin is usually  found in large quantities  fair skinned redheads and is also, interestingly enough, found in freckles, lips, and nipples. (Julianne Moore must have a bunch.) Eumelanins are more common in humans, predominantly darker skinned people.  High concentration can be found in moles.  (Think Cindy Crawford) Because people with red hair are less capable of producing eumelanin, their skin is more susceptible to burns and aging.

Hair
Eumelanin is predominant in black and brunette hair.  There is brown eumelanin and black eumelanin.  Contrary to what you may presume, brown eumelanin without other pigments actually causes blonde hair.  pheomelanin is found in red hair. While people with dark hair may produce pheomelanin it is usually hidden by the dominant eumelanin. Blond and red and auburn streaks are usually the results of the pheomelanin showing through.  Grey hair contains only a few melanin granules, white hairs contain none.  The apparent whiteness is a result of the way they reflect light.

Eyes
Eye color is  dependent on the ratio of eumelanin and pheomelanin in the outer layer of the iris. People with darker colored eyes have more melanin in general, and more eumelanin than pheomelanin. People with light colored eyes(blue or green) have less melanin and more pheomelanin than eumelanin.  (Bet you’re thinking, “Why don’t we have yellow eyes?”)Hazel eyes are in between.  Eyes appear blue and green rather than red and yellow because of light scattering off proteins in the eye.

In conclusion, it seems that melanin has a whole lot to do with our appearance and making us who we are.  Of course, new technologies allow us to change our pigmentation at will, be it using hair dye, colored contact lenses or even photoshopped. Here’s hoping you love your blue/black/brown/pink/freckled/mocha/moled/orange/yellow hair/eyes and skin just the way it is!

Beautiful women in pool.

Pool PH Matters To Your Health

Aah, the pool!  Owning one has to be one of the ultimate signs of luxury.  When we were growing up, weren’t the kids with the pools the most popular kid on the block?  A pool meant hours of fun on those slow summer days when time just doesn’t seem to pass.

When we grow older, the pool is equally as alluring.  A pool is one of the key ingredients for a party.  Just add beverages, food, people and music.  This is why pools are such an enticement to advertise property.  What is a 40 million dollar mansion without a pool?  Hey, even a one bedroom is better if the building has a pool.  That is why this is bad news for so many people.

According to the Centers for Disease Control, a report published in the Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report confirmed that thousands of public pools, hot tubs and similar public services are closed each year in the US because of safety issues.  In fact, based on over 84,000 inspections of 48,000 such facilities, 80% were cited with at least one violation in Texas, New York, Florida, Arizona and California.  Out of those, one in eight had to be closed immediately due to the intensity of the violation.

Kiddie pools and wading pool top the list.  It’s unfortunate that our most prized possessions are also our naughtiest.  One in five wading and kiddie pools were closed for violating health policies, the most common of those being improper pH levels, safety equipment issues and problems with disinfectant concentration.

The Chlorine Factor
Normally, chlorine and other disinfectants and chemicals are added to swimming pool to kill the germs.  However, a study from the journal, “Environmental Science and Technology”  found when these chemical mix with “human inputs,” typically urine, sweat and cosmetics they produce disinfection byproducts that damage cells. This can lead to asthma, bladder cancer, and other health issues.

What Can You do

  • Check inspection Reports:Make sure to look at the date to make sure they were done recently
  • Keep clean:  Experts say that disinfection byproducts can be lower by cleaning spas and changing water in the pool more often and making sure that people shower before swimming.
  • Check Children’s Diapers:  Diarrhea and swimming never mix well.  Take your kids for bathroom breaks and check their diapers.
  • Use a pH strip: Look for a free chlorine concentration of at least 1 ppm in pools and 3ppm in hot tubs and spas.
  • Look for a free bromine concentration of at least 3 ppm in pools and 4 ppm in hot tubs/ spas. Look for a pH of 7.2-7.8

Make Sure Drain Covers are Secure and There is a Lifeguard On Duty

So, don’t stop swimming.  Swimming is good for you!  It relieves stress and improves muscle tone and its a whole lot of fun.  Just be the smart one at the pool.

Healthy, happy women.

Healthy pH For Your Body Part

“Hey, did I catch you off balance?”  “Were you balancing your books?” “Trying to get your life in balance?” Our government runs on a system of checks and balances and a balance of power. We need to balance work and life, good and bad, reward and punishment.  Our universe depends on balance, the positioning of planets and the forces of motion all depend on balance.  Our bodies depend on balance. If balance weren’t such big deal, why are we all doing yoga?

 In order to maintain equilibrium in our bodies, It is no surprise that balance is also important. Our bodies need to have a  healthy pH balance, that is the alkalinity in our body must be in balance with the acidity in our bodies.

Before we continue it should be noted that the kind of balance we talk about when we talk  about our bodies is not the kind of balance which requires an equal amount on each side, it is the balance of correct proportion.  Just as a beautiful face is not always perfectly symmetrical, a healthy body is not either.  The optimal pH balance for our bodies is a little bit on the alkaline side, with a  pH of 7.4 on a scale ranging from 1-14 and it is suggested that we eat a diet which puts the emphasis on alkaline foods as opposed to acidic food. But  it is not the acid content of the food that makes the difference, it is the way our different body parts respond to the acid.

Blood
When we talk about maintaining a 7.4 pH balance in our body, we really do not need to worry about our blood.  Our lungs and kidneys take care of keeping that number constant.  Rather, it is the body parts whose pH balance is less stable that  we need to worry about.

Cells
The pH levels of our cells tend to vary more than our blood and we need to make sure they stay slightly alkaline, so we need to watch our diet to make sure that they function at their best.  Alkaline diets provide magnesium, which is needed by our enzyme systems and preserve muscle mass while aging.

Urine
 The pH level of our urine is also worrisome,as it tends to vary as well.  To keep it stable, we need to avoid animal protein, grains, soda, beer, and sodium, which are hard for our kidneys to break down.  It is important that we get potassium and minerals from fruit to neutralize the acid.

Stomach
The stomach needs to remain slightly acidic in order to break down food.When you eat, your stomach releases  acid causing your stomach pH to drop to as low as 1 or 2. After the meal is digested, buffers in your stomach, such as mucous and bicarbonate, work to neutralize the acid, bringing your tummy back to a resting rate of 4-5. When levels of acid in our stomach are high, (which happens when we eat protein, especially red meat) our system seeks out alkaline nourishment in our digestive tract.  If it cannot find it, it will draw minerals from our bones. (This is an example of what happens when our bodies are not in balance.) It is why it is so important to eat a diet heavy in nutrients like calcium, magnesium, phosphorous and potassium to make sure our system can find them when it needs to

Skin
The skin needs to be slightly acidic to support the acid mantle.  This is the skin’s barrier It blocks out germs, pollution, and toxins.  When skin is too alkaline, it becomes dry and inflamed. It may stop fighting off enzymes that destroy collagen and cause wrinkles.  The ideal pH level for the skin is 5.5. If it is higher, it signals damage to the acid mantle which exposes your skin to bacteria and UV rays and may be a sign of excessive use of exfoliants and peeling products

If the pH of the skin is lower than 5.5, that probably nears you are overusing products designed to make skin less greasy.  If this is you, pay attention to scrubbing  and hydrating often.

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