Why do we eat?       

        An athlete may answer the question of why they eat by saying they eat for energy, strength, and stamina, all in all to perform their best.  No matter what your professional designation in life, we all need to look to this answer, and realize it applies to all of us.

It has to do with performing your best.  In the case of an athlete this may be realized at the physical level of being able to jump higher, run faster, or bike longer.  However, in the case of athletes, and everyone else, it may be applied in a mental sense, to think clearer, react faster, or focus longer.  And still for certain people it may mean a spiritual sense of being able to, stay in a state of meditation longer, generate a stronger life force, or better cultivate compassion toward others. All of these aspects need proper nutrition in order to be preformed to the best of our abilities.

So what is proper nutrition, what is food?  The Oxford English dictionary describes food as, “any nutritious substance that people or animals eat or drink in order to maintain life and growth.”  Thus the substances found in food like products that do not help us to “maintain life and growth”, are therefore NOT food.
        The skin is the largest human organ and acts as a barrier between our bodies and the external world. Overall the skin averages about 1 millimeter thick but makes up about 16% of our body weight. The epidermis, or the layer of skin exposed to the elements, contains keratins and proteins resistant to environmental toxins, physical stress, UV light, and temperature.  Our skin’s surface is home to flora or bacteria that secrete pH-lowering substances creating a chemical barrier on our skin that deters pathogenic microorganisms from penetrating it.  Located at the bottom of the epidermis is the basal layer, a single celled layer that includes melanocytes, that give the skin is pigmentation to protect us from UV light, as well as Langerhans cells, that play a role in the immune system. The basal layer is also the primary source for vitamin D synthesis in the body.  Vitamin D is a pre-hormone that regulates calcium and phosphate levels in the blood and is a component in communication between white blood cells.  Vitamin D is also critical for calcium regulation required for bone health, as well as muscle contraction, nerves, and a host of other functions. The epidermis regeneration starts from the basal layer and from there, cells are pushed to the top gradually over about 30 days.  The dermas, located just beneath the epidermis, accommodates the sensors for touch, pressure, heat, and pain and is the home for collagen, elastin, and reticular fibers that provide the skin with strength and elasticity.  You can also find sweat, oil glands, and hair follicles here.  Under the dermas in the hypodermis are lymph, nerve, vein, artery, and capillary channels.  In many areas the capillaries are so tiny only one blood cell can fit through at a time. 

The skin is a diverse multi-dimensional organ and must be cared for as such. It is important to note that the skin is a detection center.  As an elimination organ wastes are carried to the skin more so when other channels are overloaded or blocked.  Any change in the skins appearance or operation is an indication that regular function of the body has been compromised. From the delicate nature of its sensitivity, through to the tough soles of our feet, the skin is a mirror for the hidden internal world that is our body.  Its notification of possible underlying problems gives us a visible alert and prompts us to clean up nutritional imbalances and clear up the skin. 

        Okra, Abelmoschus esculentus, bhindi, gumbo, or lady’s finger, is a transient wild herb that uprooted from its disputed Asian origins and made it to every nook of the globe.  Okra has established itself as a staple in many ethnic dishes from India to the United States.  Okra is everything I wanted OKRA skin care to be, diverse, transformative and healing, boasting an array of wonderful nutrients including vitamin C, vitamin A, potassium, magnesium, folic acid, niacin, calcium, iron, and an abundant amount of soluble fiber.  It’s mucilaginous properties and rich antioxidants make it a perfect healing plant for the skin inside and out.