Your integumentary system (say it again, just because it’s fun to say) is an integrated system of of parts working together to form a covering for your body. In fact, that’s what integumentary means ‘covering’ or ‘envelope’.

integumentary skinIt includes your skin, the hair on your skin, the glands that run amidst your other cells and structures, and even your nails. Your skin is considered one organ and it is by far the largest organ in, or in this case, on your body. The average adult’s skin weighs approximately 10 lbs and all laid out would cover approximately 20 square feet. Of course, that is a generalized average and each of us will have our own breadth and depth where our skin is concerned.

Your integumentary system is comprised of several parts all working together to keep you healthy and happy. First, there is your skin, which is actually three layers deep; the epidermis, the dermis, and the hypodermis. Each layer has its own unique purpose and relationship to your body, while still working intimately together to provide not only a protective covering but also a source of communication for your body. Then there is the hair on your body, which acts as another layer of covering, as well as a protective mechanism and also, a radio receiver of sorts.

integumentaryYour hair interacts with the environment picking up signals of vibration, temperature, moisture and much more. The glands in and under your skin are actually quite numerous, producing sweat to keep you cool, oil to keep you simultaneously waterproof and lubricated, as well as providing a more elastic quality to your skin. You even have specific glands in the skin lining the inside of your ears that helps produce wax to keep your ears protected. Lastly, your nails, both finger and toe, are part of the integumentary system. They also are part of a protective mechanism, while also giving us the ability to use them as tools in a way; scratching, digging, and picking while protecting the fingers and toes.

So, as you can see, each part has its role but they work together to do things like; synthesize Vitamin D, moderate your body temperature, protect your insides, and provide a communication source between you and the world. Let’s hear it for teamwork!

skinfoodWant to keep your integumentary system happy? Feed it well, give it plenty of healthy fluids, and exercise. Foods that make your skin and hair flourish are foods like: Sweet potatoes, salmon, berries (especially blueberries), avocado, yogurt (full fat, no additives, heritage breed), spinach, walnuts, oysters, and even chocolate. These foods are all nutrient dense with things like; vitamin A, C, D, and E, as well as zinc, Omega 3 fatty acids, and potassium, calcium, and iron. Couple those nutrients with the antioxidants and other phytochemicals that decrease inflammation, oxidation, and system breakdown and you're on an integumentary system roll.