Food intolerance is a little known subject for many and, worse still, extremely underestimated. Yet, many are unknowingly affected by this problem, whether children or adults, men or women. Even though it is difficult to trace back epidemiological data so as to establish with certainty the exact percentage, a rough estimate indicates that about 30 – 40% of the population is affected. There is worrying evidence of the widespread increase in health problems related to allergies, hypersensitivity or food intolerances, which tangibly witnesses how the fast spread of a modern lifestyle poor in nutrients and rich in refined ingredients, additives and pollutants, is not suitable to “build” and maintain good health.
The generic term throat refers to the internal anatomical tract on the front side of the neck, formed by the pharynx, larynx and by the upper parts of the trachea and of the esophagus; the air we breathe and the food we ingest pass through this tract which, as can easily be understood considering its anatomical parts, does not present a bone structure in itself but is supported by the skeleton right behind the neck. As regards muscles, the most important ones are the splenius and the sternocleidomastoid, both stretching between the bones of the head and the breastbone, covering the throat in the front. The tongue, too, located inside the oral cavity, plays an important role because of its action during deglutition, when food ingested passes through the throat.
THE RESPIRATORY TRACT
The respiratory tract is an anatomical structure primarily devoted to breathing and made up of several organs with the function of channeling air from the external environment, rich in oxygen, towards the inner part of the body, eliminating at the same time air “already breathed”, which is therefore rich in carbon dioxide. During inhalation the first organs that air comes in contact with are the nose and the oral cavity, and right afterwards the pharynx. The passage of air in the upper airway (how this set of organs is called) allows it to be warmed up and take on water vapor: this way it is ready to move on to the second part of the respiratory tract, i.e. at mid-level.
FEMALE GENITO-URINARY APPARATUS
The female genito-urinary apparatus consists in a complex and delicate set of organs that are very close to each other, and that can be divided into two groups: the genital organs and the urinary organs. Analysing the genital organs anatomically, and proceeding from the internal to the external parts, first of all there are the ovaries, i.e. female gonads responsible for the production and maturation of ovum cells (female gametes) as well as for the secretion of sexual hormones. The ovaries are connected to the uterus by means of the Fallopian tubes. The uterus is an organ located between the bladder and the rectum, consisting in a thick muscle layer (myometrium) and an internal mucosa (endometrium); its function is to receive the fertilized ovum, allowing embryo-foetal development.
THE VENOUS SYSTEM
Blood vessels can be distinguished in two types: arteries and veins. The venous and arterial system runs from the heart through the arterial trunks that ramify several times. As the ramification extends, the dimensions of the arteries gradually decrease to become arterioles and finally capillaries. Blood flowing from the capillary network first reaches the venules and then the small veins; from there to medium and large calibre veins before reaching the venae cavae (circulatory system) or the pulmonary veins (pulmonary circulation). As for their structure, veins consist in a thin, smooth wall that is relatively inelastic. Their calibre is generally slightly higher than that of corresponding arteries.
MOUTH, TEETH AND GUMS
The mouth or oral cavity is a multifunctional organ. In fact, apart from being the orifice through which animals feed themselves, it is the first part of the digestive tract where food is chewed and where digestion starts. It also plays a role in speech, communication and respiration. In man, the mouth is delimited by the lips (at the front), by the cheeks (laterally), by the pharynx (at the back), by the palate (at the top); in the bottom part, by a muscular floor, stretched inwardly by an arch formed by the mandible or lower jaw. The internal cavity of the mouth is enclosed by the dental arches consisting in teeth and gums. The teeth are the organs with a masticatory function: they shred food, reducing it to small fragments with the help of the tongue and of the saliva.
The immune system, from the Latin word immunis, meaning “exempt” (i.e. “exempt from infectious diseases”), can be defined as the body’s defense system, which has the primary function of protecting it from the attack of viruses, bacteria and other harmful microorganisms present in the environment. Despite this apparently simple definition, anatomical and cellular structures as well as biochemical processes with an “anti-pathogen” protective action are among the most complex in the organism, to the extent that only during the past decades researchers have started to fully understand the real functioning of this system.
More and more people suffer from allergies. This fact is before our eyes every day and confirmed by national statistics, according to which allergies are the third most common and frequently occurring chronic diseases, with an ever increasing growth rate. In general terms, an allergy can be defined as an “exaggerated” response of the organism towards substances called allergens (present in foodstuffs as well as in the environment), which although harmless are perceived by the immune system as being extraneous or enemies.
STOMACH AND INTESTINE
A good diet and an efficient digestive process are essential to be in good health because we are what we eat, but most of all, we are what we manage to absorb. Long term good health depends on healthy nutrition, on an adequate digestive process and assimilation of foodstuffs; over time, gastric problems and incomplete digestive processes lead to several chronic disorders (gastritis, reflux, constipation, meteorism, occasional diarrhea) and other serious diseases (food intolerances, diseases from immune-complex deposition, liver overloaded with toxins, etc.). The primary function of the gastrointestinal system is to dismantle complex molecules so that nutrients deriving from foodstuffs, which would not be usable or absorbable at native state, are made bioavailable. Gastric and intestinal problems are very widespread.
MALE SEXUAL SPHERE
The male genito-urinary apparatus is composed by a series of anatomical districts and structures in charge of both reproduction and urination (elimination of urine). It consists in the testicles, i.e. the male gonads, enclosed within an ovoid structure called scrotum. The function of these structures is the formation and transportation of sperms inside the seminiferous tubules. Around the seminiferous tubules are cells (interstitial Leydig cells) in charge of secreting testosterone. Once produced, sperms enter the sperm ducts where they mature and later reach the ejaculatory tracts and then the urethra.
Mosquitoes are insects belonging to the Culicoides family of the order Diptera, containing over 3000 different species. The female is equipped with a buccal apparatus capable of pricking the skin of other animals to suck fluids (e.g. man’s blood) that is necessary to complete ripening of their eggs. Keeping the socio-healthcare aspect of mosquito behavior under control is essential to prevent infections from spreading, since mosquitoes repeatedly prick individuals and can transmit even serious diseases through biological fluids (blood).
The skin is one of the largest organs of the human body: in fact, if stretched out completely it can reach 2 square metres and in terms of weight it makes up 16% of the total body weight. Its main function is to protect organs and internal tissues from aggressions of the “world outside” and therefore constitutes a physical barrier covering the entire body surface. It plays a fundamental role in protecting the body from heat and cold (thermoregulatory function), from injuries and from aggressions of external pathogenic agents. Last but not least, it is seat of nerve endings of the sense of touch.
Menopause is a natural physiological transformation in the life of every woman, characterised by a substantial reduction of ovarian activity leading to termination of the monthly menstrual cycle. The term “menopause” comes from the Greek “menos”, month, and “pausis”, termination; therefore it means “termination of menstruation”. A woman is officially considered to be in menopause one year after her last menstruation. The period of one year is based on statistics and relates to most women, but not all: there are, in fact, cases in which the menstrual cycle reappears after 15 – 18 months.
EYES AND EARS
The eye, a complex and delicate organ designated for the mechanism of vision by means of structures that make it optically equivalent to a camera. It transforms light in information that reaches the brain in the form of electrical impulses. When we look at an object, the light coming from it enters our eyes and passes through a number of natural lenses – the cornea, the crystalline lens and the vitreous body, equivalent to the camera lens – , and is then focused on the retina (the “photographic film”).
“Pediculosis” can be defined as an infestation of the human body by lice. There are different types of pediculosis, according to the type of lice; at any rate, surely the most common phenomenon is head lice, caused by Pediculus humanus capiti, mainly affecting children. It is estimated that in children’s communities (schools, nursery schools, …) the problem affects between 5 and 22% of preschool and school children (aged 3 – 11) and their families, regardless of their social status or hygiene care, simply because they have more opportunities of close contacts.
Osteo-articular and muscular problems, characterised by more or less intense pain, rigidity and difficulty of movement, represent the most frequent reason for patients consulting their family doctor. In fact, about 30 – 40% of complaints regard acute pain, mostly involving the back, neck, shoulders, and can be the consequence of a trauma or muscle fatigue (often related to a sports or work activity or resulting from bad posture).