In this piece, renowned cardiologist Dr. Joel Kahn shares what you need to know about your endothelium for optimal health. If you're interested in learning more, check out his mindbodygreen class, Everyday Hacks for Long-Lasting Health: How to Eat, Move & Live for Longevity.
The joys of distant memories. In fifth grade, I was overweight and ran the slowest 50-yard dash ever recorded at Stevenson Elementary School. I was also fond of pointing to exposed skin and saying "your epithelium is showing," years before I knew I was headed for a career in medicine. Fortunately, I had a few good traits, too, and I didn't alienate everyone that year (including a cute classmate that I have been married to for over 35 years).
The epithelium is one of the four basic types of tissues in the body (along with connective tissues, muscles, and nerves) that lines all organs, inside and out. I am now a serious student of a specific kind of epithelium, the endothelium, that lines the 50,000 miles of arteries and 50,000 miles of veins that course through our bodies. Just one cell layer thin, our endothelium would cover eight tennis courts in area if it were stretched out and weighs as much as our liver. Here's what you need to know about your endothelium, how it relates to your overall health—and what we can do to maintain a healthy endothelium: