What have we done to leave ourselves open to, effectively, mass suicide?
My friends, it is not the virus that is causing this international panic, it is our global immune system’s response that is the real problem.
The whole world has come to a standstill in response to something smaller than a single cell organism. Our ancestors lived among armies of microbes, bacteria, yeast and viruses without this turmoil because they had a strong and well-balanced immune system to protect them.
What happened back then – and what should happen with us – is that, faced with infection, the body triggers inflammation to recruit immune cells to the site of the problem – to “clear the rubble” and return the site to normal.
However, let us note that the immune system is supposed to launch a balanced attack, just enough to kill any invading viruses whilst keeping collateral damage to an absolute minimum.
With Covid-19, this balance has not been observed, making it a life-threatening biological agent.
Covid- 19 would have been a mild viral infection if we had preserved our inherited protective barrier and healthy balanced immune system. It Is clear that modern life has robbed us of the essential tools to stay safe in this way.
The overreaction of the immune system is described as a cytokine storm. This means that the immune system produces chemical messengers (cytokines) to destroy the lung cells that are loaded with the virus. This can result in Acute Respiratory Distress Syndrome (ARDS) and respiratory failure. Death is due to multiple organ failure.
Why does the immune system overreact?
You see Covid-19 in people with abnormal immune systems – the elderly with poorly controlled immune systems and people with chronic health conditions with over-taxed and unstable systems.
You hardly see Covid-19 victims among the younger population. Children and young adults have probably silently overcome the infection. In so doing, they acquired natural immunity, in order to protect themselves, should the virus return.
The human body is like a very strong fortress: our skin makes a strong wall around the body to lock out invaders; the entrances to the mouth and nose are guarded by strong territorial regiments of adenoids and tonsils; the respiratory system is fortified by Muco-ciliary Clearing to cleanse the lungs; and stomach acid initially kills any invaders to prevent infection.
However, we know that stress, anti-acid pills, alcohol excess and the infection of the stomach could result in low stomach acid and therefore low resistance.
In response to any infection, the body raises its temperature to kill the invading organisms and to activate the circulation, in order to mobilize the immune cells from around the body to fight the infection. This huge defensive mechanism is annulled by the overuse of anti-inflammatory pills.
Let us further investigate the changes inside and outside our body that have occurred since our ancestors’ time, that have led to the human immune system not performing the job for which it was intended.
It all comes down to the microbiome
These friendly bacteria, housed in the large intestine, are our partners and have a huge impact on our health. They not only destroy or balance harmful bacteria but produce nutrients deficient in our diet such as vitamin K2, folate and SCFA. The microbiome also helps with detoxification.
But, in our homes and workplaces, we lead very sanitised lives, and we have been led to believe that all bacteria are our enemy, when in fact we share the world with them, and they have the same right as us to be here.
This can be illustrated by a treatment called faecal transplant (taking a sample of faeces from a healthy individual and planting it in the bowel of a sick person.) This treatment has saved people from the killer infection, Clostridium Difficile, which breaks out in old people following repeated courses of antibiotics. The faecal transplant is 100% successful, against 60% when more antibiotics are administered.
Friendly bacteria are trying to save our lives, but, despite this, we continue to work hard to kill them.
How much soap do you eat every day?
The washing up liquid that we don’t rinse properly from our crockery and cutlery, the fluoride in our water supply, the pesticides, herbicides and insecticides in our beer and wine – all of these gradually kill our microbiome.
The first food a baby gets from its mother is colostrum. Colostrum contains not only nourishment, but also other indigestible elements which feed the baby’s microbiome.
However, from this positive start in life, most of us lose the richness and diversity of our microbiome to harmful bacteria because of our lifestyle. Eating junk food, too much alcohol, too much stress, inadequate sleep, lack of physical activity can all kill the good bacteria and replace them with harmful bacteria resulting in Dysbiosis.
What causes Dysbiosis?
Morgan Spurlock, a film maker, made the Super-Size Me film in which he ate three McDonald’s meals (and nothing else) every day for 30 days. He put on 11kg and became sick, sedentary and had difficulty climbing stairs.
A similar thing happened to me more than 25 years ago. A high level of stress in my job as a junior doctor, lack of sleep, heavy consumption of junk food from the hospital canteen and vending machines saw me gain 30kg in weight within two years, with my health going downhill to the extent that I became one of the most serious patients in my own hospital intensive care unit. my story.
Instead of the typical western junk food, we need to promote a high diversity of gut microbiota, by eating a range of organic fruits, vegetables and fermented food. Diversity is chronically low in modern processed food, which is made up of 12 plants and 5 animals mixed at different ratios in the food factory, where, in addition, fibre and essential nutrients are removed to prolong shelf life.
In contrast, our ancestors’ food included hundreds of sources from mother nature’s farm and pasture.
Having low microbiome diversity is like being taught only a few subjects, producing students who are good at English and Maths, but ignorant of Geography, History, Science and other subjects.
What makes the immune system over-reactive?
The answer is a leaky gut.
The gut lining is one cell thick. During digestion, food is broken down into the smallest units – carbohydrates to glucose and other monosaccharides such as fructose, proteins to amino acids, and fat to fatty acids. Vitamins and minerals are also released spontaneously from the food.
The smallest food molecules are allowed across the gut wall to enter the blood stream. 70% of the immune system is deployed to guard this vital ‘border crossing.’
The gut becomes leaky when larger food molecules, such as partially-digested protein, come through the gut wall and enter the body. This irritates the immune system, prompting an attack against these molecules, which should not be allowed to enter the body.
This hyper-reactive immune system causes autoimmune diseases such as Rheumatoid Arthritis, Lupus and Psoriasis.
How does the gut become leaky?
You can probably surmise by now that the gut becomes leaky due to a western diet, which includes sugar and highly processed carbohydrates. Allergens such as gluten, dairy, soy, eggs, peanuts and sweeteners can also damage the continuity of the gut lining. Stress is also a common cause.
You can calm your immune system by building up a good population and wide diversity of friendly bacteria (microbiome) and provide them with a regular supply of adequate bacteria food (prebiotic.)
Foods rich in fibre (prebiotics) include onion, garlic, lentils, seeds, nuts, asparagus and Jerusalem artichokes. Friendly bacteria chew fibre to make short chain fatty acids such butylates to nourish the gut wall. (This is why a high fibre diet prevents colon cancer.)
You will reclaim your immune system if you eat your food whilst you are physically and mentally relaxed, with no distractions. People in western culture unfortunately often talk, watch TV or play on their phone (or all three!) whilst eating.
Stress disrupts your gut wall and increases harmful bacteria such as clostridium whilst reducing friendly bacteria such as lactobacillus. Stress also impairs digestion, leading to nutritional deficiencies, making it difficult to meet the increasing needs of your highly active immune system.
Regular gentle exercise not only improves your health and wellbeing, but also boosts your immune system. Studies reveal higher friendly bacteria in the gut of athletes.
Sleep also supports your immune system’s ability to detect and destroy any invading organisms, whilst sleep deprivation suppresses the immune system, decreasing your ability to respond to biological challenges.
During hard times, you may benefit from natural agents to calm down your immune system.
We have seen interleukin-6 (IL-6) identified as the inflammatory messenger causing severe lung damage in relation to Covid-19. For this reason, natural agents that inhibit IL-6 have become very popular.
Natural interleukin-6 (IL-6) inhibitors:
Vitamin D: modulates many facets of the immune system.
Green tea extract contains (EGCG) phytonutrient that inhibits IL-6.
Curcumin (bioavailable form of turmeric): modifies immune cell activity.
Andrographis: can modulate innate and adaptive immune response.
Black cumin seeds: reduce IL-6 and other cytokines.
Specialised Pro-resolving Mediators (SPM): contribute to resolution of infection.
Stinging Nettles: modify inflammatory response.
Quercetin: reduces histamine and modulates immune response.
Melanocyte stimulating hormone (MSH): reduces inflammation and autoimmunity.
Fisetin: a strawberry flavonoid, boosts immune system but reduces inflammation.
Spirulina: blue-green algae modulate the immune system by inhibiting the release of histamine by mast cells.
Rosemary: regulates inflammatory cytokines.
Intermittent fasting (12 to 18 hours): stimulates the immune system to fight viral infection.