By Dr. Alan Palmer, Contributing Writer
[CHD Note: This is Part One of a four-part series. Page numbers referenced throughout the article are from 1200 Studies- Truth Will Prevail, Dr. Palmer’s free eBook. You will find the download link in the bio at the end of the article.]
The media blitz surrounding the COVID-19 crisis strangely omits any mention of the power of the human immune system. It is critical for thinking people to look beyond the noise and learn why a healthy lifestyle and a targeted nutritional approach, which I’ve been passionately advocating for over 30 years in my practice, is such an effective strategy in response to COVID-19.
Is it the Germ, or is it the Terrain?
This issue comes back to the great debate between two famous men of science, Louis Pasteur and Antoine Bechamp. The essential debate can be boiled down to this: Is it germs (Pasteur), that cause disease? Or, is it poor terrain (Bechamp), that allows the germ to gain a foothold and spread unabated? In other words, does exposure to a germ mean you’re destined to “catch” the disease or become “infected”? Does the germ have all the power to control your fate? Or, is the person who is exposed a receptive host? Is their immune system a fine-tuned machine, or weak and insufficient? In other words, is their level of resistance to the exposure high or low? See my recent Facebook post for a more detailed explanation of this “Great Debate”.
Bathing in a Sea of Microorganisms
Scientists have determined that there are approximately:
- 30 trillion cells in the average size human body
- 40 trillion bacteria on and in the human body
- 380 trillion viruses on and in the human body
So, from sheer numbers it would appear that viruses are by far the greatest number of organisms on and in our bodies, no matter what we do to avoid or eliminate them. They are a part of our constitution.
The Human Microbiome Project initiated in 2007 by the National Institutes of Health (NIH), has been working to map out, classify and understand the roles of the residents of the universe within us. It has given us a much better appreciation for the incredibly complex associations and relationships they play in health and disease.
There are thousands of species of bacteria and viruses that compete for space and control of our tissues, made up of beneficial players, opportunists and harmful actors. These organisms are significantly influenced by how we live, exercise, sleep, what we eat and drink and these lifestyle factors even effect how our genes are expressed. We call all these healthy organisms symbiotic, because we both benefit from each other. In fact, we could not survive without them! Our environments and lifestyles determine whether we assist our symbiotic organisms to give them the upper hand and help to provide us with resistance to disease, or we sabotage their efforts and promote the growth of destructive organisms and the demise of our health.
… beneficial bacteria are the first line of defense of our entire immune system.
Beneficial bacteria are the housekeepers and defenders of our gastrointestinal (G.I.) tract. They produce B-vitamins, brain signaling molecules like serotonin (the antidepressant “brain” hormone—about 80% of it is made in the gut), short chain fatty acids that feed and maintain the cells lining our G.I. tract, regulate pro-inflammatory and anti-inflammatory cytokines (cell signaling protein molecules) to prevent autoimmune and inflammatory diseases and numerous other beneficial activities. Healthy bacteria also live in our mouths, on our skin, and in all the nooks and crannies of our body. They all have vital housekeeping chores in those places. The strength of the health and population numbers of our beneficial bacteria are the first line of defense of our entire immune system. It is estimated that 70% of our immune system resides in the Gut Associated Lymphoid Tissue (GALT).
Then, there are the harmful bacteria that compete for the real estate in our G.I. tract and all throughout the body. If environmental factors throw the balance of power in their direction that’s when bad things happen. Our diet, lifestyles, medication, chemical use and emotional health all influence the balance of the healthy versus the unhealthy organisms.
There are beneficial viruses also, on and in all parts of our body. Bacteriophages, sometimes called phages for short, are viruses that infect bacteria and eventually destroy them. They can help control rogue and harmful bacterial populations. Scientists and physicians world-wide have used various species of phages that attack pathogenic bacteria for decades to treat serious and even life-threatening bacterial infections, including those caused by drug-resistant species.
… the notion that we should avoid all germs is actually damaging to our health.
Why has COVID-19 hit certain people harder? The Terrain!
The terrain refers to the body and immune system, representing our resistance to disease. We are exposed to millions of microorganisms every day and will be for the rest of our lives. It is estimated that there are approximately 200 species of respiratory viruses; influenza viruses, rhinoviruses, coronaviruses, adenoviruses, parainfluenza viruses, respiratory syncytial virus and more. We have always lived and interacted with these viruses and thousands more. Many of these categories of viruses can cause severe illness and even death in certain people. In other people those infections are very mild and self-limiting. In fact, it’s exposure to these viruses, bacteria, and fungi that matures and strengthens our immune systems. So, the notion that we should avoid all germs is preposterous and actually damaging to our health. Two people can be exposed to the same virus and the same viral load and one gets sick and the other doesn’t.
It is the same organism both people are exposed to, so why the different result? Same germ, different terrain. This is why COVID-19 hits certain groups much harder than others. Those include the elderly, the obese, those with comorbidities like diabetes, heart disease, high blood pressure and vascular diseases, immune deficiency disorders, cancer, respiratory diseases, autoimmune disease, those taking certain medications, the poorly nourished consuming low nutrient dense (junk) foods deficient in vitamins and minerals and not supplementing to offset those deficiencies, and even certain minority groups all are at much greater risk of severe complications and death. This is no surprise and it is not unique to this version of coronavirus or any other pathogenic virus or bacteria for that matter.
The statements, views and opinions expressed in this column are solely those of the author and do not necessarily represent those of The Duran.