Who Lied to You Today? Your Immune System
Nature is a numbers game. We need all the support we can get as our immune systems and health are under assault from pollution, stress, contaminated food and age-related diseases as our lifespans increase.
- Paul Stamets, world's preeminent expert on mushrooms--he has more viable ways to save our planet and our health than most people can imagine
I struggled with the title for this article. You will soon see why. No physicians, no government health "experts," no journalists and very few researchers will dare to tell you what you are about to read about your immune system. I mean that sincerely. They are afraid to tell you. So be prepared to be shocked.
Your grandparents knew nothing about immune systems. Your parents' generation knew very little because the whole concept was new to the medical community they learned from. Good health was still more good luck than good management.
You probably know far more than any generation before you. Yet what you think you know is likely wrong, at least inaccurate. Bear with me as this may be uncomfortable, even ugly, for you.
What you know as YOU, the living entity with your name, is not just one being. The only part that is distinctly YOU is your personality or, as some might say, your soul. Are your own body cells not YOU? Maybe, but maybe not. Read on.
The biggest part of what you think of as YOU is comprised of the cells of your body. They, even together, are only a small minority of the living entities that live together inside your skin. A majority of the rest is bacteria, though some are actually beneficial viruses. A large majority of them--about 80%--live in your gut. Specifically in your colon, your large intestine. Yes, the place where you store your poop before you excrete it from your body.
Uncomfortable yet? These microbiota, along with those on your skin, in your mouth, around or in every organ of your body and in every orifice are what mot people think of as their immune system. That's right, your immune system is NOT part of the cells of your body. It works in coordination with the cells of your body.
These microbiota, what advertisements seem to call germs to be gotten rid of, and what antibiotics and other contaminants kill freely, live in symbiosis with the cells of your body. There are trillions of them. At least as many as you have cells, most scientists say ten times as many as you have cells, some say as much as 100 times as many as you have cells.
Why the apparent differences in number? Because so often what you eat or take as medical prescriptions kills so many of them, all at once. You can't live without them. I mean you would die without them. Not just from infection due to lack of ability to fight off disease.
Upset these little guys with a bad diet and they react as if they are under attack. They can actually allow disease (such as cancer) to spread in a desperate attempt to get rid of what they don't like, what does not allow them to thrive.
Science now considers these microbiota so important that it considers them, collectively, as a second brain. You read that right. Just recently the link between the microbiota in the gut (yes, found in your poop as well as around it) and your brain was discovered. Your two brains work together.
I should emphasize here that your brain is yours, comprised of your own cells. Your other brain is not. Is your head brain all you? Your DNA is composed of genetic material that comes largely from bacteria, in our distant human past. Some strands of DNA have come from viruses. Since your DNA produces the cells of your body, are your own body cells all YOU or just another part of a composite mega-organism comprised of trillions of parts that live in interdependent symbiosis?
Should your second brain not protect you against cancer? Usually it does. Research on this is still in early stages, but it seems that your second brain allows cancer cells to grow and spread as a kind of defence against other invasions, other health problems. Cancer cells and other diseases, it seems, can kill other body invaders. But, like allergies, sometimes the defenders take over and kill the main body itself. The military calls that collateral damage.
Why can't the protectors be stopped? Maybe they can. The protectors are powerful. What would you do to try to stop a powerful killing machine such as the US military if the US military were attacking you and your people? The problem is no less complicated than that.
We know very little about how our own brain, the one that is comprised of our own body cells, works. What we know about how our second brain, the one in our gut, is almost nothing. We do know that when we feed it a diet it doesn't like it becomes our enemy. A deadly enemy.
That second brain also has a great deal to do with mood, our feeling of well-being, even our attitude toward life. It likely is more powerful than our own brain (the head one) in the sense that it can affect decisions we make, including those that risk our life, whether or not we break laws, how we make choices between right and wrong, even about addictive behaviours and suicide.
We know that our second brain is supposed to be an ally. That should cause us to want to support it, to strengthen it, not to kill it or weaken it.
I am not able to present evidence to support all of these claims here due to space requirements. You have starting places if you want to search to learn more yourself.
If you have comments or questions please feel free to write them. I will do my best to address them.
Bill Allin is the author of the book Turning It Around: Causes and Cures for Today's Epidemic Social Problems and hundreds of articles which are available on the internet. Search for them using the author's name.
Learn more at http://billallin.com