CANCER – Will You Be the One in Two? (Part 2)

Part two of this blog, elaborates on the points made in part one. Employing these measures will decrease your risk of developing cancer. Can you afford not to?

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Immunity
The single most important factor to avoid cancer (and many other diseases), is a healthy immune system.  There are many aspects to immunity and there are intrinsic and extrinsic factors which affect it. The trouble, is that the extrinsic affects the intrinsic! Here, I will deal with the factors you can easily manage for yourself and talk about the rest separately.

The simplest life is not possible without four things – minerals, water, air and the sun. At the very basis of our existence these aspects must be addressed. Replenishing minerals is essential for the workings of the immune system.

Minerals – our soil is exhausted and therefore our food lacks minerals. One very good way to boost your intake is to use salt. Real salt. Not just sodium and chloride as we see in supermarkets, but that with which life began – Himalayan crystal salt which contains all the balancing minerals our bodies need for correct functions. Celtic grey salt is also excellent.
Water – Don’t drink from a plastic bottle – soft plastics leach their chemicals into the water and these are toxic to our bodies. Drink filtered water from glass, preferably. Please don’t over-hydrate. We should drink to our thirst (although the elderly may need a little coaxing) and to keep our urine pale yellow (ie. not clear and not amber).
Air – We have little control over the air quality where we live. Nonetheless, we can all get to the countryside and breathe fresher air. Plants help clean the air for us so get out as often as possible.
Sun – Make no mistake – we need the sun. It gives us many benefits (as well as life itself) and should not be avoided. Perhaps its greatest gift is vitamin D3. We now know that this vitamin is usually severely lacking in cancer patients and that there is more than a passing connection between vitamin D3 deficiency and around twenty specific cancers. The sunscreen manufacturers will tell you that malignant melanomas are due to the sun, but there is evidence that good blood levels of vitamin D3, actually reduces the risk! If the sun can cause malignant melanomas, then it is due to an unhealthy body in the first place.
Sunbathe: In the northern hemisphere, sunbathe as often as possible during April to September. Wear as little as possible – and definitely not sunscreen! The sun should be high in the sky (your shadow should be as long or shorter, than you are tall). Do not burn. Depending on your skin colour, stay in the sun until your skin is slightly pink, not red. This may be five minutes a side for very fair skin or up to half an hour a side for black skin. Fortunately, we can store this vitamin so we gain protection over winter too. However, a short winter holiday in the sun is a good boost!
When you have completed your sunbathing, cover up, go inside or apply a non-toxic sunscreen.

Get dirty! A wonderful and free way to boost your immune system is to connect with the earth. Walking barefoot outside is good, gardening is relaxing and rewarding and both activities bring us in contact with soil organisms. Believe it or not, most of them are natural residents in our gut! Our microbiome (the microbes on our skin and in our gut) has everything to do with our immunity. In fact, most of the measures I am suggesting for keeping us healthy are in fact, to keep our microbes happy!

Have a good hard look at the evidence before vaccinating your children. Be informed.

 

Toxic Chemicals
Toxic chemicals are a very real threat to our health. The main reason for this is how widely they are used. Our food, personal and household products, plastics, industrial waste, what we are required to handle at work (eg. till receipts) – they are just everywhere. Bear in mind, these toxic chemicals have no place in our bodies and we are bombarded with them. It is estimated that women can use around 300 different chemicals on their bodies every day – shampoo, shower gel,  makeup, perfume, body lotions etc. Everything applied to the skin can end up in the blood stream. If we are to avoid them, we first have to know where they are. Time to learn! Read product information. Buy natural organic products and cooking pots (not non-stick) and find different solutions for household cleaning. There are many websites to tell you how to do this and you will spend far less than you are used to. Frankly, we do not need much more than water for any cleaning purpose!

 

Stress
Some people believe that stress is the most damaging cancer-promoting factor. It certainly damages the immune system. The co-factors – lack of sleep, lack of interaction, obsessive behaviours, under or over eating etc. – weaken us mentally, physically and biologically. Naturally, we all have some “stress” in our lives or we would never do anything. When it is not adversely affecting us, this stress is called motivation. So how can we deal with it so that it won’t harm? It’s simplistic to say don’t put yourself in this situation, but if you answered the question “What is the most important aspect of my life?”  as family, then maybe it’s time to reassess your life – work included. Other options to manage stress -
See your friends and family often.I90BFnYh
Walk, preferably in the countryside. Notice what is around you and don’t try solving work problems whilst you are walking.
Try mindfulness, yoga, swimming.
Read books, not computers – before bed.
Have a bath! We are so used to jumping into the shower to revitalise, we have forgotten the relaxing feeling of a warm bath. Especially good before bed.
Get involved. It can be very rewarding to get involved with a community project/voluntary activity and as it is not work-related, it can almost have the same effect as a relaxation technique. Helping people is probably the most rewarding activity of all.
Appreciate what you have. If you are reading this on a computer or tablet, you have more that most people in the world. Honestly, if you have a roof over your head, people that love you and you love and food on the table, what more is needed? Learn to love your life and be grateful for it.

 

Fasting
There is good evidence that fasting can be very beneficial to both weight loss and cancer-prevention. Since most cancers need a supply of glucose for their progression, fasting nips this in the bud. Every day we all make cells that could become a cancer. A healthy immune system will take down these cells in much the same way that invasive bacteria and viruses are engulfed. This is the function of our white blood cells. As well as sustaining tumours, glucose impairs the function of white cells by slowing down their response to these “foreign” cells.
Fasting doesn’t need to be arduous. For most people, an overnight fast will be effective. The idea is to have dinner early and breakfast late. This type of fast needs a minimum of about fourteen hours, so that means dinner around 7pm and breakfast around 9am.

 

Diet
As you can see, all these points are interlinked, but diet must have a paragraph of its own. Since we eat several times per day, what we eat should be paramount. Sadly, this is not the case in the real world. What does hunger mean to you? Think about it. Nature has provided us with this sensation for a reason. The only reason for it, is to tell us that vital nutrients are getting low and we need to replace them. What it does not mean, is fill the stomach with anything to make the sensation go away. This so often happens, then a couple of hours later the hunger returns – presumably in the hope that this time, the correct nutrients will be supplied.
Cereal and toast for breakfast or eggs and bacon? Give it a try and see how long it is before your hunger returns after each.
As I could write a book on diet, here I am going to keep it short. Whatever foods you eat, they should be organic and supply all the nutrients that a human body needs. If we make sure we have a meal containing protein, good fats and something plant-based (veg and a little fruit), we can rely on nature to provide the vitamins and minerals. It is good to add fermented foods sometimes such as sauerkraut and kefir. Grains and sugar should be for the odd occasion only. Drink alcohol sensibly and not every day. This is very simplistic, but there is lots more information on the website regarding food. Please note that fat is vital!  The wrong fats are the ones in vegetable oil (other than coconut and olive oils) and margarine – these are cancer promoters. It is fat that induces satiety after a meal.

 

Exercise
Moderate exercise boosts the immune system (too much damages it) and it keeps your blood glucose and insulin levels in check – both are implicated in the occurrence of cancer. The benefits of exercise can include social aspects, fresh air, connection with nature, increased wellbeing and more.

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Cancer – Can We Prevent It?

Having lost four celebrities to cancer last month, I was motivated to write this. We are all to some degree, sad at the loss of these influential people because they touched our lives. But their deaths are just a drop in the ocean. These statistics are from the Macmillan website:

  • There are now an estimated 2.5 million people living with cancer in the UK, rising to 4 million by 2030
  • By 2020 almost one in two people (47%) will get cancer at some point in their lives
  • More than a thousand people will be diagnosed with cancer everyday in the UK by the end of 2016

Around 160,000 people in the UK die from cancer every year

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 I couldn’t find any statistics regarding the ages of sufferers, other than for specific cancers. However, it’s apparent that cancer diagnoses are increasing in young people. On my first ward as a student nurse in the 1970s, I remember a man who had the terminal stages of lung cancer. He was in his early 50s. I was chosen to accompany the ward sister on the consultant’s ward round whilst this gentleman was a patient and was witness to the discussion following the round. Even though they had seen cancers in people this young before, it was still uncommon to see terminal illness through cancer in someone so young. As was said at the time – “cancer is a disease of the elderly” – when the body’s usual repair functions, start to slow down and don’t work correctly. People as young as 30 are being diagnosed – and younger. What is happening?

My view is that it’s never just one thing – it’s usually several. Yes this man smoked, but so did my grandmother (like a trooper!) and she died at 83 – not surprisingly, from lung cancer. My grandmother out-lived this man by 30 years! The difference, I believe, was that my grandmother had a wonderful diet – rich in good fats and free from toxins. The 70s saw the uprising of toxic vegetable oils in preference to butter, lard and dripping. I could relate many more anecdotes, but suffice to say, that there are more anecdotes.

Can we protect ourselves? I don’t have the definitive guide to preventing cancer, but I can cut your chances:

  • Reduce your use of toxic household and personal products. Get rid of the products under your sink that have hazard warnings and try these instead.
    Use just water for showering or find some very pure organic toiletries.
  • Eat organic food – especially the things you eat daily.
  • Get some sunshine for the vitamin D3 it gives us. Read the sunshine blog.
  • Stop eating foods that cause inflammation – especially seed oils, margarine and anything loosely called “vegetable oil.” Sugar – need I say more? Remember that all carbohydrate foods provide sugar to the body (limit grains), so don’t base your diet on these. Stop smoking.
  • Some medications are vital, but in general, try to find other ways to deal with illness and discomfort. Our main source of defence against illness, our microbiome (the good bugs in our gut and on our skin) is so easily disrupted by medications. We all make rogue – or potentially cancerous – cells in our bodies every day, but a strong immune system will dismantle them. Nurture your immune system.
  • Don’t overdo anything! If you drink – have days off. If you smoke (give it up!), cut them down. If you run, (this can cause inflammation in the body if overdone), relax or meditate as well. If you must have a Big Mac, please, make it a monthly occurrence! (I can’t bring myself to say treat!)
  • Always take time for relaxation – read, meditate, take a long bath and so on. These are anti-inflammatory practices.
  • Read my guidelines for health.

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These measures will take you a long way towards protecting against cancer, but there may be others. I’ll keep you informed!

 

 

 

The Problem With Plant Foods…

Healthy EatingPlant foods epitomise all that is good for us don’t they? Articles about nutrition and diet are usually adorned with overflowing bowls of fruit, water-sprayed salads and colourful vegetable displays at markets or supermarkets – and indeed, many of my articles are similarly adorned. BUT there is a cost to be paid if we are to benefit from nutrients from plant foods.

As is my thing, I have looked at these plant foods with the back-drop of our (and their) evolution. Everything on Earth is here for a reason and for that reason, everything on Earth has efficient life-preserving and pro-creation systems in place. If this were not the case, then animals (including humans) and plants would just die out. Yes, I know there are more species that have become extinct, than exist today but at least in part this is to do with nature and how it selects. The rest is down to us, but I won’t step on that mine-field now! We and many other animals have hormones that allow us to progress the species. We also have hormones that allow “fight or flight” when we are in danger. We can regulate our temperatures so that we don’t cook in the sun or freeze during winter. Our skins brown in the sun to prevent our bodies becoming sun-damaged and we have immune systems that help protect us from pathogenic infections. We have more life-preserving tricks too which adds to why we are so successful as a species.

So what of plants? They too got to this point by evolution. Because they need it to thrive, some live in shade, some in full sunlight. Some like dry sandy soil and some like deep loamy soils. Some like moist conditions and some like dry. Plants are very clever with perpetuating their species and many have more than one way of doing this. Take strawberries – plantlets grow on runners but they can also be grown from seed. Raspberries and roses spread by their root-systems, throwing up suckers in the grass, to our annoyance! They too can be, but aren’t usually grown from seed. Many plants can produce “children” simply by a piece of the parent being broken off. These sections will root very easily – such as the willow tree. My grandmother had a huge willow tree in her garden and it grew from a willow washing-line prop! Plants have another form of defence too – they contain chemicals to discourage animals from feasting on them.

We have called these chemicals collectively, anti-nutrients. There are many – digestive enzyme inhibitors which can interfere with the digestion of our food; various acids such as phytic and oxalic which prevent uptake of certain minerals, especially calcium; glucosinates which prevent the uptake of iodine – vital for thyroid function; even eating lots of fibre, such as bran (which also contains phytates), can hasten food through the gastro- intestinal system preventing some valuable nutrients from being absorbed.

file8651336976179 We have evolved alongside plants and as any gardener will tell you it is a constant battle to get them to do what we want them to do! They want one thing, we want another which is why so many vegetable and fruit growers create artificial conditions and use artificial chemicals to nourish the plants and destroy pests. I suspect that we ate very little vegetation until we were able to cook. Most plants would have been too tough, unappetising and too indigestible prior to the advent of fire. Our taste-buds would have told us if our digestive systems could cope with what we put in our mouths. There is speculation about how long we have had fire but it dates back to at least 400,000 years ago and it was that event that made some foods more palatable and digestible. Even so, our choice would have been limited to the foods that could be wrapped in leaves and cooked in the embers – it was a long, long time before we had cooking pots! Remember too that the leaves, roots and fruits we see in the supermarket now are the result of hundreds of years of selective breeding and (disastrously), genetic modification. These actions have made them bigger/sweeter/more attractive/have a longer shelf-life/etc. – but the anti-nutrients persist.

Weston A. Price researched the diets of people the world over during the early 1900s and found (plus many other things) that amongst primitive people, health and diet often went hand in hand. They usually inhabited remote places but all were growing, rearing and preparing their own food. They were (and some still are) the picture of health. Some were vegetarian but due to their preparation of grains, beans, nuts and roots, they were able to destroy most of the anti-nutrients prior to consumption. Their methods are not complicated but they do take some time – obviously they had to plan, which is something we are all so bad at now! Grains, beans and roots were soaked with the addition of acid – vinegar, lemon juice, yogurt, whey etc. for a day or so. Only then were they suitable for cooking. Al dente is not something they knew of (especially as it is Italian!), because these foods need lengthy cooking to destroy even more anti-nutrients. Possibly all they knew was that the foods were more digestible but what they had actually done is make the nutrients more bio-available and therefore their food gave them more positive nutrition. I must stress that the vegetarians that were studied also ate raw dairy products and eggs too. Some will remember the “raw” phase that gripped the 1970s. Many jumped on this bandwagon and ended up very ill. Raw beans were responsible for many people being rushed to hospital with severe stomach pains. There is lots more on the preparation of beans, grains and nuts here.

One of the worst foods for us is soya. There is some very interesting reading here and whilst this is someone’s opinion, it is one I and many others share. Just to add insult to injury, about 90% of the soya produced is genetically modified and fed not only to us but to animals, making them sick too.

These are just some of the battles that we have to do with plant foods. There are more – foods belonging to the nightshade family for example – tomatoes, potatoes, peppers, aubergines etc. If we wish to eat plants, we take on this fight!

Just to put all this into perspective, organic, free-range meat and raw dairy have no anti-nutrients and make almost perfect nutrition for humans!

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Are Fungi and Yeasts a Threat to Our Health?

A couple of quotes from this study: “Fungal infections take more than 1.3 million lives each year worldwide, nearly as many as tuberculosis”. “..half of the world’s 350,000 asthma-related deaths each year stem from fungal infection..”

file2701293812299Yeasts and fungi are probably the most successful organisms on the planet. They do not necessarily require sunlight or oxygen and they use starches, glucose and other sugars for growth. This means they can grow pretty much anywhere as long as there as there is food and moisture – from the sludge at the bottom of the sea to mould on damp walls to us. Having more than one way to reproduce adds to their success too. They are often invisible – miles of mycelium (the underground “roots” of fungi) can be present in just a handful of soil, for example. Yeasts too are invisible to the naked eye unless they are part of a colony as in baker’s yeast or the bloom on the skin of some fruits. Just think what an advantage these attributes give to the life of these ubiquitous organisms! There are of course, many that are beneficial to us – some edible mushrooms have a wonderful array of nutrients and antioxidants.

Both yeasts and fungi can attack humans and they are one of our major killers worldwide. Even if they do not kill, they can cause suffering and misery.  “..half of the world’s 350,000 asthma-related deaths each year stem from fungal infection”  for example and Candida albicans can cause vaginal and oral thrush, skin problems and gut disturbances. In severely immune compromised people, Candida albicans can kill. There are other fungal/yeast infections that can affect humans such as aspergillus, ringworm and tinea (eg. athlete’s foot).

Severe infections with these organisms occur mostly in people who are immune compromised for some reason – A.I.D.S., treatment to prevent the rejection of a transplanted organ, cancer treatment and even pregnancy as this is a normal immune-suppressed state. (The baby shouldn’t be rejected!) However, if we eat incorrectly or if our immune systems have taken a knock for some reason, we are all at risk of mild or severe infection.

Including some fermented foods in our diet boosts our beneficial bacteria and this DSCF0577 keeps Candida in its place. It lives in our gut naturally but if we are healthy, it causes no problems. The main two ways that will change this balanced condition is if we feed it or if our gut microbes have been compromised for some reason. Candida can multiply rapidly and instead of being a few harmless yeast cells, it becomes an invasive colony. Yeasts need sugars for their growth and reproduction so if our diets are high in carbohydrate foods (which are broken down to sugars) – such as the doughnut, they get the chance to flourish. Many drugs but especially antibiotics, will disrupt the gut flora giving Candida a chance to gain a foothold. As a colony, it is able to put out microscopic rootlets which penetrate the delicate one-cell thick lining of the gut. This creates the condition known as leaky-gut syndrome giving rise to a host of problems in the gut and systemically.

In nature, one sees fungi not only thriving in decaying wood and leaves but also invading dying or weak plants. If we are less than healthy with a poor immune system, we too become a target. Don’t let it be you.

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Snot a Joke!

Q. “What’s the difference between bogies and Brussels sprouts?” A. “You can’t get children to eat Brussels sprouts!”

Lick NoseAre there actually any children (some adults too!) that haven’t eaten bogies at some time in their lives? Other primates can be observed doing this too. If you think about it, many animals show behaviour similar to this – cleaning themselves with their tongues and having the ability to lick their noses. If they weren’t supposed to do it, their tongues would be much shorter! But what use can this behaviour possible have? If it is instinctive behaviour – whatever it is – you can be sure it serves a purpose in the nature of things. Eating bogies is no exception. As adults, we try to stop children from doing it because we have, over our years to adulthood, developed an acute sense of the “yuk factor”. You can now be officially more relaxed about this!

When we breathe, the air that reaches our lungs must be clean, warm and moist in order for the oxygen to be properly transferred from the lungs to the blood stream. The lining of the airways contains cells called “goblet” cells. These cells specifically produce mucus which cleans the air passing through by trapping dust particles, some bacteria and viruses. When the mucus is loaded with these substances, it becomes drier and we may have the urge to blow our noses – or in some cases, pick our noses! You might think that if this stuff isn’t good for our lungs that it wouldn’t be good in our stomachs either, but you’d be wrong. The gut has a very different environment to the lungs and is perfectly equipped to deal with it. No one ever became ill from eating bogies that I am aware of!

The fact that from day one of their lives, children are building their immune systems file0001580378288This is vital to their future health. It is quite possible (from current research findings) that good immunity holds the secret to long and healthy lives without the misery of chronic illnesses. Immunity is built in a variety of ways; initially from the mother, others that handle the baby, foods eaten, crawling around the floor, playing with other children, making mud-pies, contact with people who have colds, flu and other infections and eating bogies! It may not be a requirement for future health but it is another way to ensure that a child has plenty of exposure to microbes in the environment. This in turn allows for antibodies to be manufactured and stored for a time in the future when their immune systems take a battering from infections. It can make the difference between a couple of days with a sore throat or a week in bed with the flu.

It is also true that exposure to a bit of dirt during childhood, prevents many allergies in the future. My grandmother used to say “you have to eat a bucket of earth during your lifetime”. I think she was right but may I suggest that you don’t do it all in one go?

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Kefir – The Super-Probiotic

You’ve heard of probiotics but you may not have heard of kefir (ka-feer). This could be seen as the king of the probiotics, not only due to its very impressive variety of probiotic organisms, but also due to the amount of these organisms in a “dose”. Yogurt is good but kefir is wonderful!

Kefir is a fermented milk product which starts with kefir “grains”. This has nothing to do with cereal grains but refers to their appearance. Frankly, this still does not describe the kefir starter, as it looks more like mini cauliflowers!

The origins of kefir seem to be the Caucasus Mountains in Georgia. The story goes back to around 3000 BC but no one really knows how the grains came to existence as no one has been able to replicate them. They are an entity just as we are – a mixture of bacteria and yeasts. After all, in terms of cells, we’re about 90% microbes and only 10% human!

2013-10-31 13.05.37Kefir nutrients will only be as good as the milk it is made from. If you use raw milk, you will be providing the correct food for the grains. Other milks will work too but the nutrients will vary. The grains are very forgiving just like any other life on Earth, because life wants to live. Probably the next best option would be organic unhomogenised milk. If you are lactose intolerant you could use organic coconut milk. I have never done this but I have been told that it is very good.

Making the kefir is child’s-play. You put the grains into a glass or ceramic jug/bowl, add about 3-500ml milk, cover and wait! Leave on a work surface in the kitchen. How long you wait depends upon how you like it and how warm it is. In the UK in November, it takes my kefir about 36 hours to thicken slightly, develop a fizz. Strain the grains from the kefir which can then be stored in the fridge with about 150-200ml milk for a few days until you make the next batch, or freeze them if you don’t need them for a bit. Nice but not essential is to give it a short secondary fermentation – I usually do and most often use a couple of lemon slices. Store the kefir in the fridge and have a small glass daily or use in ice-cream, smoothies or whatever you like! As the grains grow and multiply, it would be a good idea to put some in the freezer anyway, in enough milk to cover – in case you have problems with your in-use grains.

“It has a “magical” quality as no other food has this nutritional profile.”

The benefits to health are enormous – trillions of beneficial microbes, B vitamins (including B12), enzymes, minerals, protein and fats. It has a “magical” quality as no other food has this nutritional profile. It is well tolerated by most people and has benefits for sufferers of allergies and gut disorders plus it supports the immune system. In fact, if you have any health issue, kefir is a great way to aid your recovery.

Kefir grains are available in some health food shops but look on-line – they are both cheap to buy and ship and providing you look after the grains, they will last forever. As they grow  you can pass some to friends!

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“Why Do Some People Suffer Gut Problems More Than Others?” (IBS Part 2)

This post starts to answer some of the questions I posed last time. Everything hangs on your immunity. It really is the be-all and end-all of wellness or illness. Let me tell you a story, a bit scary in places but it all ends happily ever after.

When you were developing in your mother’s womb, your gut was sterile. When you were born, you were covered with the bacteria and other microbes that were in your mother’s vagina – the same ones that were in her colon. (Told you it was scary!)

Walking BarefootYou were put to the breast where you and your brand new gut microbes were nourished and you all thrived. As you grew you were given a good diet of eggs, meat, healthy fats, vegetables, fruit and quality dairy products. Playing was fun and you crawled around the garden in the sunshine, tasting the worms and making mud pies. (Well I did!)
Childhood illnesses were encountered and fought off and even when antibiotics were necessary, you were quick to recover on your nutrient-dense diet. The status quo is maintained and you continued your healthy lifestyle. As an adult, you are healthy and wellness is easy.

 

Now another even more scary story which does not end so happily.

When you were developing in your mother’s womb, your gut was sterile. When you were born, it had to be by Caesarian section as your mother was in difficulties and you had to go straight into an incubator. You had not picked up your dose of mum’s gut microbes but you got a little of everyone else’s flora from being handled. As your mother was unwell for a while, you were fed formula milk and you and your new – but unbalanced – gut microbes were nourished.

French FriesYour diet was mostly quick and easy foods as your mother went back to work and you play time was mostly indoors at the nursery. You suffered all the childhood illnesses going around at the time, and needed several courses of antibiotics which upset your tummy. As an adolescent you settled on a high carbohydrate diet as the government advised.

You had a holiday abroad, got a stomach bug from which you partially recovered but ever since, your stomach has been a problem. Foods you were able to eat become ones you now can’t tolerate. You suffer gas, diarrhoea, stomach cramps  gurgling and more. As an adult, you don’t really know what wellness is.These symptoms can be due to IBS, but may progress to being celiac disease, ulcerative colitis or Crohn’s disease (IBD). All these diseases are autoimmune conditions.

I have made these stories simple but there are lots of other factors that contribute to how you will fare health-wise. Vaccinations, household cleaning products, exposure to sunlight, accessible good quality food etc. – if/how/when these are done will all impact on your immunity.  The problems encountered in the second story can be overcome as long as the very basics are observed – nurture of the immune system.

Next time I will give you a “close up” of what is happening in a gut suffering “dysbiosis” – microbial life at war!

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The Resistance to Antibiotics

There is more news today about the dangers of antibiotic resistance. We shouldn’t be surprised by this. When we routinely use antibiotics (in animal farming and for some chronic illnesses) or occasionally use (for eg. a throat infection), we are just opening the door for the opportunist bully-boy microbes to get a foothold as we and the animals will have such poor immunity.

Antibiotics don’t just wipe out the pathogens – they also wipe out the very microbes that keep us healthy.

A short history lesson: Simple organisms such as bacteria and yeasts, have been around since life on earth began more than 3.5 billion years ago. All other life arrived long after this time. More animal and plant species have become extinct, than exist today and that is an understatement. When (not if) we die out, micro-organisms will still live quite happily. We are not in charge – they are.

However – we’re not going just yet! We have to learn to live with micro-organisms – and I say learn because, due to “products”, we have lost our natural ability to defend ourselves against pathogens. I have written many times on the different aspects of our immune systems so I will keep it brief here.

There are two classes of microbes that we have to manage. The ones that help us to live and the rest. If we concentrate on nourishing and nurturing the types that we depend upon for life and health, the others will (most often) stay in their place and be relatively harmless to us. If we ignore this, we allow the usually harmless organisms to become a pathological threat. Simple isn’t it?

Here are a few of links to other blogs regarding immunity:
Winter Bugs
Immunity
Snot a Joke!

“Urgent action to develop new drugs” is the cry of Professor Dame Sally Davies, the government’s chief medical officer.  Although this may save the dying, it will do nothing for our future. Look after your immunity.

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Immunity

Our immune systems are remarkable. They work tirelessly to keep us well but we must consciously give our bodies what they need for this function to ensure maximum protection from invading organisms.

file801244167702Before I move on to this, I will just say a word or two about avoiding infection in the first place. We cannot live without micro-organisms. Remember this. We have to build up a resistance to those that could make us ill so there is no point in trying to avoid ALL germs. If you had somehow been protected from all organisms from birth, you would quickly die on exposure to the outside environment. We gain immunity all our lives. (An illustration of this is swine flu – older people have met this virus before and have resistance to it, so they don’t suffer from it as severely or as often.)

That said, we don’t want to invite infection. We must take some precautions and these are usually simple measures of either barriers or washing.

Here are some examples:

  • Barriers: use tissues if you sneeze or cough, use condoms to prevent the sexually transmitted diseases, use gloves if you have contact with excrement – obvious I know! (Or if you are nappy changing your own child, wash thoroughly afterwards.
  • Dressings to keep infections out of wounds.
  • Washing: Wash hands frequently (definitely after using the loo) – bugs live on door handles and Jo Public does not wash his hands! Wash wounds before covering them.
  • Wash food preparation areas often, but anti-bacterial sprays are unnecessary. Wash salads and fruit. Basically, if it looks dirty, it probably is. If you have just chopped raw meat you must clean it immediately so that you don’t forget.
  • Toilets should be cleaned frequently.

So now to the dietary factors:

In order to keep your friendly probiotic microbes in tip-top form – eat homemade or bought fresh sauerkraut , natural organic full-fat yogurt or kefir.
Most of the vitamins and minerals needed for life are also needed for healthy immune systems and I suspect that this means immunity and life are inextricably linked.
The fat-soluble vitamins A, D, E and K are important for correct immune function. Get  short spells of sun exposure (for vitamin D) frequently without sunscreen. Do NOT burn – use sunscreen when your skin is just pink.The water soluble vitamins C and some of the B group are vital as are the minerals zinc, iron and selenium. They all have their own jobs to do as well as reacting with other chemicals to keep us in peak, infection-fighting condition.
Before you go rushing out to buy supplements, you can get all of these in an easily-
assimilated form from the following organic foods:
Eggs, liver & kidneys (from grazing animals) and/or shellfish. Golden butter and grass-fed animal fats are the best sources of the fat-soluble vitamins.


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