The Miracle in Getting Sick… Part 2
Last week we took an epic journey through an ancient battle which happens inside of You every time you get sick. This cellular campaign transpires more often than you may think because, as I said, your body is continuously being met with foreign, microscopic life forms everyday. But your body has a very intelligent security system inside which seeks out and destroys most trespassers before they get settled, and you never even feel it. When was the last time you thanked your body for that?
Now, let’s get back to the story…
We left off in the Lymph Nodes, the base camps for your immune army. The war is still in the heat of things–literally, with that fever. Mucus is dumping living and dead viruses and cells into your digestive system where a large percentage of your immune defense happens. The acid in the stomach, the beneficial flora (good bacteria) in your intestines, and the enzymes and immune cells throughout the whole trail are burning, eating and killing whatever doesn’t belong in you to help keep you in wellness and homeostasis.
After several sleepless nights –and probably many prayers– your body is winning the battle. Your immune cells are killing and disposing of these pesky viruses and flushing them out as fast as they can. All your nerves are on edge as your body flushes more and more mucus throughout your head. This excess of fluid can usually cause some blockages in your airways, but that’s a necessary suffering for the events taking place. In order to keep you breathing –which, of course, is essential for living– those airways need to be kept open, and usually that clearing process happens with great force. Sneezing and coughing are occurring to keep you alive and breathing. Yes, some living and dead viruses will be present in those powerful expulsions, so it’s a good idea to cover your mouth and nose NOT with your hand, but with a tissue. Think about it, if you sneeze or cough on your hand you are directly depositing those viruses onto your hand, a hand which is inevitably going to touch something or someone else and spread the joy. Be smart.
Things are finally starting to calm down; and once the battle is finished and all the viruses are destroyed, now it’s time for clean up and debriefing. Aches and pains are gone, you feel more energy and that awful sore throat is faded, but the mucus still continues to flow and that cough of yours will linger on and on as the damaged cells and nerve endings are beginning to repair and rebuild in this moist and safe environment. Eventually once the destruction is repaired your cough will slowly diminish as the irritation heals, but this could take weeks…yes, weeks. Meanwhile back in the lymph nodes, your immune cells are taking extensive and detailed notes on exactly what just happened, so the next time this type of virus finds its way into you, it will be much less of a mess. Your immune system is learning and growing from the stressful event that just passed. Viruses carry very specific and individualized markers that are unique to each virus, so if that same virus –or one similar to this virus– invades your body, your immune system will have a very quick, efficient, Navy SEAL-like response to the attack and eliminate the virus before any harm can occur to you. Now that’s smart!
The war is over. The task force is armed, ready and on patrol, and you can go about your life once again.
You made it! What a ride. It’s like an epic war movie that just took place inside of your body. You and your intelligent body are the victors.
Now that you are healthy, let’s debrief You, just like your ever-vigilant immune system, on how to best treat and support your body the next time a virus or other alien invader decides to make You home.
Your body is smarter that you are; it knows exactly what to do to get you healthy and back to homeostasis…so let it do its job!
Avoid suppressing symptoms as best you can. Taking decongestants and cough suppressants may make you feel a little better for a spell, but remember all those uncomfortable symptoms you are feeling are happening for a very good reason. For example, if you pharmaceutically hinder your body’s production of mucus just so you won’t feel as bad, understand that you are voluntarily opting to sabotage a major player in your body’s perfect defense system. Yes it’s uncomfortable to have an impossibly stuffy nose, but if you choose to reduce the effectiveness of part of your natural anti-virus army, it will take your body that much longer to conquer and eliminate the enemy, plus it will have to use more of your valuable energy to make the other aspects of your immune army take up the slack and work harder.
I’m not saying to never take anything, I am simply advising you to be aware of the effect of suppression. If you have a high fever, or the pain in your head is terrible, then do something about it; the stress of enduring unbearable feelings will reduce the strength of your immune system universally. Use logic and common sense. And seek medical help if extreme temperature or unusual symptoms occur. Do your research, and most importantly, do it without fear.
Tip#3 Orange Juice
Orange Juice is a bad idea. The sugars in the juice will actually feed and make stronger the virus, bacteria, or whatever you have. The Vitamin C you get from the juice to strengthen your immune system will hardly balance out the strengthening the virus or bacteria will gain from the sugars.
In fact, avoid sugars of any and all types while battling with sickness. Not just Orange Juice, but all juices, all fruits, simple carbohydrates like pasta, candy, alcohol, and of course sugar itself.
Feed a Fever AND a Cold. Yes, you read right. You never want to starve yourself in any situation where your body is fighting an infection. If you don’t eat anything, where do you think your body will get the energy to fuel the attack?
The key is in the types of foods you eat and how.
First of all, like I just said above, avoid all sugars and simple carbs. Second, choose whole vegetables and clean proteins like chicken, turkey, fish and nuts, all from Organic sources. These foods are packed full of anti-oxidants, vitamins, minerals and good, clean energy to stoke your immune fire.
Next, soups are great because: They are easy to digest, and they are full of all the goodies I just mentioned, The warmth helps keep your body from working too hard to bring the food’s temperature up to match your body’s temperature; plus, have you ever heard the saying “The whole is greater than the sum of its parts”? That actually holds true for soups. If you were to individually eat all of the ingredients of a soup you would not gain the same healthy benefits of eating the prepared soup. The ingredients mixed together with broth and heat actually creates a unique healthful entity that cannot be replicated in any other way.
Spices and sulfurs help kill viruses, bacteria, fungus and other parasites. Cinnamon, cayenne, ginger and pepper are like special forces to help with the attack. And since you’re sick anyway, it doesn’t matter what you smell like to other people, so pack in the garlic and onion, too. All of these ingredients are like nutritional napalm to foreign pathogens.
Avoid overeating; the extra energy your body would have to put forth to digest all that surplus food could really be best used for the immune battle itself.
Lastly, it may be likely you will not feel hungry at all or have any desire to eat. Too Bad…Eat Anyway! When you’re sick, a lot of normal body functions can go into hibernation to conserve energy. One of those functions can often be your feelings of hunger and the need for nutrition. Don’t fall for that trick, eat on schedule even if it’s just a small amount. Fuel your fight with good food.
Drink Water…Lots of it. Without water your body and its fluids become thick, dry, sticky, and stagnant. The last thing you want when your body is working hard to eliminate an invader is to slow the out-flow of the viruses or bacteria. Drinking pure water and teas helps to flush out all the casualties of war inside you plus some of the bad guys with it. Mucus, lymph fluid, blood, and so many other parts of you are all made up of water. Provide yourself with plenty of this Essential Element or it’s more misery ye shall have.
Be VERY wise about Antibiotics. The one and only purpose of antibiotics is to kill bacteria in your body. Keep in mind it’s not just the bad bacteria, but the good ones too. Antibiotics do bupkis on viruses. Repeated courses of antibiotics will weaken your immune response as well as cause living bacteria to mutate so that the drugs can’t harm them, eventually rendering the antibiotics useless. Be wary of, and ask pointed questions to, doctors who prescribe antibiotics when they say you have a viral infection. I’m not making this up, I have had that happen several times in my life. I asked one of those doctors about this and he told me that ‘the virus was the main infection, but there MAY also be a bacterial infection, so it’s good to just be safe’. With the knowledge I have since come to gain, I personally highly disagree with this mode of thinking, but I also choose not to subscribe to the fear of ‘coulds’ and ‘shoulds’.
Always take Probiotics, especially when taking antibiotics. Those little guys that live in your colon are actually allies to your immune system and help you get rid of what does not belong in you. Yes, the Anti’s will kill much of the Pro’s, but if you keep introducing more Pro’s that will prevent total annihilation, and keep at least some of their effectiveness going. Then re-proliferation will be much quicker.
Tip#7 Cold Air
Cold air and wet hair does not directly make you sick. Low temperatures make your body work hard to keep warm, that effort comes from your muscles in the form of shivering. If your energy is diverted to keeping you warm then it’s being taken away from your immune system. So if any fit and healthy pathogen finds its way into you when you are shivering cold, your immune system will be less likely to stop it before it takes hold and attacks.
Stress makes you sick. Just like in #7, if your body is too pre-occupied in reacting to daily stresses, guess where all your energy is going? That’s right, to the muscles and away from your immune system. We’ll discuss more on stress in future entries.
If you’re stressed, you need massage, many of them. However when you are sick you really need to avoid massage of any kind. Here’s why: As you read earlier, when a virus or bacteria enters your body and does its thing, your body does all it knows and all it can to, not only eliminate the enemy, but also keep the invader localized and prevent it from spreading its wrath anywhere else in your body. The great thing about massage is that it significantly increases your circulation, moving your blood and lymph all around your body. When you are healthy, that’s a really wonderful thing, but when you’re sick that abundant circulation is going to forcefully spread the threat from “ground zero” to new and uncharted territory in your body not yet discovered by the enemy. If the virus spreads beyond the war zone from a massage, now your immune system has to work so much harder to seek and conquer the newly colonized pockets of danger.
Your body is a miracle in itself, and the things it does for you to keep you healthy are astounding and miraculous. If you take care of your body, your body will take care of you. You’re a team, respect your body for the intelligent creation it is.
p.s. If you want to watch a very clever and well-written film on the body’s response to a viral attack, I recommend you see the 2001 movie “Osmosis Jones”, with Bill Murray, Chris Rock and William Shatner. It’s an animated film ingeniously portraying the body as a major city and the immune system as cops, firemen and other public service figures.