Sometimes I believe it’s easier to let the media or your doctor do the thinking for you. After all, every year your doctor will always tell you to get your flu shots and maybe give you a coupon. There aren’t any options discussed and he or she certainly won’t tell you how you avoid needing flu shots.
Besides – what does you doctor know about prevention anyway? Are they going to tell you to eat well, drink lots of fluids, exercise more, and get more sleep? I’m pretty sure you already knew that and you don’t really believe that’s going to prevent the flu, right? Truth is, that doctors don’t really learn much about prevention. Standard medical school focus’ on diagnosis, naming the disease, and prescription – prescribing the medication. Most research and information provided to doctors is aimed at this medical model. There isn’t any room for finding out the root cause of illness like the flu, and then correcting it before it lays the groundwork. Prevention just isn’t that popular – among doctors or humans.
The Story of the Flu
In order to really understand the flu and the root causes for why you’re so susceptible at 50 and over, you have to look at the whole story – what functional medicine doctors call, “The Timeline.”
You grew up in an average home with average parents and they worked very hard to give your family the best food available. If you grew up when I did, the 50s and 60s, good food was in packages and cans. “Fresh green beans” were freshly canned beans in a can. A good hearty meal was a casserole made with chicken and hamburger and Campbell’s soup. The chicken was left over from the night before when you had fried chicken fried in Crisco oil or later in corn oil.
One day you got a cold and the fever was high so your mother took you to the doctor – remember when you could get in to see a doctor the next day? – and he said it was probably just a cold but your ears were congested so just to be safe he prescribed an antibiotic. Your mother renewed your prescription and you took a couple of rounds.
The symptoms went away and you felt better but at that point you damaged the healthy bacteria in your gut lining and your cells started to separate and leak molecules of undigested food into your blood stream.
It wasn’t much, but just enough to give you a slight loss of energy after eating bread. It wasn’t that noticeable so life went on.
Later your mother started introducing the family to more variety in your meals and you have liver and onions, fish, and chipped beef on toast.
Over time you began to pickup heavy metals from the fish and those deposited themselves into your fat cells. The affects of that and the antibiotics in the beef were hardly noticeable. And life went on.
Gradually over time, your immune cells, 80% of which reside in the gut, had bonded with enough of the metals and bad molecules that they now began to react as if your pancreas was an alien visitor and immune anti-bodies began to attack your pancreas limiting it’s ability to produce insulin. But the effect was very mild and you hardly noticed it. Life went on.
In your early twenties you noticed that your joints would become stiff when you sat for a while or after you slept. You felt a little less like playing sports because it was a little painful so you took up other pursuits. and life went on.
In your mid-twenties you began to gain weight and to your dismay this continued until you were clinically obese at 30.
By now the joint pains were a lot worse and you also noticed that you would get really sick whenever you ate bread or anything with flour.
Finally you went to the doctor and he told you that you had auto-immune disorder, you were obese, allergic to gluten, and you had beginning stages of type 2 diabetes. He prescribed insulin and told you to follow a strict diet and exercise more.
And every hear after that he warned you to take your flu shot and gave you a coupon.
At 50 you were a full course type 2 diabetic, obese, and having severe diabetic nerve pain in your feet.
At 51 you forgot to take your flu shot that year, contacted the flu, and almost died.
The Meaning of the Flu Story
There might be a lot of good conclusions from the flu story but let’s just point out a couple of key points…
- The reason that the flu can devastate you when you’re older is because you didn’t pay attention when you were younger.
- All of the symptoms that you experience during your lifetime are all indications that your immune system (located in your gut) is not doing well.
- Paying attention to how foods and your environment are affecting you – both then and now, is essential to having a healthy immune system.
- The same things that impact your gut and immune system in a positive manner will also impact many of the chronic diseases that are on the upswing in your society.
Conclusions from the Flu Story
It’s never too late to turn around an unhealthy immune system.
We just have to recognize that our gut was probably thrown out of balance early on with antibiotics killing good and bad bacteria alike. It it wasn’t that, it was exposure to toxins in our diet or environment. When the gut is placed in this imbalance some of the bad bacteria “overgrow” the good. In many cases this will be yeast (as an example) that overgrows because it is not held in check by your normal gut bacteria.
Over a longer period of time a yeast overgrowth can lead to poor digestion which means you don’t get the nutrients from your food no matter how well you eat. This in turn leads to a breakdown of bodily systems that depend on the ingested micronutrients and the symptoms can abound all seeming to be totally unrelated.
But the greatest culprit is auto-immune disease because it’s the thing behind everything else. It attacks the weakest cells in the body and those differ depending on your genetic makeup. Overall, auto-immune is when the immune cells select on or more bodily organs to attack (and yes skin is a bodily organ so severe skin problems are generally auto-immune responses.
Your immune system uses inflammation to heal things. You get a cut and it inflames the immediate area to cause healing to accelerate. But when the immune system is turned on all the time and you have a low level of inflammation constantly, that’s not how your body was made to work and it doesn’t work well in that condition.
So the reason you need the flu shot today is because your immune system was compromised over many years of neglect and ignorance. You should have felt healthy and fit every single day and when you didn’t, that should have been cause to seek care, however, because of the prevailing medical model, you would have gotten care other than more diagnoses and more prescriptions. If every time you felt a little off you went to see the doctor, by the time you were 50 you had a list of 12 medications, 6 of which were there to counter-act the side-effects of the first 6.
A Healthy Immune System
To understand just how important a healthy immune system (gut) really is, just consider the diseases that it was designed to fight and minimize or even prevent.
It is designed to prevent cancer.
It is designed to prevent damage to the organs which would include all of the thyroid diseases, diabetes, heart disease, MS, Alzheimers, dementia, and a very large list of neurological and physical diseases.
It was designed to prevent damage to the skin – another organ.
It was designed to prevent damage to the joints.
It was designed to promote a healthy body weight.
Your body has a system that was designed to cure or prevent every major disorder we currently know about and all of the chronic diseases which are currently threatening to put us all in the ground immediately after bankrupting our healthcare system.
If you were an alien race who wanted to depopulate the earth – a scenario that is all to common among science fiction movies – what better plan than auto-immune disease caused by something we would never question – our lifestyle, our food choices, our environment, and the whole system.
A Word About Environment
Just because I use a lot of food examples doesn’t mean that I don’t give equal weight to what we’re doing to our environment and how that is causing the same problems. But most of what we’re doing to our environment finds its way into our food one way or another.
Monsanto and Roundup along with Glyphosate and the other magical “inactive ingredients” that turn out to be very active when it comes to our health, are a shining example of how far out of bounds a monster chemical company with unethical management can go. We must conclude from even a cursory examination of Monsanto that our political and economic system is not sufficient to control our companies from working toward the destruction of life as we know it.
Of course if you believe the evolution theory then you’re probably saying, “Yes, but these new factors in our environment will cause human beings to evolve into a much stronger or more viable species in the future – impervious to environmental factors, immune against poisons and toxins in the air and food supply, able to resist and persist in a highly charged atmosphere where most of our ozone layer has been burned off by green house emissions. I don’t happen to subscribe to the evolution theory – it’s too convenient for my taste.
And our agricultural system which raises cattle in food-dangerous and highly unethical “feedlots” is another example of our system run rampant with no thought to sustainability or the overall impact to our society as a whole. This one practice alone is responsible for contaminating our food supply and fueling the auto-immune pandemic.
Our agricultural system also supports farming where the people who sell us the seeds and force farmers to use them, also sell the chemicals to spray and then the drugs to make people who consume the food and get sick feel better. How could we ever expect that the way we farm over 80% of our farm land in the US will ever be sustainable?
And let’s not forget about dairy – the people who figured out how to milk a cow during their 9 months pregnancy and give us milk with almost 10 times the estrogen. We have setup a factory-based milk system in the US that is also not sustainable and no longer healthy. We delivery milk and dairy products to millions of children and their parents that deliver antibiotics and growth hormones and toxins that don’t even have to be on the label. And we coat this poison pill with a slogan – “milk does a body good” – that reminds me of how we sold the whole idea that corn-fed beef was better when cows don’t even have the stomach to digest corn.
With GMOs now causing auto-immune disease faster than we can test it – and make no mistake that no human testing was required for the FDA to approve GMO corn and soy onto the market – we now have the burden of proving that it is causing problems and given the research so far, GMOs could be one of the most significant factors in auto-immune to date which again is the disorder that underlies all chronic diseases – ALL.
So I don’t want to play down the role of environment in our auto-immune leads to flu discussion.
Starting Late in the Game
So for most of us, our immune system is already compromised and we’re going to have to play “catch-up” but it can be done.
What to do?
- First things first – educate yourself. Read every book on the topic of foods, health, and especially anything written by a functional medicine doctor. These practitioners have studied how to identify root causes of disease and they understand the trigger to auto-immune and can help you narrow you search.
- Attend a free online webcast – there are literally hundreds of webcasts now and most are free, that will educate you on this topic and many related areas. The magic of the internet is being put to good use by making this generation one that can get themselves educated without leaving their home in the evening. Most webcasts are recorded so all you have to do is give up an hour a night of your TV time.
- Resign yourself to testing what you learn on yourself. You’re going to have to make major lifestyle changes in order to find out what’s feeding your gut imbalance. It’s different for everyone but the triggers are fairly predictable and if you can’t afford to visit a functional medicine doctor, you can experiment and find out using the most common food and environmental items known to cause problems. This blog/website can be a resource to read about how to approach this topic.
Functional Medicine Doctors have now compiled millions of case studies with millions of patients and the results are astounding. Cancer can be cured. Diabetes can be cured and along with it obesity. Heart disease can be cured. MS can be cured. Acne can be cured. And almost any disease in its early stage can be cured.
Sure when some diseases have gone long enough and there has been damage – such as Alzheimers for example, then a cure may not be a possible outcome. But it is certainly reasonable in many cases to expect to control and arrest the damage so it doesn’t go any further.
Again, many of the cases and there are thousands, show what can be achieved by looking for a root cause and solving it through reasonable lifestyle changes.
Let’s not downplay what this means.
If you have a thyroid disorder and take synthroid, you may have to stop eating grains and any kind of flour completely. And you’ll have to ask yourself, how much is it worth to me to not need to take a drug that long term is going to damage me?
If you have diabetes type 2 and are over-weight, you may have to stop eating sugar, grains, and dairy. And you’ll need to ask yourself, how much is it worth to me to not need to take insulin, a drug that will harm me and eventually kill me if I keep taking it?
No doubt about it. A lifestyle change is a major change in how we see ourselves going about our lives – what we like, what we’re accustomed to, and what we love and enjoy.
The alternative is when we roll the dice and bet that we’ll remain healthy in spite of everything and we don’t become a burden to our children and the grandma or grandpa who lives in the room over the garage in a bed with an oxygen tube in their nose watching TV for the last 20 years of their lives. Do you really think your children and their children still love you when you place that burden on them?