Months of lockdown and a novel virus have certainly awoken us as a nation to a new level of humanity. We have seen that the virus doesn’t discriminate. We have learned that our fate is in each other’s hands and that we are all in this together.
This situation has created an awareness of what has been happening in our society. We are attempting to understand the barriers that our Black brothers and sisters have had to deal with for centuries because we are finally ready to listen and try to understand.
Most of us have been “programmed” by our environment, and because of that “programming”, we may have barriers to our ability to empathize with those who don’t look quite like us or who may not share our experiences in this world.
We can place new barriers and create new programs to ensure that we don’t return to the place where our blind spots and lack of sensitivity prevented us from seeing and to block those who still may not be able to understand.
Barriers can be a benefit and they can be fluid. They can let in or keep out what we choose. Changing our programming and adjusting barriers can help us to stay open to possibility and make our society healthier for all of its members.
Our bodies operate in much the same way. Every one of our cells is superbly intelligent. Our cells have a membrane that acts as a barrier as well as a communicating mechanism. If we can enlighten ourselves about how our cells operate, we will be able to see how we can gain greater control over our health and confidence that our immune system could stand up to the virus, making it less lethal. We all share the same operating system, cells, and DNA. There is a way to make ourselves stronger if we understand how it works.
In the book, ‘The Biology of Belief’, author Bruce Lipton, Ph.D. shares, “A cell is a “programmable chip” whose behavior and genetic activity are primarily controlled by environmental signals, not genes. Our cells are like blank canvases like we are as children. They become “programmed” and begin to discriminate from one another based on environmental signals.
Just like our current recognition of social issues, scary bugs and viruses have existed for billions of years. They just were not part of our conscious awareness. We need to raise our awareness of how our internal systems operate as well as how our outer environment is operating so that we can make conscious improvements.
Our bodies house another universe that is called the Microbiome. There may be as many as 10 times the number of cells contained in the Microbiome (the Microbiota that populates it) than exists in our bodies. This microbiome is the first barrier or line of defense, that keeps us safe and allows us to fight off disease. (1)
Another barrier is mucus, a protective substance that is excreted from multiple areas of the body, including the mouth, stomach, and intestines. Mucus can assist our immune systems by acting as a natural filter for the bacteria we constantly interact with. Mucus protects our bodies so that we can live safely alongside many different microbes; as long as our Mucin structure and production are operating effectively. (2)
An additional barrier to disease is the process of chewing and the excretion of gastric acids which helps to kill off dangerous microbes before they even have a chance to penetrate the other barriers. You have most likely heard that 70-80% of our immunity system resides within our gut. In 1973, Bob Carroll, DC, ND, stated that “Death begins in the colon”. This is closely in line with what Hippocrates said centuries before, “All disease begins in the gut”.
What we have learned over time is that our gastrointestinal tract is filled with a series of tight junctions. These barriers are the equivalent of doors that can open and close as needed. They are “fluid” and adaptable to our bodies’ needs. When our microbiome is out of balance, it affects the functioning of these doors, causing them to remain open creating a gut permeability issue, also known as leaky gut.
When a leaky gut occurs, it means that damaging endotoxins are able to enter our bloodstream which can do serious physiological damage. Studies have shown that a surprising 25-33% of the small molecules in human blood can be derived from gut bacteria. These endotoxins can cause substantive and diverse physiological dysfunctions. (3) L-Glutamine can play a key role in restoring the tight junctions to prevent a leaky gut by helping to rebuild the cells which are, in a healthy individual, replaced every 36 hours.
We can also help our gut by taking probiotics and prebiotics to help maintain the balance in the beneficial flora within our Microbiome. This is especially helpful if we are taking any antibiotics, NSAID pain relievers, and many other types of oral over-the-counter and prescription drugs.
In a paper titled, “Toxins From the Gut” from the Integrative Medicine Clinician’s Journal, Joseph Pizzomo, ND stated, “The more research I study (and the more patients I treat), the more clearly I am seeing that ALL of the fundamentals of health are now so undermined that only treating disease is no longer a viable strategy. In fact, I would assert that the foundations of health must first be reestablished before we can know if a patient’s apparent disease is real or simply the body’s best adaptation to their distorted environment.” (3)
It would appear the same is true of our society. We are having to rebuild the foundation now that we are understanding continuing to try to build on the original foundation is not sustainable.
The gastrointestinal tract is the cornerstone of the foundation of our health. As we become more aware of the sensitivities of our outer world, we should also take this opportunity to become more aware of our inner world where we have many more similarities than differences. It is a place of common ground where we can put our health first to ensure that we can build a stronger society, and learn to reprogram our environmental programming, and take control of the barriers, both internal and external, that keep us from thriving.
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In case you missed it, check out Part I, Part II, Part III and Part IV in our series on Gut Health and Immunity.
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