It Could be the Bugs; It Could be Us Strengthening Resistance
By Dan Gleason, DC
Germ Theory, often attributed to Louis Pasteur, basically says that infectious disease stems entirely from an invasion of pathogens (“bugs”) from outside of the body. As victims of this attack, people bear little to no responsibility. Therefore, it’s essential to kill those bad bugs and avoid contact with them at all cost. This is part of the framework of modern medicine, with its emphasis on antibiotics and contagion. The focus is mainly on the bug, not the person hosting the bug.
In a setting such as a hospital operating room, sterilization is the way to go. However, out in the real world, it’s often not that simple.
Antoine Béchamp, a contemporary of Pasteur, proposed the Terrain Theory of disease. One aspect of this theory is that the person’s condition—the “soil” that hosts the bug—is of primary importance. For persons with COVID-19, for example, severity and death are highly correlated with the presence of certain pre-existing conditions.
What’s notable is that the most common of these pre-existing conditions—diabetes, COPD, heart disease and nutrient deficiency—can be due to, or exacerbated by, lifestyle choices, including diet, exercise and smoking or vaping. Taking responsibility for one’s behavior is crucial for resisting disease and living a long and healthy life.
The Terrain Theory anticipated recent research confirming the relationship of the gut and skin microbiomes to overall health. For example, nasty bacterial skin infections caused by the overuse of hand sanitizers are being seen. Similarly, overuse of antibiotics has magnified the threat of infections from antibiotic-resistant microbes like MRSA and C. difficile. Damaged intestinal ecosystems have led to increased autoimmune disorders and allergies.
Of course, some bugs are strict pathogens—for example, the ones that cause AIDS, malaria or syphilis. They can infect all human hosts and cause pretty much the same symptoms in every infected person. Others, like SARS-CoV-2, are opportunistic pathogens—interlopers that take advantage of a person’s weakened condition.
It’s important that people know what condition they are in and improve resistance to opportunistic pathogens. Pre-existing conditions are much more than simply the presence or absence of dia-obesity, asthma or congestive heart failure. The mnemonic FITNESS reminds what to test for and how to take personal responsibility for pre-existing conditions.
Food can produce significant reactions. Testing is available for food allergies and intolerance. Comprehensive stool testing can help determine if there are bad bugs and enough of the good ones.
Inflammation can come from “stealth” infections, glucose problems and dysbiosis.
Toxins are in the air, water and food. Adhering to a “clean” diet, with supplementation as needed, can help mitigate this risk factor.
Nutrition is a key to good health. Appropriate levels of vitamins A, B-complex, C, D, and K, along with minerals like zinc and magnesium, are essential for an optimally functioning immune system. Assessments like the ION test from Genova Labs can help to fine-tune diet and supplements.
Endocrine function includes reproductive, glucose and stress hormone levels, all of which can all be tested for, and improved through diet, supplements and exercise.
Sleep and stress can be addressed with psychotherapy, meditation, yoga, exercise and gratitude practices.
Sugar consumption often underlies chronic conditions like obesity, diabetes, heart disease and kidney disease. This can only be addressed through dietary changes.
There are risk factors that can’t be changed, at least not easily. Some people live in a food desert or in an area plagued by pollution, poverty or violence. Age magnifies the effects of pre-existing conditions. And knowing genetic predispositions can only direct one toward compensatory action.
Some question whether it’s the bugs or if it is us. As with many other life equations, it’s not either/or, but both. Take care to avoid exposure and, as some exposure is unavoidable, take control of health. Use the FITNESS acronym to help assess pre-existing condition to strengthen resistance.
Dr. Dan Gleason is the owner of The Gleason Center located at 19084 North Fruitport Road in Spring Lake. For more info: go to TheGleasonCenter.com or call 616-846-5410. See ad page 13.