Why I'm Not Afraid of Germs...Including the Corona Virus
Updated: Jan 11
Had a cold lately?
Perhaps the Corona Virus (COVID19) news caused you to purchase an extra tube of hand sanitizer. Perhaps you chuckled while watching Ellen's hand-washing tutorial.
Maybe you've thought of canceling your travel plans, giving elbow bumps instead of fist bumps, or buying Lysol and wiping down every surface of your home/office?
While I'm all for good sanitation practices...
LET'S NOT BE DUPED PEOPLE
If you're like me, you may be rolling your eyes, or at least be able to bring a degree of skepticism about the coming "pandemic" we're hearing in the news.
Before I get to the point of this article, let's just step back a second:
I'll bet you didn't hear on CNN, FOX, etc that China is officially using high-dose Vitamin C (with great effectiveness!) to treat the Corona Virus?
Maybe knowing that 70% of all advertising revenue comes from big Pharma has something to do with what makes the news?
Maybe there is a lot more money to be made developing a vaccine that can be forced upon (ahem, give to) billions of people who don't have the COVID19, than there is to be made giving Vitamin C to those who do have it?
OPTING OUT OF THE HYPE
While I'm inclined to share other thoughts on why I think the whole media frenzy about the Coronavirus is a bunch of money-making hype and boy-who-cried-wolf (remember SARS?), I'll save those thoughts for a different article.
Today I hope to help you rise above the noise with confidence...and maybe even book a nice vacation while the rates are so cheap.
LET'S START WITH TWO, HERETICAL THOUGHTS
Maybe you can’t really catch a cold?
Maybe our war on microbes has us focused on the wrong things?
If you read my article Is Your Health Problem Really a Digestion Problem, you may remember me talking about the ubiquitous nature of microbes on the planet.
There are literally trillions of different types of microbes covering every inch of our planet--most are good for our health, and some are antagonistic.
You are exposed, right now, to countless organisms (in you and on you) that would love to rob your body of health--i.e. eat your tissue, and poop toxins all over you--ew.
Yet...you're still here, and odds are you're not even sick today.
How is that possible?
THE POINT PEOPLE MISS WHEN THEY TALK ABOUT MICROBES
The reality is, the potential for a cold is always with you and occasionally it, catches you, with your defenses down.
While the above thought raises some interesting questions about the whole idea of chemical warfare against microbes, my purpose in this article is much simpler, namely to help you realize that:
What is way more influential for your health than whatever virus is in the news, is your own internal resilience.
...For most people, illness is much more a matter of something you allow to happen to yourself, rather than something “out there” that might catch you.
That's not to say that an otherwise healthy person is above being impacted if he/she comes across a virulent microbe.
If there's a bad bug your body has never seen (especially what appears to be a lab-created coronavirus like COVID19), a bad bug can leave you with a fight on your hands.
But that doesn't have to leave you feeling scared or powerless.
Well, what happens to most people who have a cold?
Right...their bodies figure out how to win the fight.
Let's look at this from a bigger perspective.
WHY IS COLD AND FLU SEASON DURING WINTER?
What’s different about winter?
We get less sunlight, which means we make less vitamin D to power our immune systems.
We typically exercise less because we stay inside to escape the cold.
Because we don’t exercise as often, we also don’t sweat as much or breathe as hard, which means our bodies don’t quite cleanse as efficiently.
Since we stay inside more, we breathe less fresh air, and more indoor air pollution.
The trees have less leaves and thus less ability to sequester carbon (i.e. absorb the pollution from all our combustion engines), thus our air quality is worse.
Throw in holiday treats full of sugar that also compromise our immune systems, and it’s no mystery why we succumb to colds more during winter.
WHY IS THAT IMPORTANT?
Back to this issue of the potential for a cold always being with us...
Have you ever wondered how yeast is made so it can be put into bread?
Okay, that’s a trick question…you can’t actually make yeast, you can only capture it from the air around you.
Again, it (and countless pathogens) are always present.
It is estimated we swallow about 10,000 pathogens a day and breathe in a number even higher than that.
Consider these realities:
A double handful of healthy soil contains more living organisms than there are people on the planet.
Even the depths of the ocean is covered in microbes.
You have about 2-6 pounds of microbes (yeast, mold, fungus, viruses, bacteria, etc) living inside you, and you can't live well without them.
There are more living organisms on your skin, in your intestines, and in your blood, than there are cells in your body. There's even evidence of a "brain microbiome."
Again, we’re talking trillions of individual organisms here.
Pondering these realities for a few moments can lead to some fascinating questions. Let’s start with this:
Why is it that we can, for the most part, simultaneously exist with all these ubiquitous organisms living in us and around us and not be sick?
A lot of the credit for why we stay healthy should go to your immune system, and given the bullet points above, it’s safe to say our immune systems are about 99.99% effective at their job.
If fact, it’s admittedly a bit of a morbid thought, but the big reason we start to decompose so quickly after death (just like a banana on your countertop) is because organisms that eat our tissue can spread without any interference from the immune system.
However, health isn’t just about the immune system.
The immune system is only as good as the internal terrain in which it lives.
What that means is that our immune systems – or any systems in our bodies, for that matter – can only maintain health if 1) they have a balance of the right resources, and 2) are not surrounded by filth.
A GROSS ANALOGY
Imagine what would happen if you didn’t clean your home for a year: Dirty dishes stay in the sink. You never clean your bathroom. You leave piles of laundry lying around your home. There’s no vacuuming, and no taking out the trash.
It wouldn’t be long in that kind of environment before you starting growing all sorts of new life forms in your home.
And do you think you might get sick?
It’s obvious you would, but why?
Well, it’s not because some germs finally arrived on a plane from overseas.
Plenty of germs were already in your home...before you started letting the filth accumulate.
HEALTH IS MUCH MORE ABOUT THE ENVIRONMENT THAN THE MICROBE
In this imaginary "dirty-kitchen scenario," you’d get sick because the terrain of your home became so unbalanced that the conditions conducive to good health did not abound.
A home filled with filth and decay is a bastion for unbridled growth of organisms that thrive on filth and death.
An abundance of those types of organisms make it difficult – if not impossible – to maintain health, and they will continue to do so until the terrain changes.
In a filthy home (or in a person with filthy insides), the organisms that thrive on keeping you healthy get crowded out because of a lack of the proper terrain where they can live.
You’d get sick because the “bad guys” achieve the upper hand against your overworked immune system.
HOW WE PUT BAD MICROBES IN CHECK
Looking back at history, especially on this side of the invention of the microscope, it’s easy to see how a lack of understanding of sanitation led to the conditions in which microbes that thrive on decay led to shorter life spans, and the infamous disease outbreaks throughout history.
In the US, a quick survey of the death rates from infectious diseases shows a dramatic drop from 1900 to 1950 as we began to understand and implement measures that create more sanitary conditions.
Two interesting side notes:
Refrigeration (keeping food edible for longer, and less exposed to rotting), also greatly helped reduce our exposure to infectious microbes.
The death rates from infectious diseases has stayed relatively the same since the 1950s and virtually all of these declines happened before vaccines were made a standard part of medical care.
Because of refrigeration and the tremendous advancements in sanitation, we dramatically reduced infectious diseases.
Sadly though, we've exchanged infectious diseases for the diseases of the civilized world. Heart attacks, cancer, autoimmune conditions, diabetes, stroke, and many more are the leading killers of today, not infections.
While we’ve done much better keeping the external terrain cleaner (sanitary) since 1900, it’s hard to say we’ve improved at keeping our internal terrain healthy enough to prevent degenerative diseases.
It's this less-healthy internal terrain that leaves us susceptible to whatever bad microbes we encounter.
If history can be a good teacher here, then we might see that when illness occurs, perhaps the first place to look is in the mirror, not through the microscope.
Yes, we need to wash our hands, but there's something much bigger at play here.
FOUR WORTHWHILE QUESTIONS TO ASK:
Since we need good microbes in order to build health, might our overuse of all things antibiotic and antibacterial be making it harder for the good bugs to thrive?
Rather than “How can we attack illness?” we could ask, “Where might our habits be leaving us vulnerable to the bad bugs we encounter every day?"
An even better question might be, “How do we avoid being paranoid about germs and still live in ‘the real world’”?
Where are we individually (and collectively) responsible for fostering a sanity environment where good microbes flourish...and bad ones don't?
Now, if you think I have the all answers on how to best orchestrate this magnificent symbiosis, you give me too much credit.
I’ve studied this topic of health for about a seventeen years now and it never ceases to amaze me how much I don’t know.
Still, I have learned a few things along the way and here is one bit of bedrock I build on:
Your body is not uninterested in healing and maintaining vitality, and it is highly unlikely that it is incapable of doing so either.
Whenever someone approaches me with a question about health, sooner or later we end up back at the basics—a clean, nutrient-dense diet, exercise, sleep, relaxation, pleasure, hope, purpose, toxin elimination, stress management, a better mindset, holistic healthcare, etc..
Those are the keys of resiliency and none of us have ever mastered or exhausted them.
In the final estimation, we can only ignore the basics for a brief period of time before illness (infection or degeneration) creeps in.
WHY I AM NOT AFRAID OF GERMS
I'm not, because I understand germs as ever present.
Just because one of my kids (or my neighbor) got sick, doesn't mean I will.
I still wash my hands, but it's illogical to think I won't be exposed to what caught them.
Anytime something does get past my defenses:
I have come to see the interruption of illness is a friendly reminder that I am getting off track with regard to the balance in my life.
While I never "enjoy" being caught by a cold or the flu, I think there is something valuable my immune system can learn (preferably earlier in life then later), if I have to pick a fight with a new bug.
In short, microbes aren’t the problem.
When I get sick, I'm the problem.
WHAT THIS LOOKS LIKE PRACTICALLY
I get sick way less often than I used to, not because my DNA changed, or because there are less microbes in my environment, but because I came to understand that my internal terrain is where the war is won or lost long before I walk through someone's sneeze.
I'm by no means perfect at eliminating my susceptibility, but when a cold catches me with my defenses down, I'm much faster at recovering than most people because I've learned how to improve my terrain quickly.
Working to keep my internal terrain balanced is no doubt an exercise of aiming at a moving target--i.e. my needs change day to day and over time.
Still, the better my aim gets, the closer I get to a resilient body that catches (i.e stops) most colds before they catch me.
WHAT I DO WHEN I GET SICK
Beyond tidying up the home, or assessing the fundamentals of health I mentioned above, we Elliots also have a pretty sweet toolkit to load up the immune system with resources when it has a fight on it hands.
Here are some of the tools we like to use (Note: consult your physician before using these methods--pregnant women, kids, or those on various meds may need to adjust/omit some of what's below):
For an acute/aggressive infection, here is what I would do:
Vitamin C - about 1,000mg/hour until we get loose stools and then we back off.
Vitamin A - about 100,000 units a day for four days - organ meats or cod liver oil.
Vitamin D - about 50,000 units a day for four days - organ meats or cod liver oil
Iodine - 25-50 milligrams - no known, bad microbe survives contact with iodine!
Bone Stock - usually chicken stock, 2-3 cups a day.
Raw Garlic mixed with raw, unfiltered, Manuka Honey - 1-2 cloves with 1-2 teaspoons.
Activated Charcoal - 1/4 to 1/2 teaspoon 1-2X/day.
Sunlight - even a few minutes can be super helpful. Just don't burn.
Walking - 30-60 minutes at a slow-to-moderate pace.
Sauna - as much as I can handle--or until my water bottle is empty.
And that's just the short list of things you can do to empower your immune system to kick butt!
Instead of being afraid of microbes, I thank them for the reminder to examine my habits!
WORKING ON YOUR TERRAIN vs. FEARING MICROBES
Working to improve your terrain leaves you feeling powerful.
Fearing microbes leaves you feeling powerless.
An engaged mind leads to an engaged immune system.
My encouragement to you is to worry less about fighting microbes and focus instead on building resilience.
Think of building health more like tending a garden, and less like fighting a war.
Where might you be lacking in obvious healthy habits that would make you more resilient?
With that in mind, here’s to balance, a clean home, the courage to dig deep enough to find more ways to improve your resiliency.
You got this.
Now go clean your kitchen,
PS. Curious if we can help you build the resilience and lose weight, stop pain, or heal your body, naturally? If so, check out our personal coaching program.
If this topic of this article fascinates you, I’d encourage you to do an Internet search for “the Germ Theory vs. the Terrain Theory.” What you find just might blow your mind!