The TRUTH about germs
WITH THE invention of the microscope, early scientists were able to observe minute organisms called germs, and the germ theory of disease then evolved. The germ theory of disease stated that microorganisms are the cause of many diseases. It became a fundamental part of modern medicine, and this led to important developments such as antibiotics and better hygienic practices.
But by thinking of all microbes as the enemy that must be destroyed at all costs, man has fought an uphill battle with germs. It turns out that germs are an unavoidable and important part of our inner and outer environment, and may well be more our friends than our foes.
Germs are everywhere
Only recently, scientists, under the direction of the National Institutes of Health in the United States of America, have fully mapped out the microbial make-up of healthy humans. They discovered that the human body is home to a vast number of bacteria, viruses and fungi. For every cell that exists in your body, there are 10 bacteria in residence there. These bacteria are quite sophisticated; their genes collectively outnumber human genes by a factor of hundreds.
Researchers found that these microbes live in different parts of the body. These sites, or microbial habitats, include the nasal passages, the mouth, skin, the genitals and the intestinal tract. They identified about 4,000 species of bacteria in the intestines, which help digest food while manufacturing important vitamins and anti-inflammatory substances.
On the other hand, about 300 species occupy the vagina, where they work to maintain a healthy environment resistant to infection and inflammation.
Germs are smart
According to Dr William Agger, of Gundersen Lutheran Medical Center in the USA, 30 million pounds of antibiotics are used in America annually on animals and about three million pounds on humans. This is enough to give every American man, woman, and child 10 teaspoons of pure antibiotic medication every year. Traces of antibiotics are now found in foods and waters all around the world, much of it coming from animal farms.
At the same time, with the overuse and abuse of antibiotics by today's doctors, more and more dangerous antibiotic-resistant strains of bacteria are developing. Just recently, for example, doctors in Japan have reported the emergence of a strain of the gonorrhoea bacteria that is totally resistant to every antibiotic known to modern medicine. Smart bacteria and viruses can actually change their structure in order to defend themselves against man-made drugs.
In response, drug companies are forced to create more deadly antibiotic drugs with more severe side effects. Germs are quite intelligent and may be winning this drug game. This is the era of the 'superbugs' when many microbes previously helpful and harmless to humans have transformed into pathogenic and dangerous foes.
Germs and the immune system
It is no coincidence that wherever a lot of bacteria are found in the body, the immune-system cells are also concentrated there. For example, the digestive tract is home to vast numbers of bacteria. One expert estimated that the stools from an average bowel movement contain more bacteria than the number of stars in the known universe! To complement that, more than 60 per cent of all the body's immune cells are found in and surrounding the intestines.
Researchers have found that children allowed to play outdoors and dirty themselves with soil, etc, develop stronger immune systems than children who are always indoors and kept squeaky clean. A 'healthy' exposure to germs seems important for the development of a competent immune system.
Vaccination had become a well-established modern strategy in the war against infectious disease. It involves deliberately introducing dead or weakened germs into the body to stimulate the immune system to develop a resistance to them, and this has proved useful to mankind in some situations. However, as vaccine mania (excessive promotion of vaccines) takes over the world, there has been a mounting wave of questions about the safety of vaccines. A 2011 German study of more than 8,000 unvaccinated children, aged up to 19 years, showed that vaccinated children have up to 500 per cent more diseases and disorders than unvaccinated children. Maybe there is a safer, more natural, way to improve your health without a multitude of vaccines.
Prebiotics and probiotics before antibiotics
We now understand that, in the world of germs, nature has created its own checks and balances. In any bacterial habitat, there is a complex blend of good and bad germs that prevent a problem called dysbiosis: the overgrowth of the dangerous bacteria.
Prebiotics are substances that promote the healthy bacteria. Prebiotics mostly come from certain dietary fibres called oligosaccharides. These are not digested, but remain in the digestive tract and stimulate the growth of beneficial bacteria. Sources of oligosaccharides include fruits, legumes, and whole grains, as well as nutritional supplements like high-quality meal-replacement shakes.
A special prebiotic found only in the aloe vera plant called Acemannin, is a key nutrient that powerfully nourishes the good intestinal bacteria.
Probiotics, on the other hand, are beneficial bacteria that can be found in various foods, which, when eaten, add these healthy bacteria - like Lactobacillis and Bifidobacterium families of bacteria - to your intestinal tract. Probiotic bacteria are naturally found in fermented foods like miso, yogurt, tempeh and sauerkraut.
I often recommend a tablet supplement that is a blend of prebiotic fibre along with probiotic bacteria. This I combine with an Aloe vera-based drink for further prebiotic support and digestive health. This approach (prebiotic plus probiotic) improves immune function, reduces the need for antibiotics and promotes optimal health.
You may email Dr Tony Vendryes at firstname.lastname@example.org, or listen to 'An Ounce of Prevention' on POWER 106FM on Fridays at 8 p.m. His new book, 'An Ounce of Prevention, Especially for Women', is available locally and on the Internet.