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When It Comes to Viruses, Be a Bad Host!

When It Comes to Viruses, Be a Bad Host!

Sure, if you are hosting a party or having a few friends over, you want to be a good host. You want to be hospitable and make your guests feel comfortable. Your mom probably taught you that it was important to be a good host!

But when it comes to viruses, you want to be a bad host — you want to be the most unfriendly host you can be!

You can be a bad host by staying healthy and building a better immune system.

First of all, if you don’t want someone to come into your home, you don’t open the door and let them in. The human body has natural barriers to the outside world, most notably the skin, the gut and airways. It’s your job to keep the barriers in each of those systems well-maintained, every day, using food and a healthy lifestyle as medicine.

In the example of the gut, you need to maintain a diverse and well-balanced microbiome which is key to a healthy and tight gut barrier that keeps toxins and foreign invaders from entering your bloodstream. There are other things in the gut to fight off viruses too, like stomach acid, digestive juices and immunoglobulins. But sometimes barriers and defenses fall short. The viruses find particular cell receptors to bind to and start taking advantage of us, the host.

Viruses are very persistent infectious agents. They only “think” about their own perpetuation. They need the cells of a living organism like yours to be able to replicate…they cannot replicate on their own. (They actually use your genetic material to replicate.)

No one knowingly invites viruses in.  Let’s say that the virus got through your first lines of defense. Next you have to rely on the defenses of your immune system to deter and destroy the virus. But here’s the catch, in order to do it successfully, you have to do it without overreacting. Otherwise you can cause damage to your own — the host’s — tissues.

There are many things that factor into a healthy immune system, including getting adequate protein and vitamins like C and A and minerals like zinc and iron, to name a few. It makes sense that the immune system works best when your total body is in good order, like keeping blood sugar levels in the healthy range and regularly exercising and getting good sleep. (The immune system doesn’t work as well when blood sugar spikes or when you are under stress.)

In the case of the coronavirus, the most severe damage to the host comes not from the virus itself, but from the host’s overactive immune response.

It’s up to you. Viruses are not alive, they need a host. If the host isn’t healthy, the viral guest will find its way into “your home,” take advantage, and make a “mess” of the place.

If the host becomes sick, the balance of power shifts in favor of the virus and away from the host. But there are still supportive options for the host. Depending on the virus, there are usually medicines, nutrition supplements, diet and lifestyle choices that can deter the virus, modulate the host’s immune system and support the health of the body overall.

Bottom Line: Keep your body and bodily systems healthy. Healthy people are less hospitable to viruses. Healthy hosts are less likely to get sick.

Just to be clear, this blog is not to make light of the nightmare we are facing with the coronavirus and COVID-19. Unfortunately, the reality is that we are not through this pandemic yet and it is likely that we will have to face more novel virus outbreaks in the future. Staying healthy is the best offense…it is also the best defense.

If you are looking for a place to begin addressing your health, start with the gut. As Hippocrates, the ancient Greek physician said over 2000 years ago, “All disease begins in the gut.”

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