Why do some people get sick and some stay healthy? That is the million-dollar question. We have all had the experience of being exposed to sick people and while others get sick, we do not. On the other hand, most of us have gotten sick with an infectious disease when we did not know anyone else who had that particular illness. How can that be?
The short answer is, whether you get sick or not mostly depends on the strength and vitality of your immune system. The long answer takes us back in time, to Louis Pasteur in 1895. Pasteur is known for developing the Germ Theory – one of the cornerstones of modern medicine. The process of Pasteurization is named after him. Yet after a lifetime of work with the germ theory, Pasteur himself, on his deathbed said: “I was wrong. The germ is nothing. The Terrain is everything.” By terrain, he meant the internal balance of the body – the health of the cells and the immune system.
Think of a stagnant pond. It is a breeding ground for all kinds of organisms and mosquitoes love it. So, to fight the bugs, you could spray it with insecticides. But that does not really get to the cause of the problem. A better approach would be to drain the swamp. And it makes complete sense that the pond with a flow of water is cleaner and freer of pathological organisms, to begin with.
I’ll never forget my first microbiology class many years ago when we scrubbed our hands aggressively with antibacterial soap for 5 minutes as the surgeons do. Then we touched a Petri dish with our fingertips, placed those dishes in an incubator and came back a week later. Eureka! We grew Staphylococcus, Streptococcus, and some other organisms that we couldn’t quite identify. This was very eye-opening. Germs are pretty hard to kill, and they are all over us, and in us. In fact, we have about 5 pounds of healthy organisms in our gut right now. They fight off the bad guys and keep us healthy.
There are many things we can do to maintain a healthy immune system, above and beyond hand washing. Hand washing is important, but there is a lot more we can do. Good nutrition, adequate sleep, exercise, a positive attitude, chiropractic adjustments, avoiding chemicals, contaminants, and drugs, and having a good network of friends and family are some of the most important things we can do, and are well documented by research. In fact, one study found that the immune system function is improved 200% after an adjustment. That is quite impressive. And people who exercise regularly get sick far less often than those who seldom exercise. These are real-world solutions that can definitely boost immune function.
The next time you hear someone ask if someone person is contagious, a great response is: “That mostly depends on the health of your terrain.”
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