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How Your Body Defends Itself

In response to questions I received on a recent newsletter on gluten and dairy increasing mucus production, let's have a look at the primary ways that your body
defends itself externally.

Your largest external defender is your skin, which acts as a physical barrier against harmful microorganisms. Sebum and sweat produced by your skin contain chemicals that have anti-microbial properties - this is one of a few reasons why excessive use of antiperspirants and soap is not good for your long term health.

Mucous membranes that line your eyes, nasal passageway, ears, gastrointestinal tract, and other openings also prevent microbes from entering your bloodstream. Generally, mucous membranes don't respond well to regular contact with soap and chemicals like sodium lauryl sulphate (SLS).

Nasal hairs and cilia that line your respiratory tract are meant to prevent dust and other unneeded substances from going further into your body. This is why regular cleansing of your nasal passageway and avoidance of foods that cause chronic mucus production in your respiratory airway are helpful measures for your defenses.

Your lacrimal ducts produce tears to dilute and eliminate any materials that are harmful to your eyes. Your tears actually contain specialized enzymes called lysozymes that help prevent bacterial infections.

Your salivary glands also add lysozymes to your saliva, which helps cleanse your teeth and gums, and offers the tissues in your oral cavity some protection against harmful microbes.

Natural vaginal secretions are acidic to help prevent overgrowth of harmful microorganisms.

Most harmful microbes that make their way past your primary defenses and into your stomach are killed off by hydrochloric acid that is produced by your stomach lining, and any that make it through to your small intestine are shuttled through to be eliminated via stools. Where there are copious amounts of harmful bacteria that make it into your GI tract, your body expels them out of your system through vomit or diarrhea.

So you see, all of your body's major openings are well designed to protect your bloodstream and inner organs against harmful microbes and toxins. And of course, within your bloodstream and organs, you have a full network of specialized white blood cells that are constantly on alert to contain microbes that breach your primary external defenses.

Twenty years ago, the range for white blood cells in a complete blood count was 5 to 10 billion/L. Today, this range has been lowered to 3.5 to 10 billion/L because physicians have realized that when a person is making healthy choices and
living in a healthy environment, there is less need for circulating white blood cells, so a count below 5 billion/L doesn't necessarily reflect a weak immune system. In fact, I often see extremely healthy clients who do such a good job of staying well that their white blood cell counts are often even lower than 3.5. But I digress. The point I want to make is that your body has mechanisms that are always at work to prevent infection and toxin accumulation. The cleaner your diet and the healthier your environment, the more you support these natural defense mechanisms.

Hope these thoughts are helpful, and that you and your loved ones are having a peaceful week.


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