Infectious diseases kill almost 50,000 people every day, amounting to 17 million deaths a year. The situation is so dire that the World Health Organization (WHO) warns that we are on the brink of a global crisis: “No country is safe from them. No country can any longer afford to ignore their threat,” states Director-General of WHO, Dr. Hiroshi Nakajima.
Although antibiotics and other drugs have proven effective against certain diseases, they are far from an ideal solution. Most come with numerous unpleasant side-effects, and they kill off the healthy bacteria which is necessary for immunity – making the patient more susceptible to future infections. And we won’t be able to rely on them much longer anyways – they are rapidly becoming ineffective because the bacteria and other microbes are developing resistance to them. Fortunately, lifestyle medicine offers an effective solution to the prevention and potential reversal of many infectious diseases. A holistic approach that incorporates a healthy lifestyle to optimize immunity, as well as natural antiviral compounds and nutraceuticals can help prevent infections and support the clearing of harmful microbes from the body.
Solution #1: A Plant-based Diet
Consuming a plant-based diet boosts T-cell production, strengthening your immunity. When your immune system is strong and healthy, your body is better equipped to fight infectious diseases. The avoidance of animal products is of the utmost importance. Animal products harm your immune system because they are loaded with bacteria, carcinogens, estrogens and other toxins that build-up in your body when you consume them.
It is estimated that 70% of the most deadly, infectious diseases that we fear the most may come from animals. Many of these infectious diseases began nearly 10,000 years ago when we first started eating animals and living with them. We call these diseases, which are spread from animals to humans “Zoonosis diseases,” and tens of thousands of Americans get sick from them every year.
Today, we regularly consume influenza-bearing animals that are capable of infecting us, including pigs, cows, and chickens. One example of this is the E-coli found in poultry which can be passed to humans, leading to bladder infections and other serious conditions. Have you noticed the higher rate of flu immediately following Thanksgiving, Easter or Christmas? I believe it is not coincidental that these meals typically center around ham, turkey, poultry, and pork.
Most conventionally farmed animal products also contain antibiotics, which kill-off the immune-supporting beneficial bacteria. Consuming cows with bovine spongiform encephalopathy (mad cow disease) can also lead to an incurable infectious brain disease called Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease. Furthermore, studies have found that vegans have a lower HPV rate than non-vegans, and vegan women are more successful at eliminating the HPV virus within one year.
For optimal immunity, consume a high-fiber, oil-free diet and include plenty of fresh fruits and vegetables. Omega-3 fatty acids are also beneficial and plant-based sources include coconuts, walnuts, seeds, leafy greens, and sea vegetables. Also, be sure to consume probiotic-rich foods (e.g. non-dairy yogurt, kefir, sauerkraut, kombucha, fermented veggies) regularly, because the beneficial bacteria in them help to support gut health and 80% of immunity starts in the gut.
Solution #2: Lifestyle Medicine
A healthy lifestyle is your best defense against contracting an infectious disease. In addition to the above dietary recommendations, you should exercise regularly. Exercise builds-up your immune system, and studies show it reduces your risk for infections such as upper respiratory tract infections by 25-50%, and markedly reduce your risk for many chronic diseases. Be sure to include strength building, cardiovascular, and stretching-based exercises.
It’s also imperative that you reduce stress and you can do so by practicing yoga, meditating, deep breathing, journaling, spending time in nature, taking a hot bath, learning to say no, and managing your time wisely. Positive thoughts and emotions are important as well. Thoughts of happiness and love improve the release of rejuvenation hormones, fight depression, and build up your immune system – all of which help arm you against disease. Finally, establish a regular sleep schedule and go to bed as early as possible, in a cool, dark, quiet and electronic-free environment.
Solution #3: Reduce Toxin Exposure
The toxins in the air and in many consumer products place a great burden on your eliminative organs, they hinder your immunity, and they have been found to increase your risk for infectious diseases such as HPV. While some environmental toxins are unavoidable, the following are not, and they should be avoided as much as possible: alcohol, tobacco, processed sugar, oil, genetically modified organisms (GMO’s), packaged foods; recreational, over-the-counter, and prescription drugs; chemical cleaning products, and artificial fragrances.
Solution #4: Silver
Silver produces high antimicrobial effects at low concentrations, and it has been used for centuries both internally and externally to fight viruses, bacteria and other harmful microbes. Silver is highly effective at killing warts and using a mouthwash that contains silver nanoparticles before and after oral sex may help reduce the likelihood of spreading and contracting the HPV virus.
Silver can also be used as an adjunct to antibiotics to enhance their effectiveness and potentially curtail antibiotic resistance. Harvard University scientists found treating bacteria with a silver-containing compound notably boosted the efficacy of a broad range of widely used antibiotics and helped them stop otherwise deadly infections in mice. Silver has also been found useful for treating two stubborn infections that usually require multiple antibiotic treatment rounds: dormant bacteria that lie low during antibiotic treatment and then rebound causing recurrent infections, and microbial slime layers called biofilms that coat prosthetic joints and catheters.
Solution #5: Iodine
Povidone Iodine or PVP-I has potent antiviral, antibacterial and antifungal effects. PVP-I has an outstanding tolerability and safety profile, it is affordable and widely available around the world, and it has diverse applications in antimicrobial control. It is such an effective antiviral agent that the WHO has included it in its list of essential medicines.
Iodine is virucidal against several viruses of significant global concern, including hepatitis A and influenza, as well as Sudden Acute Respiratory Syndrome coronaviruses. PVP-I-based antiseptics can be used as hand wash to decontaminate the skin, and gargled as a mouthwash to significantly reduce viral load in the oral cavity and the oropharynx and periodontitis. Iodine may also be used to treat pink eye and other ocular infections.
Solution #6: Medicinal Mushrooms
Medicinal mushrooms have been prized for thousands of years for their powerful healing properties. They have not only antimicrobial and antiviral properties, but also antitumor, antiallergic, immunomodulating, anti-inflammatory, antiatherogenic, hypoglycemic, and hepatoprotective properties as well. They contain all-natural immune system boosters called alpha and beta-glucans, and consuming them activates multiple immune effector cells, including lymphocytes, macrophages, and natural killer cells. Scientific studies have proven that medicinal mushrooms not only helps to improve the immune response to HPV, they also help to clear high-risk strains that are known to cause cervical cancer.
Solution #7: DIM and I3C
DIM and I3C are natural compounds found in cruciferous vegetables, and clinical studies have confirmed that they have powerful immune-boosting and chemopreventive (cancer-fighting) properties. Studies on mice found that DIM helps inhibit the growth and proliferation of viruses, and also helps clear viruses out of the body. One study found that a 10 micromolar dose of DIM actually doubled the number of white blood cells, which help the body fight infections such as HPV by seeking out and destroying the virus.
Herbs offer a safe, non-toxic and natural alternative to vaccinations, and far fewer side-effects The following herbs have proven immune-boosting and/or antimicrobial effects: Echinacea, Astragalus root, licorice root, garlic bulb extract, curcumin, location, and grapefruit seed extract are a few examples of antiviral herbs that support and strengthen the immune system.
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