Not Germ Friendly
One Plus One Makes Two
© Arlene R. Taylor, PhD
A familiar sound, my iPhone notifying me of an incoming text: “I know you have a Masters in Epidemiology. Do you believe that a vaccine will end the COVID-19 pandemic once and for all?”
My brain pointed me back in history to two French scientists: Louis Pasteur and Antoine Béchamp.
No doubt you have heard of Louis Pasteur. He believed that “germs” make you sick, and his approach was to kill them before they kill you. Anything you purchase these days that has been “pasteurized” goes back to this scientist. Pasteur’s “germ theory” advocated mounting a war to exterminate germs. If germs cause disease, then develop drugs to kill them—and patent them. Pasteur’s theory brought with it a potentially high financial payoff. Eventually, he became known as the Father of Pharmaceutical Drugs. He also developed vaccines against anthrax, rabies, and an updated vaccine for smallpox. Vaccines also provided a way to make money for investors. “Follow the money” is a truism.
At the same time, Antoine Béchamp a colleague of Pasteur’s, did not dispute the reality of “germs.” However, his “cellular theory” was opposite: germs are everywhere and are opportunistic. That is, they need a germ-friendly environment to grow. Béchamp believed that one’s internal environment determined whether germs would lead to disease. He advocated eating nourishing foods to keep the body in a healthy acid-alkaline balance, managing stress, getting appropriate exercise, and so on. Then, if your body received a “germ” invasion, your lifestyle would provide a strong defense with an internal environment not germ friendly. Béchamp’s theory advocated lifestyle changes. Perhaps that is why it was not greeted enthusiastically by those choosing to live as they wished. If you got sick, simply go with Pasteur’s theory, and take medication to kill “germs.” In addition, his suggestions were all non-patentable remedies, with no financial payoff to investors.
It is a century and a half down the line from these two excellent scientists. Many are alive today because of Louis Pasteur’s research on drugs and vaccines. Many others have likely avoided disease by embracing Antoine Béchamp’s “environment theory.”
Research has discovered many pathogenic organisms (“germs”) like bacteria, fungi, and viruses. This includes the coronavirus family. There are also clear recommendations for lifestyle improvement, along with major advances in terms of vaccines and drugs.
Challenges do exist, however. For example:
- Many organisms, including viruses, often change their structure. This can occur spontaneously as when viruses make mistakes copying and replicating themselves. These mistakes are known as mutations. Sometimes the viral structure can be altered due to exposure to chemicals or drugs or other organisms. The mutations can either be minor or substantially alter the organism, making it difficult to develop vaccines or other treatments to combat them. Coronaviruses have a reputation for mutating.
- Some organisms, such as bacteria, live outside human cells and can be attacked by antibiotics. Some bacteria are also very clever. When exposed to antibiotics, they can mutate (i.e., change their structure) and are no longer susceptible to the antibiotics. Eventually, this can result in “super bacteria” for which no antibiotics are available. As a result, many scientists advocate careful use of antibiotics. Viruses live inside the cell so are not attacked by antibodies.
- Vaccines generally take time to develop and test to ensure safety for the individuals who become immunized. It is not the process of a few days, weeks, or even months. Flu viruses mutate quite frequently, so the flu vaccine must be changed annually, based on scientific attempts to project the specific viruses most likely to proliferate and cause severe illness. Again, coronaviruses have a reputation for mutating.
My brain’s opinion is that “one plus one equals two.” This doubles a defense against opportunistic organisms.
In line with Pasteur's germ theory, I get a flu vaccine every year to help boost my immune system, always requesting the “Thimerosal-free” version—without the mercury compound often used as a preservative. Will the vaccine prevent me from getting the flu? Not necessarily, because there are thousands of different viruses. (Some studies estimate that a third of a million viruses can attack mammals; human beings are mammals.) Studies also show that a person becoming ill with a virus not in that year’s vaccine will be less likely to experience life-threating complications. Also, the severity and length of illness could be moderated.
In agreement with Béchamp’s environment theory, I choose to minimize exposure to viruses when possible. I also choose to live a lifestyle that increases the likelihood that my internal environment is not “germ friendly.”
That is why I (with contributions from Steve Horton, MPH, and Sharlet M. Briggs, PhD) developed the Longevity Lifestyle Program (LLM), designed with one purpose: to help individuals learn how to stay healthier and younger for longer. LLM is available now in book/workbook format and will soon be accessible as LLM Online.
Do I believe that “a vaccine will end the COVID-19 pandemic once and for all”?
As a Nurse Epidemiologist, I am not quite that optimistic, although hope springs eternal. The current condition of Planet Earth with air and water pollution suggests that even if/when COVID-19 wanes, it is highly probable another virus will spring up and fill that void.
If so, it is what it is. There is no room for a fear-based panic likely to suppress immune system function—exactly what one wants to avoid. Meanwhile, there is plenty of room to practice prudence and proceed with hope.
Minimizing your body’s unnecessary exposure to germs and enthusiastically maintaining a Longevity Lifestyle that supports a healthier internal environment is a choice. Yours.
As for me, it is not “one or the other,” but both. I call that the best of payoffs!