The 19th century argument between the two French scientists Antoine Béchamp and Louis Pasteur is still relevant today. Pasteur believed that people should be protected from germs by using vaccination and pasteurization. Béchamp, on the other hand, argued that a healthy body should be naturally immune to germs and bacteria. Nowadays there is the debate of how necessary are vaccines for healthy people. Flu vaccine, for example, is a life saving solution for people with a compromised immune system, but is it really necessary for healthy people?
In his 20s, my husband Ari was taking daily prescription drugs to tread his heartburn. He started suffering from heartburn during his busy college days when he consumed gallons of coffee on an empty stomach. Often he used to get sick after flights and every winter he would be down for a couple of weeks because of a violent strep throat. When I came to visit him in the US, I learned first hand why his immune system was so compromised. It was during my first month here, when we woke up early one morning to drive somewhere. I wanted to have breakfast at home, but he told me that we would get something on the way from a place that makes “amazing breakfast sandwiches”. We drove into a fast food drive through window and he ordered breakfast. When I opened the silvery wrap I was trying to figure out what was so amazing about the indescribable thing. It was colorless, tasteless and had a nauseating smell.
For a while I did eat like him, not knowing any other way to eat in America. I gained weight, my face was covered with acne, and I felt sick and tired most of the time. My sister Liora kept on reminding me over the phone that I need to eat healthy, but it wasn’t until we moved from Sacramento, CA to Seattle, WA, a city with great natural health awareness, that we started having a healthier lifestyle. We started to eat organic produce. I neglected the American diet and introduced into our life the Mediterranean diet, which I grew up on in Israel. We learned to alkaline the body by consuming less acidic food and more green vegetables or vegetable juices. We neglected pharmaceutical medicines in favor of natural remedies and we both learned to deal with stress. Ari’s heartburn diminished more than 5 years ago. My skin cleared out about the same time. Our immune system is a lot better than it was when we were younger and we both feel a lot healthier than we ever did. Based on our personal experience I’m on Béchamp's side.
Hippocrates' 5th century BC statement “Let food be thy medicine and medicine be thy food” is true to this day. Good health starts in the stomach. Building a strong immune system starts with good nutrition. It does not have to be an overnight revolution; those usually do not last long. Taking daily small steps is a more effective and long lasting way to achieve a healthy body. You can add a salad to your meal or grab a fruit when you feel like snacking. Ask yourself what healthy food you could add to your diet, rather than what unhealthy food you should omit from your diet. You might drop the unhealthy food later naturally and willingly, as you acquire preference towards fresh food. It takes time to change old habits, so respect the process and enjoy it.
To help with achieving a healthy body, there are some supplements that contribute to the strengthening of the immune system:
1. Today most of our food we consume is acidic. Acidic body harms the immune system. To balance the body's pH there is need to consume more alkaline food such as fruits and vegetables. My Iridologist Kasara D’elene introduced me pH strips to check at home the acidity in the urine and saliva and to ChlorOxygen - chlorophyll drops that alkaline to body and help building red blood cells for people who suffer from anemia.
2. Our soil is depleted from nutrients, hence our produce is not as nourishing as it used to be. Stress also depletes the body from nutrients. My acupuncturist Susan Friedriech recommends taking Miracle 2000. It is a liquid multi-vitamin that absorbs easily in the body. During stressful time Susan recommends taking more of it to support the body. To help with better digestion and absorption of the food, Kasara recommends taking food enzymes in meals that do no include fresh fruits and vegetables. She is a big fan of Nature Sunshine’s Food Enzymes.
3. Since the stomach is the source of our health condition, it’s important to maintain the gut flora and keep it balanced. Stress disturbs the balance in the stomach. Antibiotic kills both good and bad bacteria in the stomach. My naturopath Dr. Amanda Brimhall taught me to the importance of daily intake of probiotic to maintain a healthy gut flora. After trying many brands I found Pharmax HLC High Potency to be my favorite. I take it at night before I go to bed.
In the winter time when many people get sick easily, there are some natural remedies to strengthen the immune system. Natural remedies can be used in a preventative way by taking them all winter long. They can also be used to heal the body from cold and flu.
1. Herbal remedies. There are several herbs that are known to help the immune system like Echinacea, Elderberry, and Boneset to name some. Every winter we ask our local herbalist Katya Difani to make us immune tincture that we take daily by mixing with water. It has been working for us so far.
2. Homeopathy has some flu proven remedies. There are different remedies for different individuals, and it is recommended to consult with a professional Homeopath to find the best personal remedy. My friend Nicole uses homeopathic remedies to treat her family. She uses Influenzinum (usually 9c) in the winter as a way to prevent her family from getting sick. If someone starts coming down with symptoms she alternate Influenzinum with the appropriate flu remedy for the individual. For the upper respiratory type of flu, Nicole says Bryonia Alba might help some people.
3. Food is the most basic medicine for the body. Chicken soup is known with its healing powers. My sister Liora still remembers how the Yemenite Chicken Soup, our aunt Rivka gave her when she was a sick kid, made her feel better immediately. The turmeric in has anti inflammatory qualities. Consuming hot tea is a good way to hydrate and heal the body. Kasara recommends Yarrow tea to improve health when feeling sick. My favorite winter tea is ginger-honey-lemon tea. I grate or chop fresh ginger,without the peel, (about 1 tsp) and add to it 1 tsp of honey and some drops of fresh lemon.
4. Hot bath is a great way to warm up the body and help it to relax. Kasara recommends adding two tbsp of ginger powder to extract toxins from the body. Ginger bath causes me night sweats. I guess it is the way my body gets rid of toxins.
Now the decision is yours. Which path would you choose to keep your body healthy?