Bacteria in Balance
We all carry around millions of friends, bacteria, viruses, and yeasts; parasites, working together in perfect harmony to aid digestion, defensive protection, nutrient absorption, enzyme activity, and no doubt, dozens of yet unknown symbiotic relationships that keep us alive. We call these 'colonies' of friends flora. Though they aid in our immune responses, it is the role of our immune system to keep proper balance so there doesn't rise up a revolution. Again, it's all about balance. Should one colony reproduce more rapidly than an opposing colony - we have a rebellion needing to be squashed by an immune response. Balance.
This internal balance is matched by the external balance. We are at one with both environments. Night, and more specifically sleep - deep sleep, is our greatest ally in keeping our internal environment in balance. Every morning (assuming the victory occurred in the previous hours) your immune system's internal balance has 'set' the day's picture: from your ability to fight disease, get pregnant, have balanced thought and memory, maintain metabolic homeostasis, and 'win'. We were created to live in community, not just with other humans but with other living organisms in the microcosm we call our body.
Healing the GUT:
We feed these little fellows all day long. During the day, light energy strikes our skin and is carried by cryptochromes to our symbiotic partners, food is processed in our belly and shared with them, and they feed off our blood, oxygen, sugar, hormones, and dying cells. Reproductive adults feed them with sex hormones and make them grow big and strong. We'll see that this is both a blessing and a curse, as it gives us a stronger immune system in our reproductive years (blessing), but it creates a more destructive response in those with autoimmune disorders (curse).
All day long our flora flourish; they are opportunistic organisms that take advantage of the environment and reproduce as rapidly as possible. As they do, they exude waste called endotoxins that buildup along the course of the day. If overgrowth (rebellion up- rises) happens, your immune system flexes its muscle to keep the peace. Night and sleep are important components of this balance-keeping. As a matter of fact, the buildup of these 'endotoxin wastes' help stimulate a melatonin release by our pineal gland that enables us to go to sleep. Let me give you an example of the mechanism:
All day long my normal concentration of flora grows, reproduces, and strives to take over its host (me). As it does, it produces cellular wastes and byproducts of metabolism that increase in concentration in my intestinal and other bodily lumens. The increase concentration of endotoxin as well as a decrease in cortisol production from my adrenal glands (a function of balance from brain signals in the hippocampus) as the day progresses causes me to release melatonin that enables me to calm my brain (alpha wave production) and fall asleep. During sleep (stage 3, 4, and REM) my brain signals the release of Growth hormone which stimulates different chemicals called cytokines like interleukin-2 (a Th1 response) to kill-off the daily rise in flora and 'thin the herd'.
Raising a garden of bacteria is like growing carrots. The garden can never be healthy if thousands of different seeds were simply cast into the soil without proper order, culling, tending, weeding, nourishment and care. Light and dark play a huge role in this matter.
The success of my reaching stages of sleep necessary for correct hormone release to maintain balance depends on light and dark cycles. Light hitting my eyes and skin activate specific neurons that tell my body what time it is and signal bacteria to feed, which hormones I release, and how I am to survive. Homeostasis is really my body's attempt to thrive. Deep parts of my brain run on autopilot - Where's food? Where's air? Is it hot? Is it cold? Where's danger? Where's a mate?
Darkness is our friend. It is through these necessary dark cycles each day that enable hormone release. Just as light signals food gathering, action and reproduction, dark is equally important. God created the day and night and they were both "good". Darkness stimulates melatonin release necessary for sleep. The deeper stage of sleep are necessary for balance of my immune system; the balance of my internal 'friends' is an absolute in maintaining gut health; the gut controls inflammatory responses in the body and brain, and the brain controls the rhythm of hormone and neurotransmitter release to keep us sane, productive, joyful members of society.
Life's a cycle, a balance, delicate yet strong. Interruption in this beautiful rhythm may look like this:
"Alex came to me with stage 3 cancer in the liver. He had been through chemotherapy for the past six months and now was seeking 'another route' as the effects of the strong drugs wore him down. A deep investigation into his history revealed some interesting facts. Remember, facts are just facts, possible co-contributors to the effects (disease) experienced. For the past 12 years, Alex worked at a local window factory that required him to alternate shifts. Every two weeks he'd need to switch form day shift (8-4pm) to afternoon, then to nights. Over the years he grew accustomed to the disruption in sleep patterns and had not noticed any remarkable health concerns prior to the liver cancer diagnosis. The key phrase above is 'not noticed', as we all know that cancer takes years to develop to the point of causing symptoms.
I'm simplifying this case (name changed as well) to bring out a point. Prolonged sleep pattern disruption can contribute to detrimental scenarios. When imbalance occurs in our body, the first response is survival. There is an up-regulation of stress responses in the brain, an increase in sympathetic nervous system function, a reciprocal decrease in parasympathetic response and a 'negative, vicious cycle' spirals us downhill."
Who hasn't noticed that a lack of sleep, simply for one night, makes us more susceptible to a cold virus? Our circadian rhythm is controlled by a part of our brain called the hippocampus (a seahorse-looking section of neurons on the medial side of each temporal lobe). The hippocampus is the conductor of the hypothalamus-pituitary axis (HPA) that are the lead players in the symphony of hormone release. The hippocampus sets the rhythm, the HPA sets the amount, ovaries, testes, thyroid, adrenals and other glands release their stores; the brain re-reads the levels in a feedback loop, adjusts to signals from the supraorbital nucleus that corresponds to light and dark cycles, and then signals back to the frontal lobe to 'make a decision' which then informs the hippocampus to conduct the orchestra. Our ability to survive is based on our relationship (constantly adjusting) to both our internal and external environments.
The hormones, neurotransmitters, enzymes, co-factors, cytokines, and chemical slurry under the control of your brain, in turn control every vital function that keeps us alive. Epigenetics (the daily manipulation of genetic structure in response to environment) is just one example of this. Hormones 'lock into' promoter regions of our DNA and turn on or off switches that trigger genetic expressions. Genes are 'turned on', proteins are produced, the proteins fit into specific receptors in the cell to manipulate activity which then tell the nucleus of the cell to react in a specific way and you have just changed the way you act, re-act, survive, hyper-fire to a stimulus, etc. This is exactly (quite simplified) how we 'develop' a gluten sensitivity or 'develop' cancer. Bottom line: our current state of health or disease is defined by our current response (cellular-ly) to our internal and external environments.
These millions of communications that take place inside millions of separate cells on a moment by moment basis collectively make up who we are. And, who we are now is different than who we will be tomorrow. As these genetic expressions, chemical fortifications, hormonal responses, etc, etc, take place, we age, grow more or less stable, heal or slowly die, based on our brain's chemical, neuronal, and glial triggers attempting to keep us alive. Sickness is a result of past responses to decisions just as poverty may be the result of slothfulness. Obviously there is a multitude of complicating factors, but you get my point.
Bottom line: You are where you are because of the millions of 'little' choices you've made that have shape the genetic expression currently observed in your body. This goes for health/sickness, depression/joy, success/failure, thoughts and physical manifestations. Though we often find comfort in believing we are victims of our current situations (not that this may not be true), we will never change anything until we take control and make some lifestyle changes.
Alex's cancer is the body's response to previous stimuli. It may even be an attempt at survival gone wrong. Cancer cells are anaerobic (survive without oxygen) possibly due to an attempt by the body to survive in a less-than-nutritionally-stable environment. This is explained in greater detail in my next book and we need to leave it at that. But, what we must understand is that there exists a balance necessary for health. An environmental over-exposure to xenoestrogens disrupts the balance with progesterone and testosterone; prolonged perceived stress disrupts cortisol production which impedes normal melatonin and insulin balance, oxygen carrying capacities, detoxification pathways, and the list goes on. Your body is a symphony; one bad violin ruins the piece.
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