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Big Picture

What Is Illness?

We know more than ever — yet chronic illnesses continue to spread.

To Reverse Illness, Let’s Understand What It Is

Fatigue, insomnia, inflammation, and digestive issues are trending up — and they’re happening at shockingly younger and younger ages.

The markers of aging are arriving earlier than expected for a substantial portion of the population.

“Over half (54 percent) of millennial respondents reported having been diagnosed with at least one chronic illness.

https://www.bcbs.com/the-health-of-america/reports/the-health-of-millennials

Chronic illness can even lead to poor financial prospects for the young, and people of any age.

Reversing The Trend

To flip these trends, is it necessary to become an expert about every facet of the human body?

Must each person deeply understand the interactions between nutrients, hormones, and physiology to restore health?

When I was hyperfocused on smaller variables, my health did not improve so much. But when I looked at the big picture, my health returned.

Yours can, too.

Let’s understand the big picture of illness, so we can reverse it.


Four Stressors Of Illness

Stress is the scientific name for any phenomenon that harms the body.

Small, acute stresses are normal and part of healthy living: moderate exercise, daily disappointments & challenges, competitive games, limited fasting, and short illnesses, for example.

In the proper context, acute stressors can even provide some benefit to the body — these are known as “hormetic” benefits.

Stress is only truly manageable by the body when acute: The challenge arises, the body meets the challenge, then we rest and recuperate. When stressors become continuous — or, chronic — the body has little defense.

There are four important “stressors of illness” — that appear to be primary contributors to the onset of disease.

For the time being, we will exclude emotional stress, though it is certainly as important a factor as any when discussing the onset of, and recovery from, disease.

The Four Stressors Of Illness

Pathogenic Infection
Pathogenic Infection

The world is full of countless pathogens, bombarding the body daily — from sick people and sick buildings.

Nutrient Deficiency
Nutrient Deficiency

Nutrient deficiency is surprisingly common — and caused by poor diet, soil quality, pathogenic infections, inflammation, and poor gut health.

Toxicity
Toxicity

The modern world is especially toxic, yet toxins are also released by pathogens inside the gut, mouth, and elsewhere in the body (endotoxins).

Circadian Disruption
Circadian Disruption

Every aspect of modern life has the potential to be disruptive to the circadian rhythm.

Let’s dive into the four stressors of illness, see how they all work together to degrade health, and explore ways to improve each situation.


Stressor #1

Pathogenic Infection

Pathogens Are Active

Pathogens bombard the body all day, every day.

The skin is well-suited to repel most pathogens (while microbes do live on the skin), but the mouth, ears, nose, and throat represent excellent opportunities for pathogens to enter the body.

Technically, the bodily areas where microbes flourish — the hotspots of the human microbiome — are outside the body. Nevertheless, the human microbiome greatly alters biological function.

When a pathogen gets inside the body, the immune system should quickly identify it and kill or deactivate it. The pathogen may then disappear or, more likely, go dormant until a more opportune time appears.

The healthy human immune system even regulates the microbial life in microbiomes located outside the body (gut, mouth, ears, vagina, and nasal passages). As the immune system suffers, these “external” microbiomes become less well-regulated.

A strong immune system can ward off invading pathogens, rendering their infectious capabilities, at best, acute.

Immunosuppression

When the immune system is compromised (as is common in chronic illness and aging), pathogens inside the body and in the microbiome can become resilient, very much at home in the body.

In the immuno-suppressed and chronically ill, outward signs of infection are often absent, with — instead — elevated markers of inflammation and/or white blood cell counts. Over time, the development of symptoms: fatigue, insomnia, brain fog, and poor digestion.

How do these low-grade chronic infections by these pathogens (mainly: bacteria, fungus, viruses) affect health?

It is through these means that pathogens can harm major organs and affect day-to-day quality of life — even in chronic, low-grade infections.

These low-grade infections are frequently difficult to detect by medical tests and direct observation by a medical doctor.

However, inflammation will almost certainly be high and, again, signs of elevated immune activity can appear in labs, though they likely won’t raise alarms for most doctors — when perhaps they should.

When a chronic immune response has existed for long periods of time, immune markers may over time become low: The immune system is compromised and unable to properly respond to the pathogenic threat.

The Hidden Infection

Harmful pathogens typically “hide” in various microbiomes around the body.

From these various locations, pathogens can release hormones and toxins into the bloodstream, impacting every aspect of biology. They can also enter the bloodstream, themselves, if mucosal barriers weaken.

Medical science is currently taking the first steps to understand the world of the “gut microbiome.”

Unfortunately, this new field will require much more research to truly understand it and therefore manipulate it with medical precision.

At this time, microbiome tests are starting to identify the species in your gut — but we don’t really know what to do about those findings, yet. Many alternative practicioners sell testing packages and prescribe heaps of supplements to take. Taking a thousand new products at once can make for a grueling regimen — and impossible to interpret any changes in symptoms.

What seems best is to slowly treat “general dysbiosis” of the gut, utilizing one new step at a time, while using all tactics available to boost the immune system: proper circadian rhythm habits, foods, supplements, photobiomodulation, sunlight, and improving the healthfulness of one’s environment.

In the immune-compromised, infections are rarely of a single pathogen. Instead, multiple “co-infections” exist, with each pathogen affecting the body in different, yet simultaneously ways.

When the challenges are many, multiple tactics are required to challenge the scope of the problems.

MARCoNS

The acronym stands for Multiple Antibiotic Resistant Coagulase Negative Staphylococci. This bacteria is highly pathogenic and resistant to antibiotics because of a powerful biofilm which protects it from potential threats.

This is a newly-discovered kind of infection, typically residing in the nasal passages — although it’s being found in the mouth as well.

Dental & Mouth Infections

The oral microbiome is just as complex and diverse as the gut.

When the oral microbiome goes wrong, conditions like thrush (a candida fungal overgrowth in the mouth), gum disease, cavities, and abscesses are likely.

Perhaps worse, these infections send a constant 24/7 drip of toxicity and pathogens into both the bloodstream and the digestive system — causing chronic system-wide inflammation and gut dysbiosis.

Questionable dental practices can lead to persistent, low-grade, hidden infections in and around teeth that can even escape the notice of dentists.

READ MORE: Your Oral Health

Unhealthy microbes in the mouth can chronically activate the immune response — leading to body-wide inflammation and even many systemic diseases:

  • Rheumatoid Arthritis
  • Type 2 Diabetes
  • Adverse pregnancy outcomes
  • Cardiovascular disease
  • Digestive diseases
  • Alzheimer’s disease

https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S2213453018301642

Pathogenic Toxicity Can Cause Every Component Of Disease

Unhealthy microbes (in the mouth, gut, nose, or elsewhere) supply your body with a steady stream of endotoxins.

As a result, the body will spend biological resources to both detoxify the endotoxins and kill off the hosts. An immune response will occurs — and never finishes.

Nutrients will be used up rapidly to meet the demands of an overburdened liver.

The body will also ramp up inflammation round-the-clock, and this will cause digestion and general absorption of nutrients to plummet. Hence, chronic, low-grade infections cause nutrient deficiency for two reasons: both depletion of nutrients for detox, as well as interference with proper digestion and absorption of nutrients.

Nutrient deficiency and toxicity cause inflammation, and all three will eventually affect sleep quality — as the immunocompromised body descends into chronic illness.

Stressor #2

Nutrient Deficiency

A Common Issue

Low nutrient levels are actually common — even in the first world. But when health is suffering, the become a big cause of further issues.

Poor diet can result in nutrient deficiency on its own. Eating lots of refined grains can result in B-Vitamin and mineral deficiencies.

Modern industrial farming practices have resulted in falling soil quality — and the mineral quality of our food has suffered in response.

Too much time indoors can result in a Vitamin D deficiency. Food has very, very little Vitamin D.

Eating little vegetables and no organ meats can result in a Vitamin A deficiency. An overburdened liver may have a hard time converting carotenes to Vitamin A, too (genetics can cause this as well).

Poor gut health can result in poor nutrient absorption across the board. Low levels of beneficial bacteria in the gut can lead to deficiency in B-vitamins and other nutrients and compounds such as butyric acid and Vitamin K2.

Last, we’ve already seen the two ways pathogenic infections can bring about nutrient deficiencies.

For most people strugling with illness, most or all of these factors are affecting their nutritional health.

How Does Nutrient Deficiency Cause Disease?

When nutrients are low (due to elevated detoxification requirements or poor absorption), virtually every system in the body suffers: Metabolism drops, energy storage drops, immunity drops, digestion worsens, sleep plummets, and inflammation rises.

The body adapts to fuel and nutrient shortages by slowing the metabolism — to use nutrients less rapidly. This is also known as hypothyroidism.

This is the body’s response to famine or starvation — “starvation mode” — the body will slow down its metabolic (energetic) processes to avoid churning through limited reserves and supply.

When the metabolism is slowed (hypothyroidism) the body will not be able to adapt to normal pathogenic exposure. The body’s defenses against daily pathogenic bombardment will be less effective during nutrient scarcity. In fact, the body will even try to sequester nutrients away from pathogens — to starve them out. Unfortunately this leaves your own body starving for nutrients, too.

In chronic illness, nutritional immunity doesn’t lead to recovery, it means pathogens will survive longer in a weakened body. Pathogens will always opportunistically find a place to call home, if available, and when the immune system is compromised, the body is a ready host.

Chronic nutrient deficiency will also undermine sleep, hormone production, and even mental performance and emotional regulation. This can — over time — lead to a compounding situation where things just aren’t working correctly, pathogens multiply in the body, and medical tests still may not be able to find anything wrong — besides, perhaps, irregular WBC counts.

STRESSOR #3

Toxicity

Environmental Toxins

Toxins also include the more everyday-varieties we often hear about: heavy metals, industrial chemicals in our food supply our sprayed on our new products, VOC’s in new homes, and even mold in sick buildings.

Exposure to environmental chemicals is increasing globally… Toxicants are present at all stages of development, potentially accumulating to cause a lifetime of ill health.

https://academic.oup.com/jn/article/137/12/2794/4670095

The accumulative nature of toxicity in the body should be alarming.

We simply have no idea how our collective and personal health will fare after decades of daily exposure to the tens of thousands of untested synthetic chemicals present in modern life. What little we do know about our environmental toxin exposure isn’t very promising.

Endotoxin

Toxicity doesn’t only show up from the environment.

One of the most important toxins to address is endotoxin from pathogens living in the gut (or mouth, nose, ears, and vagina) — the human microbiome. In the gut, endotoxins are released when pathogens (bad microbes) ferment food. This is tremendously disruptive to the body’s function — and because the toxins are released whenever food is eaten, it can make life a living hell — that’s not an exaggeration.

“The liver is the major source of the acute phase proteins, and it is constantly burdened by toxins absorbed from the bowel; disinfection of the bowel is known to accelerate recovery from stress.”

Ray Peat, PhD

Another quote from Peat, partially in reference to endotoxin:

“When estrogen overlaps with endotoxin (as it tends to do), multiple organ failure is the result.”

Ray Peat, PhD

Toxicity, in all forms, overburdens the organs.

Gut Health

The gut has two main functions:

  • Absorb nutrients
  • Trap and transport toxins from the body (via bowel movements)

When the microbiome goes bad, it becomes home to plentiful harmful pathogens. These pathogens release toxins into the blood stream — especially when they digest food after a meal. These toxins, of course, are called endotoxin.

If there’s any reason to improve gut health, it’s to reduce the toxic load on your body that pathogens create via endotoxin. When toxicity falls and inflammation lowers, nutrition can then be properly absorbed — into the bloodstream and into cells.


Stressor #4

Circadian Disruption


Disruptions of circadian rhythms have been associated with many diseases, including metabolic disorders and cancer.

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5684296/

Chronic disruption of the circadian rhythm is a slow-moving disaster for health.

Nearly every aspect of modern life works to undermine our circadian rhythm.

Further, an overemphasis on “hours of sleep per night” has distracted from what actually makes for a restorative and optimal night’s sleep: When we sleep those hours.

Syncing The Circadian Clocks

The body is full of circadian clock genes — each organ has clock genes, and they are tied to the brain’s central clock: the SCN (Suprachiasmatic Nucleus).

One of the major keys to restoring health is to get all of these clock genes synced up so that each organ can perform its functions in concert — and the body becomes a free-flowing highway instead of a traffic jam.

It really is this critical — studies have found nearly every single marker of health worsen due to worsened sleep. Even small, temporary shifts in sleep quality can have deep impacts on health markers. It’s no secret that most chronic illness sufferers struggle with sleep and their circadian rhythm.

Poor sleep (and poor circadian rhythm) is no benign symptom — it’s a direct cause of illness and disease. Fixing it at all costs must be priority number one to improve health.


1

Each Stressor Causes Others

Any stressor experienced, once it becomes chronic, will develop into other stressors of illness.

Pathogenic Infection

Will Cause

Nutrient Deficiency

Will Cause

Toxicity

Will Cause

Circadian Disruption

Will Cause

2

Is Inflammation A Cause Of Illness?

Not At First

Inflammation is most likely not the root cause of your health issues.

Instead, inflammation is most likely a symptom of the four stressors of illness.

Chronic Inflammation Does Cause Damage

When inflammation remains high for long periods of time, it causes many other problems, too. Therefore, even though inflammation is only a symptom it will begin to cause other downstream problems over time.

Acutely, [the stress] response is adaptive; however, chronic elevation of inflammatory proteins can contribute to health problems including cardiovascular, endocrine, mood, and sleep disorders.”

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/17524614

If your body is always inflamed, there’s a cause — and that cause needs to be corrected, rather than merely “fighting inflammation.”


3

Inflammation Is A Response To… Stressors

Inflammation is meant to be temporary. It responds when tissue has been damaged — to clean away damaged (dead) tissues so healing can occur.

But what if inflammation is always high? Possibly due to chronic low-grade infection?

If there’s inflammation, there’s a cause.

“Inflammatory cytokines are released in response to stress, tissue damage, and infection.

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/17524614

When chronic inflammation is present, nutrients won’t get absorbed. Inflammation interferes with insulin’s driving of sugar molecules and nutrients into cells. Inflammation essentially can wreak havoc on your body’s ability to absorb all nutrients.

“Independent of the cause and location, inflammation – even when minimal – has clear effects on gastrointestinal morphology and function. These result in altered digestion, absorption and barrier function. There is evidence of reduced villus height and crypt depth, increased permeability, as well as altered sugar and peptide absorption in the small intestine after induction of inflammation in experimental models…”

“Even Low-Grade Inflammation Impacts On Small Intestinal Function”
https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2835780/

Another quote from the same study:

“Inflammation may influence the intestinal absorptive area, epithelial cells, and barrier function via released inflammatory mediators and… activated immune cells.”

These quotes are pointing, also, to an increase in intestinal permeability when inflammation is present. High intestinal permeability (leaky gut) allow pathogens from the gut access to the bloodstream — and therefore the rest of the body, where they can wreak more havoc and cause more inflammation.

Chronic inflammation can also result from injuries that aren’t healing properly (due to re-aggravation or infection) as well as any other ongoing stress that isn’t resolved.


4

How Does Mold Fit Into All This?

Toxicity

First: Mold supplies toxicity.

Mold releases toxic VOC’s (mycotoxins) into the air. These VOC’s are fat-soluble and become stored in our body. They overwhelm the liver and cause inflammation. This causes the digestive process to shut down and — between poor digestion and overburdened liver detox — the body becomes deficient in nutrients. Toxicity and malnutrition disrupt the circadian rhythm, leading to compromised immunity. Ultimately, infection is the next logical step in the. process.

Infection

There has long been plenty of evidence throughout the animal kingdom that fungal species can live “inside” their animal hosts — and quite a few common diseases around the world are caused by fungi.

Here’s a passage from an article about how fungi are beginning to deeply threaten the health of indoor pets:

“Spores of these moulds spread aerially. If inhaled by those with weak immune system, they can overcome the body’s defences and start growing inside the nasal passage, sinuses and lungs. The moulds may even spread to the brain and other organs through blood.”

https://theconversation.com/brace-yourself-internet-cats-and-dogs-at-risk-from-new-fungus-15498

There also may be a simple reason antifungal drugs seem to help diseases like MS.

There could very well be a fungal (or other pathogenic) component to many of the “big” diseases. It’s possible a large component of aging is a process of slowly losing the battle to pathogens, toxicity, and nutrient deficiency — rather than mere hardwired genetic programming.

As mold (and sick building syndrome) becomes a larger and larger epidemic, perhaps we shouldn’t be surprised if these diseases continue to become more prevalent.


7

What About EMF?

A Complicated Subject

The simplest way to think about EMF is that it scrambles your body’s internal processes via pulsed electromagnetic signals.

It’s similar to the way a strobe light can greatly harm some people (“Flicker Vertigo” — which occurs when a strobe light flashes at 1Hz to 20Hz, which is in the frequency range of brain waves).

Wireless pulses are much more rapid than a strobe light, and they pulse in the frequency range that cellular processes occur, causing serious issues with their function over time. In other words, we don’t consciously think 100,000x times per second, but our cellular processes are happening at that speed.

The body’s nervous system and cells communicate via extremely low-intensity electrical signals. Perhaps it shouldn’t be a surprise that rapid electromagnetic pulses impact the function of our cells and nervous system.

Studies have shown EMFs effects on the body include:

EMFs can penetrate all the way into and through our tissues — thereby potentially affecting every cell in our body.

EMFs come in various types (wireless pulses, magnetic fields, and electric fields), but these all negatively impact the body by sneakily interrupting or interfering with the body’s processes.

The greatest harm from EMFs is to people who already have weakened health status.

Therefore, EMF can be a major source of the factors that cause disease. It’s important that people take at least modest steps to reduce EMF exposure.

As the 4G network grows and 5G networks go live around the world, it’s important to understand what these technologies are doing, how they behave, and what you can do about it.


8

How Do We Improve?

Remove the bad, add the good.

Of the four stressors, rank each in order of how much they hold you back. Then, pick one to address.

Is your circadian rhythm clearly weak? Start here!

Is your gut health struggling? If so, it’s causing toxicity, harming sleep, compromising your immunity, and causing nutrient deficiency. Start here!

As you strengthen one area, your knowledge will grow and you can improve the other stressors, as well.

Add Good Habits

To improve your health, you’ll have to add good habits into your life.

What are those good habits?

  • Getting daily sunlight and additional infrared light.
  • Cleaning up sick buildings (or getting out of them).
  • Caring for our digestive health.
  • Eating meals at the proper times.
  • Caring for our circadian rhythm.
  • Moving a little bit every day.
  • Addressing nutrient deficiencies safely and wisely.

When we understand the stressors and add these good habits, it’s incredible what we can achieve for our health, no matter the severity of the situation.


7

The Big Picture

One Step At A Time

We don’t change our life all at once.

When we take one step at a time, we can begin to build a truly restorative life.

One that includes healthy light habits, sleep habits, digestive health, food choices, and environmental health.

Light boosts immunity, improves digestion, breaks down toxins in the bloodstream, and is #1 factor in sleep quality.

Light also improves mood, brain chemistry, and thyroid health.

Sleep is the backbone of immunity and gut health, the frontlines of improving nutrient absorption, the realm of autophagy (a partner of detox).

Melatonin is anti-cancer and restorative to the gut.

Gut health affects pathogenic load (70% of the immune system is in the gut), nutrient absorption, toxicity (waste is removed via the gut), & sleep (if your gut is poor, sleep will likely suffer).

Mold can cause pathogenic fungal infection in the gut, nose, and mouth (and possibly elsewhere around the body).

Mold impairs nutrient absorption (worsened gut health), produces toxic byproducts (mycotoxins and other VOCs) in buildings.

Food matters for:

  • Immunity against pathogens
  • Nutrients provided to the body
  • Exposure to endo- & exo-toxins
  • Sleep quality. Food must be well-digested.

Nutrient balance affects:

  • Immunity (minerals & fat-soluble vitamins, Vitamin C)
  • Optimal detoxification
  • Sleep quality (via vitamins & minerals)

The thyroid does have an indirect effect on:

  • Immunity
  • Nutrient levels
  • Toxicity
  • Sleep (especially)

This is because the rate of metabolism controls how much energy is available for all biological functions. Less energy means weakness, system-wide.

Here’s how your location can affect you:

  • Immunity. Through exposure to toxins & pathogens.
  • Nutrient levels. Via poor gut health
  • Toxicity. Through exposure to, pollution, environmental toxins or endotoxin from worse gut health.
  • Heavy mold or EMF exposure can seriously impair sleep in some people.

(return home)

As a supporting member, you’ll enjoy access to all resources — as well as ongoing support in our no-drama discussion group. — Travis

Let’s Feel Better.

Discussion. Community. Thoughtful ideas. 6/mo.