Holistic Health Notebook: Protecting yourself this winter
Last week we started talking about the therapeutic use of enzymes. Enzymes are the workers of the body. We ingest food, enzymes break the food down into molecules and metabolic enzymes reconstruct those molecules into useable structures. Without enzymes, life on planet Earth would cease immediately.
We are approaching the cold and flu season and, as expected, people are gearing up to keep themselves healthy in the onslaught of bacteria and viruses. Rightly so. Tiny bacteria or viruses can bring us down in a heartbeat. We must remain ever vigilant.
A strong immune system can do more to protect us than anything else, so we nourish our immune systems. We avoid sugar and stress. We get plenty of sleep each night.
And we take enzymes. But before we talk about enzymes, let’s talk about viruses.
Viruses are parasites consisting of a core of RNA or DNA surrounded by a protein coat called a capsid. Unable to replicate without a host cell, viruses are not considered living organisms. Some of the better known viruses include smallpox, influenza, chicken pox, measles, herpes, and the common cold — a major source of human misery and death throughout history.
Glycoproteins on the surface of viruses act as “recognition factors” that enable the virus to recognize and attach to only those cells within its host range.
As part of our immune system, macrophages may be mobile, circulating through blood and lymph fluid, or attached to tissue. They devour viruses and bacteria. Natural killer cells also wander through the fluid in the body, looking for abnormal cells, particularly those that are infected by viruses or are cancerous. When they find one, they eat it.
Oral protease enzymes digest the protein coating of viruses or any protein that is harmful to the body or does not belong. (They digest any substance that is dead, diseased, or does not belong.) Enzymes also break down undigested food protein, cellular debris, and toxins in the blood, sparing the immune system this task. The immune system can then concentrate its full action on the bacterial or parasitic invasion.
To function in this capacity, proteases need to be taken on an empty stomach.
My flu prevention program this winter? Lots of enzymes.
Carol is a certified lifestyle educator. She can be reached at the Island Nutrition Center on Sanibel, 472-4499 or at www.carolsimontacchionline.com.