Tuesday, March 1, 2011

A Fever Means You're Healthy

Well now how's that for an eye catcher? I can imagine what some of you are thinking: "A fever means you're healthy? Are you serious? He's written some crazy sounding, counter-cultural stuff sometimes, but now I think he's gone off the deep end. Next think you know he'll say that vomiting means your healthy too" Stay with me on this one for a second. (By the way, that last comment about vomiting isn't far off the mark, and I'll touch on that in a bit).

Here's the deal. Every day your body is assaulted by germs/bugs/bacteria. They're on your hands, in your mouth, on your skin when you get a cut or scrape, they're all over. You can't escape them. Heck right now you have strep in your throat, you have cancerous cells in your body, you have flu bugs in your nostrils etc. That's the bad news. The good news is your immune system, when it's functioning well, fights off these invaders daily and keeps them at bay. But, sometimes your immune system is overwhelmed and the little bad guys start to win the battle. When that happens, your immune system has to kick into overdrive. One of the ways it does that is by raising the body temperature. A lot of these bugs can't replicate as quickly in a higher temperature setting so this makes it more difficult for them to proliferate. So, in reality, the fever shows that a body is healthy in some respects, because it is a healthy response to an illness. By this thought process, you can see that if you eat something bad for your body, and your body decides to expel it (vomit), then that process is a healthy process as well. The same can be said of many coughs, runny noses etc. They are reactions to invaders and attempts to expel the invading bug.

The sad thing is, many people, as soon as a temperature gets above 98.6, decide to medicate and bring down the fever so they can "feel better". That shortcuts the innate response of the body and prolongs illness, and weakens the immune system's ability to fight. Thus, you can actually make the body less healthy overall by jumping the gun and taking medication for a fever. In addition to this, all drugs, over the counter or otherwise, can have deleterious effects on the body. Thousands of people per year die due to taking NSAIDs (non steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs)too regularly. Ibuprofen is in that class of drugs. You cannot put a drug (chemical) in the body without some kind of negative effect, whether seen or not. This doesn't mean drugs are not ever necessary, but we have to stay away from the mentality that is so prevalent that says "For every ill there is a pill" because that mentality has gotten us a very sick nation, reliant on more and more drugs, and less healthy for all our science.

So, we need to do things that boost our immune system regularly, and avoid doing things that lower our immunity regularly. Some of you that know me know where I am going with this now. Yes, we need to eat well ,move well, think well and rest well. Performing poorly in any of those areas lowers your immune system. Did you know there are studies showing that ingestion of refined sugar immediately lowers the immune system? So having that soft drink, or candy, or refined, processed food, makes you less healthy immediately. Not exercising lowers your immunity. Living a western culture style of life that is stressed to the max lowers your immunity. Staying up late all the time watching TV or on the internet lowers your immunity as does eating or drinking things that impede your body's ability to get true rest. I could go on but I know you get the picture.

So the thought for today is that our fever is a healthy response to an unhealthy condition in the body, and by doing things that short circuit our body's innate attempts to get healthy, we can actually do more harm than good.

Until next time... Be Well!

Dr. Bruce

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