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A Seemingly Healthy Couple…..

Close up woman and man holding cups of coffee on table

Link to video of Dr. Barrett talking on this point:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vQeaV8Dcjf8

  The other day a story was covered in local media which read: “seemingly healthy couple…” who both worked in healthcare and both of whom went through COVID.    They were both infected and one got very sick despite the proper use of masks, handwashing, distancing and other precautions.  These people knew and practiced all the protocols, yet still dealt with the virus.  One responded well with no symptoms.   The other was hospitalized for 3 days. There are a couple of take-home points here. This couple working in healthcare, knows more than the average bear about the precautions, handwashing, masking, distancing etc…. And still had to deal with the virus……  as we all will. The “seemingly healthy…. But hospitalized” aspect of this story is the main issue.   The only thing given about the health of these two was “seemingly healthy” and a photo.  In the photo, both are overweight, the gentleman, seriously so.  And he was the one hospitalized. Now, being overweight isn’t by itself a problem if you are fit and understand what causes health and what creates disease.   You can be skinny, less than 17% body fat, yet if you are not fit, your risk of death from all causes if you are male, is double.   On the other hand, you can be over 25% BMI and if you are fit, your risk of death of all causes is baseline.  Not increased at all. So, it isn’t just overweight.   But, overweight is frequently a clue to the lifestyle that includes too much inflammatory foods in the diet.  Not always, but I have found this to be true more often than not.  A glance ahead and behind at the shopping carts in line at the supermarket, and the food choices will confirm this for you.   Also, the fact that over half of the grocery store product is shelves of foods that are inflammatory and create disease…. It is little wonder people are getting sick. Most of the deaths are in senior centers you say?   One of these centers, claiming to be the best  in town and rated as such,  created diabetes in my mother in law at 86 years old.   Why?  Because it is cereal, toast and jelly for breakfast.   Noodles and jello for lunch.   Mashed potatoes and pie for dinner.  Every day!  For people who frequently get little exercise confined to wheelchairs.   Of course they will develop diabetes and be susceptible to disease. One of the challenges with this virus is the body’s response as a “cytokine storm”.   That is an overreaction.   Cytokines are a class of molecules that respond to viral and bacterial attacks, as well as general repair of traumatized tissues.   We need them.  We just don’t need too much of them.  And too much of them comes about from an inflammatory diet.    So, the overreaction represents a state of disease independent of the virus.   That is why “seemingly healthy” is just that.   Seemingly. We can’t see high blood pressure but we can measure it before the heart attack or stroke.  So, we aptly call that disease. We can’t see high blood sugar but we can measure it before people lose their sight or have kidney failure or toes amputated.  And we aptly call that disease. Those are a couple of the comorbidities that we know complicate the body’s ability to respond to Covid.  Unfortunately, like asthma, we cannot  measure asthma’s airway restriction until the person is in the middle of an attack.  We would call that person healthy too…. Until they’ve had a few asthma attacks, then we conclude they have asthma.  We would also conclude it has been in dysfunction for some time as it doesn’t just start out of the blue. We would not call them seemingly healthy. Would we? Similarly, we have no obvious test for how the body’s cytokine system is balanced and how it will respond until tested like this by infection.   The evidence that the person was sick is the response itself.   Covid doesn’t cause the cytokine storm in everyone.  Some people however have this “over reaction” if you will.   It is driven by lifestyle factors, which are  mostly diet.  Which, is NOT healthy. Here is the World Health Organization’s definition of health:  “a state of complete physical, mental and social wellbeing and not merely the absence of disease or infirmity”. Note, ‘not merely the absence of disease…..’.    That’s the “seemingly healthy” part that is being reported.   Because this couple had no overt disease.  That doesn’t mean healthy. I have been reciting the WHO’s definition for years.  It used to include “health is your body’s ability to function at 100% of its potential, not merely the absence of disease or infirmity.’.   I don’t know when it was updated to this, but I’m glad it incorporates mental and social aspects now.    We know that your relationships play a large role in how healthy you are and how long you live.   But, the addition of the word, “wellbeing”, seems like filler. Merriam-Webster defines that as “happy, healthy or prosperous”. Note the operator “or”,  which means by this definition:

  1. If  you’re happy but sick and poor, that’s wellbeing.
  2. If you’re healthy, angry and poor, that’s wellbeing.
  3. Rich, sick and angry,… also wellbeing.

You get the idea….right? At best, the WHO definition of health is being healthy.   This is not as helpful as its previous definition. Regardless, we are where we are because as a whole, our culture defines health exclusively by how you feel.  Not how you function. The person hospitalized for COVID was not healthy before.  That is my understanding of how the body works.   Your body’s ability to adapt to the environment is health.  And that definition stands up to critique.  Claiming someone was healthy but died of X disease makes no sense whatsoever. Here’s the things that keep your body adapting and defending itself from viruses and bacteria.

  1. Microbiome.  Take probiotic supplement.  This is a must.
  2. Rest – 7-8 hours
  3. Get adjusted regularly.
  4. Serum Vit D level 50 or higher.  (requires supplementation)
  5. Adequate nutrition… colorful veggies and fruits.   (Vit C and bioflavonoids)
  6. Exercise.   Not a big deal… just move.
  7. Have supportive relationships.
  8. Have purpose.

Here are the things that make you susceptible (sick)

  1. Sugar (and things that turn to sugar.  Pretty much all the stuff in the middle of the store)
  2. Toxins that cause leaky gut and promote more inflammation.  Glyphosate.
  3. Wheat and dairy for some
  4. Alcohol / toxins
  5. All work / No play
  6. No social / relationship support / stressful or abusive relationship
  7. Obesity

These things are true for virtually all disease processes including cancer, heart disease diabetes… etc…   They are also true for measles and Covid. The cultural focus on protecting ourselves from exposure by masking and not touching others doesn’t fix anything.  People are dying because they are susceptible. This is consistent with Germ Theory of Disease.  Germ exposure will  always cause disease in this model.  The host has nothing to do with it.   I propose reducing susceptibility by improving the resistance of the virus/bacteria host… that is Us, the host.   This is called Terrain Theory.   Disease has more to do with the terrain (the host) than the germ.   If the terrain is good for the germ’s growth…. The germ will prosper and live nicely using that host / terrain and possibly kill it. We all know this is true as someone can be coughing and very ill at the office, but not everyone.  Nor does everyone exposed get sick.  Exactly what we are seeing with COVID.  Why not?  Because everyone’s immune system is in different states depending on what is going on in their lives.  There are seasons when your immune system is down and you are susceptible.  And, there are times when everything is going smoothly in your life and you can go to the gym, eat well, go to bed at the same time everyday etc…   THAT is how health and disease work.   That is how it has always worked. I hope this brings some peace for you.  I have noticed some are very, very scared.  This should be helpful to know that you are in control of far more than you’ve been given credit for.  It is not random.  It is largely up to us. Blessings,

Dr. Barrett

1 Join the Conversation

  1. Pat says
    Nov 19, 2020 at 7:48 PM

    Good article and reminder to us all in this very challenging time.

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