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Every Month: a Review of Major Teaching Points

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A Power Program for Student Review

Course Coverage 2016

  • Jan Muscles
  • Feb Meals
  • Mar Metabolism
  • April Nutrition
  • May Metabolic Syndromes
  • June Diabetes
  • July Diabetic Complications
  • Aug Longevity
  • Sept Atheroma
  • Oct Carcinoma
  • Nov Aging
  • Dec Mind & Memory
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The world we live in teems with tiny creatures, all invisible to our naked eyes, creatures keen to make a living by hitching a ride on our skins, or airways or our digestive tracts. Most of them are harmless, a few are beneficial, only a few are lethally dangerous.

Against those dangerous and life-threatening ones, we have evolved several defense systems. Our skins are hard to penetrate…we generate layers of protective mucus to line both airway and digestive tract…and most importantly, we developed an immune system of powerful bio-defenses that use killer soldier white blood cells and grasping, disabling antibodies.

So powerful a defense is our immune system (think atomic weapons) that we must carefully contain and constrain it against accidental release and self-damage. It evolved as a complicated system to activate, so that we do not unintentionally attack our own tissues. It is described by immunologists as having more checks and balances than a truly democratic government.

Central to the function of a normal immune system is a supportive plasma bath of circulating proteins, some 18 of them. They are known collectively as Complement, and must be lurking in any neighboring circulation for the immune process to work effectively. They function something like the blood’s clotting mechanism with a cascade of steps, and are known to immunologists as Complement pathways.

With Compliment ever in the background, foreign proteins from invading bacteria are recognized as non-self by circulating white blood cells of the bone marrow, of lymph nodes and from an early-life organ called the thymus gland. These three sets of white blood cells are drawn to sites of invasion or damage by cries for help released by the injury into the blood by cells when they’re attacked. The signals they send are called cytokines, and together with circulating dead cell bits, will rally all immune defenses.

The immune system’s initial response involves soldier cells engulfing and digesting (with their Component chemistries) any virus or bacterium or all bits of dead tissue debris. The invaded site where this defensive action takes place becomes inflamed, becoming red & warm, swollen & tender.

A less immediate but greater long-term benefit of the immune reaction involves lymphocytes and their antibodies. They help custom craft proteins to hobble and kill all invaders. They tag cell fragments with antibodies that read Eat Me, guiding the body’s trash collectors in the reticuloendothelial system of spleen and liver. Any given lymphocyte pours out hundreds of different antibodies in its frenzied response to all cries for help. Some are more effective than others, but Complement must be in area plasma for an effective full court press.

Things can go wrong with this defense system. At the clinical level it can cause sudden collapse and death over the protein in a peanut or a bee sting. It can send the airway into an asthmatic spasm over the protein in a plant’s pollen. It can attack cells in the pancreas, cut insulin production and provoke Juvenile-Onset Diabetes (Type I). It can falter less dramatically with age, causing the aches and pains of neuritis, neuralgia or lumbago.

A reduced efficiency of the immune system with age also promotes cancer. Given the billions of cell replications taking place in us every day, mistakes are inevitable. Some cells are produced that are cancerous but an effective immune system recognizes and destroys them so cancer never threatens life. Faltering surveillance is one reason cancers are common as we age.

Cancers are ecosystems of many cells. An aging immune surveillance system fails to recognize and destroy them, so cancer cells emerge. Such cells thrive in the high insulin levels of any Metabolic Syndrome. A stronger immune system is encouraged as we get older by: exercising muscle, a healthy gut biome, and a low fat diet of whole food antioxidants. Preventing cancer sure beats the hell out of early detection and multiple treatments.

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