The human body has evolved to protect itself from toxic exposure, opportunistic bacteria, fungi, viruses and other pathogens who are poised to take advantage of broken down or worn out immune barriers.
Today, we dump 4 billion pounds of toxic chemicals into the American environment each year and 72 million of them are cancer-causing. Monsanto’s product Roundup, or glyphosate – a pesticide that kills our beneficial microbes – has found its way into even our organic foods and rainwater, and there is mercury residue on the organic vegetables we eat from the coal-fired power plant emissions that cover America. (6) Needless to say, we need help!
The body has evolved four protective barriers to make sure the enemy microbes and toxins do not infiltrate beyond our immune system’s barriers. When these barriers break down, the body’s primary defenses and immunity are weakened, and accelerated aging, degeneration and increased risk of disease can ensue.
The 4 Barriers:
- The Gut & Intestinal Barrier
- The Lung Barrier
- The Skin Barrier
- The Blood Brain and CSF-Brain Barrier
The Gut & Intestinal Barrier
This is the largest (about the size of a tennis court) and perhaps most important barrier. All of the other barriers either directly or indirectly depend on the health of the intestinal wall as a protective barrier. The intestinal lining is made up of epithelium, blood vessels, lymph-collecting ducts and beneficial microbes – all of which depend on the health of this barrier.
Weak digestion, due to stress, processed and pesticide-laden foods, extreme diets or too many highly processed comfort foods, will allow proteins and both good and bad fats to go undigested into the intestines where they are too big to be absorbed into the bloodstream. They end up being caught in the lymph-collecting ducts, where they can overwhelm the lymph and compromise immunity.
Here, where the intestinal tract meets the lymphatic vessels, is where 80% of the body’s immune system is located. When this barrier falls, toxins and pathogenic microbes can enter the blood via the lymph, where they slowly begin to disrupt and break down the remaining three barriers. (1)
Read More About The Gut & Intestinal Barrier
The Lung Barrier
A new study found an abundance of microscopic magnetite particles in samples of brain tissue from people that lived in cities with high levels of air pollution. (2) Magnetite is the highly oxidative and degenerative, magnetic form of iron oxide.
Magnetite particles have been directly linked to brain degeneration and cognitive decline. (7) As the abnormal accumulation of metals in the brain is a key indication of Alzheimer’s disease, air pollution is being researched as a likely smoking gun for this currently irreversible disease.
The respiratory tract and lungs are lined with a very delicate skin or epithelium. An excess amount of air pollution from cars, cigarettes, solvents, synthetic clothes, fire retardants in furniture and more constantly bombard the respiratory lung barrier.
On the other side of these four epithelial barriers are immune-carrying lymphatics that stay ready to pounce on any toxin or pathogen that tries to penetrate these barriers. If the barriers become compromised due to air pollution, digestive distress or a multitude of other stressors, toxins will enter the intestinal lymphatics – eventually and systematically congesting the lymphatic system that protects all four barriers.
Read More About The Lung Barrier
The skin epithelium is a protective barrier supported by its own microbiome. Microbes feed on the natural oils produced by the skin, such as sebum. The sebum softens, lubricates and protects the skin. It prevents the skin from drying out and aging prematurely. Beneath the skin is an immune layer called the skin-associated lymphatic tissue (SALT), which offers additional immune protection to the skin. (4)
The skin is more intelligent than we might think. Our skin has evolved from the primitive cell membranes that wrapped and sealed the inner contents of the cells with a protective epithelial layer. As early cells began to group together and form colonies of cells, the cell membranes became the protective layer of skin that grouped and wrapped these communities or cells that we know as organisms.
If the protective skin or epithelial layer was breached, the organism would be at risk of death. Interestingly, if the nucleus of any of these cells is removed, the cell would continue to live with only it’s reproductive ability compromised–suggesting that the “brain” of the cell was not the nucleus as once thought, but in the cell membrane! (5)
The cell membrane acted as a sort of “awareness” membrane, actively communicating details about the ever-changing outside world with the inside environment of the cell. Primitive survival depended on awareness of the changing environment, light/dark cycles, threats, invaders and more.
The appropriate response to these changes and threats was made via the cell membrane, which has evolved to become our skin. (5)
Embryologically, the cell membrane and our skin evolved to be what we now know as the brain and central nervous system (CNS), suggesting that as we evolved, in addition to using the cell membrane as the driver of cellular intelligence, we employed a higher source of governing intelligence–our brain.
To this day, the skin is still our first line of defense from outside invaders. It transports information across the barriers about the changing environment and potential threats to our genes, brain and CNS. (5)
Read More About The Skin Barrier
Blood Brain Barrier
The blood brain barrier lies between the endothelium cells (the skin cells that line arteries and capillaries) that feed the brain with nutrients and oxygen. The tight junctions of these brain capillaries are much tighter than the capillaries in the rest of the body that protect the brain from toxins, bacteria and viruses. When the body is inflamed, these junctions can become weak and break down, and toxins can find their way into the brain. (3)
The understanding of this barrier is changing with the recent discovery of the brain and CNS glymphatic system, which drains 3 pounds of toxins from the brain each year during sleep. (8,9) As blood flows into the brain, it concentrates in a plexus of blood vessels (called the choroid plexus) where the blood in the arteries is pushed into numerous villi or epithelial cells, forcing plasma or lymph fluid into the brain ventricles. Once the plasma or brain lymph crosses this barrier, it is called cerebral spinal fluid (CSF).
Studies have shown that numerous toxins and heavy metals such as mercury, arsenic, cadmium and others can build up and damage the epithelium of the choroid plexus, causing it to leak toxins into the brain chemistry. (3)
The CSF acts like a washing fluid that rinses the brain through its ventricles or CSF spaces. Along the way, as it washes, the brain picks up toxic particles, plaque, chemicals, bacteria and viruses that may have slipped through the blood brain barrier. These toxins are then re-absorbed through the brain’s glymphatic system.
The collecting ducts of the lymph throughout the body can uptake larger molecules than the veins and are, thus, able to detoxify each of these barriers effectively. This is a major reason why the body’s lymphatic system is so important. Each of these barriers heavily depend on clean and efficient lymphatic drainage.
Support for the Blood Brain Barrier
The skin of the body was our first evolutionary barrier– it lines our digestive tract from top to bottom. Today, this is our first line of defense, and the frontline of interpreting the changing bio-chemistry of the outside world. When this barrier breaks down, which is common, not only do we experience digestive distress, the toxins can infect, congest or inflame any of the other three barriers depending on how you are genetically wired to break down.
It is for this reason I have written so many articles and my new book, Eat Wheat, on how to reboot and strengthen digestion, support the intestinal skin and microbiome, decongest the lymphatic system and reset the body’s natural ability to detoxify.
I encourage you to learn more about these very important processes in the body and remove the obstacles to optimal health and longevity.
Remember, self-care is the new health care!