Reclaim Your Health! Reclaim Your Life
Next let’s take a look at VIRUSES. These little darlings are non-living strands of DNA and RNA with a protein coat surrounding it. They multiply in a living host. Here’s the icky part. While they often live in plants and animals, in many instances YOU are the host! A virus may also affect one organism in one way but a different one in another. This explains why a virus that causes illness in a cat or horse may not affect a human.
Viruses also vary in form and complexity. Some have an additional coat called the envelope which may be spiky and helps them latch onto and enter host cells.
Some examples are chicken pox, herpes, measles, influenza, and everyone’s favorite – SARS-COV 2.
We now move onto FUNGI. Tens of thousands of organisms, from mushrooms to mold to yeast, fall under the umbrella of fungi. Once thought simply to be plants, fungi have emerged as their own classification. The various fungal species are diverse, with many unique properties: some harmless, some useful and some quite harmful.
Fungi have multiple sources of food. There are those that feed on dead organisms and help in decomposition. Then there are the ones that derive sustenance from a live host without harming it. Lichens — fungi and algae together — are an example of a mutualistic relationship. If a fungus feeds on a live host while harming it, it’s called a parasite. Penicillin is made from fungus as is yeast. Of course yeast is what makes bread rise and is essential for fermentation of beer and wine. On the flip side, FUNGI also cause annoying conditions such as jock itch, ringworm, athlete’s foot, and yeast infections.
PARASITES are next on our list of “favorites.” Parasites are living things that use other living things – like your body – for food and a place to live. You can get them from contaminated food or water, a bug bite, or sexual contact. Some parasitic diseases are easily treated and some are not.
Parasites range in size from tiny, one-celled organisms (called protozoa) to worms that can be seen with the naked eye. Some parasitic diseases occur in the United States. Contaminated water supplies can lead to Giardia infections and cats can transmit toxoplasmosis, which is dangerous for pregnant women. Others, like malaria, are common in other parts of the world.
If you are traveling, it’s important to drink only water you know is safe. Prevention is especially important because there are no vaccines for parasitic diseases though there are some medicines available to treat parasitic infections.
We end with TOXINS. Toxins are substances created by plants and animals that are poisonous (toxic) to humans. Toxins may also include some medicines that are helpful in small doses, but poisonous in large amounts.
Most toxins that cause problems in humans come from germs such as bacteria.
Other toxins that cause problems include metals, such as lead, and certain chemicals in the environment. These chemicals include fabric softeners, dryer sheets, antibacterial products, many products that create bubbles or suds, toilet bowl cleaners, bleach, and ammonia, to name a few. You can thank toxins for botulism, diphtheria, whooping cough, diarrhea, and tetanus.
Now you have an idea of all your immune system is up against all day, every day.
Next time we’ll learn about how your immune system responds to the environment you’re in.
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