Western Diet causes Intestinal Cell Dysfunction affecting innate immunity

More and more studies are pointing to the gut and gut dysbiosis as a key to chronic disease. Lui et al 2021 found in their study in mice, that a western diet caused Paneth cell dysfunction in just four weeks. Paneth cells are intestinal cells in the small intestines that are important in managing innate immunity. In other words, the Standard Western Diet, which is high in fat and sugar, caused these cells not to perform as they should increasing the risk of disease. Obesity is closely linked to Paneth cell dysfunction and a suppressed immune system. The gut microbiota also plays a role in this dysfunction. The Standard Western Diet causes Clostridium (bacteria in the gut) to convert deoxycholic acid which initiates inflammatory pathways. The good news is that Paneth cell dysfunction was found to be reversible in mice (Lui et al., 2021, Cell Host & Microbe 29, 1-14 June 9, 2021).

In light of the current pandemic, a healthy immune system is paramount. Poor diet, lack of exercise, obesity, chronic disease, and stress are key factors to a suppressed immune system. Furthermore, though antibiotics are useful in treating infections, their overuse is leading to dysbiosis and the production of free radials that can damage healthy cells. Interestingly, obesity and diabetes have been linked to low Clostridium in the gut. Stress also causes gut dysbiosis and suppressed immune system. There is no doubt that our physical health is closely linked to our emotional health.

Proverbs 17:22 (amp) A happy heart is good medicine and a cheerful mind works healing, but a broken spirit dries up the bones.

Proverbs 17:22 (TPT) A joyful, cheerful heart brings healing to both body and soul. But the one whose heart is crushed struggles with sickness and depression.

Proverbs 17:22 holds important keys to living a healthy life. A joyful and happy heart and mind leads to healing of the body and soul. There is one who is able to restore us to wholeness. His name is Jesus, and those who call on Him will find rest for their souls and healing of their broken hearts. Jesus came to heal the broken-hearted and bind up their wounds (Psalm147:3). I can tell you how to get heathy with diet, exercise, supplements , and positive meditation but this would not be the most important to share with you. Each person is a divinely created. God has put eternity into every living being. His desire is to make us whole again restoring us to our original states. In Acts 3:21, the word restoration is used. The Greek word is apokatastasis which means restoration to perfect health. In other words, Jesus is restoring creation to it’s state before to fall. True health is found in Him. The Kingdom of God is spiritual and not political. Jesus said, “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls.  For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.” Jesus knows what you need and how to help you reign in this life. he cares about every aspect of your life even helping you eat better and exercise. Run to Him and he will bind up your wounds and give you rest.

Romans 5:17  For if because of one man’s trespass (lapse, offense) death reigned through that one, much more surely will those who receive God’s overflowing grace (unmerited favor) and the free gift of righteousness [putting them into right standing with Himself] reign as kings in life through the one Man Jesus Christ (the Messiah, the Anointed One). This is great news.

There is Treatment for COVID-19

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I am still amazed at how many healthcare providers tell patients that there is no treatment for COVID-19, sending them home with no treatment or education on treatment options. Mild COVID-19 symptoms can be treated at home with supportive supplements like vitamin D, zinc, famotidine, and quercetin. Inhaled steroids, like budesonide, are very effective when started early. People who have other disease processes like obesity, autoimmune disease, high blood pressure, and DM are candidates for IV infusion of monoclonal antibodies for treatment of COVID-19. Monoclonal antibodies are very effective if given within the first 10 days of illness, but earlier in the disease process is better.. Monoclonal antibody infusion has been opened up to COVID-19 patients ages 18 and over. Unfortunately, there still is a criteria that has to be meet before the infusion can be given. I personally think that monoclonal antibody treatment should be open to anyone who would like to have it. They work that well. Another off label treatment for COVID-19 is ivermectin. Ivermectin is being used by Integrative Practitioners, including myself, with seemingly good results. I don’t recommend taking ivermectin from your local Co-Op store but getting it from a reputable compounding pharmacy. Ivermectin given early may help fight COVID-19 and some are taking ivermectin 1 or 2 times a week as a preventative. There are currently no large studies on the use of ivermectin, but preliminary studies suggest it works against severe pulmonary effects of COVID-19 (A five-day course of ivermectin for the treatment of COVID-19 may reduce the duration of illness – PubMed (nih.gov).

COVID-19 is a real disease that has taken many lives including my father, Dr. Robert Elliott. He was an 84 year old physician and researcher. He was a dedicated physician who got up everyday at 4 am, worked all day, and was working on exciting research involving mitochondria and neuromuscular diseases. He started having gastrointestinal symptoms which he had often from irritable bowel. He did not take advice and get tested for COVID-19 until around 10 days of being ill. He did not go to the hospital until his oxygen was in the 70s. COVID-19 in some patients elicit an immune response that we call a “cytokine storm”. In other words, our own immune system becomes our enemy and causes damage to tissues like the lungs. Once a person is in this “cytokine storm” the only real treat is dexamethasone and supportive care. I do believe that if my father had gotten tested early and had monoclonal antibodies, he would be here today. I also believe that if he had had the COVID-19 vaccine, he would still be alive. He was a man of faith and did not fear COVID-19, but COVID-19 ended up taking his life. To my Christian brothers and sisters, I urge you to pray about the vaccine and weather it is right for you. Fear is not our prophet and this kind of fear does not come from God. God is not the author of confusion. John 10:10 states clearly that it is the enemy who comes to steal, kill and destroy, but Jesus came to give us life more abundantly. Fear brings with it torment. James 3:17 tells us: But the wisdom from above is first of all pure (undefiled); then it is peace-loving, courteous (considerate, gentle). [It is willing to] yield to reason, full of compassion and good fruits; it is wholehearted and straightforward, impartial and unfeigned (free from doubts, wavering, and insincerity). Let peace be your guide and let’s honor each other.

My point is this: COVID-19 is real disease and early diagnosis and treatment is key. If you choose not to vaccinate, then please get tested early and protect your family, friends and neighbors by quarantining yourself. Also seek the advice of a medical professional about getting the monoclonal antibodies or the use of ivermectin. If you are 65 years old or older with or without medical issues, consider getting the COVID-19 vaccine. First and foremost, pray, asking God to lead you in the way that is best for you. We, believers in Christ, should be lead by the Spirit not by fear. The fruit of the spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness, self-control. Let’s seek the Wisdom from above and not partner with a spirit of fear.

Increase your Tregs!

What are Tregs you might be asking? Tregs are regulatory T cells that help reduce inflammation in the body by releasing anti-inflammatory cytokines like IL-10 and transforming growth factor beta. Tregs help maintain the balance of our immune system, keeping it from over-acting to various stimuli. Peripheral Tregs are specialized cell that are located in our small and large intestines. It is believed that dysregulation of Tregs may lead to autoimmune disease. Our immune and emotional systems mirror each other and are active and ever changing. Studies have revealed an increase in emotional disorders in people with autoimmune diseases. The reverse is true, an increase in immune disorders have been seen in people with emotional disorders.

The health of our immune system is closely linked to our emotional health. The good news is that both our immune and emotional system have the ability to change and adjust according to external factors and living conditions. This means that with the right support these system can improve. We know from studies that a healthier diet and stable emotions improve both system. We also know that stopping unhealthy habits like smoking and drinking alcohol can benefit the both of these systems. In other words, improving our emotional health will help reduce inflammation in our body. Below is a chart from https://www.affectiveimmunology.com/ showing how our emotions affect our immune system.

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Moods impact the immune, nervous and endocrine systems and vise versa. The gut microbiome also impacts the immune, nervous, and endocrine systems and vice versa. The best way to support Tregs is through good nutrition and emotional health. A good diet supports healthy gut bacteria where as our Standard American Diet does not. Foods like wheat, dairy, and corn are food based opioids or exorphins which increase food additions.

Our emotional well-being is another very import piece to health that is often over-looked. I was not surprised that traumatic stress can cause c-reactive protein or CRP to be elevated as much as 20 years later. CRP is a protein that can be measured in the blood and is an indicator of inflammation in the body. I see the effects of traumatic stress in my practice daily.

So how do we increase our Tregs to reduce inflammation? Improving our gut and emotional health is a good place to start. A low inflammatory diet, such as the Mediterranean diet, reduces inflammation and helps restore healthy gut bacteria. I also recommend taking a probiotic and learning about foods we call pre-biotics. Pre-biotic foods included walnuts, asparagus, bananas, legumes, onion and garlic. Fermented foods like kombucha, Kimchi, and sauerkraut are also pre-biotic foods that promote healthy gut bacteria. High-fiber foods, such as fruits, veggies, legumes and whole grains, encourage the production of short-chain fatty acids which improve gut health and reduce inflammation. Vitamin D3 and Vitamin A are also important to gut health. Vitamin D is important in the lining of the gut and increases Treg activity promoting a healthy immune system. Studies have also shown that men and women who take vitamin D have less risk of colon cancer. Vitamin D is also recommended for prophylaxis against COVID-19 along with Vitamin C, zinc, and Quercetin. Niacin (B3) is another important vitamin that is found in lean meats like fish, beef, chicken, and turkey.  Many legumesnuts, and seeds provide a source of niacin.

Emotional health is a very deep subject and there is no way to really address it fully here. Life throws us curve balls sometimes that can leave us with emotional wounds. People with Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder show a decrease in regulatory T cell activity, which may explain why they are more susceptible to infections and autoimmune diseases. Furthermore, childhood trauma, like abuse and neglect, have been linked to physical and mental health issues in adults. Childhood trauma has also been linked to chronic illness, premature death , and aging. You can read more on this subject in Neuroscience News at: https://neurosciencenews.com/child-trauma-adult-mental-health-18318/

Emotional healing is an important key to physical health. In other word, emotional healing leads to a healthier body. We have all experienced negative emotions and their negative affects. These physical manifestations include chest tightness, stomach upset, head aches, fatigue, muscle pain, and diarrhea just to name a few. Interestingly, medical studies have shown that exercise, meditation, and singing improve emotional and physical health. Meditation increases IL-10 an anti-inflammatory cytokine and decreases inflammatory cytokines IL-6, IL-8, and TNF alpha. Music therapy, active singing and passive listening, increases anti-inflammatory cytokine IL-4 and IL-10 and decreases cortisol levels. Exercise also decreases cortisol and inflammatory cytokine IL-6 and TNF alpha. Cortisol is released from the adrenal glands during stress. Prolonged stress can raise cortisol levels promoting weight gain and suppressing the immune system making us more susceptible to illness and chronic disease. High cortisol levels decrease DHEA. DHEA is an endogenous steroid produced by the adrenal glands and is important in the synthesis of hormones. DHEA is also important in immune health.

Meditation and singing (prayer and worship) is God’s design for physical and mental health. I am reminded of the story of Paul and Silas in the prison. They were chained in prison, but as they prayed and sang hymns to God, an earthquake shook the foundation of the jail and everyone’s door was open and their chains fell off. Prayer and worship opens the door to communion with the Spirit of Jesus and breaks the chains that hold us down. We are a three part being- body, soul, and spirit. Our spirit is the eternal part of us, and I believe it longs to be at rest or at peace. This rest or peace is found in Christ.

Proverb 14:30 a calm and undisturbed mind and heart are the life and health of the body, but envy, jealousy, and wrath are like rottenness of the bones.

The bones are where our immune system and blood cells are made, but in scripture, bones are also are a metaphor for our inner being. Our inner thought life and condition of our heart (emotions) is vital to living a healthy full life. Unhealthy emotions can hurt us physically and mentally. The good news is that Jesus came to heal the broken hearted and to set the captives free (Isaiah 61:1).

The desire of us all is to be loved. God is love and there is no darkness in Him. He is nothing but love. He is the creator of the universe who created us in His image in love. It was love that drew Jesus to the cross. God Himself was in Christ reconciling the world to Himself:

It was God [personally present] in Christ, reconciling and restoring the world to favor with Himself, not counting up and holding against [men] their trespasses [but cancelling them], and committing to us the message of reconciliation (of the restoration to favor). 2 Corinthians 5:19

God is not trying to take us out of this world but is wanting to reveal to us our true identity in Him, in Christ. Jesus has told us to come to Him and He will give us rest. He said join with Him and learn from Him for He is gentle and humble in heart, and we will find rest for our souls. Are you weary and burdened today? Is your inner being in turmoil? Are you sick emotionally and physically? If so, their is one who can give you rest and peace-Jesus.

Discerning the Lord’s Body

What does discerning the Lord’s body actually mean? As I ponders this thought, several things come to my mind. Before discussing my thoughts, let’s review the story in 1 Corinthians. In 1 Corinthians 11, Paul tells us that many believers are weak and sickly and many have fallen into the sleep of death for not discerning the Lord’s body. Paul expressed concern about how the believers in Christ were coming together to share a meal. It seems that cliques (divisions and factions) had sprung up between them. Some were eating and drinking and getting drunk while others had nothing. There was an economic divide and the wealthy were not considering those who had nothing. Paul states that this careless and unworthy participation is the reason many were weak, chronically ill, and some are dying.

Now I know this is a deep subject but bare with me. My heart here is to not bring any condemnation but to remind us the power revealed in the breaking of the bread and the drinking of the cup of the Lord. Let’s review the revelation that Paul gave to us:

 For I received from the Lord Himself that which I passed on to you [it was given to me personally], that the Lord Jesus on the night when He was treacherously delivered up and while His betrayal was in progress took bread, And when He had given thanks, He broke [it] and said, Take, eat. This is My body, which is broken for you. Do this to call Me [affectionately] to remembrance. Similarly when supper was ended, He took the cup also, saying, This cup is the new covenant [ratified and established] in My blood. Do this, as often as you drink [it], to call Me [affectionately] to remembrance. For every time you eat this bread and drink this cup, you are representing and signifying and proclaiming the fact of the Lord’s death until He comes [again]. 1 Corinthians 11:23-26

I believe the Lord’s body can represent three concepts: Christ physical body, His body the church, and each individual believer. Christ’s body was torn, battered, and bruised for our transgression so that “by His stripes we can be healed”(Isaiah 53:5). Remembering this event, honoring His death, and recognizing His shed blood, forever paid the price for our sins re-establishing us as sons and daughters. This gift of righteousness is for all who will believe no matter the person age, gender, economic status, or color of their skin. His free gift of righteousness is even for the murderer, sex offender, outcast of society, disabled, addicted, or demon possessed. And yes, His free gift of righteousness is for the Hindu, the Muslim, the New Ager, the Wiccan, and the Buddhist. His love, revealed in His death and resurrection, is for ALL.

Discerning His body rightly, will bring health to the body (church, individual believer). Maybe we are sick and weak, because we have not learn to honor the Christ in ourselves and in others. Today, we see the same cliques (division and fractions) in our nation and in the church as Paul describes in 1 Corinthians 11. Love is the greatest healing force in the world. Loving our neighbor as ourselves is one key to healing our nation and each other. There is healing in the body and blood of Jesus: physically, emotionally, and corporately. We can’t truly love others until we understand the love shown for us at the cross. We must first understand how loved we are by the Father, and that He Himself was in Christ, reconciling the world to Himself. Let’s us remember the price Jesus paid for our healing by remembering His death and resurrection through the breaking of the bread and the drinking of the cup. True, complete healing, starts at the feet of Jesus. Let Him make you whole. His peace he will give you. Shalom is a fascinating word. I will leave you with the definition. Peace be with you!

Shalom is a Hebrew word meaning peace, harmony, wholeness, completeness, prosperity, welfare and tranquility.

Inner Beauty: A Spirit at Rest and Health to the Body

But let it be the inward adorning and beauty of the hidden person of the heart, with the incorruptible and unfading charm of a gentle and peaceful spirit, which [is not anxious or wrought up, but] is very precious in the sight of God. 1 Peter 3:4

So often, we spend more time and energy on how we look on the outside, instead of paying attention to our inner beauty. More and more scientific studies are linking our emotional health, and inner thought life, to physical health. Stress, unhealthy diet, and unhealthy emotions can definitely age us faster.

In a book called the Telomere Effect, two researcher confirmed that, stress and unhealthy diet, accelerated cell division and cell death. Telomeres (noncoding DNA) are caps on the ends of our chromosomes that keep our genetic material from unraveling. Telomeres shorten with each cell division and determine how quickly our cells age and die. Old cells are called senescent cells. Senescent cells are tired and worn out. Senescent cells produce inflammatory substances that can increase pain and make us more susceptible to chronic illness. Telomeres do not follow a pre-programed genetic code, but are listening to us. In other words, telomeres respond to internal and external stimuli. If we are stressed and worried, eating an unhealthy diet, and not exercising, our telomeres divide faster causing our cells to get age faster. The converse is true, if we are at peace, eating a healthy diet, and exercising, our telomere length is longer and our cells live longer.

“The foods you eat, your response to emotional challenges, the amount of exercise you get, whether you were exposed to childhood stress, and even the level of trust and safety in your neighborhood-all of these factors and more appear to influence your telomeres and can prevent pre-mature aging at the cellular level. In short, one of the keys to a long healthspan is simply doing our part to foster healthy cell renewal.” The Telomere Effect, pg 7.

Telomerase is an enzyme that replenishes the telomeres by restoring the DNA lost during cell division. The telomerase renews the telomeres. So to sum things up, longer telomeres and more telomerase slow the cellular aging process ,whereas less telomerase speeds up the cellular aging. Studies have shown that the more stressed you are, the shorter your telomere length, and lower your telomerase level. Through the work of Dr. Blackburn and Dr. Epel, we have learned that we can have an impact on changing the length of our telomeres by our life experiences, and how we respond to those experiences.

Inner peace and joy are just as key to a healthy life as reducing stress, eating a healthy diet, and exercising. There is nothing wrong with trying to look our best, but paying attention to our inner beauty will bring true health and happiness. We are living in very stressful times. Many are struggling with their health physically and mentally. Many factors are involved in being healthy in mind, body and spirit, and yes they are connected.

Beloved, I pray that you may prosper in every way and [that your body] may keep well, even as [I know] your soul keeps well and prospers. 3John 1:2

The song that has been on my heart all week is the song by Cody Carnes-Run to the Father. The Creator of the Universe knows what we need. He is a good Father and nothing but good. He is love and there is no darkness in Him. He created us and loves us perfectly. Learning and believing that God loved me, began my journey of healing in mind, body, and spirit. His love has been shed abroad in my heart through the Holy Spirit (Romans 5:5). His love is like no other. He is not angry but is standing with arms wide open to welcome us into His presence. It is in His presence, that we can experience true love and acceptance, and healing for our body and soul. Run to the Father, and ask Him about your health. Ask Him to show you His love for you. Call out to Him and he will answer you and show you great and mighty things, fenced in and hidden, which you do not know (do not distinguish and recognize, have knowledge of and understand). Jeremiah 33:3

I will leave you with a few scripture to meditate on today, as well as the YouTube video of the song, Run to the Father. In the days to come, I will be writing more about gut health, and it’s affects on our physical and mental health. Be blessed! You are greatly loved.

Do not fret or have any anxiety about anything, but in every circumstance and in everything, by prayer and petition (definite requests), with thanksgiving, continue to make your wants known to God. Philippians 4:6

In the multitude of my [anxious] thoughts within me, Your comforts cheer and delight my soul! Psalms 94:19

For Such A Time as This!

And in the days of these [final ten] kings shall the God of heaven set up a kingdom which shall never be destroyed, nor shall its sovereignty be left to another people; but it shall break and crush and consume all these kingdoms and it shall stand forever. Daniel 2

This morning (October 13th) in my prayer time, I felt a nudge from the Holy Spirit to go to chapter 2 of the book of Daniel. I have been asking Abba to reveal to me the deep and secret things, for He knows what is in the darkness and the light dwells with Him (Daniel 2:20-22). I believe this is what He said:

I AM establishing a kingdom within each believer (Luke 17:21) that can not be shaken or destroyed. A time is coming of great upheaval and grace. The evil one is plotting more destruction, and there are those who will partner with him, but I have a greater army and the victory is mine, says the Lord.”

Great is My Glory among the nations who seek Me and My ways. I AM looking for a people, who will love Me and follow Me without hypocrisy. You (all my believers) are among those who I AM establishing as My pioneers to a new era, for such a time as this, for such a time as this!

I asked the Lord, “What is this upheaval”? The Spirit of the Lord said, “Strife, unprecedented strife among the people and this nation, but I will resolve it all in My people. They will arise and shine in this new era. I AM preparing my army. My people, who will not turn back or be afraid, but will shine in the darkness in this day and this hour. Be not afraid of the days ahead, for I have already won the battle for you and My people. My people are blessed and prosperous, a people stable and fixed, strong in mind and spirit.

Strong in Mind and Spirit: Taming the “Fight or Flight” Response

“Our research shows that the nervous system is in constant control of the development of immune cells, which are required for fighting cancers and infections,” Nevin and Srivastava tell Inverse in a joint email. “Key parts of the immune system are not able to develop normally in the absence of signals from the nervous system; indeed, they develop abnormally. These abnormal immune cells are quite deleterious for fighting cancer and potentially, infections.” https://www.inverse.com/mind-body/nervous-system-fight-or-flight-cancer-immunity

The “fight or flight” response is our bodies response to threatening experiences and prepares our body to respond to the threat, but if this response never subsides, then it can have adverse affects on our immune system. I felt this would be a good time to revisit how stress and fear can negatively affect our immune system.

The natural bodily response to fear or stress is called the Fight or flight response.  The brain receives information regarding stimuli (the threat) from the eyes and ears alerting the amygdala. When the amygdala interprets the message as a threat it sends a distress signal to the hypothalamus. This activates the autonomic nervous system which controls heart rate, pupil dilation, blood pressure, breathing, and vessel dilation or constriction. The Autonomic Nervous system is composed of two parts: parasympathetic and sympathetic nervous systems. The Sympathetic Nervous System elicits the Fight or Flight response. Adrenaline is released increasing blood flow to the muscles and increasing the heart rate preparing the body to make a quick exist. Adrenaline also triggers the release of glucose and fat increasing energy. As the adrenaline begins to subside, the hypothalamus-pituitary-adrenal is then activated. Hormones are released that stimulate the release of cortisol from the adrenal glands. Cortisol will continue to be released as long as the brain continues to perceive something as a threat. Cortisol will go down when the perceived threat is over. The parasympathetic nervous system will then kick in causing relaxation and calm.

Studies have shown that chronic levels of stress continue to activate the release of cortisol. Overtime, cortisol suppresses the immune system increasing our risk of illness. Cortisol also promotes weight gain. Increase levels of adrenaline also can damage arteries and increase blood pressure increasing our risk of heart disease and stroke.

“Scientists know chronic, long-term stress can negatively influence immunity by increasing inflammation and decreasing levels of white blood cells called lymphocytes. It’s also been shown that heightened sympathetic nervous system activity due to stress can impair effective cancer immunity” (https://www.inverse.com/mind-body/nervous-system-fight-or-flight-cancer-immunity).

In this Inverse article, researchers took mice implanted with cancer, and manipulated their sympathetic nervous system, disrupting the production of norepinephrine. This disruption interfered with an important signal. Without this signal, myeloid-derived suppressor cells could not mature. These immature cells accumulated, which suppressed the immune system, and promoted tumor growth. Researchers concluded:

“We show that a steady but low-level sympathetic nervous signal is required to drive the maturation of immune cells capable of fighting tumors, and potentially infections,” Nevin and Srivastava explain.

These researchers hope to develop drugs that will help cancer patients in the future. The key, I want to make here, is that our sympathetic nervous system is important to the normal production of immune cells. Immune cells help us fight cancer and infections. Low level activity is the key, not a constant “Fight or Flight” response.

So how can we tame our sympathetic nervous system? How can we help our sympathetic nervous system remain activate at low levels and not be over activated to the point of physical illness? I believe the answer in found in Christ, in His Presence.

Fear and stress activate the “Fight or Flight” response, so peace and joy are the antidotes. Two keys to taming the sympathetic nervous system are found in Proverb 17:22:

A happy heart is good medicine and a cheerful mind works healing but a broken spirit dries up the bones.

Our mind is connected to our immune system through small vessels. Fearful and negative thoughts release chemicals that can have a negative affect on our health. Choosing to think faith based thoughts and choosing joy over despair, brings life to our body and soul.

My peace came, when I understood and choose, to believe that I was loved and cared for by my Heavenly Father. Understanding His perfect love, drove out fear (1 John 4:18). Anxiety is restlessness and torment. Trying to protect myself, my family, and my patients was exhausting. I feared retribution from God, believing I had to performed rightly in order to be loved and protected by God-Abba. I have since learned that God loved me before I was born, and all I have to do is submit to His care, and believe that His love surrounds me like a shield. The process began with the renewing of my mind. I committed myself to reading and hearing the word, worship, and prayer. This is what Psalms 91 calls the “secret place” or alone time with the Father. In the “secret place”, Abba began to show me that He was able to protect and to heal. My healing began with first believing that God loved me, would not leave me, and that He desired to have an intimate relationship me. I made the decision to seek Him with all my heart, to know Him, and His ways. It has brought me peace, joy, and prosperity. I realized I could not protect or save myself, and I needed assurance that can only be found in Christ.

 For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this age, against spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenly places. Ephesians 6:12

Recently, I saw on the news a drone video clip of a surfer. The water was a beautiful aqua blue and very calm. All of a sudden, a shark came out of no where towards the surfer. The shark was inches from attacking the surfer, but suddenly, it turned away diving back down into the ocean. This scene, was to me, a prophetic picture of the protection of Christ. In this world, there are unseen dangers, but He has promised protection and care for us who dwell in His safety.

The days ahead may have ups and downs, but if we are rooted in LOVE, we can prosper even in the storms of life.

Isaiah 26:3 You will guard him and keep him in perfect and constant peace whose mind [both its inclination and its character] is stayed on You, because he commits himself to You, leans on You, and hopes confidently in You.

I believe the answer to a healthy immune system is a mind and heart focused on Christ. Where and what are you focused on today?

Focusing your heart and mind on Christ, will bring peace and hope. Christ said, “if you have seen me you have seen the Father” (John 14:9). Jesus came to heal and to restore us back to himself. God disarmed the principalities and powers that rage against us and made a bold display and public example of them, in triumphing over them in Him and in it the cross (Colossians 2:15). A mind focused on Jesus, and the Kingdom of God, will strengthen the spirit and bring health to the body. Remember John’s prayer:

Beloved, I pray that you may prosper in every way and [that your body] may keep well, even as [I know] your soul keeps well and prospers (3 John 1:2).

Being strong in mind and spirit, will helps us navigate the days ahead. Let’s be like these heads of household:

And these were the heads of their fathers’ houses: Epher, Ishi, Eliel, Azriel, Jeremiah, Hodaviah, and Jahdiel, mighty men of strength of mind and spirit [enabling them to encounter danger with firmness and personal bravery], famous men, and heads of the houses of their fathers. 1 Chronicles 5:24

You are loved. You have always been loved. The Father is calling you back to His perfect love, the love Adam and Eve had in the garden. They were made in Love to experience that Love in it’s fullness. We have that same access. Run to Him, because He will run to you and shower you with kisses (Luke 15:20)!

The Healing Balm and Salve: Perfect Love

Healthy love has positive effects on the body. Feelings of love have been shown to reduce heart disease, lower blood pressure , improve the immune system, help us recover faster from illness, and increase longevity. When in love, our brain increases dopamine. Dopamine is a neurotransmitter involved in memory, attention, reward, and regulating movements of the body. Also oxytocin, a hormone, is release from the pituitary promoting feelings of attachment, trust, and safety. Oxytocin has been termed the “cuddle hormone” because it is released when we bond socially or snuggle close to another. When we love something or someone, we think about that object or person often. These thoughts are generated in the anterior cingulate of the brain which is also thought to be involved in obsessive compulsive thoughts. We may even become jealous if something or someone interferes with our relationship to that person or object. Jealousy implies a strong commitment. The bible states that God is jealous for us and His thought towards us are more numerous than the sand.

How precious and weighty also are Your thoughts to me, O God! How vast is the sum of them! If I could count them, they would be more in number than the sand. Psalm 139: 17-18

For you shall worship no other god; for the Lord, Whose name is Jealous, is a jealous (impassioned) God Exodus 34:14

Impassioned means filled with passion or zeal or showing great warmth or intensity of feeling (Merriam Webster). In other words, God is filled with passion for us and His thoughts of love are obsessive towards us. His jealous love comes against the things that interfere with His Perfect Love. He wants to fill us with His love until it overflows, spilling out on others and the world around us.

There is no fear in Love. His love is perfect and it turns fear out the door and removes all since of terror! God is Love and He made us in Love, in His image. He is not mad at the human race but longing to re-establish us back to union with Him and His perfect love that provides healing and protection. Why are so many sick, stressed, and fearful? I think it’s because we have forgotten the Perfect Love of the Father shown to us through His son, the Great Physician. Think on this scripture:

Is there no balm in Gilead? Is there no physician there? Why then is not the health of the daughter of my people restored? [Because Zion no longer enjoyed the presence of the Great Physician!] Jeremiah 8:22

The balm of Gilead in scripture was used as merchandise, as a gift, but also as an medicament or substance used for healing. The Hebrew word for balm of Gilead is tsori or tseri. The Hebrew root word is z-r-h which means to run blood or bleed with connection to an Arabic word that means an odoriferous tree or gum. Immediately, I saw this as a spiritual reference to Christ’s shed blood upon the cross. His shed blood and broken body paid the price for our healing. He is the perfect sacrifice and the healing balm that heals our wounds. By His stripes, we are healed and restored to our original intent: a people created in the image of God, created to rule and reign with Him.

I looked up the difference between balm and salve. A balm is thicker and more wax like providing more skin protection. It sits on top of the skin helping to prevent skin damage. A salve is softer allowing it to penetrate the skin more deeply, making it better for the healing of wounds. As I studied these words in scripture (Amplified bible), I found that balm was mentioned in the Old Testament and slave was mentioned in the New Testament in the Book of Revelation:

Therefore I counsel you to purchase from Me gold refined and tested by fire, that you may be [truly] wealthy, and white clothes to clothe you and to keep the shame of your nudity from being seen, and salve to put on your eyes, that you may see. Revelation 3:18

Often times in the bible, eyes represent the heart. In Ephesians, Paul prayed that we would be given the spirit of wisdom and revelation and that the eyes of our heart would be flooded with light (Ephesian 1:17-19).

In the Old Testament, the Holy Spirit came upon the people and provided protection, but in the New Testament the Holy Spirit (the Spirit of Jesus) now dwells in us and around us. Jesus is the balm that provides protection for our physical body well as our spirit. He also is the salve that goes deep into our wounds providing healing for our body and spirit. Even bigger than our individual body, Jesus is the healing balm and the salve for His Body, the church and for this world.

This brings me back to meditation and Proverbs 17:22- A happy heart is good medicine and a cheerful mind works healing but a broken spirit dries up the bones. What is your heart and mind focused on? The world is a chaotic place always changing but there is a Love that doesn’t change and will never turn you away. The mind and heart that is full of fear and worry actually increases our risk of physical illness by suppressing our immune system. We learned earlier that a mind in love improves the immune system. Proverbs 4:20-23 provides more insight:

My son, attend to my words; consent and submit to my sayings. Let them not depart from your sight; keep them in the center of your heart. For they are life to those who find them, healing and health to all their flesh. Keep and guard your heart with all vigilance and above all that you guard, for out of it flow the springs of life.

Meditating on the Love of God and attending to His Words are life and healing to our flesh. When we choose to turn our spiritual eyes toward Jesus (by meditating on the Word of God and God’s Love) our hearts and minds are flooded with Light, the Light of Perfect Love.

Protection and healing are found in the Love of Christ. It’s time to dwell with Him in the secret place. It is in this place that Love will fill you, heal you, and propel you to live the abundant life Jesus died to give you! Let Psalm 91:1-3 get deep into you spirit.

He who dwells in the secret place of the Most High shall remain stable and fixed under the shadow of the Almighty [Whose power no foe can withstand]. I will say of the Lord, He is my Refuge and my Fortress, my God; on Him I lean and rely, and in Him I [confidently] trust! For [then] He will deliver you from the snare of the fowler and from the deadly pestilence.

The Lord is longing to be Gracious to You!

And therefore the Lord [earnestly] waits [expecting, looking, and longing] to be gracious to you; and therefore He lifts Himself up, that He may have mercy on you and show loving-kindness to you. For the Lord is a God of justice. Blessed (happy, fortunate, to be envied) are all those who [earnestly] wait for Him, who expect and look and long for Him [for His victory, His favor, His love, His peace, His joy, and His matchless, unbroken companionship]! Isaiah 30:18

This verse is fascinating to me. It says the Lord lifts Himself up that He may have mercy on us and show loving kindness to us. Literally, the Lord did this at the cross. Think on this. Jesus said that if you have seen me you have seen the Father (John 14:9). We are also told in Colossians that the whole Godhead was in Christ and now lives in us.

For in Him the whole fullness of Deity (the Godhead) continues to dwell in bodily form [giving complete expression of the divine nature]. And you are in Him, made full and having come to fullness of life [in Christ you too are filled with the Godhead—Father, Son and Holy Spirit—and reach full spiritual stature]. And He is the Head of all rule and authority [of every angelic principality and power].

Wow! God Himself lifted Himself up on the cross. Love was lifted on the cross reconciling the world to Himself. We ,who believe, are now filled with the Godhead–Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. We are one with Him in complete union, in complete love. This is the love of the Father that cast out all fear. Are you expecting His love, His peace, His joy, His favor, His matchless, unbroken companionship today?

The heart of the Father, the Godhead, is union or intimate relationship. His heart longs for His children, and not just the children who believe, but for all of His children to come to the knowledge of His love. He is longing for us to come back to intimate union with Him. He is wooing us back to union with Him. We are the object of His love, the apple of His eye. Longing means a yearning desire. He yearns for us! Yield today to His love! He will not turn you away no matter what you have done. You don’t have to get yourself right before going to Him. It is His love that will transform you! I will leave you with these scriptures to ponder.

As you know not what is the way of the wind, or how the spirit comes to the bones in the womb of a pregnant woman, even so you know not the work of God, Who does all. Ecclesiastes 11:5

Before I formed you in the womb I knew [and] approved of you [as My chosen instrument], and before you were born I separated and set you apart, consecrating you; [and] I appointed you as a prophet to the nations. Jeremiah 1:5

For He foreordained us (destined us, planned in love for us) to be adopted (revealed) as His own children through Jesus Christ, in accordance with the purpose of His will [because it pleased Him and was His kind intent]—[So that we might be] to the praise and the commendation of His glorious grace (favor and mercy), which He so freely bestowed on us in the Beloved. Ephesians 1:5-6

Stress and Diet is the Greatest Threat to the Immune System

Stress: a state of mental or emotional strain or tension resulting from adverse or very demanding circumstances.

Stress is a part of life. There is healthy stress that prompts us daily to live productive lives, and there is unhealthy stress that can lead to physical illness. Stressful situations will surely come, but it is how we handle the stress that is key to living a healthy life. Currently, the world is experiencing the Sars-Cov-2 pandemic. It has caused chaos and fear across the globe. Sadly, the most affected by the virus are the immunocompromised and the elderly.

Obesity is an immunocompromised state and it seems those who are obese have not fared well during the pandemic: (https://www.news-medical.net/news/20200820/Research-finds-link-between-COVID-19-mortality-and-morbid-obesity.aspx). Obesity causes chronic inflammation and inflammation can suppress our immune system. Obesity is a growing problem in the nation and the world, affecting 650 million people per a World Health Organization report from 2016. The same report said that there are 1.9 billion people, 18 and older, who are overweight. Sadly, 38 million children under 5 years of age were either overweight or obese the study reported. Obesity is a major risk factor for chronic illness and it has a negative impact on the immune system. Chronic inflammation is most likely at the root:

“Unlike acute inflammation, which benefits health by promoting healing and recovery, chronic inflammation is characterized by persistent increases in inflammatory proteins all throughout the body and can damage health and promote several major diseases,” says George Slavich, associate professor of psychiatry and biobehavioral sciences at UCLA, referring to small proteins called cytokines that the immune system releases at the site of an injury to promote recovery.

Individuals often learn they have chronic inflammation when they develop an autoimmune disease, such as Crohn’s disease, lupus, or Type 1 diabetes, since inflammation is a hallmark of autoimmune disorders. But experts believe chronic inflammation also plays a role in developing heart disease, cancer, kidney disease, nonalcoholic fatty liver disease, neurodegenerative disorders, cognitive decline and mental health illnesses, such as depression, post-traumatic stress disorder and schizophrenia. (//www.washinghealthtonnic-inflammation-is-long-lasting-insidious-dangerous-and-you-may-not-even-know-you-have-it/2020/01/post.com//chro17/93ab0fa2-316f-11ea-9313-6cba89b1b9fb_story.html)

In other words, chronic inflammation causes the immune system to stay active, slowly wearing out the immune cells, making them less able to fight when hit with a virus or other pathogens. Our body is so amazing. God has surely wonderfully and fearfully made us. When our body is attacked by a virus or bacterial infection, our immune system goes to battle to fight off the offending agent. If our immune system is not healthy, then the fight may be harder or worse yet, be lost.

I have noticed in my practice, that many of my patients are gaining weight during this stressful time. I believe stress and inactivity are to blame. The underlying stressor is fear- Fear of getting sick, fear of one of our family members getting sick, and fear of the future. Other stressors include caring for the sick and the stress of losing loved ones to the virus and other tragedies. These times are very stressful and trying on our emotions and our physical bodies.

Shalom is an amazing Hebrew word. It means peace, wholeness, harmony, tranquility, completeness, prosperity and welfare. Studies are showing that our internal state, or the state of our inner self, is one key to health. In other words, if our inner being is not peaceful or at rest, it can lead to physical and mental illness. This is what medical science is now revealing to the world. But guess what. The bible revealed this to us long ago.

Beloved, I pray that you may prosper in every way and [that your body] may keep well, even as [I know] your soul keeps well and prospers. 3 John 2:3

As children of God, we are Kings and Priest unto Him. I was reading about Asa, the King of Judah. Asa did right in the sight of the Lord and the land had rest (no wars) for 10 years. He removed all the high places and foreign altars and tore down the idols and the symbols of the goddess Asherah. He also commanded Judah to seek the Lord, the God of their fathers, to inquire of and for Him, and to crave Him as their vital need and to obey the law and the commandments. Asa built fortified cities because there were no wars during his reign and the Lord gave him peace. The people built and prospered during this time.

Therefore he said to Judah, Let us build these cities and surround them with walls, towers, gates, and bars. The land is still ours, because we sought the Lord our God; we have sought Him (yearning for Him will all our desire) and He has given us rest and peace on every side. So they built and prospered. 2 Chronicles 14:7

The people and the cities prospered when they made it their goal to seek the Lord as their vital need and to follow His commandments. The key to health, prosperity, wholeness, completeness, and tranquillity is found in resting in the arms of Jesus, the King of Peace, seeking His guidance, and following his directions.

You will show me the path of life; in Your presence is fullness of joy, at Your right hand there are pleasures forevermore. Psalms 16:11

What I am about to disclose will probably be offensive to some, but food to many has become an idol. Food has become the comfort we seek to ease our anxiety instead of seeking the Lord for our emotional and physical needs. Many use food just like an alcoholic uses alcohol: to numb emotional pain and trauma. On the flip side rejecting food to the point of starvation or physical decline is just as destructive. Both reveal a deeper emotional issue.

I have been a Physician Assistant for almost 21 years. Each year, our practice is seeing more and more mental health issues. Chronic illness is also on the rise. I am not a psychiatrist, but a person who has experience emotional and physical trauma. I used food as my emotional comfort for most of my life. It was experiencing the love of God that transformed my life. The more emotionally healed I became, the less food was my choice to numb my anxiety or settle my stress. In His presence and His love, I let go of past hurts, anger, and old mindsets about myself and others. My journey has been much like the peeling of an onion, one layer at a time. I love this scripture in the book of Psalms:

Who satisfies your mouth [your necessity and desire at your personal age and situation] with good so that your youth, renewed, is like the eagle’s [strong, overcoming, soaring]! Psalms 103:5

If you have gained weight or loss weight due to this stressful season, do not spend time beating yourself up, but go to Him, go to Jesus, and allow Him to pour the healing balm, the healing oil on your wounds for he deeply cares for you:

Casting the whole of your care [all your anxieties, all your worries, all your concerns, once and for all] on Him, for He cares for you affectionately and cares about you watchfully. 1 Peter 5:7

Jeremiah ask two questions in chapter 8:2- Is there no balm in Gilead? Why then is not the health of the daughter of my people restored? The amplified bible gives the answer–because Zion no longer enjoyed the presence of the Great Physician. Jesus is the Great Physician, and he knows exactly what you need. Isaiah 61:1-3 tells us what he came to do:

The Spirit of the Lord God is upon me, because the Lord has anointed and qualified me to preach the Gospel of good tidings to the meek, the poor, and afflicted; He has sent me to bind up and heal the brokenhearted, to proclaim liberty to the [physical and spiritual] captives and the opening of the prison and of the eyes to those who are bound,To proclaim the acceptable year of the Lord [the year of His favor] and the day of vengeance of our God, to comfort all who mourn,To grant [consolation and joy] to those who mourn in Zion—to give them an ornament (a garland or diadem) of beauty instead of ashes, the oil of joy instead of mourning, the garment [expressive] of praise instead of a heavy, burdened, and failing spirit—that they may be called oaks of righteousness [lofty, strong, and magnificent, distinguished for uprightness, justice, and right standing with God], the planting of the Lord, that He may be glorified.

Invite Him to come and show you the path to life. He died to give you life more abundantly. It’s time for us to seek Him as our vital need and follow Him in His instruction, so that we can live healthy, peaceful, and prosperous lives even in the midst of any storm. It is possible. God has given us everything we need for life. He has made our bodies so wonderfully, and when cared for it properly, no weapon formed against it will prosper! Now may the Lord of peace Himself give you peace at all times and in every way. The Lord be with all of you (2 Thess 3:16).

Shalom!