disease

When Death Means Life…Part I

Recently, former Speaker of the United States House of Representatives, John Boehner, described Ted Cruz, a presidential aspirant then as “Lucifer in the flesh.” Many people were appalled and outraged by the unsavory description and vehemently criticized the former speaker for such a severe censure of his colleague. Why the uproar? Lucifer was a powerful angel who degenerated into Satan and became associated with ultimate evil; a heartless source of all that pertains to wickedness and an enemy of all that is good.  To label as someone Lucifer is to imply that they are synonymous with evil.

When Jesus told His “disciples that He must go to Jerusalem and suffer many things from the elders and chief priests and scribes, and be killed, and on the third day be raised (Matt 16: 21 ESV), one of His closest disciples, Peter, drew Him aside and rebuked Him and said “Far be it from You, Lord; this shall never happen to You!” (Matthew 16:22).

Peter had been Jesus’ disciple for slightly over 3 years now. He had left the fishing business he had built over the years to follow the itinerant Rabbi from Nazareth. He had recalibrated his dreams, goals and career, and had wrapped them around Jesus’ ministry. This was a radical ministry that was undergirded by unprecedented signs and wonders including the epic miracle in which Jesus had raised back to life a dead individual who had already started decomposing! Disease fled from Jesus and so did death. Congenital deformities such as blindness were corrected instantly. He had even walked on water and had multiplied a few loaves of bread and a couple of fish to feed thousands of people. Word had it that Jesus had even had a one-on-one encounter with Satan and had prevailed. He had also turned water into wine at a feast of one of His relatives. Jesus fascinated and attracted the general public, the outcasts, and the marginalized unlike the church leaders who had cloistered themselves into a cocoon of feigned piety. As the Scottish Theologian, James Stewart once remarked, Jesus “was so austere that evil spirits and demons cried out in terror at his coming, yet he was so genial and winsome and approachable that the children loved to play with him… No one was half so compassionate to sinners, yet no one ever spoke such red hot scorching words about sin…. He was a servant of all, washing the disciples’ feet, yet masterfully He strode into the temple, and the hucksters and moneychangers fell over one another to get away from the mad rush and the fire they saw blazing in His eyes.” Peter was glad to be part of this revolutionary Rabbi’s ministry; the power of being close to power gave life meaning and purpose-even a new identity. An insignificant individual formerly immersed in the mundane activities and rigors of a village fisherman’s life had become a significant component of a thriving and apparently divinely-endorsed ministry.

And now Jesus was talking about His demise!!! What a crashing blow to Peter and his family that would be! Just how would he start picking up the shards of a shattered life and build his image again? How would he find his place again and be re-established in the community as a credible business man? He had invested so much in this ministry and now it was slipping through his fingers…. Hope was dissipating before his very eyes. What about his life??? He had sacrificed all the components of his life: energy, time, talents, and money for the ministry. What would happen to the little band of disciples that Jesus had recruited and trained? No, Jesus must not talk about voluntary death. It would be too costly for Peter and the other disciples.

Jesus did not only hear Peter’s rebuke, He recognized the words Peter used, too. He had heard them before, in the grueling wilderness temptation. They were once again threatening the very core of His ministry; the very purpose of His Incarnation. It was another Mephistophelean ploy aimed at severing the jugular vein of His earthly mission, and He needed to respond immediately and decisively with a stern rebuke to silence His foe forever not only for Peter’s sake but for the sake of the rest of the disciples and the rest of humanity. True, Peter had spoken out of concern, love, and reverence for his Master. But he had also spoken out of ignorance and presumption. Misdirected love and care can be disastrous. Peter did not understand the implication of his words. This was a re-enactment of Eden where Satan had succeeded through a medium to move Adam and Eve to disobey God, and plunge humanity into an earthly nightmare of sin, disease and death.  Now he desired to separate the entire creation from God forever by derailing God’s plan to reconcile the world unto Himself through Christ’s sacrifice (2 Corinthians 5:19). Jesus’ sacrifice was the catalyst event that would defang Satan forever and restore mankind to their rightful place with God. This is what was at stake. Everything hung in the balance and Jesus could not afford to pander to the Enemy’s suggestions. Not now, not ever.

…to be continued…

Your Body’s Microbe Community-An Ecosystem of Its Own Kind

At the heels of the Human Genome Project came the National Institutes of Health Common Fund Human Microbiome Project aimed at encouraging and generating research resources for characterization of the human microbiota and the part they play in and on the bodies of both healthy and diseased individuals.
In a discipline called metagenomics, scientists are sequencing and analyzing the DNA of complex and uncultured microbial samples from different microbial communities. The human microbiome is a collection of microbes that inhabit the human body. Each human body is teeming with variant microbes belonging to a variety of species. They are so numerous that they outnumber the cells of the entire body by 10 to 1. This means that there are 10 microbes to one human cell. These microbes have about 100 times more genes than our genome!!! Your stomach and mine have each 100 billion bacteria for every one gram of their matter.1 The human body hosts all these microbes and many more, forming something of a microbial ecosystem. An assortment of microbes resides in the oral cavity, alimentary canal, nose, skin etc…
Scientists working with the Human Microbiome Project (HMP) are analyzing microbial genetic information in order to understand the role microbes play in etiology of disease. Each person’s microbiome is unique to them; as unique as their finger prints. Each individual can host different microbial communities on and in different sites of their body.
Scientists claim that each microbial community can be used to predict the body’s susceptibility to diseases, and other characteristics. For instance, by studying the microbiome of an individual, scientists can tell whether the person was breastfed as a child, and even their level of education. By sequencing and studying microbiomes from individuals with different diseases, they are able to establish associations between human microbiomes and disease. This is critical for identifying new diagnostic and treatment regimens.2 However, not all microbes are disease causing. Some microbes do a lot for us such as digesting food, and synthesizing vitamins.
Microbes from different sites of the body can also be predictive of other communities. This means that by examining microbes from a given site of the body, say, the mouth, we can tell what kind of community is in the person’s alimentary canal, too. This helps in the study of risk of diseases in people, and can lead to discovery of efficacious personalized therapies.
As for taking antibiotics, one has to be very careful as this can be similar to applying herbicides to the ecosystem. Sometimes, this can destabilize the system to our detriment. It can also become breeding ground for super-bugs.

Sources

Heather Kathryn Ross (2014). Is the Forest of Bacteria Inside You Your Most Precious Resource? Accessed from http://www.healthline.com/health/microbiome-discover-your-trillions-of-bacteria

Vincent B. Young, Robert A. Britton, & Thomas M. Schmidt (2008). The Human Microbiome and
Infectious Diseases: Beyond Koch. Accessed from Interdisciplinary Perspectives on Infectious Diseases
Volume, Article ID 296873, doi:10.1155/2008/296873

Epigenetics-We are What We Eat!!

Nutrition has always played a cardinal role in shaping our general health. Public health and other health professionals have consistently emphasized the need for good dietary habits to promote health and prevention of disease. Therefore, it is not surprising to learn that researchers in these same fields postulate that epigenetic mechanisms can mediate between nutrient inputs and long-term phenotypic changes in human beings. These phenotypic changes also seem to account for ensuing biological changes associated with aging. Nutrients from the various foods that we consume can have a modifying influence on epigenetic events such as obesity, diabetes and cancer. Consequently, scientists have concluded that there is at least an indirect epigenetic link between what we eat and our health. If this is the case, then it is also safe to postulate that epigenetics can also alter longevity. Studies in animal models as well as human studies seem to support this hypothesis, according to claims by Niculescu and Lupu (2011), in their article, Nutritional Influence on Epigenetics and Effects on Longevity. Although nutrition is not the only determinant for longevity, it plays a significant role and we can only ignore its effects to our detriment. Interactions between genes and nutrients can regulate metabolic processes that can expedite pathogenesis or development of such diseases as obesity, which is a risk factor for type 2 diabetes and other health conditions. Data supporting the knowledge of the effect of nutrients on epigenetic regulation of gene expression in organisms have increased over the years. For instance, fetal programming of epigenetic patterns have been found to be influenced by maternal nutritional choices. An interesting case involves use of synthetic folate supplementation. Synthetic folic acid use has traditionally been recommended by health care providers to mothers during conception for prevention of birth defects of the neural tube, orofacial clefts, and congenital heart defects. In the United States and Canada folic acid fortification of food has been introduced and promoted, widely. But synthetic folic acid supplementation during perinatal development has been found to be associated with epigenetic changes in the IGF2 gene of the baby. These changes can affect intrauterine programming, which is a deviation from patterns of normal development. This deviation increases the risk for development of diseases throughout the child’s life (Steegers-Theunissen, et al. 2009). Research findings claim that periconceptional folic acid use is associated with an increased risk of obstructive urinary tract defects, insulin resistance and colon cancer (Roberfroid et al., 2008). The altered epigenetic regulation of growth processes due to use of periconceptional folic acid has been linked to onset of myriad chronic diseases later in the life of the child. More research is ongoing to explore and assess the effects of a broader range of various nutrients on epigenetic modifications of various genes.

God gave ancient Israel specific dietary guidelines for spiritual purification, health-promotion and longevity. It is fascinating that, even in our day, those seeking healthy diets usually choose to subsist on kosher products, which are foods usually prepared according to biblical guidelines. Obviously, there is a need to revisit these eating rules afresh as expounded in Scripture. Maybe our need for synthetic supplements that alter epigenetic regulation will be reduced.

http://youtu.be/9TOcHIb8N5k

Sickle Cell Disease-A Blessing in Disguise???

Malaria parasites cause significant morbidity and mortality in their human hosts in areas where it is endemic. The disease’s virulence is dependent largely on the rate of transmission of the parasites. Several factors that contribute significantly to the pathologic characteristics of severe malaria include cytoadherence, which is the adhesion of late-stage-infected erythrocytes to various receptors such as the intercellular adhesion molecule–1 on the vascular endothelium, chondroitin sulfate A in the placenta, and complement receptor (CR)–1 on red blood cells (RBCs; also called “rosetting”). All this leads to microvascular obstructions in various organs.
During the process of intracellular infection of the erythrocytes, the malaria parasites stay in vacuoles. From the vacuoles they export many proteins in the host cell. These protein secretions play a significant role in the level of the virulence of the Plasmodium parasite so that in some individuals malaria episodes progress to severe life-threatening levels. However, amazingly, there are some cases in which these episodes can be self-limiting. This happens mainly because of host genetic factors such as the sickle cell gene.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the sickle cell gene is caused by a mutation in the single amino acid (valine instead of glutamate at the 6th position) in the beta chain of the hemoglobin gene. Inheriting this mutated gene from both parents can lead to sickle cell disease. Individuals who have this disease tend to have shorter life expectancy. However, those people who are carriers for the sickle cell disease (with one sickle gene and one normal hemoglobin gene, also known as sickle cell trait) tend to have a protective advantage against malaria disease. This is the reason why the frequencies of sickle cell carriers are high in malaria-endemic areas.
Morbidity and mortality entered the world through sin. But God’s grace is amazing!! He even turns adversarial events and situations into building blocks that mitigate the impact of disease among His children.

Learn more about God’s power over disease from the book, The Perfect Prescription, by Reigh Simuzoshya from Amazon.com

 

 

 

Spiritual Implications of the Malady of Forgetfulness

Forgetfulness is not of God. It is an insidious condition that tends to stealthily encroach upon our mind, particularly as we age. The enemy can use forgetfulness to actualize his ploys against us. Deep sermons that touch the very core of our being are often in danger of being relegated to the dusty trails of antiquity due to failing memory. The precious memory verses we recited enthusiastically in childhood have grown obscure and almost hollow! I am speaking here not about the forgetfulness that is disease-induced, but that which is natural. This type can be prevented or mitigated by diet, natural supplements and ongoing learning and challenging the mind.
God freed ancient Israel from the iron grip of the most powerful empire of that era under Pharaoh, attended by a series of incredible miracles- the plagues that devastated the Egyptian economy and annihilated an entire generation of people (Egypt’s first born population group). They partook of the Passover- a signature ceremony of their new nationhood and spiritual separateness from the rest of the world. They crossed in the middle of a huge body of water (the Red Sea) on dry ground while Pharaoh’s army was decimated during an attempt to recapture them. Then they celebrated their total freedom on the other side of the Red Sea. But three days into the journey they had forgotten all this and complained about lack of drinking water. God gave them water to drink. Shortly afterwards they complained about their diet and selectively longed for the Egyptian dietary system. They had already forgotten about the whips that had torn their backs at the hands of their taskmasters. They had also forgotten how God had literally contended with Pharaoh’s stubbornness and brought him to his knees. Then they faced the Amalekites in war and God delivered them. They buckle in rebellion at the prospect of possessing the Promised Land after the report from some ten spies reveals that the land is occupied by giants, forgetting how God had delivered them in the past! Inevitably, a series of judgments ensue. Finally, after 40 years of wondering in the wilderness, they are standing on the brink of the Promised Land, yet again- a complete new generation, in the plains of Moab. Moses sternly cautions them in Deuteronomy 4:9 to “Only take care and keep your soul diligently, lest you forget the things that your eyes have seen, and lest they depart from your heart all the days of your life.” But this is precisely what happens later. An unhealthy spiritual see-saw pattern develops in their relationship with God: forgetting the Lord their God and being harassed and defeated by enemy nations; remembering Him again and appealing to His mercy; being delivered yet again; forgetting once more, being defeated; remembering…until the Assyrian and Babylonian deportations.

After the Babylonian captivity God is made manifest in the flesh in Christ Jesus to urge all believers “This do in remembrance of Me…” But the tendency to forget continues amid the echoes of this ardent appeal. The consequences are negative spiritual, emotional and physical health outcomes that extend to our day. Only by remembering the counsel from our Creator can we be made whole again.

Love Your Way to Longevity

The cosmetics and dietary industries incessantly bombard us with messages about how to look younger and enjoy a vibrant life and live a longer by procuring and utilizing their products. Marketers of novel dietary trends and latest fitness fads are constantly waving their products in front of us, urging us to take up the challenge to buy them and live longer. In our desperate attempt to lengthen our life expectancy some of us have succumbed to the pressure only to be told a few years down the road that some of those products were detrimental to health. However, researchers have recently stumbled upon a much safer and less expensive secret for longevity. It is called love. Science claims that being involved in a social relationship is a predictor of 50% longevity. However, most of the benefits of this virtue are dependent on our attitude toward those relationships. Most people are concerned about finding someone to love them. But this research posits that we draw the greatest benefits not in receiving love but in giving love. For example, volunteering to do good for others out of love without expecting any form of acknowledgment or reward was found to be positively associated with longevity in a research study by Konrath of University of Michigan. A later study by Hoge et. al (2013) demonstrated that generating thoughts of love toward others and thoughts of benevolence on regular basis reduces cellular aging (telomere length) considerably. Disseminating love in a manner that enriches the target of that love is linked to mental well-being and physical health. This can even speed up our recovery from illness because of its ability to buffer us from the ravages of stress, and to promote in us a positive outlook to life. Another benefit of loving others is that it strengthens our immune system. The genes that are impacted by our social relationships and love have been found to code for the functions of the immune system and inflammation.

The Bible instructs us to “thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself: I am the Lord,” (Leviticus 19:18).

Jesus reiterated this instruction when He said “The second [commandment] is this, ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ There is no other commandment greater than these,” (Mark 12:31).

Loving others is a win-win situation.

Read more about this in the book, The Perfect Prescription, by Reigh Simuzoshya on Amazon.com

Waste Management:: The Bible’s Perfect Prescription for Health

You shall have a place outside the camp and you shall go out to it; and you shall have a paddle with you; and when you sit down outside, you shall dig a hole with it, and turn back and cover up your excrement,” (Deuteronomy 23:12-13).

Waste management has become a global problem of significant proportions. The United States alone produces approximately 210 million tons of municipal solid garbage, annually. A safe and healthy waste management system is a public health imperative and a responsibility of all mankind in all societies. Hazardous waste in the form of liquids, solids, sludges as well as gases can wreak havoc to general health and well-being. Hazardous waste can also take the form of discarded pesticides and cleaning materials. An inadequate waste management system can undermine health in numerous ways. For example, we are told that the unsanitary and deplorably filthy conditions of 17th century cities became breeding grounds for flies and other vectors that transmit pathogens to human beings. Because there was no comprehensive sanitation system in place, excrement, urine and garbage lay exposed all over in streets. In the 19th century, cholera and other infectious diseases ravaged Europe simultaneously for the same reason. In the 21st century, in some countries intestinal nematode infections such as ascariasis, trichuriasis, and hookworm transmitted through soil contaminated by fecal matter are endemic due to lack of proper waste management systems. With the re-emergence of dangerously infectious diseases, medical waste has become hazardous. The World Health Organization is frantically trying to urge governments in various nations to design and implement comprehensive waste management systems. Still, a lot of people are dying from preventable diseases whose etiology stems from poor waste management.

A close examination of biblical laws concerning cleanliness, washing, and other forms of hygiene practices reveal to us that they were not merely ceremonial rituals. These laws were given to Israel to protect people from infectious diseases, contagious diseases, plagues and chronic diseases. Over three millennia ago, God gave Israel one of the fundamental principles for safeguarding their health in the biblical text quoted above. This was a comprehensive law that, from a public health perspective, addressed hygiene, environmental pollution and sanitation. If properly applied, universally, this law could contribute significantly to a global reduction in the burden of infectious diseases. This law laid the groundwork for modern sanitary laws and waste management. Learn more from the book, The Perfect Prescription by Reigh Simuzoshya from Amazon.com