Viruses are actually an important part of your immune system!
Ongoing research into the human micro biome (the ‘critters’ that live in and on us) is proving to be as significant to our understanding of health as it was to science when we discovered the Earth was round and not flat. More than 90 per cent of the DNA in the body is not ours, but actually belongs to a wide variety of microbes, which should demonstrate how intricately tied our health is to the microorganisms that live inside of us. And, while the word “virus” may unpleasantly bring to mind last season’s flu symptoms, there is far more to this story. A recent study published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences found that many of these viruses (phages) actually serve as immune helpers—not enemies—and form an important part of our body’s defence system. Mucosal surfaces (for example, nasal passages and digestive system) are a main entry point for pathogens and the principal sites of defence against infection. Wherever bacteria reside, we will also find viruses, because viruses depend on bacteria for their survival. Viruses specialize in breaking open and killing certain kinds of bacteria, hijacking them in order to replicate. Most Viruses have hollow heads, which store their DNA and RNA, and tunnel tails designed for binding to the surface of their bacterial targets. According to phages.org, once a virus has attached itself to a bacterium:
“The viral DNA is then injected through the tail into the host cell, where it directs the production of progeny phages, often over a hundred in half an hour. These ‘young’ phages burst from the host cell (killing it) and infect more bacteria.”
The researchers found evidence that these viruses (phages) partner with animals and humans to stave off bacterial infections and control the composition of friendly microbes in our bodies. The researchers speculate that some viruses might protect bacteria that benefit their hosts (us), while destroying those that cause harm. What is to be done? Choose whole foods your grandmother served and not those we currently find lining super market aisles filled with manufactured/processed foods. By eliminating inflammation causing foods and adding essential nutrients from fresh unprocessed food you are going to provide an environment conducive to the health of the ‘good’ guys over the ‘bad’ and we both benefit!
Bacteriophage adhering to mucus provide a non–host-derived immunity PNAS 2013 ; published ahead of print May 20, 2013, doi:10.1073/pnas.1305923110