Without Viruses, We Might Not Exist!
by Dr. Mitchell Rasmussen, DC, CFMP, FRC-ms
Our current events (did you know there’s currently a global pandemic going on?) should serve to highlight something we have been teaching our community since the start of The Facility. [Spoiler alert: We need a foundation of a healthy lifestyle to build resilience to overcome challenges we face in our modern world].
We will NEVER live in a world free of viruses. And I’m not sure we’d want to.
Viruses are ancient; but they certainly weren’t the first form of life. Some researchers have come to believe that viruses and bacteria actually share a common ancestor. This ancestor, some 3.4 billion years ago (shortly after life first emerged on this planet), was a fully-functioning, self-replicating cell. Things got interesting from here. Bacteria evolved toward MORE complexity; while viruses have slowly shed genes they “didn’t need”. This leaves us today with something that can’t even reproduce on its own. (Think; They need a HOST, aka YOU.)
Around 1.5 billion years ago, roughly 70 (66, to be exact) protein folds specific to viruses evolved. These protein changes were related to the outer coat of a virus. The outer coat is a common piece of machinery used by a virus in order to penetrate HOST cells.
I don’t think it is fully accurate for us to think of viruses as “agents of destruction”. Many smart scientists even posit that, if not for viruses, we as a human species wouldn’t exist. It is speculated that at least 100 million years ago, a primitive mammal got a viral infection which uploaded a gene that helped the mammalian placenta evolve! [DOI: 10.1038/35001608]
Many smart scientists even posit that, if not for viruses, we as a human species wouldn’t exist.
How? Well: There is a protein that viruses use to fuse cells together. This allows them to move from one host cell to the next. It is called ‘Syncytin’. Syncytin, in mammals, is what helps fuse the placenta to the uterus. Why does this matter? Now the developing mammalian fetus can get nutrients from its mother. Yeah, important, I know.
Ok, What about the HOST? Viruses are only ‘alive’ in the sense that, when a virus infects a cell, the cell plus the virus become a complete living system. When we think of the circumstances that allow a virus to infect a cell, reproduce undetected, and then cause a massive, overwhelming infection; we consider the health of the HOST. The state of your immune system. Do you have enough immune resilience so that your body can mount a proper response in order to survive the viral infection?
Real Talk: Viruses are NOT going away. We can’t hide inside for the rest of our lives; shielding ourselves from an “invisible enemy”. We should take this time we have to solidify our lifestyles, to create resilience within our bodies, and to nourish and support our amazing biology.
Functional Medicine is rooted in daily lifestyle change that builds a healthy foundation. This foundation of good nutrition, an active mind & body, and proper sleep & recovery allows us to face challenges that inevitably come up in our modern world. Be it a virus, a stressor, or a physical challenge: we can weather it with minimal impact.
The time to build and solidify that foundation is now. (And you aren't meant to do it alone). We look at your unique biology (through functional lab testing) and support your habits (through nutritional guidance, mindfulness training, and physical medicine) to help you achieve a resilient state.
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We've all got the time to face it. Need more direction? Reach out! We'll get you on the right path.
Mi, S., Lee, X., Li, X.et al. Syncytin is a captive retroviral envelope protein involved in human placental morphogenesis .Nature 403,785–789 (2000). https://doi.org/10.1038/35001608