The Immune System- How It Works
The human body is made of an amazing protection mechanism that defends against the intrusion of millions of bacteria, microbes, viruses, toxins and parasites. Through a series of steps, known as the immune response, the immune system attacks organisms and substances that enter our body and cause disease. The immune system is a network of special cells, proteins, tissues and organs to ward off these invaders every day. The special cells are called leukocytes or white blood cells that seek out and destroy the organisms or substances that cause disease. Leukocytes are produced or stored in many locations throughout the body, such as in the thymus, spleen and bone marrow. They are known as the lymphoid organs. There are also groups of lymphoid tissue throughout the body known as lymph nodes that are home to leukocytes. Leukocytes circulate throughout the body between organs and nodes by means of the lymphatic vessels or through the blood vessels in order to monitor the body for germs or substances that may cause problems. The two types of leukocytes are phagocytes, cells that chew up the invading organisms and the lymphocytes, cells that help the body recognize, remember and help destroy the invaders. Neutrophil is the most common type of phagocytes which primarily fights bacteria. There are two types of lymphocytes: B lymphocytes and T lymphocytes. B lymphocytes seek out the invaders and notify the defenders, while the T cells destroy them. Lymphocytes begin in the bone marrow and either remains there to mature into B cells or leave to go to the thymus gland where they mature into T cells.
Antigens are the foreign invaders that sneak into the body. These cells work together to detect them and respond. The B cell responds by producing an antibody against it. These antibodies remain in the system in the case that the body is attacked by the same antigen they can protect the body. This prevents a person from getting sick from the same illness twice. ("The Immune System" http://kidshealth.org)
This is just like the way immunizations work. When a person is immunized to prevent a certain disease, it introduces the body to the antigen in order to prevent the body from becoming sick. The body responds by creating the antibodies for protection. T cells then destroy the antigens that have been tagged by the antibodies. Another role of the antibody is to neutralize the toxins produced by various organisms. They can also activate another set of proteins, known as the complement to kill bacteria, viruses or infected cells.
Humans have three types of immunity, innate, adaptive and passive. Innate immunity is what we are born with and provides a general layer of protection. It includes exterior barriers to the body such as mucous membranes and the skin, the body's first line of defense in preventing disease from entering the body. Adaptive immunity is built up over time, involving lymphocytes and immunizations. Passive immunity is passed from another source, but is short term. As people get older, their bodies' immune system has learned to recognize and attack viruses. Although amazing, the immune system is not problem free. The immune system is distinguished by two key hallmarks, namely specificity and memory. In the case of GMO, memory has never been formed.("The Immune System" http://kidshealth)
Some disorders of the immune system include immunodeficiency disorders, auto immune disorders, allergic disorders and cancers of the immune system. Immunodeficiency occurs when a part of the immune system is not properly working. You can be born with an immunodeficiency or acquire it through infections or produced by drugs. Auto immune disorders happen when the immune system mistakenly attacks the body's healthy organs and tissues as if they were invaders. When the immune system over-reacts to exposure to antigens in the environment, an allergic disorder occurs. Cancers of the immune system contradict autoimmune disorders and are present when the cells of the immune system are weakened by parasites or microbes in the body's organs that have been undetected by the defense system. ("The Immune System" http://kidshealth)
The Immune System- How It Responds to GMOs
Plenty of evidence shows that the Bt-toxin produced in genetically modified Bt crops like corn and cotton plants is toxic to humans and mammals and triggers immune system responses. For example, a government sponsored research study in Italy, fed mice Monsanto's Bt corn and various responses were triggered, including an elevation in IgE and IgG antibodies, which are typically associated with allergies and infections. This study also showed an increase in cytokines, which are associated with allergic and inflammatory responses. Interleukins were also elevated. Elevated interleukin- IL-6 is associated with rheumatoid arthritis, inflammatory bowel disease, osteoporosis, multiple sclerosis, multiple myeloma and prostate cancer. Interleukin IL- 13 is associated with allergies, allergic rhinitis, and Lou Gehrig's disease. Interleukin MIP -1B is connected to colitis and autoimmune disease, while IL-12p70 also plays a part in the onset of inflammatory bowel disease and multiple sclerosis. (Jones 2013)
"Because genetically engineered crops are infected with a virally activated foreign gene complex it is seen by the immune system as foreign protein material or antigen. The result is a defensive immune response." (Jones 2013) In addition to an increased exposure to Roundup, a glycosophate pesticide, other diseases like Parkinson's, infertility and various cancers are triggered. In another study, rats fed another of Monsanto's Bt corn called MON 863, experienced higher numbers of basophils, lymphocytes, and white blood cells. These indicate allergies, infections, toxins, liver and kidney toxicity and cancer (Jones 2013.)
Another serious reaction involves autoimmune diseases, when the immune system becomes confused causing it to not only attack the invaders, but attack parts of the healthy tissue as well. Because it takes the human body thousands of years to adapt to environmental stresses and in the past hundred years many new toxins have been added to our environment, it enables the immune system to differentiate between our own body and the invaders. This rise in toxins within our environment therefore makes it more likely to make mistakes than in years past where the environment was in a much more "natural" state. Director of the Autoimmune Disease Research Center at Johns Hopkins, describes autoimmunity and our immune system's attempt to adapt to the many unrecognizable agents as "An unsuccessful adaptation, but it's our body's way of trying to fight back" (Jones 2013.) According to the National Institute of Health, more than 23.5 million Americans suffer from one of 24 autoimmune diseases. When considering all 80-100 autoimmune diseases, however the number increases to over 50 million or twenty percent of the population. Once a person is diagnosed with an autoimmune disease that person is more likely to develop another. Although genetics can account for some autoimmune conditions, the rise in exposure to environmental toxins and chemicals including PCBs, dioxins, insecticides and mercury is also a key factor. The increasing incidence of "Leaky Gut," where the intestinal tract lining becomes damaged through repeated exposure to toxins, processed food, genetically modified food, stress and medication is yet another hindrance to the immune system. For people whose immune systems are compromised, in some part due from ingesting genetically modified foods, a non GMO free diet compromises that person's immune system tenfold (Jones 2013.)
The Hygiene Hypothesis – What Are We Exposing Our Body To?
Although staying germ free can prevent the spread of sickness, a cleaner lifestyle may be responsible for an increase in allergies among children. "It's called the hygiene hypothesis," says Marc McMorris, M.D., a pediatric allergist at the University of Michigan Health System. "We've developed a cleanlier lifestyle, and our bodies no longer need to fight germs as much as they did in the past. As a result, the immune system has shifted away from fighting infection to developing more allergic tendencies."
("The Hygiene Hypothesis: Are Cleaner Lifestyles Causing More Allergies for Kids?" www.sciencedaily.com) This is because the human body's immune system is built to fight bacterial and viral infections as well as parasites. The problem however is that the body also recognizes foreign substances as "immune stimulators" otherwise known as allergens. Thanks to medical advances such as vaccines and antibiotics, the immune system no longer needs to fight off life threatening diseases like polio and the measles. Even common bacterial infections that used to burden the system are held at bay with the use of antibiotics. It doesn't stop there though. Not only are we living a cleaner personal lifestyle supported by medical advances even our homes have changed the function of the immune system. Energy saving, air –tight doors and windows have increased the concentration on indoor allergens. Change in the family dynamic also contributes to the hygiene hypothesis. Over the last two or three decades, there has been a decrease in family size which lessons children's exposure to germs and infections. Families with three or more children tend to have less allergies because the larger the family, the more exposure to bacteria and viruses.
"The natural immune system does not have as much to do as it did 50 years ago because we've increased our efforts to protect our children from dirt and germs," says McMorris. Allergies are on the rise because our society has changed the way we live. As a result, people with allergies are having children with others who have allergies, which in turn creates a natural increase in the prevalence of allergies in our society." ("The Hygiene Hypothesis: Are Cleaner Lifestyles Causing More Allergies for Kids?" www.sciencedaily.com )
The Digestive System- How It Works
The job of the digestive system is to break down the food that we eat into their smallest parts so that they can be used as energy for existing cells as well as build new ones. The nutrients in the food we eat such as carbohydrates, vitamins, proteins fats, and minerals provide the body's cell with the energy it needs for growth, work and repair. There are four stages of the digestive process that takes about one to two days to complete. The first step begins with ingestion when the food or drink enters the mouth, followed by digestion which is the physical grinding and chemical breakdown of the food from large molecules into smaller molecules as it moves through the digestive tract. The third step is absorption, which is when the molecules passing through the tract are passed into the bloodstream and carried throughout the body. This process involves many organs working together, known as the gastrointestinal tract, made up of the mouth, throat, stomach, small and large intestines. Additionally, the liver, pancreas and gallbladder assist in the digestion by providing digestive juices and enzymes in the small intestines through tubes. The liver then stores the nutrients after they have been absorbed. Even our nerves and blood play an important role in the digestive system (Hoffmann 2009.)
The important role of the organs in the digestive system begins in the mouth after food has been ingested where the teeth are designed to crush, grind and mash the food prior to swallowing it, the tongue and saliva also assist in the process. After having been chewed, it is swallowed and passes via a tube known as the esophagus that connects the mouth to the stomach. The esophagus is lined with a mucosal layer that contains glands that produce juices to help digest the food and protect the organ walls from damage. Once the food reaches the stomach, it has several jobs to perform. The stomach also produces juices that digests food and kills potentially harmful bacteria. The stomach that is shaped like the letter J is expandable. It also is lined with millions of glands that produce an acidic gastric juice containing hydrochloric acid that activates certain digestive enzymes and can kill bacteria. Additionally, the stomach is lined with three layers of muscle in its wall to crush and squeeze the food into a paste so that it can alter be absorbed by the small intestine. Generally the food exits the stomach in about two hours depending on the quality. Healthy choices, like fruits and vegetables take a shorter period of time that foods that contain allot of fat or have been fried. (Hoffmann 2009.)
By now the food is almost a paste or liquid substance called chime when it reaches the small intestine, where the mechanical and chemical digestion happens in order for the nutrients from the food to be readied for absorption. The small intestine produces its own intestinal fluid as well as receives digestive juices from the pancreas and liver to break down the complex food molecules even further to then allow the nutrients to be absorbed through cells and passed into the bloodstream. By the time the digestive products reach the large intestines, nearly all of the nutritionally useful products have been removed. Its role then is to absorb water and prepare the waste to be expelled from the body. (Hoffman 2009)
The Digestive System- How It Responds to GMOs
"Ever since GMOs have entered the food supply, numbers of irritable bowel syndrome, Crohn's disease, ulcerative colitis, leaky gut syndrome, constipation, and acid reflux have sharply risen. While no causal relationship has been found, one argument claims that a likely culprit is the Bt toxin (Bacillus thuringiensis
(Do GMOs Cause Digestive Disorders?" http://stellametsovas.com.) This bacteria is registered as a pesticide with the EPA, yet is the added to food crops, like corn, so that insects who eat the crop will die from the toxin. When humans consume the plants, the Bt toxin enters their digestive tract causing digestive illnesses like leaky gut syndrome, an inflammation of the digestive tract. Further research suggests that the pesticide, Roundup in GM crops contain xenoestrogens, that are linked to "carcinogenic transformation through the disruptions of human
You are basically bombarding your digestive system with undesirable amounts of estrogen-promoting hormones" (Do GMOs Cause Digestive Disorders?" http://stellametsovas.com.)
Crop modifications can also be linked to gluten sensitivity. Celiac disease is an autoimmune disease where immunity recognizes Gluten as a foriegnsubstance. This may have started with these kind of modifications. "One possible reason may lie in the fact that genetically modified wheat is not actually wheat in its natural state. Instead, it's altered wheat that could technically be considered fake food – deeming it potentially allergenic and irritating to the digestive tract. Also, genetically modified wheat may have more gluten than regular wheat, aggravating gluten sensitivity even more" (Do GMOs Cause Digestive Disorders?" http://stellametsovas.com.)
The Respiratory System- How It Works
The lungs are part of a group of organs and tissues that work together to help you breathe. The main job of the respiratory system is to move fresh air into the body and get waste gases out. The human respiratory system is made of many different tissues and organs that help us to breathe. Besides the lungs, this system also includes the nose, mouth, pharynx, larynx, trachea, bronchi alveoli and diaphragm. In order to breathe the body must take air in through the mouth or the nose. Most of the respiratory system is lined with mucous membranes that secrete a clear fluid called mucous. Mucous helps trap particles such as dust, bacteria and viruses to prevent them from reaching the lungs. Air coming in through the mouth doesn't get filtered as it does when you breathe through the nose. This can then lead to respiratory infections or lung damage if bacteria, viruses or foreign particle matter is inhaled. The nose and mouth are connected to a passageway known as the pharynx, commonly referred to as the throat. The pharynx receives air through the mouth and nose to then allow the respiratory system to do its work. The pharynx then splits into two passages, the esophagus and the trachea. The esophagus takes the food to the stomach, while the trachea diverts the air from the nose and mouth to the lungs. A flap of tissue called the epiglottis covers the opening of the trachea during swallowing to prevent food from going down it. Below the pharynx lies the larynx, otherwise known as the voice box which houses the vocal chords that vibrate as air is expelled from the lungs. The trachea or windpipe is the major airway for the body, made of hard cartilage that sits below the larynx. Also lined with mucous membranes to help trap foreign particles from entering the body, and expel then from the body through coughing or sneezing (Lew 2010.)
The air that comes into the body through the lungs contains oxygen and other gases. The oxygen is moved into the bloodstream and then filtered throughout the body. Oxygen cells are exchanged for carbon dioxide which is then returned to the lungs via the bloodstream and expelled through the exhaling. Additional roles to the breathing process include bringing air to the appropriate body temperature, protecting the body from harmful substances and the sense of smell ("The Respiratory System" www.lung.org)
The Respiratory System- How It Responds to GMOs
Many different things can affect breathing. If respiratory organs are damaged or improperly developed respiratory illness will occur. Illness or disease however is the most common cause for breathing problems. One of the more common illnesses known as asthma, a chronic inflammation of the airways causes those who suffer from it to become very sensitive and react strongly to irritants like dust, pollen and smoke. Different people respond differently to such triggers also linked to mold, certain foods, or respiratory infections. Family history and allergies are closely related to the onset of asthma. Another possible link is genetically modified crops and the dust that affects crop producers as well as the food itself. A common factor in crop production for many places in rural America is dust. A study done in northwest Iowa, sampled dust from inside hog buildings and corn fields during harvest times. These samples were taken from fields where Liberty, an herbicide that contains glucosophate , was commonly used. The samples were sent to Midwest labs for a mold count and an identification test (Dust Study, Is there More to the story About GMOs? http://farmandranchfreedom.org.)
"The results are as follows: Hog dust Liberty Link Corn Dust Roundup Ready corn dust Total mold count 14,000 cfu/g 7,200,000 cfu/5,600,000 cfu/g; Aspergillus 10,000 cfu/g 7,000,000 cfu/g 15,600,000 cfu/g and Penicillium 3,000 cfu/g 200,000 cfu/g ." (Dust Study, Is there More to the story About GMOs? http://farmandranchfreedom.org.)
After having received the results concerns around the quality of the air being breathed in and around these areas called for caution. The labs strongly suggested that workers in these areas needed to wear a protective breathing apparatus, because if Aspergillus spores infect a person's lungs, there is no antibiotic that can stop the mold from spreading. This infection can result in a persistent cough, respiratory discomfort and in some cases death. One cause of this mold stems from a decrease in beneficial fungi in soil as a result of the glyphosate herbicide. This decrease in the fungi causes an increase in disease causing fungi infecting not only the environment from which the food grows but the people who later ingest it. Additional stories about people in agriculture production developing respiratory problems associated with grain dust. Some examples include, "One gentleman has a job unloading grain (soybeans and corn) at a local elevator at harvest time. Within days of beginning to unload grain in the fall he comes down with a bad head cold that lasts for more than a month. Before the widespread use of Roundup Ready corn and soybeans he did not have this problem. Another farmer shared that his brother came down with pneumonia after cleaning out his grain bin which contained Roundup Ready corn." "Dust Study, Is there More to the story About GMOs?" http://farmandranchfreedom.org
These are just a few examples of how the respiratory system reacts when organisms are genetically modified, grown and ingested. For the most part, breathing is automatic and although some problems cannot be avoided, paying attention to your diet and practicing healthy habits and preventative care can help.