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Didn't the modern miracle of vaccines eradicate the plague and pestilence our Paleolithic ancestors succumbed to? Think again...
Paleo-oriented researchers, foodies, and clinicians seek to honor a wisdom in evolution that has been forsaken in the modern food era.
The human genome is best expressed under conditions of plentiful macro and micronutrients, an absence of foodborne and manmade toxins, and an acknowledgement of our coevolution and inextricable interdependence with other animals, plants, and microbes. If we get out of our own way, and follow ancestral practices, we can hope to optimize the genetic potential of our bodies to produce a robust and sustainable state of health and vitality.
Does that mean that those with ancestral dietary aspirations are glorifying a time long gone that was in actuality riddled with pestilence and plague? Weren't people dying prematurely of diseases we have long since eradicated through the miracle of vaccination? Isn't vaccination the best way to have it all – Paleo principles plus suppression of those nasty bugs that threaten our very lives from the moment of birth? Are we cherry-picking modern epigenetic exposures – yes to a traditional diet, no to evolutionary immunity – in favor of 'high tech' medical interventions?
Why are we eating ancestrally in the first place? Isn't it to evade or undo the immune-disrupting, inflammation-generating, and infection-promoting effects of the modern grain-based diet, also featuring genetically engineered vegetable oils, synthetic additives and flavorings, grain-fed meats, and processed dairy? Our present dietary trajectory was initiated around 10,000 years ago in the transition from 2.5 million year old Paleolithic to the so-called Neolithic periods. Our Neolithic predecessors were the innovators of today's grain-based, animal breeding and milking, sedentary, city-dwelling mode of subsistence, whose glorious technological innovations (written language, science, engineering, pyrotechnology, pottery, etc.) came with an ultimately steep price: epidemic levels of so-called 'diseases of affluence,' including metabolic syndrome, heart disease, osteoarthritis, osteoporosis, and cancer.
Our radical departure from sugarless, low-starch, high-nutrient, and mostly raw foods, to cooked grains (and their secondary reiteration in grain-fed animal products) marked a transition that had profound implications, affecting not only human physiology, but the very structure of human consciousness itself. Plenty of evidence now exists that far from being an optimally healthy part of the human diet, or a so-called "staff of life," grains are like a crutch -- highly addictive, life force draining – which while capable of supporting population growth by getting bodies through the critical reproductive window in one piece, end up contributing to chronic, degenerative disorders that profoundly reduce the quality of human life.. 
The 'Paleo approach' is based on acknowledging that our body is the product of a deep metabolic pre-history – millions of years of foraging, hunting, living off the land in such a way that – nutrigenomically – the genetic infrastructure of our very cells hungers daily for the dietary compounds that had nurtured them for eons. Our genes are not expecting to see oxidized 'vegetable' oils, sugar, grains, or lectin-infused legumes.
Paleo respects this fact.
What does this intention to preserve a relationship with the natural world teach us about our immunity? Through exposure to soil, fermentation, the elements, and each other, we engaged in an epic journey of evolutionary adaptation - one marked by a countless responses to the microbial world. We birthed vaginally and breastfed to communicate what a mother's body had learned about its bacterial and viral friends and foes, and we preserved our own microbiome with respectful integrity. When we got sick, our bodies formed a memory of the experience, and brought that memory to subsequent and related encounters. The exact details of our immunologic evolution are something we, even with our modern minds, techniques, and resources, have not come close to fully elucidating.
Has vaccinology misconceived immunity?
Is it possible that vaccinology has applied a reductionist - one disease, one drug/vaccine - model to an evolutionarily adapted system with built-in complexities we have barely begun to appreciate? Is it possible that we have misapprehended immunity, or are still fundamentally learning about its most basic principles? If we are to accept that billions of years have gone into priming our physiology for interface with pathogens, as enemies, but also as commensals, then we must acknowledge that there is more to immunity than antibody response. In fact, we have only begun to understand the most fundamental processes at play within our immunity, with some researchers claiming:
- Evolutionary growth protection
Newborns are described as possessing an "anti-inflammatory phenotype" which fosters rapid growth and restructuring while relying on maternal immune factors through breast milk. Evolutionarily,
"this anti-inflammatory phenotype may be beneficial to the neonate at a time when tissue growth and remodelling events are taking place at a rapid pace... thus the inability of the neonate to respond to infection with encapsulated bacteria may be the risk the organism takes for successful development."
This is why babies produce reduced amounts of inflammatory messengers like ILI-B or TNF-alpha - nature designed them that way. Yet, the modern medical ethos to 'improve upon Nature' compels the addition of toxic inflammatory-provoking adjuvants to vaccines. Perhaps, in our hubris, we are yanking, unpredictably, on a complex web of psychoneuroimmunological and endocrinological effects.
- Beyond antibodies
When it comes to vaccinology, increasing antibody titers is a primary measurable outcome often referred to as vaccine "efficacy," and one used to suggest real world "effectiveness" of the product, even when antibody-antigen affinity remains unproven or unprovable. The leap in logic between, often unpredictable antibody formation, on one hand, and protection from illness, on the other, is undermined by:
- evidence of exposure without illness
- antibody production with subsequent infection
- lack of antibody production with illness.
We only have a keyhole view of what comprises a lasting immune response, and recently the very notion that antibody-mediated responses to infection are necessary to ward off infection has been called into question.
If the native immunologic posture emphasizes cell-mediated or TH1 immunity, what happens when we use pharmaceutical products to hyperstimulate the TH2 arm of the immune system, selectively? Could we be inducing associated allergy, asthma, atopy, demyelinating disorders, lupus, and other autoimmune disorders? What about innate immunity? Is it important? According to a study published in Vaccine titled, "Consequence or coincidence?: The occurrence, pathogenesis and significance of autoimmune manifestations after viral vaccines":
"New research is required to establish the mechanistic foundations of the different acquired immune systems, which in our mind have been overlooked because, in part, of the inadequacy of current deﬁnitions and the prevailing paradigm...It should be emphasized that acquired immunity alone is not enough; the immune system must include both innately genomic and somatically acquired mechanisms that function in concert."
● Herd Immunity
"The body defends most efficiently as a result of ongoing re-exposure," explains Dr. Suzanne Humphries, MD, in her brilliant essay, "Herd Immunity: Flawed Science and Mass Vaccination Failures." The assumption that a 95% vaccination rate will altogether eradicate infectious challenges, and that one can supplant the vital role of natural re-exposure with vaccine boosters, with the goal of full control or complete eradication, is a fairy tale without basis in science. We are made to believe that vaccine compliance and conformity is a social as well as an individual service. It's for the 'greater good.' The humble origins of this powerful meme may surprise you. In fact, it has no basis in vaccine-induced antibody production and heralds from an observation by A.W. Hedrich, in 1933, that measles outbreaks in Boston between 1900 and 1930 were suppressed when 68% of the children contracted the virus. In other words, natural infection confers immunity (as it has since time Paleolithic times and before) . The push to generate synthetic immunity via vaccination attempts to co-opt this phenomena - community-based interactions and immune information-tracking have been hijacked by the application of vaccines such that lasting immunity and re-stimulation of that immune response by passive exposure and maternal transfer has been sabotaged.
Normal and essentially benign childhood infections such as varicella (chickenpox) that are self-limiting and confer protection against more serious, adult-onset disease (herpes zoster/shingles) have been nearly vaccinated out of natural circulation in the community. As Dr. Goldman describes:
"Prior to the universal varicella vaccination program, 95% of adults experienced natural chickenpox (usually as school aged children)—these cases were usually benign and resulted in long term immunity. This high percentage of individuals having long term immunity has been compromised by mass vaccination of children which provides at best 70 to 90% immunity that is temporary and of unknown duration—shifting chickenpox to a more vulnerable adult population where chickenpox carries 20 times more risk of death and 15 times more risk of hospitalization compared to children. Add to this the adverse effects of both the chickenpox and shingles vaccines as well as the potential for increased risk of shingles for an estimated 30 to 50 years among adults."
Should the goal, therefore, be eradication or optimization of natural immunity?
Didn't vaccines eradicate infectious disease? Isn't that why we're living long healthy lives?
Our collective consciousness around infectious disease has been programmed with the alluringly reductionist perspective that vaccination has helped to save us from major deadly diseases, irrespective of the radical changes in sanitation and hygiene that marked the early to mid twentieth century. This line of rhetoric, of course, also ignores the fact that the ~3.4 billion year long struggle of the living cell to perfect itself into our present day organism required the development of a sophisticated immune system - one that successfully interfaced with a virtually infinite number of infectious challenges along the way, and kept us alive and well before the nanosecond old (in biological time) shift into modern medical interventions began only 100 years ago.