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Dr. Sears' Blog

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Written By: Dr. Barry Sears Creator of the Zone Diet

Written by Dr. Barry Sears
on December 28, 2021

With the incoming of the new vaccines for Covid-19, this is an excellent time to ask how a vaccine really works. Vaccines are composed of either inactivated virus particles (like the flu vaccine) or components of the virus (like the new Covid-19 vaccines). Neither is very useful; you also add compounds that stimulate an inflammatory response to the vaccine. These compounds are called adjuvants. In the old days, they used mercury compounds. Today they often use aluminum compounds or bacterial fragments. These adjuvants are needed to activate the body's immune cells at the injection site to engulf the vaccine. They are also the reason that you get an inflammatory response at the injection site. Once ingested by a specialized immune cell known as an antigen-presenting cell (APC), the vaccine components are digested into small fragments that make their way to the surface of the specialized antigen-presenting cell. Think of these vaccine fragments as a billboard to the immune system.

And Then I’m Making Antibodies?

You are still not making any antibodies at this point. In fact, you have a long way to go.

  • Circulating naïve B- and T- cells (meaning they are newly synthesized immune cells from the bone marrow that have never been exposed to the antigen fragments) bind to the APC and thus be "trained" to recognize that new antigen.
  • If they are B cells, they can produce antibodies to that antigen.
  • If they are T-cells, they can recognize an infected cell and destroy it.

Unfortunately, all this training takes time. Time is the one thing you don't have since viruses can replicate fast and infect nearby cells in a chain reaction.

Furthermore, most of these newly trained B-cells and T-cells die within a matter of days. But there is always a tiny percentage of these trained immune cells that become so-called memory B and T-cells that remain alive and circulate throughout the body.

Now, when the real virus invades, the surviving memory immune cells can readily proliferate and are immediately able to attack the virus. Two separate mechanisms are involved in this coordinated immune response on the real virus:

  • The first is by making antibodies (made by the trained memory B-cells) that bind to the virus targeting it for destruction before it enters a target cell to replicate to generate new viral particles to infect nearby cells.
  • If that first approach isn't sufficient (meaning the virus gets into the cell), you still have a back-up immune weapon; the destruction of the infected cell by the trained memory T-cells to prevent further viral replication by an infected cell.

But Don’t Vaccines Create Antibodies?

So, vaccines don't create antibodies; they just give the body a chance to learn to recognize the antigen and develop a small group of long-lived trained memory B-cells and T-cells that can respond very quickly as the real virus enters the body. This delay is why you take a vaccine well in advance of a potential viral infection. It's also why you buy insurance before you need it.

Now, reality enters the picture. For the APC to train the naïve B- and T-cells, it needs to be activated by AMPK. For the trained B- and T-cells to stay alive until they are needed requires AMPK to change their metabolism to extend their lifetime. Bottom line, if you aren't making enough AMPK, no vaccine will work very well.

So, How Do I Make AMPK In My Body?

No drug can maintain constant AMPK activation, but the Zone Pro-Resolution Nutrition program can. Lack of sufficient AMPK activation means if you take any vaccine without following a structured Zone Pro-Resolution program, the vaccine will not be as effective as it potentially could be in the long-term. This fact means that you will continue to need booster shots (maybe every year) to try to keep making enough memory B- and T-cells to give you the protection you thought you are getting with a single vaccination.

This brief background explains why aging and obesity are the two best predictors for those who will require hospitalization with Covid-19. As you age, your immune system becomes depressed, so that vaccines don't work nearly as well. The more excess body fat you carry, the more you depress AMPK activity, and the vaccine doesn't work nearly as well.

There is another benefit to following the Zone Pro-Nutrition program. It also prevents a "cytokine storm." These cytokine storms are the primary cause of the hospitalization and mortality of those who have Covid-19.

What’s the Magic Bullet?

For most Americans, vaccines will be merely another tool, not a magic bullet, to control the symptoms of Covid-19. If you want a real magic bullet, you must make your immune system work at peak efficiency to prevent the symptoms associated with Covid-19. Fortunately, you have all the necessary ingredients for your immediate use. The Zone diet, omega-3 fatty acids, and polyphenols work together as a system to maintain high levels of AMPK activity. No “Operation Warp Speed” is required to start using these new "drugs" that will make the immune system work at peak capacity at any age.

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