Health Nugget – The Body’s Defenses

Today, during what so many consider to be a health crisis beyond any other, it is good to know that we have been “fearfully and wonderfully made” (Psalm 139:14) by our God. The more we study just how our bodies were made and were intended to function, we are better able to understand those functions and how we are to take care of them.

The body, left to its own devices and given the right conditions, functions in order to survive and remain in the state of homeostasis (i.e., a state of dynamic equilibrium). In this state, the human organism maintains stability while adjusting to changing conditions. As soon as this stability becomes endangered, several built-in defense systems spring into action.


All through nature, millions of living organisms prey on others. This also applies to the human body, as it is daily exposed to attacks by germs, viruses and parasites that carry disease. Its main protector is the immune system, which has in recent times gained some recognition among the general public, mainly through advertisements offering preparations “to strengthen the immune system.” Irrespective of whether or not these work, people buy them without knowing anything about the immune system—what it consists of or where it is located—yet the subject deserves attention.

The immune system is not a single organ or a single gland; its parts are located all over the body. Several organs (e.g., the liver, the brain and the pancreas) are so important that they have their own immune mechanism—the reticuloendothelial system, which gives them extra protection.

There is also the lymphatic system, which transports excess fluid from the body tissues into the blood stream. The lymph itself is a straw-colored liquid containing cells that fight infection. The system consists of 700 nodes in a normal person, distributed throughout the body. Unlike the blood stream, circulated through the pumping action of the heart, the lymph is moved around the body by muscular action.

However, the main basic component of the system is located in the bone marrow, where the white blood corpuscles are formed. When they are released, they are not complete. Some wander to the thymus gland, where they are completed, and released as T lymphocytes; others drift to the spleen and lymphoid tissue and mature into B lymphocytes. All of them ingest germs, viruses, malignant cells or toxic substances, killing or otherwise neutralizing them.

As with all other parts of the organism, the immune system is made up of cells that need to be nourished. They require a full complement of minerals, enzymes and vitamins in their natural form, which is easily assimilated. Pills and drugs cannot cover that need; sometimes they are not absorbed at all. Here, as in the rest of the body, the need is for fresh, living, organic substances to nourish and maintain this essential life-preserving system.


Enzymes are often poorly understood by the lay person. According to one authoritative definition, they are “complex proteins that are capable of inducing chemical changes in other substances without being changed themselves.” Taber’s Cyclopedic Medical Dictionary (Philadelphia, Pennsylvania: F. A. Davis Company, 1993). Everything that happens in the body–from taking a breath in order to supply oxygen to the blood, to digesting food and then to combining digested foods with oxygen in order to produce oxygen–hundreds of such processes require enzyme activity.

The body must build its own enzymes since it cannot utilize the ones found even in raw foods or animal products. In order to produce the hundreds needed, the organ systems require specific minerals as catalysts. (Catalysts are substances that speed up a reaction without themselves being altered.)

Researchers Dixon and Webb, Malcolm Dixon and Edwin C. Webb, Enzymes (New York, New York: Academic Press, Inc., 1964), performed a detailed study as to how the body builds enzymes. They found that, in most of the enzymes they studied, the body needed potassium as a catalyst, while sodium acted as an enzyme inhibitor (i.e., a blocking substance). Since enzymes are destroyed at temperatures above 140° F (60°C), the body receives no enzymes from cooked or processed foods. If it doesn’t receive fresh living nutrients … serious difficulties will arise. This is particularly true for patients already facing major health problems such as poor digestion, poor appetite, constipation, diarrhea and painful gas. The pancreatic enzymes are not doing their job of attacking tumor tissue and the oxidizing enzymes are not producing adequate energy, to name just a few deficiencies.

The reason why enzymes, especially pancreatic ones, are able to attack and destroy tumor tissue while digesting foods is because they recognize tumor cells as “foreign,” needing to be eliminated. However, the basic function of these same enzymes is to digest proteins. Since the average diet is high in animal proteins, most of the pancreatic enzymes are used for digestion and little—if any—is available to destroy tumor tissue, allowing the latter to grow and spread.

Clearly, inadequate enzyme activity is one of the major problems with which sick people, especially cancer patients, must contend. The answer lies in providing them with toxin-free, fresh organic food. … Moreover, supplying extra doses of digestive and pancreatic enzymes is an integral part of the Gerson protocol, alongside fresh juices with their high oxygen content.


Hormones are substances found in certain glands that are released directly into the blood stream and are therefore called endocrine (i.e., ductless) glands.

The thyroid deserves special attention, as it is an important part of the immune system. Among its many other functions, it regulates body temperature, including fever. If and when the organism is invaded by germs or viruses, the immune system responds by producing excess heat, namely fever. We must remember that most germs and viruses, and even tumor tissues, do not tolerate elevated temperatures, which healthy cells can easily bear. Hence, the well-functioning thyroid helps to restore health if it is supplied with iodine, which it needs in order to manufacture its vitally important hormone–thyroxin.

These days, iodine is unfortunately in short supply. Chlorine in the water supply is able to remove it from the thyroid. Fluoride, a dangerous toxin, is even more powerful in blocking this important element. In addition, as a consequence of commercial farming methods, the soil contains too little iodine, thus producing iodine-deficient plant foods. In recognition of this, the governments of many countries have made it compulsory to add iodine to ordinary table salt on the grounds that, as the public already used a great deal of salt, everybody was likely to consume some iodine with it. High salt consumption, on the other hand, is now known to be unhealthy and is, in fact, officially discouraged, resulting in a serious shortfall of iodine even in people on a good diet. (See “Excessive Sodium is One of the Greatest Health Threats in Foods,” World Health Organization (WHO) report from October 2006 meeting in Paris, part of the implementation of the WHO’s Global Strategy on Diets, Physical Activity and Health.)

Other enzyme inhibitors include food additives such as preservatives, emulsifiers, coloring agents, artificial flavors and many other so-called food cosmetics, plus pesticides and other agricultural poisons in our food supply–the hormone system, an important part of the body’s defenses, is itself under severe attack.


In order to function well and keep its defenses strong, the body needs a large number–some 52 or so–minerals. On the Gerson Therapy, this requirement is amply fulfilled by the generous supply of fresh organic juices made from produce grown in rich soil. However, Dr. Gerson also recognized that two minerals, sodium and potassium, were mainly involved in creating mineral imbalance in the body.

The human body has become a “potassium animal,” needing some 90% potassium versus 10% sodium in its diet – the approximate percentage found in natural, fresh, organic vegetarian foods. Yet, these days, the average modern diet is far removed from these proportions; instead, it is overloaded with sodium, which the body must excrete. Excess sodium is an enzyme inhibitor. … It has also been shown to stimulate tumor growth and produce edema, as the body ties it up with water to reduce its toxicity. (See M. Gerson, A Cancer Therapy: Results of Fifty Cases and The Cure of Advanced Cancer by Diet Therapy: A Summary of Thirty Years of Clinical Experimentation, 6th ed., San Diego, California: Gerson Institute, 1999, p. 210).

To remedy this situation, Dr. Gerson introduced large amounts of potassium to the patient’s diet. … This resulted in an immediate reduction of edema, ascites and pain. He also noticed that adding any other minerals, such as magnesium, calcium or iron, disturbed the patient’s mineral balance and caused damage. His main warning was against adding calcium to the diet. He discovered–with his close friend, top biochemist Rudolf Keller (Ibid., p. 64), that calcium belonged to the sodium group of minerals and stimulated tumor growth. Even in cases of severe bone destruction by tumor tissue, or in osteoporosis, the Gerson treatment–with its high level of well-balanced minerals–is capable of achieving bone restoration. In light of all this, it is easy to see why mineral balance is an important component of the body’s defenses.

God has provided us with a beautiful body temple and has supplied all of the wonderful fruits, vegetables, grains and legumes to uphold and nourish it. Will you think twice before eating something that will damage your body temple, a gift from God?

This article is a reprint from the January 2013 issue of LandMarks, written by Judy Hallingstad with excerpts taken from the book, Healing the Gerson Way, Defeating Cancer and Other Chronic Diseases, by Charlotte Gerson with Beata Bishop (Copyright 2010 by Gerson Health Media, 316 Mid Valley Center #230, Carmel, California 93923, pages 21 through 27).