There is really no question that average human body temperature is in decline. Even the New York Times recently wrote an article on the subject, being, as clueless as ever, about the real significance of such a thing.
For well over a year now, there has been much focus on the basal body temperature at 180DegreeHealth. This came, in part, as a result of reading all of the books of Broda Barnes, Stephen Langer’s book on hypothyroidism, and perhaps my favorite book on the far-reaching impact of having a low body temperature – Type 2 Hypothyroidism: The Epidemic, by Mark Starr.
I find much of my beliefs about the all-encompassing importance of the body temperature to be reinforced by the current book I’m reading – Ancel Keys 2-volume piece on calorie restriction called The Biology of Human Starvation. For starters, the huge drop in white blood cell count that follows the body temperature down during starvation is particularly interesting, as another avenue I’ve travelled down in the last year is one in which pathogenic viruses and bacteria are the root cause of most health problems – both acute and chronic.
Is it any wonder then that Henry Bieler has this to say about those with a body temperature that is “scarcely ever below 98.8 degrees F?”
“… leucopenia, or abnormal white cell count on the low side, is never noted… The immunity against bacterial invasion is spectacular. The typical adrenal type hardly ever becomes infected, even with venereal diseases…”
Yet, Ancel Keys found the men in his starvation study, as the metabolism slowed and body temperature fell in accordance, had white blood cell counts drop dramatically – by 34.9% in just 24 weeks. To see all the important roles of the many types of white blood cells in protecting us from a wide array of diseases, take a peek through Wikipedia’s page on white blood cells.
This should come as no surprise really. We all can observe that in areas of famine and malnutrition infectious disease runs rampant as body temperatures fall in response to calorie and nutrient deficiency. I think back to Layla and her family, who were in excellent health living in squalor in Somalia until they became malnourished – at which point they all fell ill to dysentery and malaria for the first time. I also cannot forget the studies of Robert McCarrison on nutritional deficiency disease in which his animal subjects on nutrient-deficient diets all perished in the presence of a pathogenic bacteria while his well-fed subjects not only survived the pathogen but remained entirely symptom-free even living in ass-to-mouth confinement.
It came as no surprise to discover that the animal subjects who perished were later autopsied and found to have atrophied thyroid glands – no matter what the nutrient deficiency was. It’s safe to say that under circumstances of ANY nutritional deficiency, the body has the same hypometabolic response.
This is just one tiny fragment of the overall importance of the body temperature in protecting us from disease. In terms of just basic fundamentals, body temperature controls the activity of our cellular mitochondria. Cellular mitochondria are the energy source of all life processes. Blood circulation, synthesis of steroid hormones, enzyme activity, fat-burning, bowel transit time, fertility and libido, and more are just a small fragment of the body systems that are all degraded when body temperature/basal metabolism/mitochondrial activity is reduced.
There is no part of the body, no organ, no muscle – not a single cell, that isn’t influenced by the basal metabolic rate. In fact, I challenge anyone to find a diseased state that cannot, in some shape, form, or fashion – be linked back to the basal metabolism somehow.
We even have mitochondrial DNA that helps to determine the heredity of the future generation we bring into the world. Seeing Mark Starr link mitochondrial DNA to the facets of Weston A. Price’s “intercepted heredity,” such as mouth-breathing, pelvic narrowing, susceptibility to infection including dental decay, and malformation of the jaw and dentition was one of the most revealing pieces of information I’ve come across.
It gave specificity to why people all over the world lost their former great health and superb physical formation and function upon the displacement of traditional foods with modern, refined foods – a low basal metabolism.
It also gave great insight into the association between parent age and offspring health problems – as the older we get, the lower our body temperatures tend to go, and the older the parents, the greater the chances for health problems amongst the children.
The most important remaining questions are:
What, specifically, is leading to this drop in body temperature?
How can we fix it?
The answer to those questions, as we all know by now, is extremely complex, individually variable, and probably can’t be answered with a one-size-fits-all set of dietary and lifestyle recommendations.
The most likely culprits are (and yes they work in combination):
Too much fructose (perhaps inducing leptin resistance which drops body temperature)
Too much dietary omega 6 (which creates an over-inflammatory condition in the body, which may also be causal in the development of leptin resistance, and can certainly cause excess cortisol to be released and trigger the same “metabolic syndrome” pattern)
Nutrient deficiency (Remember that any nutrient deficiency causes the thyroid gland to atrophy in ALL of McCarrison’s laboratory animals – from pigeons to monkeys)
Infectious organisms (although, like I mentioned above, I think the low body temperature is the egg that comes before the chicken – a low body temperature allows infectious organisms to thrive for several reasons, being hypometabolic is the opposite of having a germ-fighting fever)
Environmental contaminants/toxins (I also believe that most of these accumulate, except in rare cases of severe exposure, due to reduced neutralization, detoxification, and excretion capabilities of a body with a low basal metabolism)
And as most of you already know by now, I feel that the best method of overcoming these imbalances is to eat a very nutritious, high-calorie, and very low omega 6 and fructose diet for at least a few months while resting and getting plenty of sleep – and also keeping caffeine, drug, and alcohol consumption at a minimum. I am also open to supplementing with large doses of vitamins and minerals that are confirmed to be low – such as vitamin D or iodine to overcome drastic deficiencies. Of all the healing diet and lifestyle regimens ever composed, it appears that the milk diet as was commonly used in the early 20th century has the most potential – as authors of the day reported dramatic health improvements as well as several changes directly attributable to an increase in metabolism – such as increased resting pulse, increased body temperature, increased total blood volume, and so on.
If none of the above “do the trick,” then desiccated thyroid hormone can and probably should be used to bring the basal metabolism back up to optimal levels. It is difficult to really feel and function your best if your body temperature is low, which is the first thing that nearly everyone should address when attempting to tackle any health problem. One way or another, it is probably better to have a normal basal temperature than a low basal temperature no matter how you go about bringing it up to speed.
The supposedly optimal basal temperature and how to test it properly will be addressed in a short and simple post tomorrow.