Changing lives: Strength of our immune systems

By Dr. Walter Vermeulen 28 April 2018, 12:00AM

Talofa Samoa!

In our previous Health Column we discussed the importance of building up the strength of our immune system (which is made up of all the many different types of immune cells that represent one third of all the cells in our body). 

In this way, those trillions of immune cells keep us protected against ‘foreign invaders’, such as viruses and germs or the poisons secreted by  a mosquito or a centipede when they bite us. 

The way the immune cells tackle such invasion is similar, whether it involves a virus or a poison: immune cells are rushed to the affected area and literally swallow the invaders. In doing so, they produce an area of ‘inflammation’ that becomes swollen, feels painful and hot, and looks reddish or ‘inflamed’. 

These are the classical signs of acute inflammation, which can be easily observed whether you caught the flu or suffer from acne (called ‘fuafua’ in Samoan). Acute inflammation happens, each time that our body gets invaded by substances that don’t belong in our body. 

A strong and alert immune system goes to our defense and eliminates these substances in a matter of days, in this way restoring our health. This is a marvelous way to keep us safe even if we are surrounded by various bugs or poisons that could hurt us: acute inflammation is good and protects us from harm. 

Of course, this only happens now and then: you don’t get the flu or get bitten by a centipede every day. But what if our body would get constantly attacked by invaders, say three or four times a day for years and years on end? 

We then would develop a condition called ‘chronic inflammation’, which over time will harm us. You can compare it with an army that now and then is called to fight and defeat occasional intruders: the well trained and strong soldiers will take care of the matter in a few days and peace is restored. But what if the army was forced to fight intruders, day-in, day-out for years? 

Compare it to the protracted wars in the Middle East as we are witnessing these days. Eventually, the fighting will cause much damage in spite of the soldiers (immune cells) doing their best to keep on top of the invaders. 

This is what happens in your arteries when you keep eating, day in, day out the high fat animal based diet, also called the Western animal based diet or the Standard American diet (SAD), high in fats and cholesterol, refined sugars and animal protein; in short, the diet that most Samoans are now consuming. 

A few months ago, the Samoa Observer featured an article by a famous American heart surgeon, Dr. Dwight Ludell, who reported that inflammation in the wall of the arteries all around the body is the real cause of heart disease or stroke. 

He compared it to rubbing a stiff brush repeatedly over soft skin: the area would become red and swollen and nearly bleeding. 

Others like Drs John McDougall and Caldwell Esselstyn, pioneers of the Whole Food, Plant Based (WFPB) diet that METI is promoting, call it ‘pimple-like lesions’ inside the arterial wall – or simply ‘arterial acne’.

 The exact mechanisms how these lesions lead to atherosclerosis or clogging of the arteries is still a matter of debate among scientists and several ‘culprits’ have been identified and in various degrees being favoured by some as the real cause of atherosclerosis. 

They include: the cholesterol in the diet (which comes only from animal products), vegetable oils, simple or refined sugars and processed foods. It so happens that the WFPB diet avoids all of these potentially harmful foods and instead recommends any combinations of food items from four food categories: vegetables, fruits, legumes and grains.

The concept of ‘arterial acne’ helps to understand how people suffer a heart attack or a stroke or develop high blood pressure that can lead to heart failure.

It is as follows: when the cholesterol molecules penetrate inside the arterial wall (by whatever mechanism, which is still under debate), a typical inflammatory reaction occurs. Immune cells are sent to the area and they literally swallow the cholesterol molecules. In the process the ‘acne pimple’ develops and gets bigger and bigger. 

As this happens in many areas around the body, the many pimples cause the opening of the arteries to narrow and high blood pressure develops: it is like if you put your thumb over the tip of a watering hose: the water pressure will be increased. At the same time, some pimples will burst to discharge their content in the blood stream hoping that it will be eliminated out of the body. 

Unfortunately, this content contains chemicals that can cause the blood to clot. When the blood clot expands it can obstruct the artery and so block the blood flow to certain parts of the heart muscle or the brain. This is how a sudden heart attack or stroke takes place. 

The only way to protect against such tragedy is to adopt the WFPB diet and follow it strictly. In this way, the swellings inside the arteries caused by the ‘arterial acne’ will gradually subside (in a matter of a few weeks). 

As a result, the diameter of the arteries will increase, while the high blood pressure will decrease. In this way, the person will be protected from further attacks and with the increased blood supply to the affected areas, the injured areas will be repaired and damage reversed, in some cases completely. 

The testimony for this Health Column is presented by Mrs. Moliga Sosaia who suffered a stroke in 2015. In her own words she explains her ordeal and the rapid and complete recovery brought about by her following strictly the WFPB diet which she now has been following for the past 3 years.

If you, reading this column or any of your family or friends have suffered a stroke, heart attack or have high blood pressure it might be wise to come to the METI Clinic at Motootua to enroll in our Health Seminars to get all the details of how to start the life-saving WFPB nutrition program promoted by METI. You can reach us at 7636358 or 7239297 during working hours, 8 am to 4 pm, Monday to Friday.


Name: Moliga Sosaia

Village: Siumu & Letogo

My name is Moliga Sosaia and I am 56 years of age.  In early 2015 I found out I had High Blood Pressure and was given pills to take. 

While still taking these pills, I suddenly developed a stroke, which affected my left leg, it makes my life harder, because the addition of pills continue. I was in a severe condition and thought that I would die soon. I stayed home while my husband and the children looked after me. I visited the Taulasea Samoa for help; they treated me in a Samoan way of treatment, and gave me traditional drinks using Samoan tree leaves like sasalapa leaves.  

My condition did not improve. Luckily, while I felt hopeless, my husband told me about METI’s Healthy Living Program, that can treat Non- Communicable Diseases, like diabetes, hypertension, heart failure and so forth, and people who follow the diet strictly reversed their conditions, even stroke.

I hurried to METI while they were still located at Lalovaea at that time. My husband and I attended the seminar and in two weeks, I felt changes in my body. 

Until then my husband had to carry me to the bathroom and around the house. But while following the diet, I gradually got the strength back in my left leg and started to walk again unattended.  

I am so happy with the results of the WFPB diet: not only am I free from drugs but I’m back to my normal duties. Starting from that time that I’m on the diet until now I never experienced again the pains that I had before. I’m now doing my vegetable garden, planting many different vegetables.

Now I would like to say thanks to my lovely husband and my kids for looking after me and helping me with the cooking. A special thanks to METI for this great help. I know for sure without this program I would not be alive today. I advise you that if you suffer from any of these NCD and you want to get rid of them, go and see METI for help, located at the old Acute 7 at Motootua. 


By Dr. Walter Vermeulen 28 April 2018, 12:00AM

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