The limits of good health

My current daily supplement regimen is 12 pills, not including vitamin C. I take vitamin C only on the days I don’t exercise. (It can’t be repeated enough: taking vitamin C around a workout blunts the ability of exercise to improve your insulin sensitivity.) I imagine there are plenty of folks who take 12 prescription pills per day, so we can debate what it means to be extreme.

For my immune system specifically, my supplement stack includes vitamins D and A, zinc, and quercetin. This kind of extensive supplementation, I should note, is among the final steps for a lifestyle that has already been optimized.

Still, even the perfect routine can only do so much. The Native Americans, for example, naturally did everything right. Nonetheless, they were devastated by the novel smallpox virus carried by Europeans.

In my own house, in spite of my best efforts, I also face an alien invasion on a regular basis.

While I have complete confidence in my immune system’s ability to defeat adult viruses, I have no defense against the Marvel Comics superviruses that my kids have brought home over the years from pre-school and kindergarten.

  • When my oldest son was four, he coughed directly into my left eye, setting off a 3-month case of pink eye that was untreatable with any known eyedrops.
  • Whatever winter virus my youngest son brought home last January caused my temperature one afternoon to spike from normal to 103 in under an hour. With my demise imminent, I made a best effort to provide a bedside explanation to my wife on how to access my small Bitcoin holdings.
  • My wife, a preschool teacher, also brings home all kinds of exotic microbes. It’s not clear who is passing what to who — whether my kindergartner gets infected first, or whether she’s passing on to him her current contagion.

Considering that adults face a virgin exposure to each new school-borne pathogen, I don’t know how the teachers of young children have survived … or the nurses or the doctors we visit often at the children’s urgent care on 39th street. By definition, all the kids in the waiting room are sick with mutant germs. I’ve read the toughness of a school teacher’s immune system described as that of a “Bangalore sewer rat.” Honestly, I’m sure the Indian sewer is cleaner.

In any event, while I understand the limits of my immune system, I also trust my body to fight any bug that doesn’t come from a child five and under.

When my wife felt lousy and tested positive for the coronavirus in early 2022, my mother-in-law asked if I was isolating from my wife. I chuckled. “I isolate from her,” I said, “but only when she’s angry.”

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