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Best Nutrients for Cold and Flu Season

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The common cold is the leading cause of doctor visits in the U.S.1 There are several factors that increase your risk for a cold, including:2

Season — A majority of colds occur during fall and winter months,3 and research reveals there is more than one reason for this. For starters, cold weather drives people indoors where exposure to those who are already ill increases. Cold temperatures also weaken the first line of immune defense in your nose.4

Research5 reveals the immune system responds slower at cold temperatures than at body temperature, and the rhinovirus — known to replicate faster at lower temperatures — typically invades your body through the nose, where the air tends to be cooler than body temperature. Dry winter air may also dry your mucous membranes, making the symptoms of a cold worse.

Age — The immune system in children younger than 6 is still developing and they have not yet developed resistance to many viruses, which is why children tend to have far more colds than adults.

Weakened immune system — Poor diet, lack of sleep, stress, food allergies, overtraining and concurrent or chronic illness are factors that can weaken your immune system.

Smoking — Compared to nonsmokers, smokers are more prone to colds and have a greater risk of developing subsequent infections.6

Exposure — A cold passes through direct physical contact with one of nearly 200 viruses that can trigger symptoms.7 Someone who has a cold can pass it to you by touching your hand, sneezing near your face, or through contact with their body where the cold virus has been sprayed after a cough or sneeze. Hence, being in close proximity and contact with others, such as at school, day care or on an airplane, increases your risk for contracting a cold.

Once inside your body, the virus attaches itself to the lining of your throat or nose, triggering your body’s immune system to send white blood cells. If you’ve built antibodies to this virus in the past, the fight doesn’t last long.

However, if the virus is new, your body sends reinforcements to fight, inflaming your nose and throat. With so much of your body’s resources aimed at fighting the cold, you’re left feeling tired and miserable. The good news is there are simple ways to strengthen your immune function to ward off both the common cold and influenza.

Four nutrients known to offer powerful protection during cold and flu season are vitamins C and D, zinc and beta glucans. These can also be used acutely if you feel like you’re coming down with a cold or flu. Getting plenty of prebiotic fiber and sleep are also important.

Vitamins C Offers Powerful Protection Against Cold and Flu

Research8,9,10 supports the use of vitamin C during a common cold to reduce the duration of symptoms. Typically, the higher the dose you take the better the results during a cold. However, there are limitations when taking oral vitamin C, as it can cause loose bowels.

You can get higher doses when using intravenous vitamin C or liposomal vitamin C. Personally, I use 3 to 4 grams of liposomal vitamin C every hour in the rare occasion when I get sick, with great results.11

As a general rule, I don’t recommend high doses of vitamin C unless it’s in liposomal form. I also don’t recommend long-term or chronic high-dose vitamin C supplementation as this may cause nutritional imbalances.

For example, taking large doses of vitamin C (ascorbic acid) on a regular basis lowers your level of copper, so if you are already deficient in copper and take high doses of vitamin C, you can actually compromise your immune system.

So, whereas temporarily taking megadoses of liposomal vitamin C to combat a case of the cold or flu will be helpful, for year-round support, get your vitamin C from food instead.

Kiwi fruits, for example, are exceptionally high in vitamin C. Research12 published in the British Journal of Nutrition found that a kiwifruit-packed diet reduced the duration and severity of upper respiratory tract infections symptoms in older individuals. Other foods high in vitamin C include: citrus fruits, red bell peppers, broccoli, Brussels sprouts, butternut squash, papaya and sweet potatoes.

High-Dose Vitamin C for Viral Infections

According to Dr. Albert Szent-Gyorgyi, a biochemist who was the first to isolate vitamin C and who received a Nobel Prize for his work with the vitamin, “health” occurs when there is an ample flow and interchange of electrons in your cells. Impaired or poor electron flow and interchange equals “disease,” and when the flow and interchange ceases entirely, your cells die. Oxidation, caused by free radicals in your body, involves the loss of electrons.

Antioxidants counter the disease process caused by oxidation (loss of electrons) by supplying electrons. Vitamin C is a major antioxidant, and perhaps the most important electron donor to maintain optimal electron flow in your cells. As reported by Orthomolecular Medicine News Service (a nonprofit and noncommercial informational resource):13

“High dose vitamin C is a remarkably safe and effective treatment for viral infections. In high doses, vitamin C neutralizes free radicals, helps kill viruses, and strengthens your body’s immune system. Taking supplemental vitamin C routinely helps prevent viral infections.”

For severe types of influenza, such as swine flu, very high dosages of intravenous vitamin C are recommended, typically between 200,000 to 300,000 milligrams or more.14 For this, you would need to see a physician. Vitamin C, at saturation, can even replace antiviral drugs in many cases.

Vitamin D Deficiency May Be an Underlying Cause of Cold and Flu

Low vitamin D also increases your risk of contracting a cold or flu.15Vitamin D — produced in your skin in response to sun exposure — is a steroid hormone with powerful antimicrobial activity, capable of fighting bacteria, viruses and fungi. The evidence is clear that the lower your vitamin D level, the higher your risk of developing a cold or the flu.16

Dr. John Cannell, founder of the Vitamin D Council, was one of the first to introduce the idea that vitamin D deficiency may actually be an underlying cause of influenza. His hypothesis17 was initially published in the journal Epidemiology and Infection in 2006.18

His hypothesis was subsequently followed up and supported by studies published in the Virology Journal in 200819 and the Archives of Internal Medicine in 2009.20 Since then, a number of other studies have come to similar conclusions. Most recently, a scientific review21,22 of 25 randomized controlled trials confirmed that vitamin D supplementation boosts immunity and cuts rates of cold and flu.

Like Cannell before them, the researchers believe vitamin D offers protection by increasing antimicrobial peptides in your lungs, and that “[t]his may be one reason why colds and flus are most common in the winter, when sunlight exposure (and therefore the body’s natural vitamin D production) is at its lowest …”23

According to this international research team, one person would be spared from influenza for every 33 people taking a vitamin D supplement, whereas 40 people have to receive the flu vaccine in order to prevent one case of the flu. Among those with severe vitamin D deficiency at baseline, 1 in 4 people taking a vitamin D supplement would be protected from the flu.

For optimal protection, get tested at least twice a year and aim for a level between 60 and 80 nanograms per milliliter (ng/mL) year-round. While sensible sun exposure is your best source of vitamin D, many cannot get enough sun during winter months, which may make oral supplementation a necessity. Your best source is sensible sun exposure.

If this is not an option where you live, using an oral vitamin D3 supplement is advisable. In this case, keep in mind you may also need take additional calcium and vitamin K2 (MK7 form) to protect your arteries, and magnesium to activate vitamin D.

Cold or Flu Symptoms? Try This Crash Treatment

If you are coming down with cold or flu-like symptoms and have not been taking vitamin D on a regular basis, you can take 50,000 international units (IUs) a day for three days to treat the acute infection. (Cannell believes the dose could even be as high as 1,000 IUs per pound of body weight for three days.)

That said, there’s still the possibility that vitamin D won’t work, even in these mega-doses, if you’ve never been exposed to the antigens before. (Ultimately, your best bet is to maintain a vitamin D level between 60 and 80 ng/mL year-round.) Alternatively, take 3 to 4 grams of liposomal vitamin C every hour until you feel better.

Low Zinc Also Raises Your Risk of Viral Infections

A third nutrient deficiency associated with increased risk for cold and flu is zinc. Zinc may also reduce the duration and severity of your cold if taken at the first signs of infection. Your body has no way to store zinc, so it depends on a daily supply through diet. For a list of foods rich in zinc, see “Zinc — One of the Best Supplements to Fight Cold and Flu.”

Zinc is a constituent of at least 3,000 different proteins in your body and a component of more than 200 different enzymes. In fact, zinc is involved in more enzymatic reactions in your body than any other mineral.

Zinc increases your production of white blood cells and helps them fight infection more effectively. It also helps your immune system release more antibodies. If your body has inadequate zinc stores, you will experience increased susceptibility to a variety of infectious agents, as your white blood cells simply can’t function without zinc.

Zinc affects multiple aspects of your immune system, including neutrophils, natural killer (NK) cells, phagocytosis, cytokine production and even gene regulation within your lymphocytes.

Zinc Lozenges May Cut Duration of a Cold

As with other nutrients, your best bet is to make sure you’re getting enough zinc in your diet year-round. However, if a cold strikes, you could use zinc lozenges. A meta-analysis24 of seven randomized trials published in 2017 concluded people taking zinc lozenges shortened the duration of their colds by 33 percent on average.

Zinc acetate may be slightly better than zinc gluconate, although the difference was not considered significant. A third form is zinc citrate. It’s advantageous to take a supplement with a variety of forms, if possible. Zinc sulfate is one of the inorganic forms of zinc and can cause stomach irritation, so I don’t recommend using this form. According to this study:

“Five trials used zinc doses of 80 to 92 mg/day, common cold duration was reduced by 33 percent, and two trials used zinc doses of 192 to 207 mg/day and found an effect of 35 percent. The difference between the high-dose and low-dose zinc trials was not significant …”

Beta-Glucans Protect Against Flu by Boosting Natural Killer Cells

Beta-glucan is a polysaccharide known for its immune-boosting and cancer-fighting activities. Mushrooms such as shiitake, maitake and oyster mushrooms are a good source.25 Importantly, beta-glucans enhance NK cell activity and function,26 and recent research27,28 shows that if you have enough NK cells in your system, you will not contract influenza.

As reported by Live Science,29 a specific gene called KLRD1 “could serve as a proxy for a person’s levels of natural killer cells.” KLRD1 is a receptor gene found on the surface of NK cells, and the level of KLRD1 found in a person’s blood prior to exposure to the influenza virus was able to predict whether that individual would contract the flu with 86 percent accuracy.

According to senior study author Purvesh Khatri, associate professor of medicine and biomedical data science at Stanford University School of Medicine, KLRD1 is “the first biomarker that shows susceptibility to influenza, across multiple strains.”30 As reported by Eurekalert:31

“[O]n the whole, those whose immune cells consisted of 10 to 13 percent natural killers [NK cells] did not succumb to the flu, whereas those whose natural killer cells fell short of 10 percent wound up ill.

It’s a fine line, Khatri said, but the distinction between the groups is quite clear: Everyone who had 10 percent or more natural killer cells stood strong against the infection and showed no symptoms. Khatri said his findings could help health professionals understand who’s at the highest risk for flu infection.”

Beta-Glucans — Powerful Cold and Flu Prevention

A number of studies have confirmed beta-glucans offer powerful protection against cold and flu, including the following.

  • A 2013 study32 found that taking 900 mg of beta-glucans in the form of brewer’s yeast for 16 weeks reduced the rate of cold infections by 25 percent, and eased symptoms in those who got ill by 15 percent
  • Marathon runners who took 250 mg of brewer’s yeast for 28 days following a marathon were 37 percent less likely to contract a cold or flu compared to those taking a placebo33
  • People who took 250 mg of a beta-glucan product called Wellmune WGP per day for 90 days reported 43 fewer days with symptoms of upper respiratory tract infection compared to those taking a placebo34
  • A 2015 animal study35 found feeding mice beta-glucans for two weeks “significantly reduced the effects of influenza infection in total mortality.” According to the authors, “these effects are caused by stimulation of both cellular and humoral immune reaction resulting in lower viral load”

Get Your Z’s

The importance of sleep also should not be underrated. Studies show that not getting enough sleep (which for most adults is around eight hours per night) will quickly decrease your immune function, leaving your system wide-open for environmental influences, including cold and flu viruses.

Missing as little as just one hour of sleep per night increases the expression of genes associated with inflammation, immune excitability, diabetes, cancer and stress.36

An interesting animal study37 published in 2012 found that the circadian clocks of mice control an essential immune system gene that helps their bodies sense and ward off bacteria and viruses. When the level of that particular gene, called toll-like receptor 9 (TLR9), was at its highest, the mice were better able to withstand infections. As noted by lead author Dr. Erol Fikrig from Yale University School of Medicine:

“These findings not only unveil a novel, direct molecular link between circadian rhythms and the immune system, but also open a new paradigm in the biology of the overall immune response with important implications for the prevention and treatment of disease.”

Optimizing Your Immune Function Can Keep You Healthy This Winter

As you can see, there are simple ways to dramatically reduce your risk of cold and flu this winter. Ideally, optimize your vitamin D level and make sure you’re getting enough zinc and vitamin C in your diet on a daily basis. This will lay the groundwork for healthy immune function.

To further boost your immune function in preparation for cold and flu season, you may want to consider a beta-glucan supplement. And, should a cold or flu strike, you may significantly cut its duration and severity using either high-dose vitamin C or D (or a combination of both, short-term) and/or zinc lozenges. Fiber, a source of prebiotics, and sleep are also important factors, both for the prevention of cold and flu, and during the treatment of these infections.

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Sweet! Here are 7 reasons to eat sweet potatoes

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(Natural News) Sweet potatoes may not be as popular as regular potatoes, which is too bad — since they’re packed with vitamins and minerals. One cup of sweet potatoes can provide more than 100 percent of the daily value of vitamin A. It’s also rich in vitamin C, dietary fiber, and manganese. Both purple and orange varieties contain antioxidants that can protect the body from damage caused by free radicals.

Eating sweet potatoes is beneficial for your health

Sweet potatoes are brimming with micronutrients and antioxidants —  making them useful to your health. Below is a list of reasons why you should incorporate sweet potatoes into your diet.

They improve brain function

The purple variety of sweet potato contains anthocyanins. Anthocyanins are known for their anti-inflammatory properties. Studies have revealed that anthocyanins are effective at improving cognitive function. Moreover, the results suggest that purple yams can help protect against memory loss. Antioxidants from the purple variety safeguard the brain against damage from free radicals and inflammation.

They aid digestion

Sweet potatoes are rich in dietary fiber. This macronutrient prevents constipation, diarrhea, and bloating by adding bulk and drawing water to the stool. In addition, fiber keeps a healthy balance in the gut by promoting the growth of good bacteria.

They slow down aging

The beta-carotene in orange sweet potatoes can help reduce damage caused by prolonged sun exposure. This is especially true for people diagnosed with erythropoietic protoporphyria and other photosensitive diseases. Sweet potatoes also contain antioxidants that protect against free radical damage. Free radicals are not only linked to diseases but also premature aging.

They boost the immune system

Orange and purple sweet potatoes are loaded with a good number of antioxidants that help protect the body from harmful molecules that cause inflammation and damage DNA. This, in turn, protects the body from chronic diseases like cancer and heart disease.

They can prevent cancer

Eating sweet potatoes can help protect against various types of cancers. The compounds in sweet potatoes restrict the development of cancer cells. Test tube studies have shown that anthocyanins can prevent cancers in the bladder, breast, colon, and stomach.

They lower blood sugar

Despite its relatively high glycemic index, studies have shown that the regular intake of sweet potatoes can help lower blood sugar, thanks to the presence of dietary fiber. While fiber falls under carbohydrates, it is digested differently, compared to starchy and sugary forms of carbohydrates. Interestingly, insulin doesn’t process fiber (unlike other types which get turned into glucose), and it only passes through the digestive tract.

They promote healthy vision

Orange sweet potatoes are rich in a compound called beta-carotene, an antioxidant which transforms into vitamin A in the body. Adequate intake of vitamin A promotes eye health. Conversely, deficiencies in vitamin A have been linked to a particular type of blindness called xerophthalmia.

Sweet potatoes are easy to incorporate into your everyday meals. They are best prepared boiled but can also be baked, roasted, or steamed — they can even replace other carbohydrates such as rice, potatoes, and toast. (Related: Understanding the phytochemical and nutrient content of sweet potato flours from Vietnam.)

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Frostbite: What it is and how to identify, treat it

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Manitoba’s temperature has plummeted to its coldest level this season, triggering warnings about the extreme risk of frostbite.

Oh, we know it’s cold. We can feel Jack Frost nipping at our noses. But what about when he gnaws a little harder — what exactly does “frostbite” mean?

People tend to underestimate the potential for severe injuries in the cold, says the Winnipeg Regional Health Authority. We laugh off the sting of the deep freeze, rub our hands back from the brink of numbness and wear our survival proudly like a badge.

That’s because, in most cases, frostbite can be treated fairly easily, with no long-term effects.

But it can also lead to serious injury, including permanent numbness or tingling, joint stiffness, or muscle weakness. In extreme cases, it can lead to amputation.

Bitter cold can cause frostbite in just minutes. Here’s how to recognize the warning signs and treat them. 0:59

Here’s a guide to identifying the first signs, how to treat them, and when to seek medical help.

What is frostbite and frostnip?

Frostbite is defined as bodily injury caused by freezing that results in loss of feeling and colour in affected areas. It most often affects the nose, ears, cheeks, chin, fingers or toes — those areas most often exposed to the air.

Cooling of the body causes a narrowing of the blood vessels, slowing blood flow. In temperatures below –4 C, ice crystals can form in the skin and the tissue just below it.

Frostnip most commonly affects the hands and feet. It initially causes cold, burning pain, with the area affected becoming blanched. It is easy to treat and with rewarming, the area becomes reddened.

Frostbite is the acute version of frostnip, when the soft tissue actually freezes. The risk is particularly dangerous on days with a high wind chill factor. If not quickly and properly treated, it can lead to the loss of tissues or even limbs. 

Signs of frostbite

Health officials call them the four P’s:

  • Pink: Skin appears reddish in colour, and this is usually the first sign.
  • Pain: The cold becomes painful on skin.
  • Patches: White, waxy-feeling patches show when skin is dying.
  • Prickles: Affected areas feel numb or have reduced sensation.

Symptoms can also include:

  • Reduced body temperature.
  • Swelling.
  • Blisters.
  • Areas that are initially cold, hard to the touch.

Take quick action

If you do get frostbite, it is important to take quick action.

  • Most cases of frostbite can be treated by heating the exposed area in warm (not hot) water.
  • Immersion in warm water should continue for 20-30 minutes until the exposed area starts to turn pink, indicating the return of blood circulation.
  • Use a warm, wet washcloth on frostbitten nose or earlobes.
  • If you don’t have access to warm water, underarms are a good place to warm frostbitten fingers. For feet, put them against a warm person’s skin.
  • Drink hot fluids such as hot chocolate, coffee or tea when warming.
  • Rest affected limbs and avoid irritation to the skin.
  • E​levate the affected limb once it is rewarmed.

Rewarming can take up to an hour and can be painful, especially near the end of the process as circulation returns. Acetaminophen or ibuprofen may help with the discomfort.

Do not …

There are a number of things you should avoid:

  • Do not warm the area with dry heat, such as a heating pad, heat lamp or electric heater, because frostbitten skin is easily burned.
  • Do not rub or massage affected areas. This can cause more damage.
  • Do not drink alcohol.
  • Do not walk on your feet or toes if they are frozen.
  • Do not break blisters.

Seek immediate medical attention

While you can treat frostbite yourself if the symptoms are minor — the skin is red, there is tingling — you should seek immediate medical attention at an emergency department if:

  • The exposed skin is blackened.
  • You see white-coloured or grey-coloured patches.
  • There is severe pain or the area is completely numb.
  • The skin feels unusually firm and is not sensitive to touch after one hour of rewarming.
  • There are large areas of blistering.
  • There is a bluish discolouration that does not resolve with rewarming.

Be prepared

The best way to avoid frostbite is to be prepared for the weather in the first place.

Wear several loose layers of clothing rather than a single, thick layer to provide good insulation and keep moisture away from your skin.

The outer garment should breathe but be waterproof and windproof, with an inner thermal layer. Retain body heat with a hat and scarf. Mittens are warmer than gloves because they keep the fingers together.

Be sure your clothing protects your head, ears, nose, hands and feet, especially for children.

Wind chill and frostbite rates

Wind chill: 0 to –9.
Frostbite risk: Low.

Wind chill: –28 to –39.
Frostbite risk: Moderate.

Exposed skin can freeze in 10-30 minutes

Wind chill: –40 to –47.
Frostbite risk: High.

Exposed skin can freeze in five to 10 minutes.

Wind chill: –48 to –54.
Frostbite risk: Very High.

Exposed skin can freeze in two to five minutes.

Wind chill: –55 and lower.
Frostbite risk: Extremely High.

Exposed skin can freeze in less than two minutes.
 

NOTE: In sustained winds over 50 km/h, frostbite can occur faster than indicated.

Source: Environment Canada

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Awkward Flu Jabs Attempted at Golden Globes

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In what can only be described as a new level of propaganda, hosts Andy Samberg and Sandra Oh featured a flu shot stunt during the 76th Golden Globe Awards ceremony. They told the audience to roll up their sleeves, as they would all be getting flu shots, while people in white coats stormed down the aisles, syringes in hand.

Most of the audience looked thoroughly uneasy at the prospect of having a stranger stick them with a needle in the middle of an awards show. But perhaps the worst part of the scene was when Samberg added that anti-vaxxers could put a napkin over their head if they wanted to be skipped, basically suggesting that anyone opposed to a flu shot deserved to be branded with a proverbial scarlet letter.

The flu shots, for the record, were reportedly fake,1 nothing more than a bizarre gag that left many people stunned by the Globe’s poor taste in turning a serious medical choice into a publicity gimmick.

Flu Shot Stunt Reeks of Desperation

Whoever came up with the idea to turn the Golden Globes into a platform for a public health message probably thought it was ingenious, but the stunt only serves as a seemingly desperate attempt to make flu shots relevant and in vogue. During the 2017 to 2018 flu season, only 37 percent of U.S. adults received a flu shot, a 6 percent drop from the prior season.2

“To improve flu vaccination coverage for the 2018-19 flu season, health care providers are encouraged to strongly recommend and offer flu vaccination to all of their patients,” the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) wrote. “People not visiting a provider during the flu season have many convenient places they can go for a flu vaccination.”3

Yet, perhaps the decline in people choosing to get vaccinated has nothing to do with convenience and everything to do with their dismal rates of efficacy. In the decade between 2005 and 2015, the influenza vaccine was less than 50 percent effective more than half of the time.4

The 2017/2018 flu vaccine was a perfect example of this trend. The overall adjusted vaccine effectiveness against influenza A and B virus infection was just 36 percent.5

Health officials blamed the flu season’s severity on the dip in vaccination rates, but as Dr. Paul Auwaerter, clinical director of the division of infectious diseases at Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, told USA Today, “[I]t is also true that the vaccine was not as well matched against the strains that circulated.”6

But bringing flu shots to the Golden Globes, and calling out “anti-vaxxers,” is nothing more than “medical care, by shame,” noted Dr. Don Harte, a chiropractic activist in California. “But it was entertaining, in a very weird way, including the shock and disgust of some of the intended victims, notably [Willem Dafoe],” he said, adding:7

“This Hollywood publicity stunt for the flu vaccine is one of the stupidest things I’ve ever seen from celebrities. But it does go with the flu shot itself, which is, perhaps, the stupidest of all the vaccines available.”

Did 80,000 People Really Die From the Flu Last Year?

The CDC reported that 79,400 people died from influenza during the 2017/2018 season, which they said “serves as a reminder of how severe seasonal influenza can be.”8 It’s important to remember, however, that the 80,000 deaths figure being widely reported in the media is not actually all “flu deaths.”

According to the CDC, “We look at death certificates that have pneumonia or influenza causes (P&I), other respiratory and circulatory causes (R&C), or other nonrespiratory, noncirculatory causes of death, because deaths related to flu may not have influenza listed as a cause of death.”9

As for why the CDC doesn’t base flu mortality estimates only on death certificates that list influenza, they noted, “Seasonal influenza may lead to death from other causes, such as pneumonia, congestive heart failure or chronic obstructive pulmonary disease … Additionally, some deaths — particularly among the elderly — are associated with secondary complications of seasonal influenza (including bacterial pneumonias).”10

In other words, “flu deaths” are not just deaths directly caused by the influenza virus, but also secondary infections such as pneumonia and other respiratory diseases, as well as sepsis.11

According to the CDC, most of the deaths occurred among those aged 65 years and over, a population that may already have preexisting conditions that makes them more susceptible to infectious diseases. As Harte said of annual flu deaths, “[M]ost if not all, I would assume, are of people who are already in very bad shape.12

CDC Claims Flu Vaccine Reduces Flu Deaths in the Elderly — But Does It?

Since people aged 65 and over are those most at risk from flu complications and death, the CDC has been vocal in their claims that the flu shot significantly reduces flu-related deaths among this population. The research, however, says otherwise.

Research published in 2005 found no correlation between increased vaccination rates among the elderly and reduced mortality. According to the authors, “Because fewer than 10 percent of all winter deaths were attributable to influenza in any season, we conclude that observational studies substantially overestimate vaccination benefit.”13

A 2006 study also showed that even though seniors vaccinated against influenza had a 44 percent reduced risk of dying during flu season than unvaccinated seniors, those who were vaccinated were also 61 percent less like to die before the flu season ever started.14

This finding has since been attributed to a “healthy user effect,” which suggests that older people who get vaccinated against influenza are already healthier and, therefore, less likely to die anyway, whereas those who do not get the shot have suffered a decline in health in recent months.

Journalist Jeremy Hammond summed up the CDC’s continued spreading of misinformation regarding the flu vaccine’s effectiveness in the elderly, as they continue to claim it’s the best way to prevent the flu:15

[T]here is no good scientific evidence to support the CDC’s claim that the influenza vaccine reduces hospitalizations or deaths among the elderly.

The types of studies the CDC has relied on to support this claim have been thoroughly discredited due to their systemic ‘healthy user’ selection bias, and the mortality rate has observably increased along with the increase in vaccine uptake — which the CDC has encouraged with its unevidenced claims about the vaccine’s benefits, downplaying of its risks, and a marketing strategy of trying to frighten people into getting the flu shot for themselves and their family.”

Death of Vaccinated Child Blamed on Not Getting Second Dose

In January 2019, the state of Colorado reported the first child flu death of the 2018/2019 flu season — a child who had received influenza vaccination. But instead of highlighting the vaccine’s failure and clear limitations, the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment blamed the death on the child being only “partially vaccinated.”

“It’s an unfortunate but important reminder of the importance of two doses of influenza vaccine for young children who are receiving influenza vaccine for the first time,” Dr. Rachel Herlihy, who is the state communicable disease epidemiologist, said in a news release.16 For those who aren’t aware, the CDC notes that one dose of flu shot may not be enough to protect against the flu. Instead, they state:17

“Children 6 months through 8 years getting vaccinated for the first time, and those who have only previously gotten one dose of vaccine, should get two doses of vaccine this season …

The first dose ‘primes’ the immune system; the second dose provides immune protection. Children who only get one dose but need two doses can have reduced or no protection from a single dose of flu vaccine.”

Not only may the flu vaccine fail to provide protection against the flu, but many people are not aware that other types of viruses are responsible for about 80 percent of all respiratory infections during any given flu season.18 The flu vaccine does not protect against or prevent any of these other types of respiratory infections causing influenza-like illness (ILI) symptoms.

The chance of contracting actual type A or B influenza, caused by one of the three or four influenza virus strains included in the vaccine, is much lower compared to getting sick with another type of viral or bacterial infection during the flu season.

Does Flu Vaccine Increase the Risk of Influenza Infection, Contribute to Vaccine Shedding?

There are serious adverse effects that can come along with annual flu vaccination, including potentially lifelong side effects such as Guillain Barré syndrome and chronic shoulder injury related to vaccine administration (SIRVA). They may also increase your risk of contracting more serious flu infections, as research suggests those who have been vaccinated annually may be less protected than those with no prior flu vaccination history.19

Research presented at the 105th International Conference of the American Thoracic Society in San Diego also revealed that children who get seasonal flu shots are more at risk of hospitalization than children who do not. Children who had received the flu vaccine had three times the risk of hospitalization as children who had not. Among children with asthma, the risk was even higher.20

There’s also the potential for vaccine shedding, which has taken on renewed importance with the reintroduction of the live virus vaccine FluMist during the 2018/2019 season. While the CDC states that the live flu virus in FluMist is too weak to actually give recipients the flu, research has raised some serious doubts that this is the case.

One recent study revealed not only that influenza virus may be spread via simple breathing (i.e., no sneezing or coughing required) but also that repeated vaccination increases the amount of virus released into the air.21

MedImmune, the company that developed FluMist, is aware that the vaccine sheds vaccine-strain virus. In its prescribing information, they describe a study on the transmission of vaccine-strain viruses from vaccinated children to nonvaccinated children in a day care setting.

In 80 percent of the FluMist recipients, at least one vaccine-strain virus was isolated anywhere from one to 21 days following vaccination. They further noted, “One placebo subject had mild symptomatic Type B virus infection confirmed as a transmitted vaccine virus by a FluMist recipient in the same playgroup.”22

Are There Other Ways to Stay Healthy During Flu Season?

Contrary to the CDC’s and Golden Globe’s claims that flu vaccinations are a great way to prevent flu, other methods exist to help you stay healthy during the flu season and all year, and they’re far safer than annual flu vaccination. Vitamin D testing and optimization have been shown to cut your risk of respiratory infections, including colds and flu, in half if you are vitamin D deficient, for instance.23,24

In my view, optimizing your vitamin D levels is one of the absolute best respiratory illness prevention and optimal health strategies available. Influenza has also been treated with high-dose vitamin C,25 and taking zinc lozenges at the first sign of respiratory illness can also be helpful.

Following other basic tenets of health, like eating right, getting sound sleep, exercising and addressing stress are also important, as is regularly washing your hands.

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