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Ninety Percent of Sea Salt Contains Plastic

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Your body requires a specific sodium-to-potassium ratio to normalize your blood pressure that does not rely on your total sodium intake. In other words, your body uses the sodium you eat to help maintain the balance, and excretes the sodium you don’t need. Research has demonstrated potassium helps to relax the walls of your arteries and lower your blood pressure.1

In one study,2 researchers found women without high blood pressure who consumed the most potassium had a 21 percent reduced risk of stroke and were also 12 percent less likely to die during the study than those who consumed the least.

Another study3 evaluating salt intake in older adults found an increase was not associated with higher mortality over 10 years, or an increased incidence of cardiovascular disease or heart failure.

However, as the bad reputation of salt is slowly reversing and more are turning to using a perceived healthier choice, sea salt, environmental damage has now reached your dinner table. In a study analyzing 39 salt brands from 21 countries, including the U.S. and China, researchers found more than 90 percent contain microplastics.

Sea Salt May Not Be Your Healthiest Salt Option

The extent to which plastic microparticles have spread throughout the world had been unclear. This new study4 evaluating salt brands sampled worldwide is the first on this scale to analyze the geographical spread of microplastic in sea salt and the correlation to where plastic pollution is found in the environment.5

Only three brands originating from Taiwan, China and France did not contain microplastic particles. While the density of microplastics found in the analyzed samples were dramatically different, data showed those from Asian brands continue to be especially high. The highest quantities were found in Indonesia, which ranks as suffering the second-worst level of plastic pollution in the world.6

The findings highlight concerns raised earlier7 when researchers found nearly 90 percent of popular bottled water brands contained microplastics. Mikyoung Kim, campaigner at Greenpeace East Asia said:8

“Recent studies have found plastics in seafood, wildlife, tap water and now in salt. It’s clear that there is no escape from this plastics crisis, especially as it continues to leak into our waterways and oceans. We need to stop plastic pollution at its source. For the health of people and our environment, it’s incredibly important that corporations reduce their reliance on throwaway plastics immediately.”

Researchers in the featured study estimate the average adult consumes nearly 2,000 microplastic beads each year from salt. A separate study9 planned to assess the risks microplastic have on the environment and concluded, despite a review of 320 existing studies, that there are major knowledge gaps in the scientific understanding of the impact of microplastics.

Historical References Demonstrate the Importance of Salt

Salt was one of the greatest treasures in the ancient world, often used as currency.10 In fact, the high value of salt prompted an ancient Roman proverb, which says people who do their job well are “well worth their salt,” or “worth their weight in salt.” Even after the Roman Empire domination ended, salt remained an important item in trade and ancient economies.

One of the most traveled salt routes was from Morocco across the Sahara Desert to Timbuktu. Ships carrying salt traveled from Egypt to Greece across the Mediterranean and the Aegean Sea. The great wealth of Venice was attributed to common salt and not exotic spices.11

Moving into the Middle Ages, the purity of salt moved toward the superstitious. If salt was spilled it was a premonition of doom. After spilling, the spiller had to cast a pinch of salt over his left shoulder as this was thought to be where evil spirits tended to congregate.12

As late as the 18th century, the rank of a guest at a banquet was gauged by where they were seated in relationship to the salt cellar at the table. Taxes on the mineral help dissolve the French governments as they were forced to buy all their salt from royal depots. The tax was so high it eventually helped spark the French Revolution.13

As late as the 1930s Mahatma Gandhi led a pilgrimage of followers to the seaside as a protest against high British taxes on salt in India.14 Throughout the past centuries salt has played a unique and powerful role in health, politics and commerce.

Low Salt Intake May Threaten Your Health

This long history of reliance on salt took a wrong turn when Western medicine began demonizing the mineral, relating it to high blood pressure. Historically, people consumed 10 times more than we do today, as it was the primary preservative before the invention of refrigerators.

The correlation with blood pressure was popularized by the Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension (DASH) study, during which lowering intake resulted in improvements in blood pressure. However, the diet not only lowers salt recommendations, but also advocates eating substantially less processed foods and sugars,15 which have a far greater impact on your blood pressure measurements.

According to James DiNicolantonio, Pharm.D., and author of “The Salt Fix: Why the Experts Got It All Wrong — and How Eating More Might Save Your Life,” your blood pressure may go down with a reduction in salt, but your ratio of total cholesterol to high-density lipoprotein, a much better predictor of heart disease, worsens. Triglyceride levels and insulin resistance also increase.

This means that, overall, your heart disease risk increases rather than decreases, even though your blood pressure readings appear to be better. When your body does not have enough salt it starts pulling sodium from your bones, stripping magnesium and calcium to maintain a normal sodium level.16

This results in a reduction in sodium excretion in sweat, substituting magnesium and calcium instead. Low sodium also elevates aldosterone, a sodium-retaining hormone, which in turn reduces magnesium by shuttling it out through your urine. As a result, low sodium intake may damage your bone and heart health, as magnesium is a vital mineral for biological function.

Today, most processed foods are loaded with added sugar, processed salt and harmful industrially processed oils while containing virtually no healthy saturated fats or natural, unprocessed salt. So, while most sea salt may contain plastic microbeads, eliminating salt from your nutritional intake is not the answer.

How Salt Is Manufactured

Before discussing your best salt option, it’s helpful to understand the three basic methods used to process salt. Manufacturers may use solar evaporation, vacuum evaporation or rock salt mining.17

The solar method is the oldest means of producing salt. Practically, it may be used only in warm climates where the evaporation rate exceeds the precipitation rate for an extended period of time. Using solar evaporation, large quantities of natural salt water are transported to shallow ponds where the water is allowed to evaporate, leaving crystals of sodium and other natural minerals.18

Rock salt mining is the second oldest method of producing salt, accessing underground veins of salt. Large machines move through cave-like passageways. Salt appears in veins or may be found in domes. Most domes in North America are located between Alabama and Texas.

In some cases the salt is mined through hydraulic mining or solution mining during which water is pumped below the surface to dissolve salt deposits and then pumped out.19

The fluid is then added to commercial vacuum pans and undergoes vacuum evaporation, incorporating steam heat in a large commercial evaporator. This method yields fine-textured, high-purity salt.20

Salt Myths Impacting Your Long-Term Health

Studies have consistently failed to support the premise that high amounts of salt increase your thirst and contribute to high blood pressure and heart disease. Actually, the converse is true. Here’s a summary of findings that may surprise you:

  • Studies suggest salt may have a surprising influence on your weight. In one study using Russian cosmonauts, data revealed eating more salt lowered thirst and increased hunger.21 Animal models support these results,22 showing a high-salt diet increases metabolism in the animals, forcing the animals to eat 25 percent more to maintain their weight.
  • The correct potassium-to-sodium balance influences your risk for high blood pressure and heart disease far greater than high sodium alone.23 Processed foods are typically low in potassium and high in sodium.
  • A low-salt diet may worsen heart disease and raise the risk of early death.24
  • Nearly 71 percent of your salt intake comes from processed food.25 Eating a whole food diet eliminates your exposure to table salts and ensures a more appropriate sodium-to-potassium ratio.
  • When processed food manufacturers lower salt content, many add monosodium glutamate (MSG) instead. This flavor enhancer is associated with headaches, obesity, eye damage, fatigue and depression.26 As it overexcites neurons, MSG may raise your risk of neurological disorders such as Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s and Lou Gehrig’s disease.

The Problems With Ingesting Plastics

Unfortunately, very little of the earth has been left untouched by plastic pollution. There are nearly 700 marine species at risk for extinction as a result of microplastic pollution.27 Single-use plastics certainly contribute to this epidemic, and microplastics from the Great Pacific Garbage Patch have been found as far as the Arctic Ocean.28

A team of researchers from Heriot-Watt University29 placed petri dishes with sticky dust traps next to plates at dinner time and were able to capture up to 14 pieces of plastic at the end of each meal from household dust. According to this study, the average person swallows an estimated 68,415 plastic fibers each year just from the dust landing on their plates during meals.

Researchers at the State University of New York30 tested 259 bottles of 11 popular bottled water brands — including Aquafina, Nestle Pure Life, Evian, Dasani and San Pelligerino — finding, on average, 325 pieces of microplastic per liter.

Research31 published in Science of the Total Environment found that the annual release of plastics to the land is estimated to be four to 23 times greater than what is released in the oceans.

This data means you are likely consuming tens of thousands of plastic microparticles every year from salt, food, dust and water. The end result of this plastic exposure has yet to be scientifically analyzed and reported.

However, as most plastic particles contain known endocrine disrupting chemicals and other toxins, it only makes sense to reduce your exposure as much as possible. In response to these and other findings, the World Health Organization has vowed to launch a safety review to assess the potential short- and long-term health risks of consuming microplastic in water.32

What Is Your Best Salt Option?

Your body needs sodium and chloride ions in salt crystals, but is unable to produce either. This means you must get it from your food. However, all salt is not created equally. Refined table salt is nearly all sodium chloride with some additional man-made chemicals.

Unprocessed salt, such as my particular favorite, pink Himalayan salt, has a different balance of sodium and chloride with added natural minerals your body also requires,33 which contributes to the pink color of the salt. The crystals have matured untouched by pollutants over thousands of years.

Himalayan salt is mined from salt beds created long before plastic and other toxic chemicals were manufactured. When the ocean beds were lifted, as the Himalayan Mountains were formed, these salt beds rose from the sea and were later protected by lava and covered in snow and ice for thousands of years.

Compared to the salt mined from oceans laden with persistent organic pollutants and microparticles of plastic, Himalayan salt is by far your best option when you want to reduce your toxic load.

Himalayan salt also contains at least 80 naturally occurring trace elements in their natural mineral form, contributing to health benefits.34 What remains after typical salt is “chemically cleaned” is sodium chloride — an unnatural chemical form of salt requiring additional energy from your body to metabolize, creating a burden on your elimination system.35

This form of salt is in almost every preserved product that you eat. Therefore, when you add more typical table salt to your already salted food, your body receives more sodium chloride than it can easily use.

Reduce Your Toxic Load Making Simple Everyday Choices

You have an impact on your environment and your health with each choice you make. By making the commitment to reduce or eliminate your use of plastic containers and disposable products packaged in plastic, you make an impact on your health, reducing your exposure to bisphenol-A and other chemicals that leach into your food and water, and on your environment.

Glass is a healthy, reusable and recyclable option to use at home. If you are purchasing a product that isn’t whole food, seek out those packaged in glass and not plastic and commit to recycling that glass. You can discover more steps you may take at home to reduce your toxic load in my previous article, “7 Ways to Cancer-Proof Your Home.”

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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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