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Ketogenic Keys to Unlock the Secrets of Good Fats and Bad Fats

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I’ve previously interviewed James DiNicolantonio, Pharm.D., about his book, “The Salt Fix: Why the Experts Got It All Wrong and How Eating More Might Save Your Life,” where he exposes why we got it wrong about salt and promotes eating healthy real salt.1

“The Salt Fix” is a fascinating book and I encourage you to go pick up a copy and read it. Here, we will focus on our new book, “Superfuel: Ketogenic Keys to Unlock the Secrets of Good Fats, Bad Fats, and Great Health,” which covers the importance of dietary fats, and how to discriminate between healthy and harmful fats.

DiNicolantonio compiled most of the research for this book and invited me to contribute to it, which I was happy to do. Healthy fats are the foundation of my last book, “Fat for Fuel,” and I thought it would be useful to expand on the topic with this book.

“‘Superfuel‘ is the ketogenic diet 2.0,” DiNicolantonio says. “Everyone’s doing keto diets now, where their diets are mostly 70 to 80 percent fat. But, ‘How do we enhance that diet? What are the healthy fats? What type of fat should people be eating since it’s making up the majority of their calories?’

I think a lot of people doing the ketogenic diet are doing some things right, but they’re doing a lot of things wrong … That really was the motivation for this book.”


Superfuel

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What’s Gone Wrong With Our Modern Diet

In a nutshell, “Superfuel” guides you back to a diet closer to what was eaten during Paleolithic times. Just over 100 years ago, Procter & Gamble introduced Crisco as an alternative to butter and lard in 1911, and we began consuming industrial vegetable oils or seed oils that never existed before.

These oils are primarily omega-6 linoleic acid, and damaged omega-6 at that, due to the processing involved. As a result, our omega-6 intake nearly tripled, while our intake of plant- and marine-based omega-3 fat DECREASED tenfold, causing a severe imbalance in our omega-3 to omega-6 ratio, which ideally should be between 1-to-1 and 1-to-5. DiNicolantonio says:

“We’ve had these dramatic changes in our fat intake. They actually changed us from the inside out. Omega-6 isn’t bad as it is an essential fat. It’s only when you isolate it and adulterate and consume it in excessive quantities that it becomes pernicious. We have these bottles of omega-6 now that are … exposed to light, and then we cook with them. That oxidizes the oil further.

Then we consume these isolated oils. They don’t have the natural vitamins and minerals and antioxidants in the coatings around seeds and nuts that gives us omega-6 to protect them from oxidizing in our body.

When you consume these isolated oils, even if it’s a cold-pressed omega-6, the acid in your stomach will oxidize those oils and create lipid hydroperoxides and aldehydes. We absorb these and they cause a ton of damage.”

How Damaged Omega-6 Fat Causes Cellular Damage

Indeed, one of the most significant dangers from consuming processed vegetable oils is that the damaged fats are integrated into your cell membranes, including the mitochondrial membrane, and once these membranes become dysfunctional, complications are sure to follow.

Even if you do not cook with canola oil or some other vegetable oil, there are many other stealth or hidden sources of damaged omega-6s. If you frequent restaurants on a regular basis, for example, you’re virtually guaranteed to be eating a high-omega-6 diet, as most restaurants use vegetable oils in their cooking and baking.

Canola oil is one of the worst oils you can cook with,” DiNicolantonio says. “It causes a ton of oxidation products, because they’re so susceptible to heat due to the double bonds. They put these omega-6 seed oils in bread and in condiments, cereals, pastries and desserts. It’s really everywhere … [and] it’s literally transforming you from the inside-out, because these long-chain omegas get integrated in the cell membrane.

The oxidation products oxidize those fatty acid tails. When you damage those tails in the lipid bilayer, they start to curl upwards. That actually creates a more permeable membrane. You get more things that aren’t supposed to get into the cell and damage the mitochondria, damage the DNA. The fluidity of the cell membrane also goes down.

The fluidity of the cell membrane is extremely important, because you have all these hormone transporters that sit in the cell membrane. When you don’t get enough omega-3s, especially docosahexaenoic acid (DHA), the membranes become very rigid …

Instead of being able to come in and out very easily, because the membrane isn’t fluid, it starts … affecting how things flow into and out of the cell. Your metabolic rate goes down, and you have damage in the cell. It’s a huge issue.”

DHA Is Crucial for Cellular Health

With regards to your mitochondria, these organelles have an inner membrane. Cardiolipin is an important component of this membrane and it needs to be saturated in DHA, which happens to be very susceptible to oxidation. Cardiolipin can be likened to a cellular alarm system that triggers apoptosis (cell death) by signaling caspase-3 when something goes wrong with the cell.

However, if the cardiolipin is not saturated with DHA, it cannot signal caspase-3, and hence apoptosis does not occur. As a result, dysfunctional cells are allowed to continue to grow, which can turn into a cancerous cell. Similarly, in your brain, DHA is used as a signal to stimulate NRF2, heme oxygenase 1 and to upregulate antioxidant enzymes.

“Omega-3s oxidizing in the body is bad, but our bodies kind of know what to do with that signal, whereas omega-6, not so much, because we didn’t have as much during Paleolithic times,” DiNicolantonio says.

Lowering your omega-6 intake is also important for the removal of senescent cells, i.e., aged, damaged or crippled cells that have lost the ability to reproduce. If senescent cells are not removed, they start gunking up the machinery. Fasting is another method that will clear out senescent cells.

Dietary Recommendations Are Way Off on Omega-6

When it comes to omega-6, you really only need 1 to 2 grams of linoleic acid per day. I like my primary sources of omega-6 to be whole foods such as nuts and seeds. With the exception of flax seeds, chia seeds and hemp seeds, most other plant seeds have high amounts of omega-6

Meanwhile, the American Heart Association (AHA) recommends you to consume 5 to 10 percent of your calories as omega-6 from vegetable oils or olive oil. DiNicolantonio explains:

“Instead of recommending whole foods, they recommend oils, which makes absolutely no sense. The Lyon Diet Heart Study2 lowered linoleic acid from over 5 percent to about 3.5 percent [and found] a 70 percent reduction in cardiovascular [problems] and mortality.

There’s actually no evidence to support the AHA or the United States dietary guidelines, [which] recommends consuming high amounts of omega-6s from vegetable oils …

The problem with these industrial seed oils is the processing that occurs to get [the oil] out of the seed. They have to use hexane and deodorize the oil, because it’s so toxic. By the time it makes it to the shelf, you’ve got all these oxidation products, and then you consume it and your body oxidizes it with the acid in your stomach.

These oxidation products are about a fiftyfold higher than the eicosanoids made in your body. They are dramatically more harmful than any of the most harmful eicosanoids, like thromboxane a2 … because they form aldehydes. These aldehydes, like 4-hydroxynonenal … is what actually causes oxidized low-density lipoprotein (LDL).

It binds to the apolipoprotein B (apoB) [and] all apoB-containing lipoproteins. Now, these lipoproteins aren’t recognized by the LDL receptors. They hang out in the blood. It’s really the linoleic acid that gets integrated into high-density lipoprotein (HDL), LDL and very low-density lipoprotein (VLDL), [which then] oxidizes and causes atherosclerosis.

Linoleic acid itself also damages the endothelium and causes an increase in penetration of LDL and VLDL particles into the subendothelium … And then when you get these oxidation products, it’s dramatically more harmful.

This is what’s causing neurodegenerative diseases. Aldehydes can actually crosslink tau protein and create neurofibrillary tangles. It has been shown in animal studies that these aldehydes can literally create neurofibrillary tangles that you see in Alzheimer’s disease.

This is what’s called advanced lipoxidation end-products (ALEs). Most people know about advanced glycation end-products (AGEs), but these ALEs, by far, are much more harmful, and it’s caused by consumption of oxidized omega-6 seed oils.”

Healthy Versus Damaging Omega-3 Fat

It may come as a surprise to learn that all omega-3 sources are not healthy either. Not only is the ratio between omega-3 and omega-6 a primary concern, but industrially processed omega-3 products can also cause problems similar to those caused by too much, and damaged, omega-6. This is a topic we delve deeper into in the book.

For example, about half of all fish oils have problems with oxidation. So, when buying a fish oil supplement, you really need to look for a product that tests the hydro peroxide levels. The lower the level the better, but I would not accept anything over 5 percent.

Many fish oils are also not sourced from wild fish, and that’s another consideration. Ideally, you really want a fish oil obtained from wild-caught fish and not farmed. Also avoid farmed fish such as farmed salmon if you’re using that as a direct omega-3 source.

Many times, farmed salmon are raised on an unnatural diet that raises their fat content to abnormal levels and skews their omega-3 to omega-6 ratio in favor of the latter. They’re also chockfull of toxins. Along with wild-caught salmon, other healthy sources of omega-3 are sardines, anchovies and herring.

In addition to that, there’s the issue of sustainability, where both wild-caught and farmed fish fall short. That’s one of the reasons I like krill oil, because it is the largest biomass in the world, and harvesting is tightly regulated. If you’re a vegan and refuse to eat any animal food at all, your choices become very limited. Perhaps one of the best sources of EPA and DHA for vegans is algal oil.

“Krill is great, because it is very sustainable and has so many advantages compared to just regular fish oil, because the omega-3s are bound to phospholipids,” DiNicolantonio says. “Back in Paleolithic times … we were scavengers. Sites have been discovered from over 2 million years ago with dozens of animal skulls cracked open around them.

The brain is higher in DHA than salmon — up to 30 percent more concentrated. So, our ancient ancestors were able to access and scavenge skulls in the African savanna and get tremendous amounts of DHA. To give you an example, 4 ounces of brain can give you up to 1.5 grams of DHA.

It’s extremely saturated in cholesterol as well. This was a phospholipid-bound DHA that we were getting. And your brain doesn’t absorb DHA without it being bound to phosphatidylcholine … When you’re consuming fish oil, you’ve got to esterify it. You’ve got to attach it to choline, and then you absorb it.

But with krill oil, being bound to the phospholipids, you get twice the absorption of DHA … And then, also, our consumption of ALA was 10 times what it was today. How we used to get omega-3s if we weren’t getting brain or seafood is we were consuming a tremendous amount of plant material.

We were getting 10 to 15 grams of alpha-linolenic acid (ALA). That’s the parent omega-3 in plants. We only get about 2 grams nowadays. If you look at a female of childbearing age, they could convert over 20 percent of their ALA to EPA …

[A woman of childbearing age] can convert almost 10 percent of that ALA to DHA, which is a long-chain marine omega-3. They were getting 1 to 1.5 grams of DHA just from the conversion.”

Bear in mind that these conversion rates are not typical. The average, nonpregnant adult typically converts only 5 percent ALA to EPA and 0.5 percent ALA to DHA.

What’s more, when you go from 15 grams of omega-6 linoleic acid to 30 grams, which we’re consuming nowadays, that reduces your conversion rate of ALA to EPA and DHA by another 40 to 50 percent. Certain nutrients, including magnesium and gamma-linolenic acid (GLA), are also required, so certain nutritional deficiencies play a role in your ability to convert ALA to EPA and DHA as well.

The Importance of Animal-Based Omega-3 in Fat Burning

In regard to the ketogenic diet, most people don’t understand how important omega-3s are to building muscle, improving fitness and burning fat. To give you an example, if you replaced just 6 grams of visible fat in your diet (such as steak) with 6 grams of high-quality fish oil, research shows that in just three weeks you may lose 2 pounds of fat and gain half a pound of muscle. The reason for this is because omega-3 fat, particularly DHA, is the pacemaker of the cell.

“The reason why hummingbirds can beat their wings 80 times a second is because they can saturate their wings with DHA,” DiNicolantonio says. “DHA makes the cell membrane so fluid that molecules, like amino acids, glucose, sodium, potassium, they fly in and out of the cell.

The same thing happens in humans. When you consume a high amount of omega-3s, about 3 to 4 grams, you create a cell membrane that is super saturated DHA, very fluid. Now, your basal metabolic rate goes up 15 percent. Your beta-oxidation in the liver during exercise, your fat burning during exercise goes up by 30 percent. Even at rest, your beta-oxidation goes up by 20 percent.

Long-chain omega-3s are important for ketogenic diets, because you become a better fat-burning machine. It’s affecting the machinery, the beta-oxidation in the liver. It’s improving that by activating genes. And then the other omega-3, the plant omega-3, ALA, is a ketogenic substrate, so it doesn’t get stored like the marine omega-3s. It can be converted into ketones …

Medium-chain triglycerides (MCT) oil is great too for fat loss. Meta-analyses or randomized studies show that MCT oil, compared to long-chain saturated fats — we’re talking about heavy cream and butter —significantly reduces waist circumference and visceral adiposity, because it doesn’t get stored. It gets burned for ketones.

The reason why [marine-based] omega-3s are good for fuel is because it suppresses inflammation in the brain. What happens in a cognitive-declining brain is you’re not able to utilize glucose well, because of the inflammation. DHA helps squelch the inflammation.

Your brain is able to utilize glucose better when you’re consuming more omega-3s. You’re actually able to produce more ketone bodies when you’re consuming both parent omega-3 and the long-chain EPA and DHA. You become a better ketogenic machine when you’re consuming high amounts of omega-3s.”

Mechanisms Behind Omega-3s Ability to Optimize Fat Burning and Build Strength

The mechanism behind these effects is an upregulation of genes that activate beta-oxidation in your liver, allowing you to burn fat more efficiently when you have enough omega-3s in your system. Overall, your basal metabolic rate goes up, because your cell membranes are so fluid, which allows amino acids and glucose to flow into and out of the cells better.

Your inflammation also goes down, and all of this helps optimize your ability to burn fat for fuel. On top of that, omega-3s help synthesize protein, so muscle protein synthesis dramatically increases when you consume 3 to 4 grams of animal-based omega-3 per day — again, because amino acids are able to circulate through the cell very easily when its saturated with DHA.

“Studies have shown in middle-aged adults, as well as in the elderly, consuming 3 grams of DHA [per day] increases muscle strength, increases your maximum amount that you’re able to rep. Your grip strength is improved. This is an important fat to help prevent sarcopenia.

This is a very big issue, where elderly people are not even able to carry a milk carton. Really, the omega-3s are what’s going to hopefully help prevent a lot of the muscle loss during aging.”

Recent Study Supports Our New Book — ‘Superfuel’

After taping this interview, the drug company Amarin issued a press release3 about a new study with fish oil that was just recently completed. They used a new proprietary prescription formulation of fish oil called Vascepa. This is a highly-processed form of EPA.

The drug trial was called REDUCE-IT and it was done for five years. The really unusual result of this trial is that they used high doses — 4 grams per day — which is two to four times as much EPA as is typically done in these types of studies.

What did they find? They found a 25 percent reduction in cardiovascular risks, which far exceeded their expectations and results that are seen with statins. The study only looked at cardiovascular disease but my guess is other degenerative diseases, like Alzheimer’s, diabetes and arthritis, also likely improved. We won’t be able to review the study until it is presented at the American Heart Association’s annual meeting on November 10, 2018.

This study confirmed what we wrote and predicted in our book that will be published on November 13. BUT here is the real kicker, the drug costs $2,500 per year or over $200 per month. Krill and clean fish are far less expensive but you need to approach the 4 grams per day dose to achieve these results, which is the key.

More Information

In closing, this has been but a small sampling of what is covered in greater depth in “Superfuel: Ketogenic Keys to Unlock the Secrets of Good Fats, Bad Fats, and Great Health,” which can be preordered from Amazon or Barnes & Noble. It’s a great complement to “Fat for Fuel,” and will help you clearly understand the benefits of these vitally important fats.

Follow Dr. James DiNicolantonio on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram for more information. Pick up a copy of his book, “The Salt Fix: Why the Experts Got It All Wrong and How Eating More Might Save Your Life.”


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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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