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Fermented Dairy Protects Your Heart

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A 20-year Finnish observational study suggests eating fermented dairy products could protect you against heart disease. According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), 610,000 Americans die of heart disease each year, accounting for 1 in 4 deaths.1

Despite public skepticism about the potential adverse health effects of dairy products — reflected in an increasing intake of plant-based drinks like almond, rice and soy — scientific evidence continues to validate the many positive nutritional benefits of dairy products.

Researchers are especially calling attention to the health benefits of fermented dairy foods such as kefir and yogurt. Personally, I am a fan of raw, organic grass fed dairy products such as butter and yogurt. Given the high amounts of healthy fats they contain, raw, organic grass fed dairy can be particularly beneficial if you follow a cyclical ketogenic diet.

Finnish Study Validates the Nutritional Benefits of Fermented Dairy

In a new study published in the British Journal of Nutrition,2 researchers from the University of Eastern Finland highlight the nutritional benefits of fermented dairy, suggesting eating kefir, yogurt and other fermented dairy products may protect you against heart disease.

For clarity, the distinguishing factor between traditional dairy and fermented dairy is the presence of live bacteria, such as is added to milk to create yogurt. The team assessed data involving 1,981 men, ages 42 to 60 years old, taking part in the 1980s-era Kuopio Ischaemic Heart Disease Risk Factor Study with a mean 20-year follow-up.

Their objective was to investigate whether fermented and unfermented dairy products are associated with the risk of incident coronary heart disease (CHD) in a population characterized by a high dairy intake. Though none of the participants had heart disease at the inception of the original study, 472 later experienced some type of coronary heart event.

“Our findings and those from other studies suggest fermented dairy products may have health benefits compared to nonfermented dairy,” study author Jyrki Virtanen, Ph.D., associate professor of nutritional epidemiology at the University of Eastern Finland, told Newsweek. “Therefore, it might be a good idea to use more fermented dairy, such as yogurt, kefir, quark (a type of creamy cheese) and sour milk.”3

According to Medical Xpress,4 the research was based on food diaries kept by the study participants, who were divided into groups based on the amounts of dairy products they consumed. When Virtanen and his team compared the groups with the highest and lowest consumption, while adjusting for various lifestyle and nutrition factors, they found:5,6

  • Participants consuming the highest amounts of fermented dairy products had an incident risk of CHD 27 percent lower than their counterparts in the lowest consumption group
  • Consumption of high-fat fermented dairy products like cheese was not associated with increased risk of incident CHD
  • Very high consumption (defined as average daily consumption of 0.9 liters, or just under 4 cups) of unfermented milk was associated with an increased CHD incident risk

“Some of the beneficial effects of fermented dairy products may relate to their impact on the gut microbiota,” Virtanen added.7 Because the study was observational, he acknowledged it can’t be used to prove the intake of fermented dairy products actually cuts your risk of cardiovascular events.

“The next step would be to start randomized clinical trials, where … health effects of fermented and nonfermented dairy products are compared.”8

Consuming Milk and Cheese May Lower Your Risk of Heart Disease and Stroke

Separate research, conducted earlier in 2018, found consuming dairy products such as milk and cheese could lower your risk of heart disease and stroke. Study author Marcia Otto, Ph.D., assistant professor of epidemiology, human genetics and environmental sciences at University of Texas Health (UTHealth) school of public health, said in a statement:

“Our findings not only support, but also significantly strengthen, the growing body of evidence which suggests that dairy fat, contrary to popular belief, does not increase risk of heart disease or overall mortality in older adults.”9

In the study, which was published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition and funded by the National Institutes of Health (NIH), Otto and her team measured the blood levels of three dairy-based fatty acids in 2,907 adults ages 65 and older. Measurements were taken when the study began in 1992 and again six and 13 years later. Among the outcomes, the researchers found:10,11

  • None of the fatty acids were linked to a higher risk of dying
  • One fatty acid was linked to a lower risk of dying from cardiovascular disease
  • Participants with higher levels of fatty acids, which may have stemmed from their consumption of dairy products, had a 42 percent lower risk of death by stroke

“Consumers have been exposed to so much different and conflicting information about diet, particularly in relation to fats,” says Otto. “It’s therefore important to have robust studies, so people can make more balanced and informed choices based on scientific fact rather than hearsay.”12

Beyond that, a 2017 meta-analysis of 29 studies involving more than 938,000 participants, published in the European Journal of Epidemiology,13 indicated the consumption of dairy products such as cheese, milk and yogurt had a neutral effect on health.

Study author Sarah Guo, Ph.D., U.K. University of Reading, said in a statement: “This latest analysis provides further evidence that a diet that is high in dairy foods is not necessarily damaging to health.” Guo also noted “the potentially beneficial effect of fermented dairy on heart health.”14

Dairy Consumption Does Not Contribute to Cancer, Obesity or Type 2 Diabetes

Based on meta-analyses and randomized controlled trials about the impact of dairy with respect to health conditions such as cancer, obesity and Type 2 diabetes, authors of a 2016 European study published in the journal Food & Nutrition Research found mostly positive or neutral associations.

Based on their extensive review of scientific evidence gathered from previous research, they offered insights about the influence of dairy on the following health conditions:15

All-cause mortality — Consumption of milk and dairy products was not associated with all-cause mortality

Cancer — Dairy intake was inversely associated with bladder, breast, colorectal and gastric cancer and was not associated with the risk of lung, ovarian or pancreatic cancer. Evidence about dairy and prostate cancer risk was inconsistent.

Cardiovascular disease — Dairy consumption has been associated with a reduced risk of cardiovascular disease

Obesity — Recent evidence suggests the use of dairy products was linked to reduced risk of childhood obesity, whereas intake of dairy products by adults was shown to “improve body composition and facilitate weight loss during energy restriction.”16

Osteoporosis — Evidence suggested a beneficial effect of dairy on bone mineral density, with no association with respect to bone fracture risk

Type 2 diabetes — Intake of dairy products was associated with a neutral or reduced risk of Type 2 diabetes

In conclusion, the study authors stated, “The totality of available scientific evidence supports that intake of milk and dairy products contribute to meet nutrient recommendations, and may protect against the most prevalent chronic diseases, whereas very few adverse effects have been reported.”17

What Is the Best Milk for You?

The easiest way to determine the best milk for you is to listen to your body. If you feel ill after drinking dairy milk, chances are good you may suffer from lactose intolerance, a casein allergy or another type of dairy sensitivity. Rather than eat and drink illness on yourself, your best strategy is to simply avoid traditional dairy products.

Keep in mind that many who believe they cannot drink regular cow’s milk actually do fine when drinking raw, organic grass fed milk, which is far easier on your digestive system. Raw, organic grass fed A2-only milk may be even better.

Replacing milk and other dairy products with nondairy substitutes is a matter of personal choice. If you don’t miss drinking and eating milk-based products such as cheese, ice cream and yogurt and can obtain requisite nutrients from other foods, you can easily forgo nondairy alternatives.

However, if you cannot imagine life without eating certain types of foods — like ice cream or yogurt, for example — then by all means, find a substitute. If you do choose substitutes, I advise you to read labels carefully to avoid artificial ingredients and toxic amounts of added sugar.

Very especially, do not choose substitutes containing soy because most of that crop is genetically engineered (GE). With respect to ice cream for example, choosing a coconut-based substitute would be a better choice than one made with soy.

Regardless of the type of “milk” and “milk-based” beverages and foods you choose, be sure you are consuming enough calcium, protein and other vital nutrients from either dairy or nondairy sources.

Raw Milk: A Source of Superior Nutrition and Taste

If you are able to tolerate cow’s milk, I highly recommend you drink raw organic milk from organic, grass fed animals. Once your taste buds acclimate to it, you are sure to enjoy the thick, creamy taste and many beneficial nutrients raw milk provides, including calcium. High-quality raw milk provides other health benefits, such as:

  • “Good” bacteria that line and protect your gastrointestinal tract
  • Beneficial amino acids, proteins and omega-3 fats
  • More than 60 digestive enzymes that make raw milk very digestible (these enzymes are destroyed in milk that is pasteurized, making it harder for your body to process pasteurized milk)
  • Healthy unoxidized cholesterol

The best raw, unpasteurized milk comes from healthy cows raised on open pasture. In that setting, cows are free from herbicides and other toxic chemicals known to negatively affect the quality and taste of the final product. It’s best to source your milk from a local organic farm. You can locate a provider near you through the Weston A. Price Foundation’s Campaign for Real Milk.

If you’re new to raw milk, keep in mind the appearance of grass fed organic milk is quite different from the milk you may have purchased from the grocery store. Carotenoids in the grass give it a yellowish color.

Though it may look more like cream than milk, raw milk is one of the healthiest beverages around. Not only is it nutritionally much better for you than the pasteurized variety, its taste is also far superior.

Yogurt Shown to Boost Metabolism, Reduce Inflammation and More

In multiple studies, researchers from the University of Wisconsin-Madison (UW-Madison) have underscored the nutritional value of yogurt. Not only can a premeal serving of yogurt boost your postmeal metabolism, but yogurt has also been found to reduce inflammation.

About the 2018 results published in The Journal of Nutrition,18 involving 120 premenopausal women, half of whom were obese, Ruisong Pei, a UW-Madison food science postdoctoral researcher, said, “Eating 8 ounces of low-fat yogurt before a meal is a feasible strategy to improve postmeal metabolism and thus may help reduce the risk of cardiovascular and metabolic diseases.”19

Earlier work by the UW-Madison team, published in 2017 in the British Journal of Nutrition,20 based on the analysis of blood samples from the same participant group, highlighted yogurt’s anti-inflammatory activity.

Specifically, inflammatory markers such as TNF-alpha, an important inflammation-activating protein, were significantly reduced in the women who ate yogurt. Beyond boosting your metabolism and reducing inflammation, yogurt consumption has also been linked to heart health.

Specifically, a 2018 study published in the American Journal of Hypertension links higher yogurt consumption to a lower risk of cardiovascular disease among men and women with high blood pressure — one of the primary risk factors for cardiovascular disease. Higher intakes of yogurt were associated with: 21,22

  • A 30 percent reduction in heart attack risk among women
  • A 19 percent reduction in heart attack risk for men
  • A 16 percent lower risk of undergoing revascularization for women
  • About a 20 percent lower risk of major CHD or stroke during the follow-up period for participants who consumed more than two servings of yogurt a week
  • Greater reductions in cardiovascular risk among hypertensive men and women when higher yogurt consumption was combined with an overall heart-healthy diet

Boost Your Health With Homemade Yogurt

Beyond the fact it contains healthy milk-derived nutrients like calcium, phosphorus, potassium, riboflavin and vitamin A, traditional homemade yogurt is a fermented food known to promote gut and heart health. It is also a nutrient-dense food rich in high-quality protein, beneficial probiotics and cancer-fighting conjugated linoleic acid.

If you haven’t yet considered making your own yogurt, perhaps you don’t realize how easy it is to do. All you need is a high-quality starter culture and raw, organic grass fed milk. Fortunately, there are many excellent starter cultures available online or from your local health food store.

Whatever you do, do not use sweetened commercial yogurt as your source for the starter culture because it contains too much sugar and too few live cultures to be effective. Because bacterial cultures are temperature sensitive, the trick to making good yogurt is keeping the milk/culture starter mixture at a consistently warm temperature until it has had sufficient time to ferment.

Using a dehydrator is an excellent way to control the temperature to promote fermentation. While the consistency won’t be quite the same as store-bought yogurt, making homemade yogurt affords you control over the ingredients you use. For more tips, check out “How to Make Fresh Homemade Yogurt.”

When yogurt and other fermented dairy products become a regular part of your diet, you will not only give your digestive tract the beneficial bacteria it needs for optimal functioning, but you may — as noted in the new research — lower your risk of heart disease, too.

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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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