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Boost Your Metabolism With a Cyclical Ketogenic Diet

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The U.S. dietary guidelines were launched in 1980.1 As revealed by investigative journalist Nina Teicholz,2,3 the first guidelines were written by a single U.S. Senate committee staffer, Nick Mottern, who was heavily influenced by a professor of nutrition at the Harvard School of Public Health, and that first edition laid the groundwork for decades of flawed advice.

In 1965, Americans ate about 40 percent of their calories as carbohydrates and another 40 percent of their calories came from fat.4 The original 1980 guidelines called for a diet lower in fat and higher in carbohydrates, and by 2010, Americans had reduced their fat consumption to 35 percent, and increased carbohydrates to 55 in to 65 percent, based on the USDA’s report on dietary guidelines for Americans.5

The advice to eat less fat and more carbs — primarily in the form of grains —has been followed ever since, and the results of this kind of diet are clear for everyone to see.

Conventional Dietary Guidelines Are a Recipe for Obesity and Ill Health

Nearly 40 percent of American adults, over 18 percent of teens and nearly 14 percent of young children are now obese, not just overweight. Nearly 8 percent of adults are severely obese.6

Half of all Americans also have prediabetes, diabetes or other chronic illness,7 and some of the evidence suggests 80 percent of the U.S. population already have “diabetes in situ,” meaning they’re prediabetic,8 even if their fasting glucose is normal. One in 5 deaths is obesity-related9 and 1 in 3 women and half of all men will develop some form of cancer in their lifetime.

Incredibly, a recent report10 by the Council for a Strong America (a group consisting of retired admirals and generals) reveals the obesity trend is also preventing the U.S. Army from reaching its recruitment goal. Overall, 71 percent of men and women aged 17 to 24 failed to qualify for basic service this year; 31 percent were disqualified due to obesity.

The “2015 Health Related Behaviors Survey: Health Promotion and Disease Prevention Among U.S. Active-Duty Service Members” report,11 issued in 2018, reveals two-thirds of active military are also overweight or obese, including nearly 61 percent of the Marine Corps and nearly 70 percent of all active Army personnel, up from 13 percent in 2008.12

While obesity is measured based on body mass index (BMI), which can be misleading when you have a lot of muscle (as muscle weighs more than fat), these percentages still reveal a major problem afoot, considering the body weight of our armed forces can hardly be blamed on lack of physical activity.

US Armed Forces Data Reveal Shocking Increase in Obesity

BMI was also used a decade ago, and aside from diet, there’s no way to explain how the Army went from 13 percent overweight/obese personnel in 2008 to nearly 70 percent a mere decade later. Nor can you explain how we got here when, in 1995, the prevalence of overweight or obese personnel in the army was a mere 2 percent!13

Army data also shows that fitness actually declines during military deployment, despite regimented diet and physical activity.14 Just what kind of diet is recommended for active military?

Complex carbs, lean protein “and a moderate consumption of fat,” is what the military eats, according to Army sources.15 In other words, a diet higher in net carbs and lower in dietary fats. An even greater travesty, they recommend the unhealthiest of fats — “spreads” and margarine rather than pure butter.16

Considering Army nutrition guidelines follow the U.S. dietary guidelines for Americans, is it any surprise that the armed forces are struggling with out-of-control obesity like the rest of the country? How much more proof do we need to realize that the nutritional guidelines are completely upside-down?

Based on the nutritional science now available, there’s no doubt in my mind that a cyclical ketogenic diet is the answer — not just for people at large but also for our armed forces. A recent study again adds additional proof to this mounting evidence pile, showing that cutting carbs is a key strategy for improving your metabolism and maintaining a healthy weight.

More Evidence Low-Carb Diets Improve Metabolism

According to principal investigator Dr. David Ludwig,17 professor of nutrition at Harvard School of Public Health and director of New Balance Foundation Obesity Prevention Center, the team’s findings “suggest that what we eat — not just how much — has a substantial effect on our metabolism and thus how much weight we gain or lose.”

The study,18 published in the BMJ in November 2018, specifically looked at the effects of diets varying in carb-to-fat ratios on energy expenditure during weight loss maintenance. Once the 164 adults had lost 10 to 14 percent of their original weight on a calorie-restricted diet, they were then randomly assigned to one of three test diets for 20 weeks:

  1. 60 percent carbohydrates (high carb diet)
  2. 40 percent carbs (moderate)
  3. 20 percent carbs (low-carb diet)

Twenty grams of carbs a day is on the low end of what’s typically recommended to maintain nutritional ketosis, although some may be able to eat up to 50 grams a day and still maintain a ketogenic state.

What they discovered here was that as carbohydrate ratios diminished, energy expenditure increased (meaning metabolism improved), prompting the team to conclude that low-carb diets “may improve the success of obesity treatment, especially among those with high insulin secretion.” (For a review of and discussion about the strategy used to measure energy expenditure, see this Popular Science article.19)

High-Carb Diets Promote Weight Gain

On average, participants in the low-carb group burned 250 calories a day more than those in the high-carb group — a difference thought to produce a 20-pound weight loss within a few years’ time, and possibly more, since cutting net carbs also tends to curb hunger and reduce overall food intake (an effect shown in other studies20). In an article for the Los Angeles Times, Ludwig explains:21

“The carbohydrate-insulin model22 argues that overeating isn’t the underlying cause of long-term weight gain. Instead, it’s the biological process of gaining weight that causes us to overeat.

Here’s how this hypothesis goes: Consuming processed carbohydrates (especially refined grains, potato products and sugars), causes our bodies to produce more insulin. Too much insulin … forces our fat cells into calorie-storage overdrive.

These rapidly growing fat cells then hoard too many calories, leaving too few for the rest of the body. So, we get hungry, and if we persist in eating less, our metabolism slows down …

The calories-in, calories-out view offers no compelling biological explanation for the obesity epidemic … But if the type of calories consumed affect the number of calories burned, this trend starts to make more sense.

The processed carbohydrates that flooded the food supply during the low-fat diet era of the last 40 years pushed the body weight set-point up across the population.

Our findings suggest that a more effective strategy to lose weight over the long term is to focus on cutting processed carbohydrates, not calories … Our study does not conclusively prove the carbohydrate-insulin model is true. But it credibly makes the case that all calories are not alike to the body.

The High Cost of Being Wrong: Obesity Largely Responsible for Cancer and Heart Disease

The cost of dietary guidelines being wrong extend far beyond excess weight gain alone, as obesity is a primary culprit in rising cancer and heart disease rates. In “Obesity and Subtypes of Incident Cardiovascular Disease,” published in the Journal of the American Heart Association, the authors note that:23

“Obesity is a risk factor for various subtypes of cardiovascular disease (CVD), including coronary heart disease, heart failure and stroke …

Over a median follow‐up of 23 years … [a]fter adjustment for demographics, smoking, physical activity and alcohol intake, higher body mass index had the strongest association with incident heart failure among CVD subtypes, with hazard ratios for severe obesity of 3.74 for heart failure, 2.00 for coronary heart disease, and 1.75 for stroke … Weight management is likely critical for optimal heart failure prevention …”

Other recent research24 sheds added light on how obesity causes cancer, showing that body fat clogs natural killer (NK) cells — cells that play a crucial role in destroying cancer cells — impeding their ability to function. Ultimately, the NK cells stop working, allowing cancer cells to proliferate. Dr. Leo Carlin with the Cancer Research UK Beatson Institute, who was not part of the study, commented on the results:25

“This study reveals how fat molecules prevent immune cells from properly positioning their tumor-killing machinery, and provides new avenues to investigate treatments. A lot of research focuses on how tumors grow in order to find metabolic targets to stop them, so this is a reminder that we should consider the metabolism of immune cells too.”

Becoming Metabolically Flexible Is the Key

What happens when you eat too many net carbs (total carbs minus fiber), too much protein and too little healthy fat? Over time, insulin resistance sets in, resulting in the gaining and retaining of unwanted body fat and the slow and steady deterioration of your mitochondrial function.

In short, for optimal health and fitness, your body must be able to burn fat for fuel, and this is an ability that is lost when you consume too many net carbs on a daily basis.

When your body is able to burn fat for fuel, your liver creates water-soluble fats called ketones that burn far more efficiently than carbs, thus creating far less damaging reactive oxygen species and secondary free radicals. Ketones also improve glucose metabolism and lower inflammation.26

Importantly, when you lower your net carb ratio, the food group that needs to be increased is healthy fats, not protein.

Dietary fats — aside from being a healthy fuel source — are also vital for the health of your cellular membranes and play an important role in maintaining your body’s electrical system, along with many other biological functions. For this reason alone, low-fat diets tend to do more harm than good.

Like other ketogenic diets, my metabolic mitochondrial therapy (MMT) diet detailed in “Fat for Fuel” is high in healthy fats and fiber and low in net carbs. However, it also stresses two specific strategies that many others fail to address, namely:

1. Moderating your protein intake to avoid overactivating mTOR, which plays a role in aging and cancer. Excessive protein can also be converted into body fat and, through some pathways, sugar. While net carb restriction normalizes the insulin pathway, protein restriction helps to normalize the mTOR pathway, both of which are important for optimal health and longevity.

2. Cycling in and out of ketosis once you’ve started burning fat as your primary fuel. To do this, all you need to do is increase your net carb and protein intake once or twice a week.

After a day or two of “feasting,” you then cycle back into nutritional ketosis (high-fat, low net carb, moderate protein) for the remainder of the week. By periodically pulsing higher carb intakes, consuming 100 or 150 grams of carbs opposed to 20 to 50 grams per day, your ketone levels will dramatically increase and your blood sugar will remain consistently suppressed.

Needless to say, processed foods are not recommended. Eating real food is key no matter what your ratios of fat, carbs and protein are. Cooking from scratch using whole, unadulterated and ideally organic or biodynamically grown produce and grass fed animal products is really the only way to avoid a majority of harmful additives and contaminants that contribute to weight gain and ill health. Another key is to select the right fats.

Cyclical Ketogenic — One of the Most Effective Low-Carb Diets

It is easy to make the mistake of believing that you should be low-carb continuously. Many, including me, have made this mistake. However, it is important to understand that continuous low-carb, high-fat diets are only a useful short-term intervention that is used until you regain metabolic flexibility and can burn either fat or sugar for fuel.

Once you reach this state, as evidenced by your ability to generate ketones over 5 mmol/l in your blood, then it is important to reintroduce healthy carbs back into your diet. Sweet potatoes would be a great example. If you fail to do this, the health of your microbiome will likely suffer.

Additionally, many experts now believe that your body develops a resistance to the benefits of ketosis unless you regularly cycle in and out of it. An example is that your insulin level could drop below the level at which it inhibits the production of glucose by your liver (hepatic gluconeogenesis).

Even though you are eating virtually no carbs, your insulin level is so low that your liver is forced into making glucose to supply fuel to your brain. In this setting, the solution is to eat healthy carbohydrates that will raise your insulin levels. This will shut down liver glucose production and paradoxically actually lower your blood sugar.

Good Versus Bad Fats

While my latest book, “Superfuel,” delves into the ins and outs of good and bad fats, as a general rule, the fats you want to eat more of are plant- and animal-based saturated fats which, contrary to popular myth, do NOT cause heart disease, as evidenced in a large number of studies.27,28,29,30,31,32 In fact, just about any fat found naturally in food — whether animal- or plant-based — is in fact healthy for you.

The marine-based omega-3 fat docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) is particularly important, as it’s not actually used for fuel; rather it’s a building block and major structural element in most cells. You can learn more about this in my interview with my “Superfuel” coauthor, James DiNicolantonio, Pharm.D. Examples of healthy fats to eat more of include:







Olives and olive oil (look for third party certification, as 80 percent of olive oils are adulterated with vegetable oils. Avoid cooking with olive oil; use it cold)

Coconut oil (excellent for cooking as it can withstand higher temperatures without oxidizing)

Animal-based omega-3 fat from fatty fish low in mercury like wild caught Alaskan salmon, sardines, anchovies and/or krill oil

Butter made from raw grass fed organic milk

Raw nuts such as macadamia and pecans

Seeds like black sesame, cumin, pumpkin and hemp seeds

Avocados

Grass fed meats

MCT oil

Ghee (clarified butter); lard and tallow (excellent for cooking)

Raw cacao butter

Organic, pastured eggs

The harmful fats you need to steer clear of are all man-made. This includes trans fats and all highly refined polyunsaturated vegetable oils,33,34 which are high in damaged omega-6 and produce toxic oxidation products like cyclic aldehydes when heated.

When consumed in large amounts, omega-6 polyunsaturated fats — and especially industrially processed ones — also cannot be effectively burned for fuel. Instead, they’re incorporated into cellular and mitochondrial membranes where they become susceptible to oxidative damage, which ultimately damages your metabolism.

How to Implement a Cyclical Ketogenic Diet

To implement a high-fat, low-carb ketogenic diet, begin by eliminating packaged, processed foods. It’s important to eat real (whole) foods, plenty of healthy fats and, initially, as few net (nonfiber) carbs as possible. Foods to reduce or eliminate in this phase include all grains and any food high in sugar, particularly fructose, but also galactose (found in milk) and other sugars.

As a general rule, you’ll want to reduce your net carbs to 20 to 50 grams a day or less, and restrict protein to 1 gram per kilogram of lean body mass. To make sure you’re actually meeting your nutritional requirements and maintaining the ideal nutrient ratios, use an online nutrient tracker such as www.cronometer.com/mercola, which is one of the most accurate nutrient trackers available.

My tracker is actually preset for nutritional ketosis, so based on the base parameters you enter, it will automatically calculate the ideal ratios of net carbs, protein and healthy fats required to put you into nutritional ketosis. This is what will allow your body to start burning fat as its primary fuel rather than sugar, which in turn will help optimize your mitochondrial function, metabolism and overall health and fitness.

Remember, once you are able to generate ketones over 0.5 mmol/l in your blood, that is the time to start reintroducing carbs cyclically back into your diet. Typically, a few times a week works just fine. Ideally this is done on strength training days on which you actually increase your protein intake.

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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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