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Getting Omega-3 to Omega-6 Ratio Right Is Essential for Health

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Omega-3 fats are essential polyunsaturated fats (PUFAs) your body needs for a wide variety of functions, including proper cell division and function of cell receptors, muscle activity, cognition and heart health.

Importantly, the marine-based omega-3 fats docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) and eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) — two long-chained PUFAs found in fatty fish, fish oil and krill oil — are actually cellular components, which makes them all the more crucial for optimal functioning of cells and mitochondria.

DHA is particularly important for your brain, as about 90 percent of the fat in your brain is DHA, while EPA appears to be of particular importance for heart health.

EPA Lowers Cardiovascular Health Risks

For example, recent research1,2,3 involving a proprietary prescription formulation of fish oil called Vascepa — a highly-processed form of EPA — found the drug lowered cardiovascular health risks by 25 percent compared to placebo containing mineral oil. This included heart attacks, strokes, bypass surgery and chest pain requiring hospitalization.

Participants received 4 grams of EPA per day, which is two to four times more EPA than typically given, which supports the prediction that most people need far more omega-3 than currently recommended.

I discuss this in my latest book, “Superfuel,” cowritten with James DiNicolantonio, Pharm. D., who has published a number of papers on omega-3 and the health implications of the ratios between omega-3 and omega-6. Based on his review of the scientific literature, which I’ll review further below, 3 to 4 grams of EPA and DHA appear to be ideal.


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Meanwhile, you only need 1 to 2 grams of whole food-based omega-6 linoleic acid per day (not to be confused with conjugated linoleic acid found in grass fed animal foods), ideally from plant seeds and tree nuts, not vegetable oils, as the oxidized omega-6 in these oils actually contribute to heart disease.4

VITAL Study Confirms Heart Healthy Benefits of Fish Consumption

Another recent omega-3 study,5 funded in part by the National Institutes of Health, followed more than 25,000 individuals aged 50 and older for over five years. Participants were taking either a daily supplement containing 1 gram of marine-based omega-3 and 2,000 IUs of vitamin D, or a placebo. As reported by The Harvard Gazette:6

“For omega-3 fatty acids, the previous randomized trials had largely been in high-risk populations with a history of cardiovascular disease (CVD) or with selected risk factors for CVD. VITAL is the first large-scale randomized trial of marine omega-3s in a general population at ‘usual risk’ of CVD.

It’s also one of the first randomized trials of these supplements in a racially and ethnically diverse study population. Assessing the role of these supplements in a general population free of cardiovascular disease and cancer at baseline fills an important gap in knowledge.”

While omega-3 supplementation led to “only a small, statistically nonsignificant 8 percent reduction” in the primary endpoint of major cardiovascular events (heart disease plus stroke plus total CVD mortality), some of the secondary endpoints showed impressive improvement when viewed separately.

For example, heart attacks alone were reduced by 28 percent in the overall population. The authors suggest the lack of reductions in stroke or CVD mortality “watered down” the results for the primary endpoint of major cardiovascular events. They also found that:

  • Compared to the placebo group, African-Americans who received the supplement had a 77 percent reduction in heart attacks.
  • People with low fish intake also reaped far greater benefits than the population as a whole. Those with the lowest fish intake had a 19 percent reduction in major cardiovascular events (the primary endpoint) and a 40 percent reduction in heart attacks (a secondary endpoint).

Vitamin D Supplementation May Lower Cancer Risk, Even in Short Term

As for vitamin D, the study was not long enough to really identify the impact of supplementation on cancer risk, but after accounting for a latency period, the researchers found a 25 percent reduction in cancer deaths, which clearly would have been greater had the study been longer.

“Laboratory and clinical studies suggest that vitamin D may affect tumor biology, making tumors less invasive, less aggressive and less likely to metastasize.

And if that’s the effect, once there’s already a tumor — diagnosed or not, clinically detected or not — you might see a reduction in cancer death over the course of a five-year trial,” lead author, JoAnn Manson, a Michael and Lee Bell professor of Women’s Health at Harvard Medical School and a professor of epidemiology at the Harvard Chan School, said.7

Processed Seed Oils Contribute to Low-Grade Inflammation

Papers written by DiNicolantonio also reveal the importance of omega-3 for health, and the importance of maintaining the right balance between omega-3 and omega-6. In his editorial, “Importance of Maintaining a Low Omega-6/Omega-3 Ratio for Reducing Inflammation,”8 published in the BMJ journal Open Heart, DiNicolantonio notes:

“The consumption of seed oils high in the omega-6 PUFA linoleic acid contributes to low-grade inflammation, oxidative stress, endothelial dysfunction and atherosclerosis. Moreover, dietary linoleic acid significantly increases cyclooxygenase-2 (COX-2) expression in the aorta, converting arachidonic acid to proinflammatory eicosanoids …

Additionally, there is an arachidonic acid-independent pathway of inflammation promoted by the intake of omega-6 seed oils such as increased production of oxidized linoleic acid metabolites and proinflammatory linoleic acid CYP-eicosanoids.

Oxidized linoleic acid metabolites formed from linoleic acid activate NF-kB and increase proinflammatory cytokines, endothelial adhesion molecules, as well as chemokines, all of which are paramount in the formation of atherosclerosis. Linoleic acid also induces an inflammatory environment in endothelial cells that may increase the risk of coronary heart disease (CHD).

Oxidized linoleic acid metabolites are found at a fiftyfold higher concentration in plasma than arachidonic acid metabolites, suggesting that they are more consequential in CHD and other chronic diseases, and lowering dietary linoleic acid reduces oxidized linoleic acid metabolites in the body.”

In short, while omega-3s have an anti-inflammatory effect, the omega-6 found in seed oils tend to be proinflammatory, largely due to the processing the oils undergo, which oxidize the PUFAs. This is important, as chronic low-grade inflammation is a hallmark of most chronic diseases, including obesity, diabetes, heart disease and cancer.

As noted by DiNicolantonio, research shows that as atherosclerotic lesions become more advanced, the ratio between oxidized and unoxidized linoleic acid increases, suggesting the omega-6 in vegetable oils is a driver of coronary heart disease. He addresses these links more directly in his paper, “Omega-6 Vegetable Oils as a Driver of Coronary Heart Disease: The Oxidized Linoleic Acid Hypothesis.”9

Research has also shown that lowering the omega-6 to omega-3 ratio from 18-to-1 to 3-to-1 reduced the release of a proinflammatory cytokine known as IL-6 when eating a high-saturated-fat diet, suggesting that replacing omega-6 with omega-3 indeed reduces inflammation.

Balancing Your Omega-6 to Omega-3 Ratio May Also Aid Weight Management

In an earlier editorial,10 published in 2016, DiNicolantonio discusses the importance of balancing your omega-6 to omega-3 ratio for the prevention and management of obesity, as the two PUFAs have very different effects not only on inflammation markers but also on body fat. In short, they’re “metabolically and functionally distinct,” and produce very different health impacts. He writes:

“[C]alories from vegetable oils high in linoleic acid … an omega-6 fatty acid, are proinflammatory and thrombogenic, whereas calories from eating fish high in omega-3 fatty acids are anti-inflammatory and antithrombotic …

Furthermore, calories from omega-6 … intake from vegetable oils high in linoleic acid (corn oil, sunflower, safflower, cottonseed, soya bean oil) have different effects on fat tissue development and type than calories from omega-3 fatty acid intake high in α-linolenic acid (ALA) (such as flaxseed oil, canola oil, perilla oil, chia oil) …

The typical Western diet now provides an omega-6 to omega-3 ratio of around 16-to-1. High dietary intake of omega-6 fatty acids as occurs today leads to increases in white adipose tissue and chronic inflammation, which are the ‘hallmarks of obesity.’

Omega-6 and omega-3 fatty acids specifically metabolize to prostaglandins, thromboxane and leukotrienes. Prostaglandin E2 from arachidonic acid leads to differentiation and proliferation of adipose tissue and prostaglandin F2α, also from arachidonic acid, prevents the browning of white adipose tissue, which is the good fat tissue as it increases thermogenesis, burning fat through the release of heat.”

DiNicolantonio also notes that by acting directly on your central nervous system, omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids influence your food intake and your body’s sensitivity to insulin and leptin — but again in opposite directions.

While omega-6 has been shown to increase insulin and leptin resistance, diabetes and obesity in both rodent and human models, omega-3 has the converse effect, and can help “reverse the dysregulation of this system, improve insulin sensitivity and control body fat,” DiNicolantonio writes, adding “It is therefore essential to return to a balanced dietary omega-6 to omega-3 ratio based on data from evolutionary studies.”

His paper also delves into some of the genetic research showing how omega-3 and omega-6 fats affect genetic expression that directly affects fat storage and thermogenesis (the production of body heat, which affects energy expenditure and fat accumulation).

Dietary Recommendations Are Seriously Distorted on Omega-6

While the American Heart Association (AHA) recommends you to consume 5 to 10 percent of your calories as omega-6 from vegetable oils such as soybean oil, canola, corn, olive, cottonseed, sunflower and peanut oil, research suggests you really need only 1 to 2 grams of linoleic acid per day, and ideally from whole food sources such as whole nuts and seeds.

With the exception of flax, chia and hemp seeds, most other plant seeds have high amounts of omega-6. In a recent interview, DiNicolantonio comments on the discrepancy between conventional recommendations and what nutritional research actually shows:11

“Instead of recommending whole foods, [the AHA] recommends refined oils, which makes absolutely no sense. The Lyon Diet Heart Study12 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,13 [which] recommends consuming high amounts of omega-6s from vegetable oils … [T]hese isolated oils … don’t have the natural vitamins and minerals and antioxidants in the coatings around seeds and nuts that give 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.”

To Protect Your Heart and Brain, Normalize Your Omega-3-to-6 Ratio

Getting back to the issue of heart disease, it’s important to realize that it’s not your total cholesterol or cholesterol per se that causes heart disease. Rather, it’s that the linoleic acid in omega-6-rich vegetable oils gets integrated into your high-density lipoproteins (HDLs), low-density lipoproteins (LDLs) and very low-density lipoproteins (VLDLs), and when it oxidizes, it then causes atherosclerosis, i.e., hardening and narrowing of your arteries.

Linoleic acid also damages the endothelium — the layer of cells lining your blood vessels — thereby allowing LDLs and VLDLs to penetrate into the subendothelium.

This chain of events is also at play in neurodegenerative diseases. The aldehydes created by linoleic acid crosslink tau proteins and create neurofibrillary tangles. As noted by DiNicolantonio, “It has been shown in animal studies that these aldehydes can literally create neurofibrillary tangles that you see in Alzheimer’s disease.

Between 1959 and 2008, the linoleic acid concentration in subcutaneous adipose tissue in Americans increased by about 250 percent,14 from 9.1 percent to 21.5 percent. Since the half-life of linoleic acid is about two years in adipose tissue, this is a reliable marker of intake, and this rise in linoleic acid intake parallels the increase in prevalence of both obesity and diabetes, suggesting the advice to eat more vegetable oils is an unwise one.

As mentioned, the American diet is also extremely lopsided in favor of omega-6 over omega-3, which further worsens the situation, as omega-3 can to some degree ameliorate the damaging effects of oxidized linoleic acid. Rather than a ratio of 16-to-1 in favor of omega-6 (the national average), we need to aim for a ratio of 3-1-to-1. Again, ideal amounts appear to be around:

1 to 2 grams of omega-6 (linoleic acid) from plant seeds and tree nuts, not vegetable oils.

3 to 4 grams of omega-3 (EPA and DHA) in the form of fatty fish, krill oil, or fish oil in which the omega-3s are bound to triglycerides and not ethyl esters. (Ethyl esters are a synthetic substrate created through the micro distillation process of crude fish oil, in which ethanol and/or industrial alcohol is added.

This mix is heat distilled in a vacuum chamber, resulting in a concentrated omega-3 ethyl ester condensate, which are the least bioavailable form of omega-3. This appears to be one of the reasons why many commercial fish oils fail to produce expected health benefits in some studies, so if using fish oil, make sure it’s a triglyceride form.)

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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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