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Civilizations That Depend on Annual Agriculture Collapse

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A society that builds its foundations on annual agriculture cannot survive, according to Mark Shepard, CEO of Forest Agriculture Enterprises and founder of New Forest Farm, a 106-acre perennial “agricultural savanna.” In the video above, Shepard speaks to organic farmers not only about his farm but also why annual agriculture is doomed from the start.

In short, annuals — which include the grain crops and soy that make up most U.S. farmland — are chemical intensive and enemies of diversity. Eventually, Shepard says, the destruction caused by this type of shortsighted farming, i.e., annual monocropping, will cause the civilization that depends on it to collapse.

What’s needed, instead, are perennial ecosystems that “redesign agriculture in nature’s image.” In other words, as stated by Forest Agriculture Nursery’s restoration philosophy:1

“Annual monocropping produces nearly all of the grain, meat, vegetables and processed foods consumed today. These practices require giant machinery, tilling and the application of chemical pesticides and fertilizers, resulting in the eradication of biodiversity, the erosion of topsoil, and contributes 30 percent of global carbon emissions — more than from any other source.

Despite the massive human efforts applied to farming, we are woefully short of the inherent resilience, stability, and outright beauty of natural ecosystems. We need look no further than native ecosystems for a template of how to move forward from the many woes of annual monocropping.”

What’s the Cost of Corn and Other Annual Crops?

There’s now so much corn grown in the U.S. that the Corn Belt (typically said to include corn grown across Indiana, Illinois, Iowa, Missouri and parts of Nebraska and Kansas) can be seen from space, courtesy of satellite chlorophyll-sensors.2 Rather than corn being grown as a food source for humans, the two major consumers of corn are industrial in nature: concentrated animal feeding operations (CAFOs) and ethanol.

The first part of the devastation comes in making room for the vast swatches of monocrops, as valuable prairies are often turned under as a result. Since the early 1800s, grasslands in North America have decreased by 79 percent — and in some areas by 99.9 percent.3

Carbon erosion from the land and into the water and air is one result of this turn toward industrial agriculture and annual monocrops. The removal of forests that not only can sustain, but also regenerate our soils and solidify this fragile carbon balance is a major part of the problem, but so, too, is industrial agriculture, including the removal of grasslands to plant more corn.

Previous estimates suggest that one-third of the surplus carbon dioxide in the atmosphere stems from poor land-management processes that contribute to the loss of carbon, as carbon dioxide, from farmlands.4

A 2017 study revealed “hotspots of soil carbon loss, often associated with major cropping regions and degraded grazing lands” in the U.S. and suggested that such regions should be “targets for soil carbon restoration efforts.”5 Specifically, while deforestation is said to have resulted in 127 billion tons of carbon lost from the soil, the study found industrial agriculture has led to losses of 121 billion tons.

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Annuals Are Dependent on Chemicals, Machinery and Tilling

While contributing to the loss of carbon from the soil, monocrops also add a number of harmful elements to the environment, namely pesticides, fertilizers and harmful farming practices like tilling. These are things that must be added yearly in order for the system to survive, and therein lies the problem.

Agricultural chemicals are polluting waterways, leading to toxic algae and red tide, while tilling can destroy the integrity of the soil structure while encouraging runoff. It’s a system based on degradation, rather than restoration. In an interview with Ethical Foods, Shepard explained:6

“Modern agriculture exists today because the native, natural ecosystem has been intentionally destroyed, and the existing perennial vegetative cover wiped out by tillage or herbicides. Most of agriculture today also relies on large fields of a single species of plant like corn, beans or rice.

These monocropped annual plant systems are the most at-risk for catastrophic outbreaks of pests and diseases because there are no natural controls. The ecosystem is gone, and we are left with an ecological wasteland that continues to degrade over time.

Soil fertility declines catastrophically and plant fertility has to be imported from elsewhere. Annual agriculture, whenever it has been used to provide the staple diet of any culture, has always led to ecosystem collapse and eventually societal collapse.”

Annual monocrops destroy the soil and the surrounding ecosystems, whereas regenerative agriculture rebuilds it, increasing soil organic matter and leading to a number of beneficial outcomes. For instance, soil organic matter is 50 percent carbon, so by rebuilding soil you’re putting carbon into the ground.

The importance of carbon sequestration simply cannot be overstated. Not only will it reduce the carbon dioxide (CO2) load in the atmosphere, but once sequestered in the soil, the carbon actively nourishes soil health and improves water retention. What’s more, restorative agriculture systems like the one Shepard designed are self-sustaining.

“In a restoration agriculture system, annual tillage eventually ceases,” Shepard told Ethical Foods.7 “You plant the system once and it’s there for 1,000 years. I’ve personally touched hazelnut bushes in Spain that were 1,400 years old and I’ve visited the chestnut tree in Sicily that is 4,000 years old. Their perennialism has paid back their cost of establishment many thousands of times over.”

Monocrops Contribute to the Eradication of Biodiversity

The very definition of monoculture is a system of agriculture with very little diversity. It defines the wide swatches of corn and soy being grown across the U.S. and worldwide. A whopping 35 percent of cereal and soy harvested globally is actually fed to animals being raised on CAFOs (concentrated animal feeding operations).8

Because of the vast amounts of annual crops being grown for CAFO animal feed, conservation group World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF) found that 60 percent of global biodiversity loss is due to meat-based diets straining resources.9 As further revealed by Stop the Machine, a global campaign aimed at relegating CAFOs to museums,10 even wildlife are affected.

For instance, there are only 15,000 jaguars left in the wild. Half of them live in Brazil, where grasslands and rainforests are increasingly being converted into soy plantations. Most of the soy is being grown to feed CAFO animals. “Agricultural intensification,” including pesticide usage, year-round tillage and increased use of fertilizers, has also been named as a plausible cause for why insect populations are declining.11

“Annual monoculture farming erodes the soil and depletes its natural fertility, all while destroying wildlife habitat, wild pollinators, birds and beneficial insects,” Shepard continued to Ethical Foods.12Monarch butterflies are but one example, numbers of which have decreased by 90 percent since 1996.13

As usage of glyphosate (the active ingredient in Monsanto’s Roundup herbicide) has skyrocketed, milkweed, which is the only plant on which the adult monarch will lay its eggs, has plummeted. In 2013, it was estimated that just 1 percent of the common milkweed present in 1999 remained in corn and soybean fields and, tragically, while milkweed is not harmed by many herbicides, it is easily killed by glyphosate.14

Why Perennial Ecosystems Are Better

Shepard’s farm is centered on perennial foods like fruits grown on trees, nuts (hazelnuts, chestnuts and walnuts) and berries. Not exactly a “farm” but rather a perennial agricultural ecosystem, the design combines brushland, woodlands and oak savannah, a type of grassland that also includes oak trees, to create the type of environment that might naturally occur.

“Overall, the land attempts to mimic the oak savanna biome. Trees, shrubs, vines, canes, perennial plants and fungi are planted in association with one another to produce food, fuel, medicines and beauty,” according to New Forest Farm’s website.15

Shepard describes it as a three-dimensional system that includes “a tree canopy layer, a smaller tree subdominant tree layer, shrubs, vines, canes, shade tolerant plants, ephemeral plants, fungi forage and livestock”16 all of which work together to naturally increase biodiversity and soil fertility. Grazing animals, including cows, pigs, sheep, turkeys and chickens, are also part of the system, helping with grass, pest and brush control.

“Whether you call it Permaculture, Agroforestry, Eco-Agriculture, Agroecology, or Restoration Agriculture … ,” Shepard’s Forest Agriculture Nursery explained, “By intentionally designing and planting perennial ecosystems, we remove carbon dioxide from the air, provide habitat for wildlife, produce food, prevent soil erosion, and begin the creation of ecologically sustainable human habitats.”17

Allen Williams, Ph.D., a sixth-generation farmer and chief ranching officer for Joyce Farms, a well-known “grass fed guru,” also uses regenerative farming with great success. Williams’ Joyce Farms describes some of its noted benefits and principles as such:18

Build Soil Health — By farming without harsh chemicals and tilling, regenerative agriculture allows microbes in the soil to thrive. These microbes are essential for preventing runoff and nourishing plant growth. “Soil doesn’t work without microbes,” they say, as soil should be alive, not dead. “Dead soil cannot hold carbon, so it is released into the atmosphere as CO2.”

Diverse Cover Crops and Plant Life — Planting a diverse variety of plants increases microbial populations and organic matter in the soil, while also covering and protecting the earth. “By introducing a diverse variety of plants to the soil, the microbial population in the soil becomes stronger. With soil life, ecosystems thrive,” they say.

No Till — Tilling destroys soil structure and reduces soil organic matter while increasing weeds and the release of CO2.

No Chemical Inputs — The use of chemicals like fertilizers, herbicides, fungicides and pesticides kill off beneficial species, like pollinators, and pollute waterways with chemical runoff. It’s also a relatively recent practice that traditionally was not part of farming.

“For hundreds of years chemicals were not needed or used in farming because, sensibly, chemical inputs aren’t needed when you are working with (not against) the systems Mother Nature already has in place,” Joyce Farms explains.

Livestock Integration — Rather than housing livestock separately from other animals and crops, livestock is integrated into a symbiotic, complementary system that mimics the way nature works.

“The way we do this at Joyce Farms is by mimicking the dense herds of grazing ruminants that used to roam across America, grazing and trampling plants into the soil. This trampling provides an armor of plant life for the soil and feeds the soil microbes.”

Support Local Perennial Crop Farmers

Shephard recommends that those living in urban or suburban environments get involved by trying to imitate nature in their backyard, and if that’s not possible supporting local perennial crop farmers and buying more perennial foods like nuts, berries and tree fruits.19

Similar to my own dietary advice, Shepard also recommends avoiding annual grains in favor of grass fed meats, eggs and dairy, along with vegetables. By centering your diet around these foods, you get a diet of nutrient-dense foods to fuel your body while supporting the sustainable regenerative agriculture practices that create them.

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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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