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Milk Allergy Prevalence Remain Steady for Past Decade

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In the decade between 2006 and 2016, prescriptions in the U.K. for infant formula for babies with cow’s milk allergy rose sixfold, resulting in a sevenfold increase in National Health Service spending on nondairy specialty formulas, yet there’s no evidence that the true prevalence of the condition has increased.

So, what’s going on? Why are pediatricians recommending nondairy formulas at such an increased rate if there’s no need? According to a recent paper1 by Chris van Tulleken, Ph.D., honorary senior lecturer at University College London, the discrepancy appears to be driven by makers of infant formula.

“Allergy to cow’s milk protein may be acting as a Trojan horse for the $50 billion (£40billion; €44billion) global formula industry to forge relationships with health care professionals in the U.K. and around the world,” Tulleken writes.2

“Experts believe these relationships are harmful to the health of mothers and their children, creating a network of conflicted individuals and institutions that has wide ranging effects on research, policy and guidelines. Potential overdiagnosis of the allergy can also have negative effects on breastfeeding.”

Milk Allergy Prevalence Has Remained Steady for Past Decade

I’ve written numerous articles about the influence of funding, and this appears to be a powerful example of what happens when you allow industry to pay for the creation of medical guidelines. According to Tulleken, there’s no evidence showing that milk protein allergy has become more common. In fact, studies published in 20073 and 20164 reveal no significant rise in prevalence.

In 2007, research estimates of cow’s milk protein allergy ranged from 2 to 7.5 percent. According to the authors, “Differences in diagnostic criteria and study design contribute to the wide range of prevalence estimates and underline the importance of an accurate diagnosis …”

By 2016, incidence of cow’s milk protein allergy was estimated to be between 5 and 7 percent in formula-fed babies, and 0.5 to 1 percent in breastfed babies.

At this time, the authors warned that widespread confusion about the differences between lactose intolerance and milk allergy among physicians was a problem that “could result in unnecessary dietary restriction.”

As explained in this paper, “The currently accepted nomenclature is determined by the mechanism likely to be producing the symptoms, with cow’s milk allergy being immune mediated and lactose intolerance not immune mediated. An infant with suspected IgE-mediated milk allergy will require testing for specific IgE to milk (skin prick test or blood tests).”

Guidelines Funded by Formula Makers Have Led to Overdiagnosis of Milk Allergy

According to Tulleken, overprescription of nondairy formula appears to be the result of industry funding the guidelines used to diagnose dairy allergy. He also warns that formula makers place undue emphasis on the need to stop breastfeeding as part of the diagnostic strategy.

Between 2007 and 2017, six milk allergy guidelines were published. On two occasions, the guidelines were directly funded by infant formula makers. The remaining four guidelines had contributing authors who had received funding from formula makers.

The end result is guidelines that are so vague they could apply to all children. For example, the symptoms listed in Allergy UK’s guidelines5 are so broad and universal that milk allergy can easily be diagnosed in completely healthy babies.

As noted by Dr. Gary Marlowe, vice chair of City and Hackney Clinical Commissioning Group,6 “Virtually every single infant could potentially be diagnosed using these symptoms.” Formula makers also influence prescribing behaviors through sponsored education.

While organizations responsible for educating patients and medical professionals about milk protein allergy appear independent, most in fact receive funding from formula makers. In the U.K., these include Allergy UK, the Allergy Academy and the British Society for Allergy and Clinical Immunology (a professional society of allergists). As reported by Inverse:7

“According to the World Health Organization’s International Code of Marketing of Breast-milk Substitutes,8 published in 1981, companies that make milk substitutes are not supposed to directly educate mothers, create conflicts of interest or advertise through health systems.

But based on the information van Tulleken presents, it seems that infant formula manufacturers are finding ways to exert a strong influence on how doctors diagnose and treat patients.

‘I obviously work within a high-tech medical system, but I see firsthand that we need to be really aware of the harm we can do and the immense influence industry has over our profession,’ van Tulleken tells Inverse. ‘No one is more vulnerable than a breastfeeding infant and their parent to industry exploitation’ …

[S]ince the only way to confirm a non-IgE cow’s milk protein allergy is for a baby to completely switch to a substitute before retesting their tolerance, the baby formula industry benefits from creating and sponsoring guidelines that are more generous in the use of milk substitutes.

In the service of these guidelines, the industry overstates the importance of stopping breastfeeding during this process.

‘The basic research that provides the evidence that an infant can get a serious allergy through allergens in breastmilk is really, really weak,’ says van Tulleken. ‘We have a profusion of guidelines and educational programs for patients and doctors with so little investment in understanding the science of what is going on.'”

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Many Formula Makers Violate International Code of Marketing

A February 2018 Save the Children report9 also reveals formula companies are directly violating WHO’s international code of marketing by bribing health care workers with gifts and incentives to promote the use of formula. According to the report:

“Marketing activities of Nestlé, Danone, RB (Mead Johnson), Abbott, Kraft Heinz and FrieslandCampina routinely violate a World Health Organization code set up to stop aggressive marketing to new mums.”

“The wide availability of industry funded online information promoting nonspecific symptoms potentially indicating cow’s milk allergy as a diagnosis in exclusively breastfed infants” is of particular concern, Tulleken notes.

Women who avoid dairy to protect their nursing child run the risk of not being able to produce sufficient breast milk. According to Tulleken, “Although there is evidence that cow’s milk and other food proteins can be transferred from mother to infant in breastmilk, the quantities transferred are likely to be too small to cause symptoms in most infants.”

Worse, many will simply stop breastfeeding altogether and start using nondairy formula instead. These tactics have very real and potentially life-threatening health ramifications.

Save the Children notes that infant formula advertisements often include false health claims, and according to Tulleken, data suggests formula feeding may be responsible for the death of 16,000 infants each year in the Philippines alone.

According to Save the Children, 823,000 infant deaths could be prevented each year, worldwide, if babies were universally breastfed.

As of 2016, a mere 40 percent of infants under the age of 6 months were being exclusively breastfed, worldwide. Only 33 countries have breastfeeding rates higher than 50 percent, while 68 nations have rates below 50 percent.10

Women who want to breastfeed but are told they cannot also have an increased risk for postnatal depression, Natalie Shenker, Ph.D., cofounder of Hearts Milk Bank, says.11

A related concern is recommendations that include “top up feeds” with formula for exclusively breastfed infants. Chi Eziefula, senior lecturer in the department of global health at Brighton and Sussex Medical School told Tulleken, “By definition, exclusive breastfeeding does not include the use of formula for top-up feeds. Such wording creates a guideline-approved niche for the formula product that could interrupt breastfeeding.”

There’s a Coordinated Campaign Against Breastfeeding

Moms have, and still are, told there’s “no difference” between bottle feeding and breastfeeding, yet nothing could be further from the truth. There is very little similarity between the two, from a nutritional perspective. Unfortunately, marketing materials have a way of giving mothers the false idea that formula may actually provide better nutrition.

Thanks to growing awareness of the science behind the “breast is best” slogan, breastfeeding rates in the U.S. have risen dramatically in recent decades, from a low of 24 percent in 1971 to 81 percent in 2016.12 However, this effective pro-breastfeeding slogan has now been usurped and turned into “fed is best”13 — meaning, as long as your baby is well-fed, it doesn’t matter if it’s breast milk or formula.

A bioethical argument published in the journal Pediatrics in 2016 even advises pediatricians it’s time to stop referring to breastfeeding as something “natural.”14 This trend suggests there’s a coordinated effort underway to dissuade women from breastfeeding. Even more obvious evidence that such a campaign is being waged specifically in the U.S. occurred this past summer.

WHO has set a global goal to get 70 percent of infants exclusively breastfed for the first six months by 2030, and to achieve that, the World Health Assembly (the decision-making body of the WHO) introduced a nonbinding resolution this past spring to encourage breastfeeding around the world.

The resolution stressed that decades of research show breast milk is the healthiest choice, and urged governments to rein in inaccurate or misleading marketing of breast milk substitutes. In a move that shocked the world, the U.S. delegates opposed the resolution, demanding that language calling on governments to “protect, promote and support breastfeeding” be deleted.15

The American delegates even threatened countries with sanctions lest they reject the resolution.16 While witnesses at the assembly meeting claim they saw no evidence of formula makers trying to wield their influence, there’s no denying they’ve spent a lot of money lobbying to protect their market share, which means minimizing the importance of breastfeeding.

According to a MapLight analysis,17 the three leading formula companies, Abbott Laboratories, Nestle and Reckitt Benckiser, have spent $60.7 million lobbying lawmakers in the U.S. over the past decade.

Formula Feeding Linked to Increased Obesity Risk

Your child’s gut microbiome can influence his or her immune response to a number of environmental pathogens as well as pharmaceutical drugs, including vaccinations. Research has also linked the variety and makeup of gut bacteria to specific health benefits and health conditions, including the elimination of chemical toxins, mental health,18obesity,19Types 1 and 2 diabetes20 and brain diseases.

One of the easiest ways to support or decimate your microbiome is through your diet, and research has found an association between feeding infants formula and a change in gut microbiome that encourages obesity.21 The study22 in question looked at how bacteria in an infant’s digestive system affect the burning and storage of fat, and how the infant body uses energy.

More than 1,000 infants were included, and mothers reported the amount of breastfeeding, and the timing of when formula and solid foods were introduced. Stool samples collected from the infants at 3 to 4 months and again at 12 months were tested for a variety of gut bacteria.

By age 3 months, nearly half the women were exclusively breastfeeding their infants, 16 percent fed only formula and approximately 33 percent fed a combination of breastmilk and formula.23 Data from stool samples revealed:

  • The highest level of beneficial bacteria at 3 months and at 1 year was found in infants who were exclusively breastfed
  • Exclusively formula-fed infants had the least variety of bacteria and a proliferation of microbes more commonly found in older children and adults
  • Exclusively formula-fed infants had nearly double the risk of becoming overweight as compared to those who were exclusively breastfed
  • Those fed both breastmilk and formula had a lower risk than those exclusively formula-fed, but they still had a 60 percent greater risk of becoming overweight than exclusively breastfed babies

Lead author Meghan Azad, Ph.D., assistant professor at the University of Manitoba, explained that breast milk contains complex sugars needed to feed specific types of bacteria, which in turn affects how a child’s body burns and stores fat.24

In breastfed infants, the beneficial bacteria Bifidobacterium were introduced into the infant’s gut helping to digest oligosaccharides present in the breastmilk. Once solid foods were introduced, microbiomes more closely resembling adult varieties began to grow. The study found when a more adult variety of gut microbiota was present at an earlier age, it was associated with an increased risk of obesity.25

That formula may increase a child’s risk of obesity also makes perfect sense when you look at the list of ingredients. Infant formula can contain as much sugar as a can of soda, and this processed fructose has none of the benefits of the natural sugars found in breast milk. Instead, just like soda, it comes with a long list of adverse metabolic effects, raising your child’s risk for obesity, diabetes26 and related health problems, both in the short and long term.27

Most formulas also contain a number of other questionable ingredients28 — including genetically modified organisms29 (GMOs), synthetic vitamins, inorganic minerals, excessive protein and harmful fats — while lacking vital immune-boosting nutrients found in breast milk.

Health Effects — Breastfeeding Versus Formula Feeding

Aside from benefiting your baby’s gut microbiome and lowering his or her chances of obesity, breastfeeding has also been shown to confer many other health benefits to your baby, including:

Natural immunity — Breastfeeding initially provides passive immunity as antibodies from the mother are passed through breast milk to the infant. Researchers have also found breast milk has a unique capacity to stimulate the infant’s immune system with long-term positive effects.30

Reduced risk of blindness in preemies — Retinopathy of prematurity causes blindness in 10 percent of severe cases occurring in premature infants. More than half of children born before 30 weeks’ gestation are affected and the condition blinds 50,000 children worldwide.

An analysis suggests the incidence of severe disease, and thus blindness, could be reduced by 90 percent if all premature infants were fed breast milk.31 The researchers theorize the effect may be from the antioxidant and immune protective properties found in breast milk.

Reduced risk for sudden infant death syndrome — In one study, breastfeeding reduced the risk of sudden infant death syndrome in children by 50 percent at all ages through infancy.32

Improved cognitive development — Babies breastfed for nine or more months exhibit greater cognitive development than those who have not been breastfed,33 and researchers found babies exclusively breastfed exhibit enhanced brain growth through age 2.34

Reduced allergies — In one study of over 1,200 mothers and babies, exclusive breastfeeding prevented the development of allergic diseases and asthma.35

Compared to breastfed babies, studies have shown bottle-fed babies have:36

  • A 14 times higher hospitalization rate
  • Double the risk of infant death
  • Fourfold higher risk of sudden infant death syndrome
  • More frequent and more severe upper respiratory infections and gastrointestinal problems
  • Higher rates of jaw misalignment and related problems, such as breathing problems, snoring, sleep apnea and speech impediments

Avoid Soy Formula at All Costs

While I typically refrain from using the word “never,” I make an exception when it comes to soy infant formula. Never feed your child soy-based formula. The potential for harm is just too great. Unfortunately, soy formula is usually recommended when milk allergy or sensitivity is suspected, which makes the industry’s influence all the more disturbing.

Soy infant formula accounts for about 12 percent of the U.S. formula market,37 despite the lack of evidence to support its use. As noted in the British Journal of General Practice,38 babies diagnosed with milk allergy should not be given soy-based formula before the age of 6 months due to its estrogenic effects.

Indeed, soy milk and soy formula contain up to 4,500 times more plant estrogens than breast milk or cow’s milk, and studies have shown serum estrogen levels are significantly higher in soy-fed babies. I believe giving your child soy at any point is simply too risky, so I would not recommend using it for 6-month and older babies either.

Soy formula — which provides an estrogen amount equivalent to three to five birth control pills per day39 — has been linked to a number of troubling side effects, including:40




Altered age of menarche in girls

Uterine fibroids, endometriosis and tumors

Disrupted thyroid function due to altered iodine uptake

Inhibited testosterone in infant boys, which may impede appropriate male development41

Disrupted reproductive function

Autoimmune diseases

According to the British Journal of General Practice,42 “There is also a risk of cross-reactivity: Up to 14 percent of those with IgE-mediated cow’s milk allergy also react to soya and up to 60 percent of those with non-IgE-mediated cow’s milk allergy.” (The same paper also warns that rice milk is also not recommended for children younger than 4.5 years due to the risk of arsenic contamination.)

Healthy Options for Mothers Who Cannot Breastfeed


If you cannot breastfeed, your best bet is to make your own homemade infant formula using raw milk. In the video above, Sarah Pope discusses the differences between different kinds of milk, such as cow’s milk and goat’s milk, and why cow’s milk is actually preferable. She then demonstrates how to make two different formulas, including a meat-based formula for infants with milk allergy.

Pope, who runs The Healthy Home Economist website, is a local Weston A. Price Foundation (WAPF) chapter leader for Tampa, Florida. If you’re unsure of where to obtain organic, raw grass fed milk, visit RealMilk.com. Ideally, you’ll want to make fresh formula every day. It can be safely frozen, though, so you could make a larger batch to last a few days.

Milk-Based Formula Recipe and Instructions

The following raw milk recipe will yield 36 ounces of formula. In her video,43 Pope also makes a number of substitute suggestions for various circumstances such as allergy to certain ingredients, indigestion or constipation. In the event a baby does better on raw goat milk, a modification of the ingredients44 is necessary to adjust for the nutritional differences.

Instructions

1. Warm 1 7/8 cups of filtered water (to get this amount, measure out 2 cups of water and remove 2 tablespoons) over medium heat

2. Add 2 teaspoons of grass fed beef gelatin and 4 tablespoons of lactose to the water; occasionally stir until dissolved

3. Place 2 cups of raw organic whole cow’s milk into a clean glass blender. Add remainder of ingredients to the blender:

1/4 cup of liquid homemade whey (for instructions, see Pope’s video)

2 to 3 tablespoons of raw cream

1/4 teaspoon acerola powder

1/4 teaspoon bifidobacterium infantis (a probiotic)

2 teaspoons Frontier Brand nutritional yeast flake

1/2 teaspoon high-vitamin fermented cod liver oil (see important information about fermented cod liver oil below the meat-based formula recipe). You could substitute the cod liver oil with wild-caught Alaskan Salmon oil or krill oil

1 teaspoon expeller-pressed sunflower oil

1 teaspoon extra virgin olive oil

4. Remove the pot of water from the stove. Add 2 teaspoons of coconut oil and a 1/4 teaspoon high-vitamin butter oil to the water to melt. Once melted, add the water mixture to the blender ingredients and blend for about three to five seconds

5. Pour the blended ingredients into glass jars or glass baby bottles and refrigerate. Before feeding, warm the formula by placing the glass bottle in a pot of hot water. A baby bottle warmer can also be used. Never microwave infant formula, as this will destroy many valuable nutrients and enzymes and pose a burn risk

A Note on Milk Proteins — A1 Versus A2 Milk

The next recipe Pope demonstrates is for a meat-based formula using liver, suitable for babies who cannot tolerate milk. Keep in mind that many symptoms of milk intolerance are caused by A1 casein, a type of lectin associated with leaky gut and autoimmune disorders.

Casein A2 is the normal protein in milk,45 present in sheep, goats, water buffalos and some Jersey cow’s milk. Unfortunately, most cows today are casein A1 producers. The A1 protein is metabolized in your gut to make beta-casomorphin, which can attach to the beta cell of your pancreas and incite an autoimmune attack.46

Many who believe they’re lactose intolerant are actually just responding to the casein A1 in the milk. So, before jumping to conclusions, you could try using raw milk obtained specifically from A2 producing Jersey cows to see if it makes a difference.

You’d have to talk to your farmer or raw milk provider to find out whether the cows are A1 or A2 producers. Holsteins are A1 producers and should be avoided. Using A2 milk would be a good idea even if your child does not show signs of milk intolerance, as the A1 casein can be a problematic lectin.

It can, however, be more difficult to find. That said, if you have a choice, I would suggest opting for A2 raw milk. The other alternative is goat’s milk that only has A2 casein.

Meat-Based Formula for Infants With Milk Allergy

For a demonstration, see Pope’s video above. Brand recommendations and other shopping tips can be found on WAPF’s website, where these recipes are also listed. There you can also find other variations, including a formula using goat’s milk, as well as instructions for making homemade whey.47

Pope also offers shopping recommendations on her website, noting Radiant Life Company sells many the ingredients necessary for milk-based formula.48 The following recipe will yield 36 ounces of formula.

Instructions

1. Chop 2 ounces of organic grass fed beef or chicken liver into small pieces

2. Gently simmer the liver pieces in 3 3/4 cups homemade chicken or beef broth, until thoroughly cooked

3. Pour the liver broth into a clean glass blender. Blend for several seconds to liquefy the liver, then let cool. Once the liver broth has cooled, add the remaining ingredients:

5 tablespoons of lactose (if your child is allergic to lactose, substitute with glucose)

1/4 cup organic homemade liquid whey (if your child has intolerance to whey, you may leave it out)

1/4 teaspoon bifidobacterium infantis (a probiotic)

1/4 teaspoon acerola powder

1 tablespoon coconut oil

2 teaspoons extra virgin olive oil

1 teaspoon expeller-pressed sunflower oil

1/2 teaspoon high-vitamin fermented cod liver oil and 1/4 teaspoon high-vitamin butter oil (please see caveats listed below). You could substitute the cod liver oil and butter oil with wild-caught Alaskan Salmon oil or krill oil instead

4. Blend for a few seconds on low speed, until well-mixed. Pour the blended ingredients into glass jars or glass baby bottles and refrigerate

5. Before feeding, warm the formula by placing the glass bottle in a pot of hot water. A baby bottle warmer can also be used. Never microwave infant formula, as this will destroy many valuable nutrients and enzymes and pose a burn risk

Important notes and caveats about these recipes: 

Fermented cod liver oil is a recommended ingredient in Pope’s recipes, which may be dangerous for babies. Laboratory testing has revealed the product tends to be prone to rancidity, may contain added vegetable oils, and lack vitamin K2 and CoQ10.

The concentration of vitamins A and D can also vary significantly from one batch to another, as cod liver oil is not regulated or standardized.49 Unless you can verify the purity of the cod liver oil, I’d recommend using wild-caught Alaskan Salmon oil or krill oil instead.

The Weston A. Price Foundation’s baby formula recipe suggests butter oil is optional, but Dr. Price himself recommended always pairing cod liver oil with butter oil, which contains vitamin K2 (MK-4). I recommend tweaking the recipe by making butter oil a requirement if you’re using a certified pure fermented cod liver oil.

Nutrition Facts for Homemade Formula

According to WAPF, their homemade formulas provide the following amounts of critical nutrients per ounce:





Homemade formulas Chloride Choline Inositol Iodine Vitamin K1 Vitamin B5

Raw cow milk

12.02 mg

4.50 mg

1.31 mg

3.47 mcg

0.23 mcg

76.64 mcg

Raw goat milk

20.00mg

7.17 mg

1.31 mg

2.66 mcg

0.183 mcg

222.61 mcg

Meat based

3.81 mg

6.67 mg

1.75 mg

1.05 mcg

0.32 mcg

51.11 mcg

The following chart shows how the three homemade formulas compare in terms of other nutrients, and how they stack up against breast milk:
































Breast Milk Cow’s Milk Formula Goat Milk Formula Liver-Based Formula

Calories

766

856

890

682

Protein

11.3g

18g

18g

15g

Carbohydrates

76g

79g

77g

69g

Total Fat

48g

52g

54g

36g

Saturated Fat

22g

28g

30g

16g

Mono Fat

18g

16g

16g

12g

Poly Fat

5.5g

5.6g

5.7g

5.6g

Omega-3 FA

.58g

1.3g

1.2g

1.0g

Omega-6 FA

4.4g

4.2g

4.4g

4.5g

Cholesterol

153mg

137mg

166mg

227mg

Vitamin A*

946IU

5000IU

5000IU

20,000IU

Thiamin-B1

.15mg

1.05mg

1.1mg

.19mg

Riboflavin-B2

.4mg

1.2mg

1.2mg

1.9mg

Niacin-B3

1.9mg

2.5mg

4.4mg

14.2mg

Vitamin B6

.12mg

.51mg

.60mg

.65mg

Vitamin B12

.5mcg

1.9mcg

2.8mcg

39mcg

Folate

57mcg

236mcg

284mcg

159mcg

Vitamin C

55mg

57mg

59mg

62mg

Vitamin D

480IU

450IU

525IU

460IU

Vitamin E***

9.9mg

6.2mg

4.7mg

4.9mg

Calcium

355mg

532mg

548mg

NA**

Copper

.57mg

.38mg

.58mg

1.9mg

Iron

.33mg

1.4mg

2.2mg

5.4mg

Magnesium

37.4mg

91.3mg

96.1mg

34.5mg

Manganese

.29mg

.034mg

.12mg

.24mg

Phosphorus

151mg

616mg

729mg

344mg

Potassium

560mg

949mg

1228mg

750mg

Selenium

18.8mcg

15.4mcg

18.7mcg

31.1mcg

Sodium

186mg

308mg

320mg

NA**

Zinc

1.9mg

2.8mg

2.7mg

2.5mg

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Health

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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Health

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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