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Top 7 Foods to Help Fight Depression

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While there are hundreds of articles, dietary strategies, government agencies and food manufacturers designed to offer information on how to fight disease and optimize your health, you may be surprised to find that before the featured study, none concentrated on brain health or mental disorders as recently as 2007.1

In September 2018, researchers reported the results of a study focused on finding the best foods to eat to help fight depression. Dr. Laura R. LaChance and a team from the University of Toronto, and Drew Ramsey from the department of psychiatry at Columbia University’s College of Physicians and Surgeons, tackled the initiative. According to the study:

“A systematic literature review was conducted to derive a list of Antidepressant Nutrients from the 34 nutrients known to be essential for humans using level of evidence criteria.

Nutritional data was extracted for a subset of foods with a high content of at least (one) Antidepressant Nutrient using a USDA (U.S. Department of Agriculture) database. These foods were analyzed for Antidepressant Nutrient density resulting in an Antidepressant Food Score (AFS).”2

The list of antidepressant foods based on the AFS3 is headed by watercress, the plant food with the highest score of 127 percent, with the highest animal-based food being oysters with a score of 56 percent, as you’ll see below.

The prevalence of depressive disorders, as well as the potential expense and current state of inadequate management of such conditions, was the driver for developing the AFS. The researchers stressed that each of the top foods can be integrated into any type of eating plan.

You may notice that not all the foods are necessarily familiar to everyone throughout the world; people in the U.S., for example, especially historically, have not found bivalve foods or seafoods readily available, just as people in some areas may not have access to leafy greens or other vegetables.

However, availability doesn’t always mean people avail themselves of the easy access to healthy foods; in fact, most of the adult population in the U.S. fails to meet the daily recommendations for vegetable intake. The Healthy People 2010 initiative, designed to increase vegetable consumption and other healthy habits, revealed that only 27.2 percent ate three or more servings per day.4

What Nutrients Fight Depression Best?

The scientists concluded that the top antidepressant nutrientsshould be considered when other researchers design future intervention studies, and by clinicians developing dietary options to help prevent depression. Their top 12 antidepressant nutrients deemed best for such disorders were:





Folate

Iron

Long-chain omega-3 fatty acids (EPA and DHA)

Magnesium

Potassium

Selenium

Thiamine

Vitamin A

Vitamin B6

Vitamin B12

Vitamin C

Zinc

The Prevalence of Mental Illnesses and a ‘Recipe’ for Hope

LaChance and Ramsey’s study noted that among people aged 15 through 44 years, mental conditions, including depression, are the leading cause of disability worldwide. Increasing treatment options, including by considering “antidepressant” foods, should be “imperative” for dealing with the growing number of people struggling with such issues. Further:

“A growing evidence base, including the first randomized controlled trial, suggests that dietary pattern and food choice may play a role in the treatment and prevention of brain-based disorders, particularly depression … They recommend following a traditional dietary pattern such as the Mediterranean diet … and avoiding processed foods, for example those high in refined carbohydrate or sugar.

Furthermore, an international consortium of mental health and nutrition researchers recently recommended ‘nutritional psychiatry’ become a routine part of mental health clinical practice.”5

The basis for their research was centered, in part, around a meta-analysis6 involving scientists from Australia, Spain, Finland, the U.K. and France. Its aim was to address such disorders through dietary recommendations, along with a randomized controlled trial from 2017, dubbed “SMILES”7 (Supporting the Modification of Lifestyle in Lowered Emotional States).

SMILES, incidentally, involved the collaborative efforts of multiple experts from centers based in neuroscience, psychiatric, dietary, medical and other research centers throughout Australia. It concluded with the premise that “dietary improvement may provide an efficacious and accessible treatment strategy for the management of this highly prevalent mental disorder.”8

It also noted that addressing the association between what a person eats and what they don’t would very likely impact the number of related deaths. However, the idea for nutritional psychiatry becoming a “routine part of mental health clinical practice” came from LaChance’s and Ramsey’s use of Lancet Psychiatry’s fundamental observation:

“Evidence for nutrition as a crucial factor in the high prevalence and incidence of mental disorders suggests that diet is as important to psychiatry as it is to cardiology, endocrinology and gastroenterology.

Evidence is steadily growing for the relation between dietary quality (and potential nutritional deficiencies) and mental health, and for the select use of nutrient-based supplements to address deficiencies, or as monotherapies or augmentation therapies.”9

The Highest-Scoring Plant Foods for Mental Health

One important observation scientists made in the course of the featured study was that deficiencies in long-chained omega-3 fatty acids, B vitamins, zinc, magnesium and vitamin D are unquestionably implicated in the “pathophysiology” of depression.

More specifically, the impact foods have on inflammation,10 and the influence of dietary fiber on your gut flora,11 are two important factors when looking at the best foods to eat for mental health. One source came from a study focused on the “powerhouse” fruits and vegetables most strongly linked to lowered chronic disease risk.12 That said, the highest scoring plant-based foods for depression are:

  • Leafy greensWatercress, spinach, mustard, turnip, chicory and beet greens, Swiss chard, dandelion, collard greens and the herbs cilantro, basil, parsley and kale
  • Lettuces — Red, green and romaine lettuce
  • Peppers — Bell, Serrano and jalapeno
  • Cruciferous vegetables — Cauliflower, kohlrabi, red cabbage, broccoli, Brussels sprouts

Vegetables are highly nutritious, often with an amazing array of phytonutrients that can’t be obtained from anything else, but there are downsides, thanks to modern food production.

Case in point: Although it’s been labeled a probable carcinogen, glyphosate, one of the most common and problematic pesticides, continues to be used on crops, poisoning many of your foods. Birth defects, infertility, neurological disorders, endocrine disruption and cancer are all listed as potential risks of exposure, according to multiple studies.13

Genetically engineered (GE) growing operations are some of the worst examples of what’s being done to your food, and GE crops are commonly sprayed with glyphosate. As a result, an estimated 60 million acres of farmland are now overrun with glyphosate-resistant superweeds, according to the Union of Concerned Scientists.14

Based on the USDA’s Pesticide Data Program (PDP) Report,15 the Environmental Working Group16 provides annual lists of the “Dirty Dozen,” the vegetables and fruits with the highest amounts of pesticide residue (a list that changes slightly year by year) and the “Clean 15,” the plant-based foods that are the least likely to contain pesticide residue.

The 2018 list shows spinach as second on the list, and sweet bell peppers as twelfth, but there’s a remedy when you’re not sure how to deal with vegetables that may be contaminated with pesticides or other harmful chemicals: Scientists report that washing your fruits and veggies in baking soda can get rid of as much as 96 percent of the toxic pesticides that contaminate most fruits and vegetables. Buying organic is also important.

The Highest-Scoring Animal-Based Foods for Mental Health

In regard to eating foods to offset depression, the focus has shifted from studying individual nutrients to evaluating overall dietary patterns. Traditional and whole foods (aka a healthy diet) can definitively be linked to symptoms becoming fewer and further between.

One study,17 among others, notes that people on the so-called “Western” diet, rife with unhealthy fats and sugars, may have a higher risk of depression, attention-deficit disorder18 and other problems.

As an example, an analysis known as the SUN cohort study followed more than 10,000 university students over a four-year period and found that those who stuck closest to the Mediterranean diet model had a more than 30 percent lower risk of developing depression in contrast to those with the lowest adherence to the Mediterranean diet.19

While caribou and whale liver, blackfish, boar, antelope and longan fish were all excluded from the featured study due to the lack of availability, the highest-scoring animal-based food groups include the following foods, followed by possible caveats for your health:

  • Bivalves (soft-bodied invertebrates in a two-part hinged shell) — Oysters, clams, mussels
  • Various seafoods — Octopus, crab, tuna, smelt, fish roe (fish eggs), bluefish, wolfish, pollock, lobster, rainbow trout, snail, spot fish, salmon, herring, snapper
  • Organ meats — Spleen, kidneys, or heart, and poultry giblets

It also should be noted that papaya, lemons and strawberries, each with a score of 31 percent, had higher AFS scores than several of the seafoods, such as snail, salmon, herring and snapper. Fish is considered the ultimate superfood, but be careful when purchasing to make sure it’s not on the list of the worst fish, as it’s liable to be tainted with heavy metals such as lead, mercury, arsenic, cadmium, PCBs (polychlorinated biphenyl) and/or radioactive poisons.

There’s also rampant issues with concentrated animal feeding operations (CAFOs), which more often than not involve diseases, pollution from excrement, a diet of too much grain and animal byproducts, banned antibiotics and carcinogens, not to mention horrific environments.

Tuna, with a score of 15 to 21 percent on the AFS, is one of the most-consumed seafoods, but it has serious issues for your health due to mercury toxicity. Wild-caught Alaskan salmon is one of the best foods you can eat, but be sure when purchasing that it’s not farmed fish, aka “CAFOs of the sea,” as it’s likely to be toxic due to its diet of GE soy and corn, not to mention mercury and other heavy metals.

Herring are one of the top five healthiest fish. According to NPR, Geoff Shester, California campaign director for the marine protection group Oceanalert, describes it as a “local, sustainable food source,” and says, “Herring are delicious, with flaky, mild meat and oil … .”20 Also, note that smaller fish like sardines, anchovies and herring generally have fewer contaminants and are high in omega-3 fats.

These Seven Real Foods Are Your Best Bet for Fighting Depression

It’s very important (not to mention encouraging) that the medical community seems to be grasping the fact that food — not solely medical intervention in the form of drugs and/or psychotherapy — may very possibly be the best hope we have of regaining the mental foothold required, individually and collectively, to both approach and be successful at life. To sum up, the top seven foods to help fight depression are as follows:

  1. Oysters, but avoid those from contaminated waters
  2. Mussels, also be sure they’re from unpolluted waters
  3. Seafood, particularly wild-caught Alaskan salmon, herring, sardines and anchovies
  4. Organ meats, but only those from grass fed animals (not CAFO animals)
  5. Leafy greens
  6. Peppers
  7. Cruciferous vegetables

Making it even easier for people to eat good foods without becoming overwhelmed by erroneous dietary restrictions, the researchers of the featured study noted another study from BMJ in 2016.21 It addresses issues with foods that many medical professionals had until recently insisted were “harmful.” The old-school narratives on saturated fat, cholesterol and sodium are being overturned based on more recent research.

Moreover, the harmfulness and potential benefit of nutrients such as saturated fat, cholesterol and sodium for both physical and mental health are being reevaluated based on more recent research, and cholesterol is no longer considered a nutrient of concern according to the most recent Dietary Guidelines for Americans.

The study authors also observe that mental health professionals may or may not be equipped to support behavioral changes, of which dietary change is simply an example. But the AFS list can be used as a tool, if not by medical personnel to refine their nutritional recommendations for their patients, then by you as a consumer to intelligently refine — or redefine — your nutritional choices.

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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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