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Activating the Lymphatic System to Boost Immunity

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how to have healthy lymph nodes

I recently wrote about the vestibular system and all of the benefits from large motion activation. This isn’t the only bodily system that large movement helps. We also have a lymphatic system that is closely tied to our overall wellness and immunity to illnesses.

And this time of year, a little extra immunity comes in handy!

What Is the Lymphatic System?

The lymphatic system includes organs and tissues that help eliminate waste products, toxins, cancer cells, and other substances. The parts of the lymphatic system are:

  • Lymphatic vessels – These vessels are all over the entire body, typically close to the skin.
  • Lymph nodes – These are where invaders go to be filtered. White blood cells attack and destroy these invaders in the lymph nodes. That’s why they are often swollen when we have a cold.
  • Lymphocytes – These are a type of white blood cell and the main cells of the lymphatic system. There are two main kinds of lymphocytes: T cells and B cells.
  • Tonsils, adenoids, appendix, and Peyer’s patches (found in the intestines) – These are lymphatic tissue with the main job of protecting against bacterial infection.
  • Thymus, spleen, and bone marrow – These produce various white blood cells.

The lymphatic system works by moving fluid (called lymph or lymph fluid) around the body. This fluid sweeps away cellular waste, invaders, and toxins to the liver and kidneys to be processed and eliminated.

The lymphatic system supports every system in the body including the digestive system, nervous system, and respiratory system. It has an important role in:

  • The immune system – The lymphatic system produces, stores, and carries white blood cells through the body in the lymph fluid.
  • Fluid balance – It maintains fluid balance between tissues and blood. The cardiovascular system leaks fluid and the lymph system absorbs and redistributes excess fluid.
  • Fat and fat-soluble vitamin absorption – The lymphatic system regulates this absorption and delivers nutrients to the cells).

The lymph system does not have a built-in pump to move lymph fluid through the body the way the cardiovascular system does. Instead, it is squeezed through the body by muscle contractions and other movements.

Signs of Lymphatic Congestion

The main function of the lymph system is to remove waste from cells and dump it at the kidneys and liver for elimination. If the system is congested and not flowing well, it doesn’t eliminate cellular waste. Cells can become overwhelmed by the buildup of waste.

Symptoms of lymphatic congestion can include the following:

  • Swelling
  • Inflammation
  • Fatigue
  • Infection (e.g. more frequent colds)
  • Obesity
  • Development of cancer
  • Constipation
  • Congestion
  • Sore throat
  • Brain fog
  • Weight gain
  • Skin issues
  • Inflamed tonsils

Because the lymphatic system relies on bodily movement to pump lymph fluid, a sedentary lifestyle can contribute to lymphatic congestion. Other things that can contribute are a toxic environment, poor diet, stress, and dehydration.

Ways to Activate the Lymphatic System & Boost the Immune System

The lymphatic system is responsible for moving white blood cells through the body. When the lymphatic system is congested the immune system can’t use those white blood cells to fend off illness. Activating the lymphatic system can help move the lymph fluid through the body so white blood cells and other immune cells can do their job.

Here are some ways to activate the lymph system:

Rebounding

Rebounding has gained popularity since the 1980s. At that time NASA was coming out with studies that showed rebounding was more gentle on the body then running on a treadmill. Their studies also showed that rebounding was more beneficial than treadmill running.

When you bounce on a rebounder, several things happen:

  • An acceleration action as you bounce upward
  • A split-second weightless pause at the top
  • A deceleration at an increased G-force
  • Impact to the rebounder
  • (Repeat)

As mentioned earlier, the lymph system doesn’t pump on its own. It needs physical movement to pump the fluid. Rebounding is one way of doing this since the up and down allows gravity to help with the circulation of lymphatic fluid. Additionally, studies show that the increased G-force of rebounding helps increase lymphocyte activity, which helps the immune system.

If you don’t have a rebounder, these are some of my favorites.

Walking

Exercise is always a great thing to include in a healthy lifestyle but it can be especially important for the lymph system. Since the lymph system moves in reaction to muscle contractions, exercise is a perfect way to keep the lymph system moving.

While it’s generally understood that exercise can help lymph move in the body, it wasn’t understood what intensity of exercise was best. It turns out, according to a 2010 study that just 1 minute of 1.5 mph walking can improve lymphatic flow. (I’ll bet playing with kids in the backyard does the same!)

Dry Brushing

Many of the lymph vessels run just below the skin. Proponents of dry brushing claim that brushing the skin regularly helps stimulate the normal lymph flow within the body and helps the body detoxify itself naturally.

How to Dry Brush the Skin

  • Choose a brush. A soft one usually works well for those new to dry bushing.
  • Starting at the feet, I brush the bottoms of my feet and up my legs in long, smooth strokes. I always brush toward the heart where the lymph system drains.
  • Brush toward the center of the body so that fluid doesn’t get caught in the limbs.
  • Repeat the same process with the arms, starting with the palms of the hands and brushing up the arm toward the heart.
  • Brush in a circular clockwise motion on the stomach and armpits.
  • Repeat the process on the abdomen and back.
  • Switch to the face (use a softer brush).
  • Don’t brush too hard though! A soft and smooth stroke often works best. The skin should never be red or sting (slightly pink is okay).

See this post for my full dry brushing routine as well as the brushes I use.

Wave Vibration

Wave vibration therapy is gaining popularity and has been heavily studied for its health benefits. During wave vibration therapy you stand on an oscillating plate that produces low-level vibrations. These vibrations activate multiple systems in the body including the circulatory, nervous, lymphatic, and muscle systems. Wave therapy can help get the lymphatic system moving which helps detox the body. These are found in many gyms and are even available for home use.

Sauna

Saunas have been part of traditional cultures for centuries for good reason. Saunas have a number of benefits including helping improve circulation and detoxification. Heat and sweating mimic the benefits of exercise in some ways. Heat triggers the circulatory system to move faster (to eliminate heat). This increased circulation also helps the lymph system move and excrete toxins. Infrared saunas are especially good for this.

Lymphatic Drainage Massage

Many natural health gurus agree that lymphatic massage is a good way to help move fluid through the lymphatic system. This helps the body detox, heal injuries, and protect the body from illness. A 2009 systematic review found that lymphatic massage may be beneficial in reducing swelling and drainage issues after sports injuries. However, they concluded that more research is needed.

Of course it’s not every day that massage is in the weekly schedule, so I try to get the benefits of massage at home whenever I can.

Hydrate

It’s important to stay hydrated for many health reasons but drinking enough water can also help with the lymphatic system. The lymph fluid holds the majority of the water that is in the body. If we’re dehydrated, our lymph fluid can become thick and can’t move as easily through the body. So, drinking enough water (to thirst) is a good way to keep the lymph system working well.

Tip: Try an electrolyte drink if water isn’t enough to keep you hydrated.

Hydrotherapy Showers

Just like blood vessels, lymphatic vessels contract in response to cold and dilate in response to heat. Alternating the two can help these vessels move through the body. Alternating hot and cold water in the shower (hydrotherapy) is one way to do this.

Essential Oils

Research published in Industrial Crops and Products show many essential oils are antibacterial and antioxidant which may help the lymphatic system function.

Some of the essential oils best for lymph drainage are:

  • citrus oils like grapefruit, lemon, and orange
  • bay laurel
  • oregano
  • clove
  • ginger root
  • peppermint
  • rosemary

(Note: choose a quality brand and don’t use essential oils undiluted or on children unless they are kid-safe. I use this brand of essential oils since they have a kid-safe line.)

To use essential oils for the lymph system dilute 2 to 4 drops of essential oil in .5 oz of carrier oil and use as a massage oil on the body. Two benefits in one!

Diet and Lifestyle

No healthy living list is complete without a note about diet and lifestyle. A healthy diet is generally one of the most influential changes we can make to improve health whether we’re talking about lymph drainage or weight. Because the lymph system is responsible for sweeping away toxins, it makes sense to avoid putting these unsavory substances into the body as much as possible.

  • Choose healthy protein (grassfed, organic, wild-caught, etc) as much as possible.
  • Buy organic produce when possible. If you can’t buy all organic choose organic from the dirty dozen produce list. Additionally, you can use a produce wash to remove some of the pesticides from conventional produce.
  • Choose low-VOC furniture and household paint.
  • Eat the rainbow (but especially red!) – A study published in Open Access Macedonian Journal of Medical Sciences found that beetroot and carrot juice helped lymphocytic leukemia patients have increased vigor. It also improved biochemical parameters.
  • Choose natural household cleaners (or make your own!).

Deep Breathing

It’s amazing how many people don’t breath deeply but it’s so important for health. One interesting way that deep breathing can be beneficial is that it helps move lymphatic fluid through the body. Deep breathing improves oxygenation. Shallow breathing and low oxygenation can cause stress on the body which can mean lower energy, increased muscle tension, and lowered cellular metabolism. But relaxation (from healthy oxygenation) is good for lymph flow. Additionally, the act of breathing itself acts as a lymph pump.

Deep-Breathing Exercise

  • Breathe in through the nose and fill the abdomen with air, then the chest
  • Keep shoulders down
  • Breathe out through the mouth and empty the chest first, then the abdomen
  • Repeat

Bonus: Deep breathing can also help improve relaxation and reduce stress!

Lymphatic System: Bottom Line

The lymphatic system has an important role in the health of the body. A healthy lymphatic system can help support a healthy immune system. Activating the lymphatics system so it can do its job is fairly easy but can make a huge difference!

Have you ever tried any of these remedies? Which works best for you?

Sources

  1. Desai, P., Williams, J. R., Prajapati, P., & Downey, H. F. (2010, September). Lymph flow in instrumented dogs varies with exercise intensity. Retrieved from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/20863266
  2. Vairo, G. L., Miller, S. J., McBrier, N. M., & Buckley, W. E. (2009). Retrieved from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2755111/
    Chemical composition and antibacterial and antioxidant properties of commercial essential oils. (2012, August 31). Retrieved from https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0926669012004475?via=ihub
  3. Douillard, J. et al. LifeSpa Staff. (2018, July 31). 6-Step Plan to Decongest your Lymph | John Douillard’s LifeSpa. Retrieved from https://lifespa.com/6-steps-to-decongest-your-lymph/
  4. Breathing: The Overlooked Exercise. (n.d.). Retrieved from http://www.lymphedemaresources.org/breathing.htm

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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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