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8 Fruits and Veggies That Contain Poison

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What do ackee, cassava, cycad, lychee, potatoes, red kidney beans, starfruit and sugar cane have in common? While that question may sound like the opening line of an offbeat joke, the health-related similarity these fruits and vegetables share is no laughing matter.

Plants, like animals, employ various strategies to ensure their survival, and naturally occurring toxins help some plants resist disease and insects.

While you may think everything in nature is suitable for human consumption, each one of the fruits and vegetables mentioned above contains small amounts of toxins that may harm your health when ingested at certain times or in large amounts.

As reported by CNN,1 there are important considerations you must keep in mind should any of these “natural-born killers” appear on your grocery list.

Ackee: Jamaica’s National Fruit Must Be Cooked Before Eaten

In Jamaica and West Africa, where the ackee fruit is grown, the toxic risks of the plant are well understood. Similar to starfruit, unripe and unopened ackee contains a poison known as hypoglycin, which, according to Medscape,2 can lead to a potentially fatal toxicity known as “Jamaican vomiting sickness.”

Nonetheless, ackee endures as the national fruit of Jamaica, even taking its place alongside saltfish as part of the country’s national meal.

Given its mild flavor and buttery, creamy texture, ackee is usually treated as a vegetable in cooking, as opposed to a fruit. It is used in many savory dishes because it pairs well with other vegetables, meat and fish.

To ensure the elimination of potentially harmful toxins, ackee is most often boiled, and always must be cooked before it can be eaten. Most natives know what to do in cases where unripe ackee is ingested, says Peter Spencer, Ph.D., professor of neurology at Oregon Health and Science University School of Medicine:

“It’s well-known in Jamaica if your child eats an unopened or unripe ackee fruit, you better get ready to take them to the hospital or give a spoon of sugar to increase glucose.”

An outbreak of epidemic fatal encephalopathy that killed 29 school-aged children in Burkina Faso, West Africa, was linked to ackee poisoning.3 Due to its potentially lethal nature, authors of a 2004 study4 published in Food and Chemical Toxicology, validate Spencer’s suggestion to administer sugar quickly. They said:

“[C]onsidering the high lethality of ackee intoxication, the total absence of any existing treatment and the safety of glucose administration, we recommend at this stage to use early sugar or glucose administration in the field, in addition to a specific population-based prevention program.”

Cassava Root Naturally Contains Cyanide

According to CNN,5 cassava, also known as yucca, follows closely behind corn and rice as the most important calorie source in Africa, South America and parts of Asia. Some 600 to 800 million people worldwide are believed to consume cassava daily.

Cassava is most commonly baked, boiled or fried, releasing a gummy, starchy texture. It can also be ground into flour.

Organic cassava is a primary ingredient in my cocoa-cassava gourmet snack bars, one of my favorite occasional treats. Processed under rigorous health and safety standards, the organic cassava used in my snack bars adds a hint of sweetness and moisture, as well as calcium.

Regardless of its preparation method, cassava must be processed properly; otherwise it is poisonous. “It feeds millions across the world,” Spencer notes. “But if you’re very poor and don’t have time to process it, then you come down with disease.”6

Of the two main types of cassava — sweet and bitter — bitter contains the most concentration of a cyanide-inducing compound called cyanogenic glycosides, more than 50 milligrams per kilogram. Hydrogen cyanide is released from the cyanogenic glycosides through chewing when it is mixed with enzymes, resulting in the release of hydrogen cyanide.

Whereas the sweet variety only requires boiling to reduce its potential cyanide content to non-toxic levels, the bitter root contains more toxins and therefore requires both soaking and cooking prior to consumption.

Signs of cyanide poisoning include convulsions, diarrhea, mental confusion, stomach pain, twitching and vomiting. According to the U.S. National Institutes of Health,7 cassava’s toxins can also cause sudden, irreversible paralysis, commonly known as “konzo.”

Konzo most often affects people living in developing regions affected by armed conflict, drought or famine, who may be at risk of eating cassava unprocessed. According to the authors of a 2011 study published in PLOS — Neglected Tropical Diseases:8

“Increasing cassava production, declining production of other foods, global warming, more frequent droughts, wars and population displacement have set the scene for konzo to persist …

Immediate interventions to prevent konzo in affected areas, such as … the wetting method to detoxify cassava flour in some affected areas, are essential.”

Says Dr. Desire Tshala-Katumbay, staff scientist at the Oregon Institute of Occupational Health Sciences:9

“There is more attention [being given] to the problem and more research is being done. I hope in time we will get enough expertise to … think about interventions to protect children from brain damage related to malnutrition and cassava toxicity.”

The video below, produced by a Kenyan news station, highlights the negative effects of ingesting unprocessed cassava.


Cycad Toxins Must Be Removed Before Any Part May Be Eaten Safely

Cycad sago is a starch extracted from the stems of ancient, highly toxic palm-like plants that grow in tropical regions around the world. Sago is used for both food and medicine but, like cassava, requires extensive processing to be safe for human consumption.

Sago can be rolled into balls, mixed with boiling water to create a glue-like porridge called papeda, formed into pancakes or produced commercially in the form of “pearls.”

Sago pearls, which are similar in appearance to pearled starches such as potato or tapioca, can be boiled with sugar and water or milk to make a sweet pudding. “This is an ancient plant, but is one of the most toxic plants on the planet,” Spencer noted.

“It’s strongly implicated in the induction of neurodegenerative disease.”10 For example, consumption of cycad seeds may play a role in Guam disease, a neurological disease similar to Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s common to the island of Guam, where the plant originates.

The process of detoxifying cycads varies by region, but generally involves aging, cooking, fermentation and washing. Regardless of the method, two known neurotoxins, BMAA (B-methylamino-L-alanine) and cycasin, must be removed before any part of the cycad plant can be safely eaten.

Sago is nearly pure carbohydrate and has very little nutritional value. Sago cycad trees are commonly found in areas unsuited for other forms of agriculture. Because they thrive in drought conditions, sago cycads are commonly known as a famine food. A 2014 study, published in Neurología, underscored the importance of taking a cautionary approach to cycads. Researchers noted:11 

“Cycads contain neurotoxic compounds that may contribute to the development of neurological diseases when ingested improperly. We must be mindful of the fact that while some plants … may fill the food gap for vulnerable populations, they can also be toxic and have a negative impact on health.”

Lychee Toxins Can Lead to Fever, Convulsions and Seizures

Despite its spiky exterior, when enjoyed at its peak, lychee fruit can be smooth, juicy and beautifully sweet. Unfortunately, this tasty exotic fruit, also known as litchi, can be toxic and sometimes fatal when eaten before it is ripe. Malnourished children are at particularly high risk for serious illness and death from lychee poisoning.

Lychee toxicity is thought to be the cause of a mysterious illness that has affected the town of Muzaffarpur in Bihar, India, the country’s largest lychee-producing region, annually since 1995. Every year around May and June, hundreds of children have been hospitalized due to convulsions, fevers and seizures, attributed to what locals call “chamki ki bimari,” or “tinsel disease.”12

A report13 published in The Lancet Global Health medical journal claims the devastating disease is very likely caused by lychee. One of the study authors, Dr. Padmini Srikantiah, neurologist and lead investigator in Muzaffarpur on behalf of the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention office in New Delhi, suggests toxins from unripe lychee can cause extremely low blood sugar.

Dangerously low blood-sugar levels set the stage for encephalopathy, a disease that affects the function or structure of your brain. In the Lancet report, Srikantiah and her team shared the following comments related to lychee consumption and the mysterious illness plaguing Muzaffarpur’s children:

“[T]o the best of our knowledge, this is the first comprehensive confirmation that this recurring outbreak of acute encephalopathy is associated with both hypoglycin A and MCPG (methylene cyclopropyl glycine) toxicity from [lychee] consumption. This illness is also associated with absence of an evening meal.

To prevent illness and save lives in Muzaffarpur, we recommended minimizing [lychee] consumption among young children, ensuring children in the area receive an evening meal throughout the outbreak season, and implementing rapid glucose correction for children with suspected illness.”

Potatoes Can Be Poisonous When Sprouted or Green in Color

While potatoes originated in South America, they are cultivated worldwide today, taking their place as the world’s fourth largest crop. Despite boasting more than 100 varieties, the majority of potatoes sold and consumed are in the form of greasy French fries or potato chips. Processed potato products contain trans fat and very often chemical additives and other processed ingredients that contribute to chronic health conditions such as cancer, heart disease and obesity.

According to Medline Plus,14 while most potatoes are safe for consumption, you should definitely avoid eating potatoes that are green in color or those that have sprouted, unless you have removed the sprouts. This is due to the likely presence of a toxin called solanine, which develops with exposure to light. For this reason, always store potatoes in a cool, dark place, but never in the refrigerator.

If you eat too many toxic potatoes, you may experience vomiting, stomach and abdominal pain, hallucinations and even paralysis. Signs of solanine toxicity include a bitter taste or burning sensation. If you think you are at risk of poisoning, call your local poison-control center. In the U.S., the national toll-free number for the American Association of Poison Control Centers is 1-800-222-1222.

While not immediately life-threatening, consuming fried potatoes also puts you at risk for a cancer-causing and potentially neurotoxic chemical called acrylamide. Acrylamide is the byproduct of a chemical reaction between sugars and the amino acid asparagine at temperatures above 250 degrees F (120 degrees C).

Carbohydrate-rich foods such as French fries and potato chips, which are heated to very high levels to produce a browned or charred surface, are likely to contain high amounts of acrylamide.

Red Kidney Beans Should Not Be Eaten Raw

The toxin phytohemagglutinin is common in many varieties of beans, but concentrations are especially high in raw, red kidney beans. Fortunately, by cooking red kidney beans you can reduce the toxicity level sufficiently for them to be safely eaten. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA)15 states eating as few as four or five raw beans may cause symptoms, which generally develop within one to three hours.

Onset of phytohemagglutinin toxicity is often marked by extreme nausea, followed by vomiting (potentially severe) and diarrhea a few hours later. Some sufferers also report abdominal pain. Recovery is generally quick — within three or four hours after symptoms begin.

If you use a slow cooker or Crock Pot to cook red kidney beans, take care to ensure the beans are cooked at a sufficiently high setting to destroy the toxic lectin. The FDA notes several incidents of poisoning have been associated with the use of these kitchen appliances.16

While somewhat less toxic, white kidney beans, also known as cannellini beans, also should be cooked thoroughly before eating. Cannellini beans contain about one-third of the toxicity of red kidney beans when consumed raw.

Starfruit Toxins Dangerous for Those With Compromised Kidney Function

Starfruit, so named for its shape when cut, originated in Asia but is now grown in warm climates around the world. It is used as an herbal remedy for a range of ailments, such as coughs, headaches, parasite infections and vomiting. Starfruit boasts a yellow-greenish skin, and its taste ranges from bitter to sweet. The sweet type is known to have thicker flesh.

While generally safe for most consumers, starfruit contains a neurotoxin your body will not be able to safely process if you suffer from kidney disease, says the U.S. National Kidney Foundation.17 Symptoms of starfruit poisoning include hiccups, mental confusion, seizures and sometimes death.

A 2015 study18 suggests individuals with healthy kidneys should take care to not overconsume starfruit given the possibility of developing kidney problems due to excessive or prolonged consumption. As such, I recommend you eat starfruit only occasionally.

Sugar Cane Dangerous if Moldy Due to Common Fungus

Given my beliefs about the negative effects of sugar on your body, as well as the addictive nature of sugar, I would never recommend eating raw sugar cane. Another reason you should avoid consuming raw sugar cane relates to the presence of a common fungus that develops when the cane is stored for several months.

The fungus, called artbrinium, produces toxins in both adults and children that may result in coma, convulsions, dizziness, headaches, spasms, staring to one side and vomiting. Children, however, are at greater risk. Spencer said, “If a child eats that fungus, it can cause death or lifelong neurological disease.”19

Sugar cane has been noted as one of the top 10 mycotoxic foods, as outlined in the book “Mold: The War Within,” by Kurt and Lee Ann Billings. In simplest terms, mycotoxins are fungal poisons. The Billings present many natural treatments for mold toxicity, which may be of interest if you have a sensitivity to mold.

Awareness Is Your First Line of Defense

The best way to avoid ingesting plant toxins is to be aware of what you are eating and informed about any potential toxins in your food. This article touched on a handful of fruits and vegetables — clearly there are countless other food items that may be of concern to you personally. It’s worth your time and your health to become educated.

In particular, you should take action if you believe something you’ve eaten once, or eat on a regular basis, may be having a negative effect on your body and sense of well-being. This is a good opportunity for me to remind you that it will be impossible to achieve optimal health unless you eat foods that nourish and support your body. If you have not yet had a chance to check out my Nutrition Plan, consider doing so today.

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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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