During Cold and Flu Season, Protect Yourself By Eating Right


This year, to protect yourself against cold and flu, get enough sleep, wash your hands, avoid touching your face and eat healthfully. The flu vaccine is not very effective, and micronutrient-rich foods help the immune system to function at its highest capacity. Learn more about preventing cold and flu in this article.

Eating Right Gives the Most Protection During This Flu Season

 We are having lots of viral illness going around, and I was asked to comment on the flu vaccine again.  Certainly, with the flu virus circulating this season, flu-phobia is everywhere.  Plus, there is a shortage of flu vaccines, so what are we to do?   The answer is eat right, get enough sleep, and keep your hands away from your face (until right after you wash them).  It is very difficult to get a significant viral inoculum if you do not put your hands near your mouth and nose.  Remember, when you are in public, such as at work or school resist the temptation to touch your face or put your hands near your nose or mouth.  That works, because you can’t get enough virus in the orifices of your body just by breathing the air, unless someone coughs right on you.  

Flu shot sign. Flickr: paulswansenPlus, the flu shot is not very effective anyway.  Please consider that over 200 viruses cause influenza and influenza-like illness; both produce the same symptoms, such as fever, headache, aches and pains, cough, and runny nose.  Laboratory tests are required for doctors to tell the two illnesses apart.  Both illnesses last for days and both rarely lead to death or serious illness. Even in the best-case scenario, vaccines might be effective against only some influenza A and B, but those represent less than 10% of all circulating viruses.  

Each year, the World Health Organization makes recommendations for which viral strains should be included in the upcoming year’s flu vaccinations.  So the vaccines may have some effectiveness against specific viral strains, but the degree to which the vaccine-included strains match the virus actually in circulation varies from year to year. 

So that means that even if you are in that 10 percent of sick people with flu-like symptoms who really have influenza A or B, only about half of those vaccinated will be helped by the vaccine because the other half will have strains that were not included in the vaccine.1  And even with the best matching conditions the vaccine may diminish your symptoms somewhat, but not necessarily preclude you from catching the flu.  The internationally renowned Cochrane Collaboration investigated this issue directly by reviewing all the relevant studies, involving over 70,000 participants.  The most impressive thing about this meta-analysis was that the authors were completely independent from the U.S. vaccine manufacturers and the powerful pharmaceutical and vaccine lobby, so the reported results were unbiased.

They assessed all trials that compared vaccinated people with unvaccinated people. The combined results of these trials showed that even under ideal conditions (vaccine completely matching circulating viral configuration), 4% of unvaccinated people and 1% of vaccinated people became infected – the vaccine had only a minor benefit. They authors estimated that under average conditions, 100 people need to be vaccinated to avoid one set of influenza symptoms or you would have to be vaccinated every year for 100 years, to save yourself one flu episode. Interestingly, the study showed that flu vaccine did NOT significantly affect the number of people hospitalized or working days lost, and did not prevent flu-associated complications or those rare flu-associated deaths.1, 2  So even though the vaccine had some very slight effects, the benefits were very small.  In fact, in  children two years and younger they found the effectiveness of the vaccine was no better than a placebo.3 

The Cochrane review’s authors were highly critical of the U.S. Centers for Disease Control, with its members having financial ties to the pharmaceutical companies. They noted that industry-funded studies were more likely to report findings favorable to the vaccines, that there was evidence of “widespread manipulation of conclusions” in those studies. The authors disagreed with the CDC’s  recommendation for universal vaccination at all ages without clear evidence of significant effectiveness and safety.  Certainly the elderly, the group most vulnerable to non-pandemic flu, should benefit the most, but this also is not observed as the vaccine does not work well in the elderly because of their decline in immune function.3, 4

To summarize, the vaccine does have some slight effects in reducing flu incidence and severity, but in those at most at risk, the very young and the very old, it is not yet clear whether the vaccine has any protective effect at all.

Those of us that are healthy need not worry about the dangers of the flu anyway.  No treatment, drug or vaccine is without risk, and you only have to read the circular with the vaccine to be informed of those clear risks.  Also, if you do get a flu shot, never get a shot from a multi-use vial, which contains more mercury and preservatives than the single dose vials. 

On the other hand, eating your G-BOMBS has no known side effects.  

 

Image credit: Flickr - paulswansen

References:

1. Cochrane Summaries: Vaccines to prevent influenza in heatlthy adults. [http://summaries.cochrane.org/CD001269/vaccines-to-prevent-influenza-in-healthy-adults]
2. Jefferson T, Di Pietrantonj C, Rivetti A, et al: Vaccines for preventing influenza in healthy adults. Cochrane Database Syst Rev 2010:CD001269.
3. Jefferson T, Rivetti A, Di Pietrantonj C, et al: Vaccines for preventing influenza in healthy children. Cochrane Database Syst Rev 2012;8:CD004879.
4. Jefferson T, Di Pietrantonj C, Al-Ansary LA, et al: Vaccines for preventing influenza in the elderly. Cochrane Database Syst Rev 2010:CD004876.

 

One Horrible Flu Vaccine Story; Will it Help Save a Life?

Image of mother kissing son with love by user iandeth on Flickr

I am a mother of 4 wonderful children, one of whom is an 8 year old boy. To say that they are the loves of my life is a pure understatement, as any mother will attest to. The worst thing that can happen to any mother is to lose a child. Does it make it worse knowing that it was due to medical intervention?  I don’t know but it does seem that there is something about being harmed or killed by a medical intervention that makes it even more of a tragedy because maybe it did not have to happen.

My youngest sister has a friend that just lost her 8 year old son, as he had a fatal reaction to the Flu vaccine. Not the Flu itself, but to the vaccine.  Due to this reaction, they ran tests and the family was informed that he had an immune system disorder that may have contributed to his death. The mother was told he may have died in the near future anyway. I don't know if that gives this poor mother any consolation to know that she may have eventually lost her child or even if this was true. To me, having a few days let alone years more with my child, seeing him enjoy his life for whatever length of time he had left, would have been better. Much better.

This flu vaccine; it's a hard decision for any parent/person; I just think we need to get as informed as we can, and not be pressured into doing anything we do not feel comfortable with for ourselves as well as for the people we love.  Certainly every person should have the right to do whatever makes them feel most comfortable once they review the information available on both sides.

Post 1 day later: I wrote the above post originally being told that it was the Swine Flu vaccine, but in fact it was the regular flu vaccine. I just found this out this morning as well as the fact that he did NOT have any rare immune disease. The cause of death was attributed to the flu vaccine and nothing else. The more I learn about what happened to this poor little boy and his family, the more devastated I become.

Swine Flu Might Not Be Worse This Fall

Some claim the swine flu will return worse this fall, but others disagree. New findings in Journal of the American Medical Association say the next wave of swine flu will probably be about the same:

"In doing so, it is difficult to find evidence of 1918-like waves herald waves, or other such phenomena," they noted. The most recent flu pandemics, occurring in 1957 and 1968, "generally exhibited no more than one (mostly seasonal) recurrence" before settling down into relatively innocuous seasonal flu, [experts] said.

Overall, "examination of past pandemics reveals a great diversity of severity," Morens and Taubenberger said, adding that "some newer evidence [is] casting doubt on original herald wave theories."

One infectious-disease expert called the new analysis "absolutely correct."

Looking back at 20th century flu pandemics, "secondary waves have pretty much been either the same or even of less epidemiologic significance than the first wave," said Dr. Pascal James Imperato, dean of the school of public health at SUNY Downstate Medical Center in New York City.

Next to John & Kate, swine flu has been the story of the year, with reports like swine flu reaching 1 million cases in the United States and becoming the first pandemic of the 21st century. If you're worried about the flu, here' some advice from Dr. Fuhrman:

Americans eat a diet style that weakens their normal resistance to simple viral infections. In spite of advances in science that reveal the critical importance of thousands of protective micronutrients in the natural plant kingdom, much of the modern world consumes a diet rich in processed grains, oils, sweets and animal products. In the United States, for example, less than five percent of total calories consumed come from fresh fruits, vegetables, seeds, and nuts. These are the foods that are richest in micronutrients.

The key to health is nutrition per calorie. Those of us who eat the Standard American Diet (SAD) have a very low nutrient (per calorie) intake. This chronic malnourished condition is the true life-threatening epidemic in the modern world, resulting in a medical care crisis and untold tragedies. And this ubiquitous malnourishment may also eventually enable the Avian influenza viruses to spread more easily and develop into virulent forms. With the ubiquitous consumption of fake foods such as white bread, pasta, oil and sugar, nutritional incompetence is the norm.

The flu is a simple viral illness which a healthy body has scores of adequate defenses against. No flu, including the bird flu, is any match for a well-nourished immune system.

Via HealthDay News.

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United States Swine Flu Cases Reach 1 Million

Swine flu rattles on! U.S. health officials now believe the virus has infected an estimated 1 million Americans. In June, it was reported the infamous flu already nailed all 50 states. According to the CDC, the United States has roughly half of the world’s swine cases, with 3,065 hospitalizations and 127 deaths—and the number of hospitalizations is growing; DiscoveryNews reports.

I could cover swine flu everyday—I’ve tried my best to spare you—but it’s still important to keep you updated. Like how vaccines currently used to against swine flu, such as Tamiful, are useless and that Dr. Fuhrman recommends healthy diet and good hygiene to prevent the flu.

And here’s another important tidbit. Researchers have determined non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs—called NSAIDs—used to treat the flu may cause multi-organ failure. Eek!

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School Kids Might Get Swine Flu Shots

Swine flu has everyone freaked! I guess the news that piggy flu hit all 50 states and was declared the first pandemic of the 21st century scared people silly. That’s why some officials at the U.S. Health and Human Services Department envision a scenario where vaccinating kids in school is logical. What a pay day for drug companies! Here are Dr. Fuhrman’s thoughts on this:

We don't know yet if this swine flu is really a significant risk enough to our country and the world to generate and distribute a vaccine for it in this time frame. It may even be gone by then.

But for sure, it has generated a great marketing opportunity for the drug companies and vaccine manufacturers and it is likely that as large numbers of children and adults become vaccinated, the people harmed from the inoculations will likely be greater than those harmed by the flu.

We have to wait and see how virulent and potentially dangerous this turns out to be. For now, it has not developed into anything that warrants such a dramatic intervention.

Via DiscoveryNews.

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Swine Flu Could Be Mutating...

German officials say the H1N1 swine flu virus has begun to mutate and could potentially morph into a more aggressive variant. Currently, Germany has the third highest rate of infection in Europe, with 275 confirmed cases. In the United States, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports 27,717 cases of swine flu, with 127 deaths; via Reuters.

Last week, H1N1 showed up in a couple of new places. In Brazil, a man returning from Mexico was diagnosed with swine flu and three children at a Georgia summer camp came down with the virus. And to make matters worse, experts believe the flu will come back stronger in the fall.

But swine flu has already made its mark. The World Health Organization declared swine flu as the first international pandemic of the 21st century, and warned it could become unstoppable.

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New Swine Flu in Brazil. Pig Flu Hits Summer Camp.

Oh that nutty swine flu is at it again! In Brazil, scientists claim they have discovered a new strain of swine flu. It was diagnosed in a 26-year old man who had been hospitalized with flu symptoms following a trip to Mexico, where it’s believed the H1N1 outbreak began. However, officials aren’t sure if this new strain is more dangerous than the original virus; via HealthDay News.

And be careful when shipping your kids off to summer camp. Three children at a Georgia camp have contracted swine flu. One child was hospitalized briefly with mild symptoms and another 60 campers and few staffers were being quarantined and treated just in case; CNN reports.

It’s getting repetitive to say, but the best defense against flu viruses—even swine and bird flu—is excellent nutrition and good hygiene, like frequent hand washing. Try chanting oink-oink too.

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First Flu Pandemic of the 21st Century!

On Friday, the World Health Organization (WHO) declared swine flu (or H1N1) as an international pandemic, urging world governments to prepare for a lengthy battle with a potentially unstoppable new flu virus. Swine flu is already in all 50 U.S. states and countries like Canada, Australia, Chile and the United Kingdom. Scientists worry swine flu could mix with bird flu or other seasonal flu viruses and current vaccinations—such as Tamiflu—are ineffective; Reuters reports.

Last year, experts at the WHO stated 11% of flu viruses in the United States and 25% of flu viruses in Europe are resistant to antiviral drugs. So far, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention there have been 17,855 cases of swine flu and 45 deaths the United States.

To help protect against swine flu—as well as other serious strains of flu, such bird flu—Dr. Fuhrman recommends superior nutrition and good hygiene, like washing your hands frequently.

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Piggy Flu Now in all 50 States

As of Monday June 1st the CDC reports there are now confirmed cases of swine flu in all 50 states. To date, Alaska has the fewest with 1 case, Wyoming with 2 and both Vermont and West Virginia with 3. The CDC says the total number of cases in the U.S. is 10,053, but the actual figure could be as high as 200,000, due to unreported or less severe symptoms; via HealthDay News.

If you’re betting on the flu, take the over. Just last week the number of cases was 7,927 and the high figure was only 100,000. Quick, call your bookie! With vaccines only working against 11% of flu strains, except those numbers to jump even further by next week.

And experts predict the swine flu pandemic will reach the U.K. by the fall. Currently, there have been 225 confirmed cases of H1N1 in England, followed by Scotland with 17.

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