banner
alive logo
foodfamilylifestylebeautysustainabilityhealthimmunity

One Bad Shot

Share

One Bad Shot

Public health officials, including Health Canada, love the flu vaccine. In fact, three doctors from the Mayo Vaccine Research Group this spring recommended mandatory vaccination for health care workers. The only problem they see is that even after aggressive promotion campaigns only a minority of health care workers get vaccinated.

Public health officials, including Health Canada, love the flu vaccine. In fact, three doctors from the Mayo Vaccine Research Group this spring recommended mandatory vaccination for health care workers. The only problem they see is that even after aggressive promotion campaigns only a minority of health care workers get vaccinated.

One of the reasons for this reluctance could be the presence of a potent neurotoxin in the vaccine. Even though the mercury-based preservative thimerosal (50 percent mercury by weight) has been removed from many single-dose vaccines, it is still used in most bulk flu vaccines. In addition to the health risks of mercury (nervous system damage, cognitive and visual effects), allergic reactions or sensitivities may also develop due to other components of the vaccine, including the eggs used to grow vaccines.

Pain Only Part of The Problem

Overall population statistics in the United States, one of the largest and most heavily vaccinated countries, show a relatively stable death rate in the elderly since 1980, even though vaccination increased from 15 percent in 1980 to 65 percent in 2001. Paradoxically, deaths from influenza have risen over this period. Japan once had a compulsory flu vaccine policy for its children, with 60 percent submitting. After they halted this program in 1994 (due to concerns over its effectiveness and safety), the rate of vaccination dropped to 20 percent, but the incidence of flu did not increase in children.

Adverse reactions to flu vaccines range from the mild to the severe, and some are even fatal. Oculo-respiratory syndrome, which produces reddened eyes, facial swelling, and respiratory symptoms, was particularly prevalent in Canada during the 2000 vaccination season. Guillain-Barr?yndrome (an inflammatory disorder with effects similar to polio) was reported after flu vaccination. The actual number of adverse reactions is unknown because it is estimated than only 1 to 10 percent of adverse events are reported.

Even if the flu vaccine were perfect and had no side effects, it would not be a magic bullet. Only about 10 percent of upper respiratory tract infections are due to influenza viruses, even during peak flu season, and flu vaccines are produced before the common strains are known, so they do not always contain the most common strains.

Better Alternatives

The many alternatives to vaccines have the advantage that they offer low risk of adverse effects. If you are already eating healthily and exercising, then you are already protecting yourself. If you are elderly or otherwise susceptible to the flu, you will need to improve your immune system to protect yourself. Exercise, a positive outlook, greater social interactions, and daily multivitamins have been shown to increase antiviral activity in the blood of elderly people.

Other ways to boost the immune system require additions to your daily diet. Increase levels of the antioxidant glutathione by eating foods rich in cysteine, found in many different foods but especially in asparagus, avocado, broccoli, spinach, and walnuts. Also increase selenium levels with brewer’s yeast, Brazil nuts, garlic, barley, whole wheat, some types of fish, shellfish, red meat, and poultry. Increase zinc levels with foods such as chickpeas and other legumes, whole grains, brewer’s yeast, and dulse. Adding zinc and selenium to the diets of elderly people in France was found to decrease the frequency of respiratory infections (not just the flu).

The omega-3 essential fatty acids–linoleic and alpha-linoleic fatty acids–have been shown to reduce upper respiratory tract infections in school children. These fatty acids are found in deep freshwater fish and in flaxseed and walnut oils (unheated and unhydrogenated), as well as in supplement form.

Cooked extracts of elderberry (Sambucus nigra L.) have been shown to reduce the symptoms and duration of flu, as has Andrographis (Indian echinacea), although it should only be used for a short time. Regular use of Korean red ginseng (Panax ginseng) has been shown to reduce the risk of cold and flu symptoms in Japanese heart patients.

The flu vaccine is promoted as a quick fix, but at best it only protects against one health danger and doesn’t correct underlying health problems. Getting adequate exercise and eating a healthy diet supplemented by vitamins, minerals, and herbs will improve the immune system to help protect you, and not just against the flu.

Ad
Advertisement
Advertisement

READ THIS NEXT

Glucosamine May Help More than Your Joints
The Most Vegan and Vegetarian-Friendly Cities in the U.S.

The Most Vegan and Vegetarian-Friendly Cities in the U.S.

alive Editorial

alive Editorial

The 10 Best Prebiotic Foods for Any Diet

The 10 Best Prebiotic Foods for Any Diet

alive Editorial

alive Editorial