The Flu Shot Versus Good Nutrition
By Robert Rowen, MD.
Flu season is fast approaching. The "authorities" would have everyone lining up for a flu shot even though the vaccine is literally a crapshoot. Experts guess in advance which viral strain will be making its worldly rounds and if they guess wrong, there may be no protection at all from the vaccine.
Furthermore, you are never warned about the significant dangers of all the preservatives and/or heavy metals in the vaccine. Big drug company profits hinge on selling the patented pharmaceutical vaccines. But you don't hear anything about all of the published data showing adverse reactions to the vaccine. Many people who get the shot become ill.
You're also never told that the vaccine may not work at all if you have sub-optimal nutrition. If, due to your inadequate nutritional status, you do not mount an ideal antibody response the the vaccine, what is the point? Why risk the shot? This could explain why so many vaccinated people develop the disease anyway.
Are there legitimate ways to naturally boost your resistance to the influenza virus? Sure there are, but you'll never hear about them, because no drug company stands to profit by letting you find out about them. But in the case of influenza, they may very well save your life
Published in FASEB Journal in June 2001 is a landmark article on the impact of the trace mineral selenium on the influenza virus. Researchers divided mice into two groups, one well fed and nourished with ample selenium and a control group made selenium deficient. They made a startling finding, which they said has implications for humans, as the same effect is likely to occur in us. Not only were the malnourished mice sicker than the controls, but the mild virus (influenza A Bangkok) to which they were exposed mutated to more virulent (dangerous) forms. And worse, this action may contribute to new outbreaks of not just flu but many viral diseases, from the common cold to AIDS and Ebola.
A key researcher reported that once the mutations have occurred, even nutritionally sound animals became susceptible to the newly mutant strain. While the study focused on influenza, which leads to over 100,000 hospitalizations each year in the U.S. alone, it also studied the mutation of Cocksakie B3, linked to a heart disease called Keshan disease. Areas of China have soils very poor in selenium. Not only have those areas been at great risk for rapid premature aging and degenerative diseases due to this deficiency, but they were also at risk for heart infection. Supplements have largely eradicated the disease, according to researchers.
The Archives of International Medicine (April 12, 1999) reported on the impact of trace elements on immunity and infections in elderly patients. Their objective was to determine the effects of supplementation with zinc and selenium (trace minerals) compared to a second experimental group supplemented with beta carotene, vitamin C, and vitamin E (all vitamins), and a third control group receiving only a placebo. The study found that after nutritional deficiencies were corrected (taking six months) the mineral supplemented group not only had fewer viral infections compared to BOTH other groups, but also had a higher antibody response to influenza vaccine when administered.
But influenza is not the only viral infection you have to worry about this time of year. The common cold is caused by a virus, too. And here, vitamin C plays a big role in reducing the severity of symptoms. Guess what? It works for the flu, too. A number of studies involving subjects under heavy acute physical stress, show that vitamin C decreases common cold incidences by half. At least three controlled studies have shown an 80 percent reduction in the incidence of pneumonia among vitamin C users. In one large study of 700 students, vitamin C at an initial dose of 1,000 mg per hour for the first six hours followed by 3,000 mg each day thereafter, reduced cold and flu symptoms by 85 percent.
Folks, these reports reveal some explosive information. First, it appears that all of us are placed at risk due to the poor nutritional status of our neighbors and society at large. The poor nutritional status of individuals and populations appears to contribute to increasing virulence and spread of viruses, contributing to epidemics. Unfortunately, we do not hear public health and government authorities educating us about this monumental information. Large scale immune risks that can be corrected safely and inexpensively with non-patentable nutritional supplements do not seem to be newsworthy. Your government and medical community would rather push vaccinations on people, when the simple truth is their immune response may be inadequate due to improper nutrition.
Selenium is an absolutely mandatory participant in the most important glutathione pathway of metabolism, perhaps the body's greatest detoxifier, antioxidant, and booster of immune response. In fact, AIDS victims are found very deficient in glutathione and when levels are raised, their symptoms recede or can be prevented. It is found in meat, grains such as wheat and rice, but my favorite source of readily bioavailable selenium is nutritional yeast. I sprinkle an abundant amount of this very nutritionally rich food on my salad every night. You can find it at most grocery stores.
Selenium is such a valuable mineral, I personally believe everyone should take a small supplement of it. Excellent studies have shown enormous protection and prevention of various cancers including prostate cancer in men. While too much selenium can be toxic, I have never seen 200 mcg daily of selomethionine cause any problems.
Zinc (up to 30 mg daily) is another required mineral for proper immune function. In fact, years ago, a University of California Davis study demonstrated that making rats deficient in zinc led to an immune deficiency in the offspring, which persisted for four generations even when the zinc was replenished in the offspring. Thus, not only do we likely place our friends at risk of promoting epidemics by maintaining poor nutritional status, we may very well be creating lifelong immune problems for our children, grandchildren, and great-grandchildren because we failed to take care of ourselves.
Instead of pushing mass vaccination on the population with its many unknown risks, it makes much more sense to educate and inform people of the many basic common sense steps they can take to actually improve immune function. The rationale for mass vaccination is herd immunity, that is, if enough people become immune through vaccination, the disease will have a much less chance of propagating. I wonder why immunity to most every infectious disease that could be attained through nutritional supplementation isn't promoted (hint: $$)?
Action to take: Whenever you can, shop organic to maximize the nutritional value of your meals. Eat a wide array of deeply colored fruits and vegetables every day. Shoot for five to nine half-cup servings a day of various fruits and veggies. Cut out the added sugar in your diet, sugar weakens your resistance to viruses and bacteria.
Because the diet is never perfect I take supplements every day. I suggest you take a good multi-vitamin mineral that provides at least 500 mg of vitamin C and 50 to 75 mg of all the B vitamins, 10,000 units of beta carotene and 5,000 to 10,000 units of vitamin A. Be sure it provides 200 mcg selenium and 15-30 mg zinc. If your multi does not provide vitamin A, take a teaspoon of cod liver oil every day. Add an extra gram or two of vitamin C each day to help you avoid infection. If you do find yourself feeling a bid under the weather, rest, get plenty of fluids, and take an extra 3,000 mg of vitamin C the first day. Protect yourself now safely, effectively, and inexpensively with nutrition.
Author Robert Rowen is a board certified physician, receiving his medical degree from University of California at San Francisco School of Medicine.
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