Flu Shot… or Prevention Through Food?
FIGHT A COLD + BUILD IMMUNITY
Flu season is just around the corner; have you gotten your flu shot yet?
After all, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), between 5% and 20% of the U.S. population comes down with the flu each year, and as many as 200,000 people are hospitalized for flu-related complications (1).
But is the answer really to be found in a vaccine?
Almost half of Americans seem to feel this way, based on the 43% of us who opt to receive it each year, especially those who are ‘high risk’, such as the elderly, babies over six months old… and pregnant women (2)!
Reasons to get it?
Just one and it’s rather obvious: to avoid getting the flu.
And reasons not to?
The CDC reports mild side effects from the flu shot include soreness, redness or swelling at the injection site, low-grade fever and aches as well as rare but serious side effects can occur, including allergic reactions, difficulty breathing, swelling around the eyes or lips, hives, racing heart, dizziness and high fever (3).
Not to mention that the strain of any given flu shot may not protect against other versions that rear their ugly heads.
In addition, it’s not just the flu vaccine that’s injected into your body when you receive it; other ingredients in the mix include (4):
1. Antibiotics — To prevent bacteria formation during production and storage, manufacturers add antibiotics such as gentamicin or neomycin.
2. Formaldehyde — As a flu vaccine ingredient, formaldehyde is used to deactivate and decontaminate the flu viruses and toxins in the vaccine.
3. Chicken egg proteins — Historically, most flu viruses have been grown in fertilized chicken eggs, as this environment allows viruses to grow and reproduce. Viruses are separated from the egg and added to the vaccine after completing development, with some traces of chicken egg proteins being transferred. As such, people with an egg protein allergy should rethink getting a flu shot.
4. Canine (dog) kidney cells — Instead of being grown in chicken eggs, two vaccines, Flucelvax and Flucelvax Quadrivalent, are grown in a canine kidney cell line and inactivated with a detergent called cetyltrimethylammonium bromide.
5. Gelatin: — Pork-based gelatin acts as a stabilizer for the purpose of helping to maintain the flu vaccine’s effectiveness from production to use, and shields the vaccine from harmful heat- or freeze-drying effects.
6. Thimerosal — Thimerosal is a preservative that contains approximately 50 percent mercury. While it’s no longer found in most pediatric vaccines, it’s used in multidose vials of flu vaccines to help prevent contamination by bacteria, fungi or other germs as the vial is repeatedly used.
So what to do if you want to best arm yourself against getting what might turn out to be a nasty virus but prefer a more natural line of defense?
Focus on your gut as the core part of reducing inflammation in the body.
When our bodies become inflamed, external factors that typically might not be problematic become much more of a threat.
Since our guts are where are sickness (and health) begins, if we opt to reduce inflammation in our bodies through what we eat, we can boost our immune systems without risk and keep flu-free on our won.
While a certain amount of inflammation in the body, such as what we might experience after a tough workout, is a good thing because it helps the body recover, if infection or recurrent injury occurs, inflammation can become a chronic condition that can lead to other, more serious, health issues.
Chronic inflammation causes certain substances in the immune system to tell other parts of the immune system to kick into action. Once the immune system receives these messages, it will get to work by attacking bacteria and viruses, starting to increase blood flow, clearing out dying cells, and repairing unhealthy tissue; this is referred to as an “inflammatory response.” (5)
While there are other factors to consider in reducing systemic inflammation, such as overall stress and stress management, how we sleep, rest, recover and move, if our eating isn’t intact, we’re missing a huge part of our health foundation.
By eating a diet rich in net- alkaline forming foods and avoiding foods that are known to create an acidic pH and subsequent inflammation such as sugar, processed foods, gluten, grains, and dairy products, we can set the stage for allowing the gut to begin to heal.
Next, by adding in regular doses of gut-boosting foods which specifically help to fight off the flu, we further allow the gut to not only heal but to flourish.
Below are my top five go-tos to keep nasty cold or flu bugs at bay:
- Bone broth is once again the star of the show. The gelatin found in bone broth is a hydrophilic colloid. It attracts and holds liquids, including digestive juices, thereby supporting proper digestion and inhibiting infection caused by cold and flu viruses due to its medicinal qualities which significantly mitigating infection (6).
- Raw garlic raises blood levels of T cells, garlic ensures that the immune system is well prepared to meet and disarm the viruses responsible for common cold and the flu (7).
- Oil of oregano helps your lungs recover from a bout with a cold or flu by thinning the mucous, allowing for easier breathing and faster removal of the infecting virus (8).
- Turmeric is a spice that belongs to the ginger family; Curcumin is its most important bioactive ingredient with a number of exceptional medicinal properties including as a remedy for cold and today we will understand the modern science behind it
- Oysters contain more zinc per serving than any other food making it far superior that taking a zinc lozenge hidden in a candy!
While the decision to get a flu shot for yourself, aging parents or children is a personal one, by having a more informed approach to what you may be getting with that flu shot as well as some more naturopathic alternatives (and risk free) to test out, you’ll be able to make the best decision that you’re most comfortable with.
It never hurts to have more information!