Every year, the various strains of influenza virus become more and more difficult to avoid with our growing population and annual contraction rate. The best way stay out of influenza’s line of fire is to be preemptive in protecting your body. Of course, the most common form of protection used is the simple flu vaccination, but are the vaccines truly as effective and as safe as we're lead to believe?
Scientific reviews published in Fall of 2012 by the Independent Cochrane Database refuted the claims of the media and supposed health experts who've stated that the flu vaccine is the most effective method of protecting one from the flu, and that it’s a safe way in doing so.
In their research trials, the Cochrane Group found that the comparison influenza cases of vaccinated and unvaccinated patients showed that the flu vaccine is really only effective to influenza type A and B, which only accounts for about 10% of the types of strains that annually pervade the air. It was also found that the use of the vaccine did not seem to affect the number people hospitalized or the number work days missed during a flu season. The vaccine did, however, consistently cause Guillain-Barré syndrome (a serious neurological condition that will lead to paralysis) in at least one individual for every million vaccinated, a costly risk for flu prevention.
Fortunately, there are a number of safe, healthy, and, most importantly, natural alternatives to today's flu vaccinations that can provide your body with the defenses required for the flu season.
Garlic - This flavorful little bulb has some dormant healing capabilities that many are unaware of. Containing strong natural antibiotic, antiviral, and antifungal activity, garlic is a simple incorporation into one’s diet that can really boost the immune system and fight off infectious diseases such as the cold and flu. If you enjoy garlic, the daily consumption of a food containing garlic ought to be sufficient in at least maintaining a healthy immune system. If you don’t like garlic, there are a number garlic supplement options that one can use to produce the same effect.
Zinc - A medical research review of zinc from the Cochrane Database found that zinc, when taken within one day of first symptoms, can reduce the time you have an illness by 24 hours and even reduce the severity of the symptoms. However, zinc, along with any essential nutrient, can cause imbalances in the body’s composition if one were to take too much without keeping track of their overall mineral intake.
Vitamin D - An old, reliable defense for the body’s fight against illness. Vitamin D is an amazing antimicrobial that is very effective against viruses, bacteria, and fungi. Not only can vitamin D accelerate the recovery period of a cold or flu, but, if consumed daily, it can also prevent one from contracting the disease in the first place. Vitamin D from the sun can be difficult to come by in the dark Winter months, so supplements will more than likely be required to receive an adequate amount. When taking vitamin D regularly, be sure to also take a supplement of vitamin K2. Too much vitamin D can cause the calcification of arteries and tissue, which vitamin K2 is able to prevent by removing the calcium from the tissue and arteries and allocating it to the proper places in the body, i.e. teeth and bones. Also, be sure to opt for D3 supplements as opposed to D2, as D3 is more comparable to the vitamin D provided by sunlight, and thus is more easily absorbed by our bodies.
*In addition to these powerhouse flu defenses, supplements of Vitamin C, oregano oil, propolis, and olive leaf extract are also great immunity builders when incorporated into a balanced diet*
With all of these natural sources of disease prevention available to us, is receiving the flu vaccination truly worth all of the known risks? In preparation for this flu season, review the evidence against the flu vaccine and conduct your own research to gain an understanding of the potential risks associated with the vaccine before choosing to receive another one.
Flu prevention may truly be as easy as a couple diet alterations. Below is a comprehensive list of foods that ought to be considered as well as what should be avoided in order to keep your defenses strong during the annual influenza outbreak.
Food for healthy immune system:
Lactose-free source of calcium (almond milk, dried figs, white beans) | Fermented foods (pickles, sauerkraut, miso) | Raw, organic eggs from pastured chickens | Coconuts and coconut oil | Organic vegetables | Lemon | Turmeric | Ginger | Oregano | Honey | Cinnamon | Mushrooms (Reishi, Shiitake, and Maitake) | Chicken broth
Things to be avoided when trying to prevent the flu:
Too much sugar and grains | Insufficient exercise | Insufficient sleep | Vitamin D deficiency | Ignored emotional stress (those that experience difficulty with this may be interested in the Emotional Freedom Technique (EFT))
Cannell, Vieth, Umhau, Holick, Grant, Madronich, Garland, and Giovannucci. "Result Filters." National Center for Biotechnology Information. U.S. National Library of Medicine
Lissiman, Bhasale, and Cohen. "Cochrane." Garlic for the Common Cold. N.p., n.d.
Mercola. "Zinc, Vitamin D and Garlic: Alternatives to Flu Vaccine." Mercola.com. N.p., n.d.
Summerly, John. "Garlic Soup Made With 52 Cloves of Garlic Can Defeat Colds, Flu and Even Norovirus." Garlic Soup Made With 52 Cloves of Garlic Can Defeat Colds, Flu and Even Norovirus. N.p., n.d.
Urashima, Mitsuyoshi, Takaaki Segawa, Minoru Okazaki, Mana Kurihara, Yasuyuki Wada, and Hiroyuki Ida. "The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition." Randomized Trial of Vitamin D Supplementation to Prevent Seasonal Influenza A in Schoolchildren. N.p., n.d. Web.