The Flu and Vaccines
According to the CDC, each year, on average, up to 64.6 million Americans are infected with the flu. Tens of thousands are hospitalized and thousands die from flu-related illness. Vaccines played a major role in preventing disease that used to be common in the U.S. and around the world, including polio, measles, diphtheria, pertussis (whooping cough), rubella (German measles), mumps, tetanus, rotavirus and Haemophilus influenzae type b (Hib). However, in the last few years, evidence has shown the harmful side effect of vaccines. The percentage of adults who get the influenza vaccine is decreasing. In 2009-2010 132 million Americans received vaccines for the flu virus and the numbers decreased by about 10 percent in 2016-2017. (1)
While the number of adults receiving vaccines has been reducing, the statistics from the Center for Disease Control and Prevention show that the percentage of children aged 19-35 months receiving vaccines every year makes up almost 100% of the population of children. Specifically, 84.6% receive vaccines for Diphtheria, Tetanus, Pertussis (4+ doses DTP, DT, or DTaP), 93.7% for Polio (3+ doses), 92.6% for Hepatitis B (Hep B) (3+ doses), and many others. This means that during crucial, developmental years we are exposing our children to dangerous toxins that can trigger a progression of harmful effects. (2)
The problems of Vaccines
Vaccines might be important to protects children from serious illness and to provide protection from complications of diseases in both adults and children. Unfortunately, vaccines contain multiple additives that were found to be harmful to our body. According to the National Center for Immunization and Respiratory Diseases, these additives are aluminum, thimerosal (a mercury containing preservative), antibiotics, and egg protein. Aluminum is a heavy metal that has a toxic effect on our nervous system. According to a study published in 2016 Journal of American Physicians and Surgeons, aluminum is capable of remaining in your cells a long time after you received the vaccines and may cause neurological and autoimmune disorders. (3)
Heavy metals, such as aluminium, can be found in the following childhood vaccines: DTaP, Pediarix (DTaP-Hepatitis B-Polio combination), Pentacel (DTaP-HIB-Polio combination), Hepatitis A, Hepatitis B, Haemophilus influenzae B (HIB), Human Papilloma Virus (HPV), and Pneumococcal vaccines. According to a study published in the International Journal of Alzheimer’s Disease, “aluminum can cause severe health problems in particular populations, including infants.” (4) Since vaccines contain harmful chemicals, in some cases we might consider looking into a safer and natural approach, nature's most powerful protection against viruses called antioxidants.
Nature’s Powerful Anti-Viral Agent: Antioxidants
Antioxidants are molecules that protect your cells from damaging particles, such as oxidants, bacteria, or viruses. (5) They protect your cells by removing potentially damaging oxidizing agents in a living organism, as well as from free radicals. If you have heard of free radicals, you would know that they are very unstable molecules that attack the nearest stable molecule. They ‘float’ in your body and damage or irritate the cells they come in contact with. Your cells require adequate levels of antioxidant in order to avoid the harmful effect of free radicals on your cells.
Antioxidants and the influenza virus
Many studies have found that antioxidants can provide you with a natural protection and improve different immune function, which plays an important protective role in preventing infections caused by bacteria, viruses or parasites.
Take vitamin E for example, as an antioxidant. Studies found that vitamin E had significantly lowered pulmonary viruses. The researchers also found that vitamin E reduced the inflammatory markers, called interleukin 6 (IL-6) and Tumor necrosis factor (TNF-a), that were caused by the virus. Clearly, including a proper amount of vitamin E-rich/antioxidant-rich foods will boost your immune system and combat viruses better than vaccines because you are avoiding the additional, harmful toxins. (6)
Some viruses can reduce the amount of antioxidants in your body in order to ‘take over’ and replicate themselves. It was found that the influenza virus can slow the production of glutathione in our bodies, a powerful antioxidant, and deplete our vitamins C and E levels. Antioxidants are a vital compound that we are required to consume via fruits and vegetables and without them our body becomes deficient in specific nutrients. (7)
Antioxidants and Your Health
Antioxidants don’t only protect you from infections and the influenza virus, they can also help to prevent chronic diseases. According to an article, Antioxidants in Disease and Health, published in 2008 by the International Journal of Biomedical Science, antioxidants protect you from oxidative stress that can cause damage to your cells. Oxidative stress plays a major part in the development of chronic and degenerative illness such as cancer, autoimmune disorders, aging, cataract, rheumatoid arthritis, cardiovascular and neurodegenerative diseases (Alzheimer, dementia, and other cognitive problems).
Where can you find antioxidants?
Antioxidants are nutrients, such as vitamin E, vitamin C, β-carotene, selenium, copper, iron and zinc. Antioxidant nutrients can be found in food containing these vitamins. Fruits, specifically berries, are a powerful source of antioxidants- they provide us with vitamins and nutrients that are vital for our bodily function. Without these nutrients, your body cannot defend itself properly against harmful free-radicals, bacteria, viruses, parasites, and even toxins. If you lack these antioxidants, you might not feel sick, but you might have symptoms (such as fatigue) and your body will might not function in it’s optimal state and energy levels.
The nutrients from fruits, such as vitamin E, beta-carotene, and vitamin C provide us with antioxidants, which protect your cells from oxidation and free radicals. Free radicals are very unstable molecules that attack the nearest stable molecule, "stealing" a piece called an electron. When the "attacked" molecule loses its electron, it converts into a free radical in your body, which causes a chain reaction that eventually results in damage to your cells or organs. When an overload of free radicals are accumulated in your body and your ability to detoxify them has been hindered, you experience a phenomenon called ‘oxidative stress.’
Which fruits have the highest amounts of antioxidants?
Blueberries, cranberries, raspberries, prunes, strawberries, cherries, and apples. An apple has just 5 mg of vitamin c, but an antioxidant activity of 1500 mg vitamin C.
How much antioxidants do I need?
There are different requirements for each of the antioxidants. To provide antioxidant protection, the Recommended Dietary Allowance (RDA) of vitamin C is 90 mg/day for adult men and 75 mg/day for adult women. (8) On average, Americans consume 3.6 servings of fruits and vegetables daily. Is that enough? While the average American, adult man consumes between 2,400 to 3,000 calories every day, a study conducted by University of Illinois, found that less than half of Americans actually reached the recommended amounts of vitamins (only 4.9% reached the recommended dosage of vitamin D). So, where are all of these calories coming from? Mostly from meat, pork, chicken, and carbohydrates, such as potatoes, rice, or bread, which do not provide you with antioxidants. To maintain your health and to get enough antioxidants, my recommendation is 8 to 10 servings of fruits a day.
How can I include more fruit in my diet?
Start by eating more fruits every day. Add them to your food (such as granola with berries), have them as dessert or as a snack, add fruits to your salads or yogurt. Since most people find it impossible to eat so many fruits, you could find a concentrated powder comprised of organic vegetables and fruits to include in your diet, such as SuperFood by Amazing Grass or organic green powder by Garden of Life.
What about vitamin C supplements?
Review of the studies show that the health benefits of vitamin C supplementation is contradicting. Some studies show the antioxidant effect while some studies do not. It is important to remember that absorbing vitamins from food is different from synthetic vitamins that were made in a lab. Take vitamin C, for example. Many supplements of vitamin C contain only ascorbic acid, however the term 'vitamin C' actually refers to both ascorbic acid and dehydroascorbic acid. (8) Some nutritional specialist also stated that ‘real’ vitamin C is actually a variety or natural compounds that compose vitamin C. Dr. Royal Lee, the founder of Standard Process, a whole-food organic nutritional supplements manufacturer, promoted each of the vitamins as a complex of nutrients, rather than just one or two compounds. He called his product ‘Cataplex C’ and based his vitamin C content on organic fruits and vegetables.
1. Influenza Vaccination Coverage --- United States, 2000--2010 https://www.cdc.gov/nchs/fastats/immunize.htm
2. CDC. Immunization. https://www.cdc.gov/nchs/fastats/immunize.htm
3. Miller, N. M. (2016). Aluminum in Childhood Vaccines Is Unsafe. Journal of American Physicians and Surgeons, 21(4). Retrieved from http://www.jpands.org/vol21no4/miller.pdf
4. Kawahara M, Kato-Negishi M. Link between aluminum and the pathogenesis of Alzheimer’s disease: the integration of the aluminum and amyloid cascade hypotheses. Int J Alzheimers Dis 2011;2011:276393.
5. Puertollano M, Puertollano E, de Cienfuegos G, de Pablo M. Dietary antioxidants: immunity and host defense. Current Topics In Medicinal Chemistry [serial online]. 2011;11(14):1752-1766. Available from: MEDLINE Complete, Ipswich, MA. Accessed January 27, 2018.
6. Han, S. N., Meydani, M., Wu, D., Bender, B. S., Smith, D. E., Viña, J., & ... Meydani, S. N. (2000). Effect of long-term dietary antioxidant supplementation on influenza virus infection. The Journals Of Gerontology. Series A, Biological Sciences And Medical Sciences, 55(10), B496-B503.
7. Hennet, T., Peterhans, E., & Stocker, R. (1992). Alterations in antioxidant defences in lung and liver of mice infected with influenza A virus. The Journal Of General Virology, 73 ( Pt 1)39-46.
8. Institute of Medicine (US) Panel on Dietary Antioxidants and Related Compounds. Dietary Reference Intakes for Vitamin C, Vitamin E, Selenium, and Carotenoids. Washington (DC): National Academies Press (US); 2000. 5, Vitamin C. Available from: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK225480/