If you're in North America like I am, the flu is in full swing, and this one is a doozy. So what can we do to protect ourselves? Do we get the flu shot? Do we not get the flu shot? What foods can we eat? What supplements can we take? Let me break these things down for you so we can all breathe a little easier this flu season.
First up, the flu shot: to inject or not to inject?
That answer is ultimately up to you. My family and I don't get the flu shot, but you have to decide for yourself. Here are some facts that may help you make up your mind:
One reputable integrative MD states: “The flu vaccine continues to be inadequate, and yet we put all of our medical eggs into this basket. Even in its best years, it may be about 60% effective. This year, it’s estimated that vaccine efficacy may be a woeful 10%.”
Yikes. 10%? Is that worth the chemical cocktail of octoxynol-10 (TRITON X-100) (also used in vaginal spermicides), α-tocopheryl hydrogen succinate (a type of vitamin E), polysorbate 80 (a surfactant and emulsifier used in cleaners and personal care products), hydrocortisone (cortisol, essentially), gentamicin sulfate (an antibiotic), ovalbumin (the major protein constituent of chicken egg whites), formaldehyde (a carcinogenic impurity), sodium deoxycholate (a bile salt and an ionic detergent), sodium phosphate-buffered isotonic sodium chloride (a water-based salt solution), that's included in the flu vaccine? Honestly, I'm not sure.
“But Tara, those chemicals are in such minute amounts, they can't harm us”.
Here's the thing about chemicals that is important to understand: 1 + 1 doesn't equal 2 when it come to chemicals, (or herbs for that matter – but with herbs, that's a good thing).
What do I mean by this? I mean that your total chemical exposure equates to way more than the sum of these chemicals' individual parts. So 1 + 1 may actually equal 4, and onwards and upwards we go. This is called chemical synergy.
So when you hear that something contains a tiny amount of a chemical please remember this fact: all these exposures to “tiny amounts” of chemicals add up to a whopping amount in your system. And make no mistake, we are surrounded by chemicals on a daily basis that are inhibiting our organs of detoxification, which is inhibiting our health.
I'm of the mindset that we should do whatever we can to prevent additional exposure to chemicals, especially to little children whose ability to detoxify isn't as robust as adults. In fact, newborns to age 7 have an under-active PON 1 enzyme – an enzyme that aids in the detoxification of pollutants from our body. I can't stress enough how important it is to keep your kids free and clear of chemicals to the best of your ability, (and no, I'm not telling you not to vaccinate your kids – that's not something I have a lot of information about. Both my kids are vaccinated, just not with the flu vaccine).
Additionally, Michael T. Osterholm, PhD, MPH and a group of five other scientists at the University of Minnesota’s Centre for Infectious Disease Research and Policy published a report that stated: “we can no longer accept the status quo…The perception that current vaccines are already highly effective in preventing influenza is a major barrier to pursuing game-changing alternatives.” And he also stated in the New York Times a more poignant statement: “We have over-promoted and overhyped this vaccine. It does not protect as promoted. It’s all a sales job: it’s all public relations.”
No great surprise there. ?
As if that weren't enough, those who get the flu vaccine are 6 times more likely to infect others! Whaaaaa?
So what can you do to protect yourself from the flu, (whether you've had the flu vaccine or not – because we know now that even if you have had the flu shot it's highly likely it won't prevent you from getting the flu ?). Here are my top tips:
- Liposomal Vitamin C: It's common knowledge that vitamin C is a potent cold and flu fighter and we have a lot of science to back this up. In particular, this study reported: “Those taking 8 grams of vitamin C on the first day of the cold only, reduced the duration by 20%… the safety record of vitamin C means that we can and should be using it now.” I suggest liposomal vitamin C because tablet vitamin C is poorly absorbed in the body. You can read a post of mine here that explains what liposomal vitamin C actually is and the brand I recommend.
- Vitamin D: Unlike vitamin C, not many people realize the powerful benefits of vitamin D to fight colds and flus, but listen up because this one is super important. A meta analysis recently showed that those deficient in vitamin D had a 50% reduced risk of getting the flu when they supplemented with vitamin D daily! More studies have concurred with these results and I am constantly telling the ladies I work with to test their vitamin D. Doctors will tell you that it's “normal” but anything below 150 nmol/L is a deficiency in the the functional medicine space. At the first sign of sickness I take a very high dose vitamin D.
- Tinctures: I love tinctures because they are so simple to put into your water and you can take them prophylactically to support your immune system and give it a boost during flu season. Some of my favourite immune-boosting tinctures include (I have no affiliation with these companies): Seven Medicinal Mushrooms, Immune Strength Compound, Echinacea Goldenseal Compound, Elderberry Liquid Extract, and Deep Immune.
- Other herbal medicine: I also take Medi Herb's Andrographis Complex at the first sign of getting sick. I've only been using it a little while but it seems to work quite effectively. You don't take it prophylactically, but when you actually start to get sick. And this tincture is another one that you can take when you start to get sick. I've taken this a lot and I have found it to be incredibly effective at kicking a cold or flu in the butt or at least helping me to get over a cold very quickly.
- Probiotics: By now every man and his dog knows that probiotics are an important part of living a healthy life. Whether you get them from food such as kimchi or sauerkraut or from a bottle, just ensure you're getting them. Up to 80% of our immune system is located in our gut – you have to ensure it's in tip top shape and probiotics, as much as they are important, are just the start, (contact me if you want to book in for a GI Map – the most comprehensive stool analysis you can do that gives you all the info you need to sort out your gut health).
- Food: ensure you are not eating a lot of sugar. Sugar greatly depresses your immune system. Ensure your diet is full of whole foods, mainly veggies, but protein too from organic sources. Functional foods are where it's at when it comes to flu prevention, so think things like this delicious 5 Mushroom Drinking Chocolate and this incredible Golden Mylk mix – these are two favourites in my house. Bee products are also very medicinal. My favourite company in Canada for honey, pollen, and royal jelly – things that have potent medicinal powers – is Bee Keeper's Naturals (they have a great throat spray that my kids love). I give you even more foods you can consume for cold/flu prevention in a blog post here.
- Finally: WASH YOUR HANDS! This is one of the best tips I can give you.
If you want to ensure your health is in tip top shape this flu season please feel free to reach out to me to book in for a free 15 minute consultation where we can discuss your health struggles and how I can help you.
In happiness and health,