Wednesday, January 23, 2013

The Power of the Flu Shot: Fact or Fiction?

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I've chosen my mentor. He doesn't know it yet, nor is he even aware I exist. I can only compare this situation to having a middle school crush who sees straight through you (I mean, it's really no surprise with that mouth full of metal). It's true that my relationship with Dr. Joel Fuhrman is a complete one-way street, but I'm just happy to be driving on the same road!

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I first learned about Dr. Fuhrman when my brother Cale so kindly presented me with a giftcard. While perusing online for a new educational read (totally dorky, I know), I stumbled upon his book Super Immunity. On a whim, I clicked 'purchase' and the rest is history! I've since read his other book Eat to Live and watched him on multiple TV shows. He's even a guest speaker this year through my Health Coaching program at the Institute for Integrative Nutrition. Looks like we're going to be best friends, Dr. Fuhrman!

Today I'd like to share with you some thoughts from Dr. Fuhrman on flu shots. I don't know about you, but I'd rather not get a shot unless I have to. Growing up, we always got flu shots, but since living on my own, I've decided that enough is enough! My little arms just can't take any more abuse! So I was pleasantly surprised to discover that the infamous flu shot might not be a good idea for everyone. Let me explain...

Any time you take medication, receive a vaccination or undergo a medical procedure, you have to consider the benefit-to-risk ratio. In other words, are the risks of receiving medical intervention worth the benefits? If you took the time to read the vaccine information supplied to you at the time of vaccination (and who really does?), you would probably be mortified to know that a large number of the vaccines given this flu season contain traces of formaldehyde and thimerosal (a compound containing mercury). The vaccines also contain residual amounts of egg proteins (not a novel idea for those allergic to eggs) and preservatives (need I say more?). As you are exposed to these toxic substances year after year, they build up in your body and can potentially cause health issues down the road. 

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But let's talk about the known risks and side effects of the influenza vaccine, a whole basket of toxic side effects - joint pain, swelling of the lymph nodes and inflammation of the blood vessels. Allergic reactions are also common - hives and anaphylaxis - and don't forget neurological disorders! Dr. Fuhrman goes on to explain that "Most recently, influenza vaccinations have been implicated as a trigger for Henoch-Schonlein purpura, a rare but serious disease that can cause kidney failure". 

Suddenly, getting a flu shot doesn't sounds like the best decision you've ever made.

The CDC now recommends a vaccination for all individuals six months or older. They back up their recommendations with numerous studies 'proving' the vaccination's ability to reduce the number of cases of the flu each year and it's ability to reduce complications related to the flu. The funny part is... when independent, non-biased analysis was conducted by the Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews, they found these studies to be questionable at best, especially since most were funded by the vaccine companies themselves! And also worth noting is the fact that "almost all of the fifteen members of the CDC's Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices have financial ties to the vaccine industry!".

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Now let's look at the facts... more than 200 different viruses cause the flu. Each year the flu shot is designed after careful research determining which strains promise to be the most prevalent. The problem lies in the fact that this is a guessing game at best. Even with the most careful design, "the flu shot still covers less than 10 percent of the circulating viruses creating these illnesses. In the real world, the viral strains that are chosen for the vaccine simply cannot be an exact match with those circulating; only a partial match is ever achieved".

With this in mind, please understand that if you are making healthy choices and building a strong immune system through diet and exercise, you have no reason to fear the flu. But for those with compromised immune systems, the proposed benefits of the shot may far outweigh the risks. That is a personal decision that should be made after proper consideration and a consultation with your medical advisor.

If you'd like to ward off the flu in a more natural way, check out these 5 suggestions on Wellness Today!

So... there are the facts. Now it's time for you to decide what's right for you!

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