I like this video. Dr. Vincent Bellonzi delves into some of the underlying reasons we have a continued deficit when it comes to understanding preventive care.
A recent meta-analysis in the Lancet (a meta-analysis combines the results of many studies and pools the data together providing a bigger picture of an area of interest) reviewed the effectiveness of vaccinations in all age groups. They found that 1.5 of every 100 adults vaccinated had a reduction in incidence of influenza A or B (the CDC usually places three strains either A or B in the flu vaccine).
The study showed no benefit for older adults (greater than 65) and that reported benefits are greatly reduced in some seasons (what season is that? flu season?). They did show the greatest benefit in young children. This can be due to many factors. One being reduced innate immunity due to a diet low in cholesterol, healthy fats, and sunlight exposure in addition to regularly consuming highly processed foods such as dairy, cereals, and grains. Cholesterol is a known factor the body uses to fight bacteria and viruses (in addition to other pathogens and toxins).
The risk associated with vaccines in any age group was not addressed. This includes immediate reactions and long-term harm associated with mercury accumulation.
The CDC states about vaccines,
There are a number of factors that can make getting a good vaccine virus strain for vaccine production challenging, including both scientific issues and issues of timing. Currently, only viruses grown in eggs can be used as vaccine virus strains. If specimens have been grown in other cell lines, they cannot be used for vaccine strains. However, more and more laboratories do not use eggs to grow influenza viruses, making it difficult to obtain potential vaccine strains. In addition, some influenza viruses, like H3N2 viruses, grow poorly in eggs, making it even more difficult to obtain possible vaccine strains. In terms of timing, in some years certain influenza viruses may not circulate until later in the influenza season, or a virus can change late in the season or from one season to the next. This can make it difficult to forecast which viruses will predominate the following season, but it can also make it difficult to identify a vaccine virus strain in time for the production process to begin.“
This combined with the fact that the overwhelming majority of reported “flu” episodes are not actually influenza A or B. CDC data indicates around 20% incidence rate. This greatly reduces the reported benefit of vaccinations.
I fail to see real benefit of the flu vaccination when there is so much we can do to improve our immunity and health through diet and lifestyle. I propose there is a much wiser and smarter alternative. This includes changes in diet, sunlight exposure, sleep patterns, exercise, and stress reduction. Prevention through lifestyle change can also have a widespread impact on our health in other areas (such as cancer, heart disease, and obesity) and may even prevent the flu in the first place. This may even help eliminate toxins accumulated over time (including mercury from previous vaccinations) improving longevity and quality of life issues.
Here is a summary of the findings from a study in the Journal of Virology. Healthy children that received preventive treatment in the form of regular flu vaccinations were shown to have less antibodies across a wider variety of flu strains than non-vaccinated children. This is classic and shows how short-sighted and poorly designed preventive treatment can present long-term risks on our ability fight disease and reduce stressors to our health. Keep in mind stress (inflammation) is good short-term to fight acute alterations in our homeostasis but inflammation associated with chronic stressors can have detrimental impact across many systems in our body.
Artificially acquired immunity (flu vaccinations) cannot and should not replace naturally acquired humoral immunity in diseases that pose little risk in healthy children. Children subject to regular flu vaccines are at higher risk for future viral infections than children who do not receive routine influenza vaccinations. There are much better ways to upregulate innate and adaptive immunity. This should be the focus of carefully designed preventive treatment.
There is no magic pill (or shot) to cure or prevent our ails. Do you really want an injection filled toxins that slowly reduces your immune response year after year? The choice is yours.
Cytokines are proteins that signal cells to act throughout the body. They are inflammatory in nature and are classified as proteins, peptides, and polypeptides (a nice pictorial of cellular immunity at work). One commonly known cytokine, interferon type I is used to treat hepatitis B and C.
There is debate in the scientific community whether or not cytokines are hormones. This may be due in part to their anatomy, origin, and level of concentration in the body. Cytokines can be concentrated 1,000s times greater during trauma or infection. Hormones are generally secreted by localized organs/glands such as the pancreas while cytokines can be generated from nearly every nucleated cell in our body including macrophages (WBCs), endothelial cells (interior of our body) like those that line our blood vessels, and epithelial cells (surface of our body) like our skin.
Here is a video representation courtesy of nucleusinc.org:
Just thinking about the structure of cytokines brings to light the fact that they are all highly dependent upon adequate levels of cholesterol since cell membrane structural integrity and intracellular communication are all reliant on cholesterol. In addition, WBCs act immunoprotectively with cholesterol in the blood to bind to and inactivate toxins such as bacteria, viruses, fungi, and free radicals. Here is a good site with practical application tips to reduce inflammation while enhancing the body’s immunoprotective abilities naturally without dependence drugs which are partly responsible for iatrogenic disease and death. This also highlights one way cholesterol plays a role in immunity and how it may relate to other diseases such as cancer (McCully, Ravnskov & Rosch, 2011).
The greatest benefit of acute inflammation occurs when we have an infection. Inflammation stimulates cholesterol production. The bad news is that as chronic inflammation continues it inhibits nitric oxide (NO), a potent vasodilator, increases blood pressure and places the lining of our blood vessels at increased risk through atherosclerosis. The mechanisms responsible for atherosclerosis are very complex and the presence of cholesterol does not necessarily indicate cause. One of statins’ benefits comes from inflammation reduction. According to Chris Masterjohn, (he describes the process in great detail here), statins can provide a co-occurring negative impact by reducing Coenzyme Q10 production which works in conjunction to NO to improve cardiovascular function and negate the effects of atherosclerosis. Statins are also known to cause muscle degeneration. Think about your heart. It is a muscle.
We need cytokines to keep us healthy when we get sick. We also need to understand how chronic inflammation occurs and to moderate the its effects by our lifestyle choices. When trying to mitigate these risks, understanding what causes inflammation and how to prevent it can reduce the risk of health problems down the road. We should approach it though our diet and lifestyle not a drug . . . unless you want to take that risk.
McCully, K., Ravnskov, U., and Rosch, P. (2011). The statin-low cholesterol-cancer conundrum. Quarterly Journal of Medicine. doi: 10.1093/qjmed/hcr243
A recent study in Canada examined the sodium and potassium intake of 28,800 participants in two large studies spanning a seven year period. They measures average excretion rates which is one way to determine intake as noted by a fairly high accuracy rate from this study.
The healthiest sodium intake was between 4 to 6 grams. Those who consumed lower or much higher amounts had higher incidence of death from heart attacks and strokes. I have not seen any randomized studies providing definitive proof that a low sodium diet reduces heart attack and stroke rates. The current science seems to indicate a moderate intake of sodium for improved cardiovascular health is best.
This is in stark contrast with current government recommendations which are as follows:
- AI (adequate intake) is 1.5 grams
- Maximum intake is 2.3 grams
Both of these government recommended daily allowance references place the public at increased risk for heart attack and stroke. No wonder cardiovascular disease is the per-eminent killer in America just behind iatrogenic causes. Reducing sodium too much is dangerous and ineffective for controlling blood pressure as demonstrated by this metaanalysis due to increased renin secretion (raising blood pressure) and sodium depletion (which causes a sympathetic response). The study also showed that moderate sodium intake of 4.6 grams (within a healthy range) did have a positive impact on blood pressure.
This, in addition to other factors may be why sodium intake higher than government guidelines is good for you. Sodium has many roles in our body. Perhaps the most well known is the sodium potassium pump (SPP). This is what helps maintain our blood pressure and contractility. Every muscle is dependent upon proper function of the SPP in order to work effectively, especially your heart.
We shouldn’t be afraid of sodium. We should be afraid of the processed foods that abuse sodium placing us at risk. Eating a healthy diet composes of whole, unprocessed foods and flavoring to taste with healthier versions of salt (like Himalayan or sea salt) and other healthy spices like cumin, cayenne, curry, and cinnamon are much wiser choices.
Cholesterol plays an important role in immunity, especially with bloodborne pathogens. One study here explained that total cholesterol (TC) fluctuates wildly during acute infections indicating cholesterol may have immune mediated activity. The article reviewed 19 cohort studies that revealed a correlation between increased death from respiratory and gastrointestinal diseases (both infectious) and low TC.
It also showed that people admitted to hospitals due to an infectious disease also had low cholesterol. Some common diseases noted were genitourinary infections, skin, and subcutaneous (just below the skin) infections. HIV and death from AIDS were also associated with lower cholesterol levels.
Patients with low TC suffering from chronic heart failure had a poorer prognosis after surgery and lower long-term survival rates. This also included patients recovering from abdominal surgeries. Another interesting note was that people suffering from hepatitis B including asymptomatic carriers also have lower TC levels.
Although the evidence shows that young and middle-aged men are at risk for heart disease with high cholesterol (this can be controlled through diet) their risk becomes negated when they get close to 50. As one gets older, higher cholesterol is associated with longevity 1, 2 in both men and women. This may be due to not only the cardioprotective effects of higher cholesterol but also to innate immunoprotective mechanisms associated higher TC.
Interestingly, eating a diet lower in fiber increases serum cholesterol due to the gut’s increased ability to reabsorb cholesterol in the absence of fiber. In addition to this, diets higher in linoleic and linolenic acids (essential fatty acids) may help prevent or reverse atherosclerosis (yes, atherosclerosis can be reversed).
Another article showed that one cause of cardiovascular disease may result from bacterial communities reinfecting arterial walls. Suppressed immune response related to low cholesterol may be a contributing factor.
If you want to reduce your risk of infection and improve immunity response mechanisms, one thing to consider is maintaining healthy cholesterol levels. Cholesterol may also play a role in a number of autoimmune disorders.