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As we enter into flu season, we will see the introduction of a new type of flu vaccine.
Quadrivalent vaccines promise to guard against four (rather than three) strains of the flu virus. These new vaccines will be available as a shot or a nasal spray. They are expected to be more popular with children than with adults since children tend to catch newly added strains more often.
Dr. Gregory Poland, an infectious disease specialist at the Mayo Clinic, explains that, "We're moving away from the one-size-fits-all to choosing the best possible vaccine for an individual's age and condition.”
For example, if you have an egg allergy, you will be able to opt for an egg-free vaccine that is cultured in caterpillar cells—rather than a chicken egg. And if you are squeamish about needles, one brand of flu vaccine offers a panel of microneedles instead of the standard single needle shot.
While federal health officials recommend a yearly flu vaccine for everyone—beginning at 6 months old—many are still trying to assess if vaccines are even effective.
Researchers at the University of Rochester found that the flu shot during the 2010–2011 flu season was only effective in just over half of the people who received the flu vaccine. (1) Another team of researchers from the University of Minnesota and Johns Hopkins University pooled together all science on vaccine efficacy from 1967 to 2011. (2) They found that the flu vaccine only provides “moderate” protection. They go on to add that this protection is “greatly reduced or absent in some seasons.”
This means that if you get the flu vaccine this season, there is no way to know the degree to which it will protect you. Fortunately, there are still several things you can do to protect yourself from getting sick this flu season.
1. Rebuild Your Inner Ecosystem.
Getting stuck in bed with the flu is one sure way to ruin your winter season. Rebuilding your inner ecosystem can help to boost immunity and ward off infection.
When it comes to your health, the beneficial microbes living along the intestinal tract lift their fair share of weight: They eliminate inflammation, helping to repair a leaky gut. They also ward off infection, keeping the immune system supple.
This is why we recommend following The Body Ecology Diet—a gluten-free, sugar-free, and initially casein-free diet that optimizes digestion. This means less stress on your inner ecosystem and greater health for you.
Body Ecology emphasizes drinking 2 oz. of probiotic-rich InnergyBiotic with every meal to strengthen the inner ecosystem.
2. Put Stress on Hold; Take Time to Relax.
Relaxation is pivotal to health. Long hours at work, sleepless nights, and overexercise are key factors in depleting the body. Researchers at Ohio State University found that bacteria living in your inner ecosystem can detect stress hormones. (3) We release stress hormones like cortisol in response to both chronic and immediate stress. When the body is under stress, certain bacteria have the tendency to grow out of control. (4)
While some studies say stress hormones are responsible for this switch, others point out that infection—from the flu virus, for example—can result in painful earaches or even meningitis in children. (5) Microbiologists in Buffalo, New York, found that Streptococcus pneumoniae bacteria will discreetly colonize the nose and throat of humans for months—before turning on their host.
What is the trigger? Infection with the flu virus.
According to researchers, a bout with a flu virus involves the release of stress hormones, which cause bacteria like Strep pneumonia to scatter. Like a frightened flock of birds, bacteria that sense stress will break away from their communities and replicate at alarming, infectious rates.
3. Incorporate Medicinal Mushrooms.
While medicinal mushrooms have a long history in Chinese medicine, they are just beginning to grow in popularity here in the United States. George Lamoureux, Master Senior herbalist at Jing Herbs, suggests that we strengthen our defenses against the flu virus naturally—with herbal medicine.
Medicinal mushrooms are a particularly good choice because they contain special structural sugars called beta-glucans. These beta-glucans help the body fight off infection. George explains that each medicinal mushroom contains a unique beta-glucan structure. “You may have some polysaccharides that are going to increase natural killer (NK) cell activity, and others that increase the production of T-cells from the thymus.”
When using medicinal mushrooms, recruit the help of multiple mushrooms.
Each mushroom stimulates different branches of the immune system and addresses unique patterns of exhaustion and low energy, which may make us more susceptible to infection. Donna recommends a blend of 12 mushrooms over the winter season.
Federal officials recommend the flu vaccine for all people, starting as young as 6 months old. But the jury is still out on whether or not flu vaccines are even effective. The flu shot for the 2010-2011 flu season was only effective in over half of the people that received the vaccine.
If you're looking for a sure-fire way to protect your family from the flu this season, consider these important immunity boosting tips:
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