All right, it’s time to talk immune health!
Over the past few weeks, I have been asked repeatedly, repeatedly: “Do you think I should get the flu shot?”
Now please realize this is a question I am asked every year around this time, this year however it seems it is coming faster and more furious than ever before. We are seeing the rise in the cases of the coronavirus around the world, and in our local population as well. I am assuming that because of this, and due to increasing pressure tactics to scare us into getting this vaccine, more of you seem to be wondering if it would be of benefit to get the “regular” (seasonal) flu shot.
My response remains as it is every year, that is “a good offense is the best defense.” I still maintain that the healthier and more robust we can maintain our bodies, the more resilient we will be to whatever pathogen we may be confronted with. That is what our immune system is for!
Just because there is this “new” virus that has been wreaking havoc in our lives since late 2019, does not, in my mind justify getting the seasonal flu vaccine.
Plus, as we all know, the flu vaccine only ‘protects’ us against a very small handful (3 to 5) viral strains out of the hundreds of thousands that exist today. When we build our immunity, our innate and adaptive immune systems are primed to be able to handle far more strains.
Besides that, there is actually little evidence to show that the flu vaccine reduces transmission of the virus or prevent complications like pneumonia and hospitalization. The NIH did a Cochrane review (a meta analysis taking all the clinical trials done on the influenza vaccine) and that is precisely what they found.
The review article can be found here:https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/20614424/
Additionally, it shows that there is no measurable health benefit for children or the elderly (the population you most commonly hear are in need of it). The only population that benefited was males 45-65 males and what they found was that this group didn’t contract any less cases of flu, the only benefit was a reduction in their symptoms by 6 hours. 6 hours! And we have somehow been convinced that we need to line up to receive this so-called protection.
Now please hear me that I am not telling you one way or the other whether or not you should get the vaccine for the seasonal flu. This is an individual decision that is best made with an open-minded health care provider that knows your unique situation. There are certainly times when I might recommend this option for my patients, and I generally do this on a case by case basis. Though I will say that globally I advocate for building a healthy immune system, first, without turning to an external stimulus to assist in this process.
More general influenza information and detailed immune support suggestions can be found in this article I wrote several years ago that I continue to stand behind, even within this current pandemic: http://www.drzepp.com/uploads/3/4/5/4/34546637/the_flu_prevention.pdf
Maintaining a healthy body involves getting adequate sleep, learning how to manage stress and getting regular exercise especially outdoors. Nutrition of course plays a pivotal role in the proper functioning of our immune systems and I wanted to outline, in point form, a few of my favorite nutrition and supplement strategies for you here, and if you read the linked article more details can be found as to their specific benefits.
- Echinacea, Elderberry, Reishi mushroom
- Zinc, Vitamin D
- Increase your intake of organic fruits and veggies, along with Vitamin C rich foods and foods that have natural anti-microbial and immune boosting properties.
- Reduce foods that promote inflammation and mucous production and that lower immunity.
- Use green drinks and keep hydrated.
- Keep your microbiome healthy through the consumption of organic foods, fermented foods, a fiber-rich diet, and by taking extra probiotic supplements.
This is but a small handful of all the amazing tools available to you, courtesy of mother earth, and through your own disciplined health practices. For any specific guidance on building your immunity this cold and flu season and beyond, please come in for a visit! Any of the amazing NDs at our incredible clinic would be happy to guide you in creating a plan that is just right for you.
From all of us at Prairie Sky Integrative Health, we look forward to assisting you on your health journey. Call us to book your appointment 306-757-HEAL .