It feels like just the other day I was writing the Summer newsletter yet already I am late for the Autumn one! Just three topics this season because I got carried away and have overdone each topic somewhat. I hope you still find them interesting. This time round I decided to try and answer three questions for you and hopefully leave you with enough information to help you to make informed choices:
Do we need flu shots?
Does aspartame help with weight loss?
But before we get into these I need to remind you that there are just three months left in which you could be the lucky winner of a 200ml bottle of See Yourself Well Omega-3 Liquid. Why not enter right now – it takes less than a minute:
Every month until June one lucky reader will win a 200 ml bottle of See Yourself Well Liquid Fish Oilvalued at R160. Simply email us at email@example.com with the words "Lucky Fish" in the subject line and your name will be placed in the draw which will take place on the last day of each month. You only need to enter once in order to be included in all monthly draws thereafter. Regrettably this is available to South African readers only. Congratulations to our winners this far: M. Meyer, P.Wheatley and R. Swiegers.
DO FLU SHOTS REALLY WORK?
This is the time of the year when I get asked, on many occasions, what my opinion is on flu shots. As such I have made it a priority to keep a critical eye open for any reports on 1) harm done by flu vaccines 2) effectiveness of flu vaccines. Fortunately there is a wealth of information out there so I never run short, but the general consensus seems to go along with the interesting conclusions that the esteemed British Medical Journal came up with in 2006 after looking at all the research done into flu shots:
There is little comparative evidence that the vaccines are safe.
The evidence shows that flu vaccines have little or no effect.
The authors noted a "gap" between guidelines that call for mass vaccination and the evidence to support those guidelines.
So what are the risks? 1. It seems that most of the controversy arises around the preservatives used in flu vaccines. Mercury, as part of the preservative thimerosol, is a known neurotoxin and mercury in vaccines has been implicated in the development of Alzheimer’s and autism. So if you are going to insist on having a flu vaccine, then at the very least, please ask for a thimerosol-free vaccine. 2. There is a very small risk of developing a neurological condition such as Guillain-Barré Syndrome (GBS) which can occur after having a bacterial or viral infection. These can occur due to the immune activation itself of flu vaccines or the long term effects of live viruses used in the vaccines. Although this only occurs when something goes wrong in the immune system and your protective nerve coatings such as myelin are attacked, there are experts who suspect that we will eventually find that vaccines greatly increase one’s risk of neurological problems. 3. There is also the risk of serious adverse reactions which include joint inflammation and arthritis and allergic reactions such as anaphylactic shock. 4. Many cases of abnormal behaviour, neuropsychiatric problems like convulsions, delirium or delusions, and brain infections, have been reported when Tamiflu has been used on children.
How effective are these vaccines? The answer is, not very. I have seen many people come down with the flu shortly after receiving the shot. It could be that the flu shot actually weakens the immune system, making a person more predisposed to the illness, and also of course, its probably last season’s flu strain that you were supposedly being protected against. The three flu strains that go into the vaccine are chosen almost a year before flu season hits. Because the viruses mutate rapidly, the strains in the vaccines often don't match the actual viruses that come to your town each season. What is really interesting is that those considered to be at highest risk from flu are the elderly and young children and yet although vaccination coverage among the elderly increased from 15 percent in 1980 to 65 percent now, there has been no decrease in deaths from influenza or pneumonia. A 2008 study of children aged 6 months to 5 years old found that the flu vaccine was not effective in any kids, regardless of age, where they live, or when they got vaccinated, and the most likely reason was because the vaccines didn't match the strains that actually hit.
So how do you protect yourself? There are more effective ways to protect yourself using supplements such as buffered vitamin C, selenium, zinc and vitamin A. Just take adequate amounts of these nutrients through good food sources and a whole food multivitamin and mineral supplement. Also get into the sun for a few minutes every day. More and more research is proving that the vitamin D formed when your skin is exposed to sunlight is essential to optimize the functioning of your immune system, to attack and destroy bacteria and viruses. Also avoid white sugar, exercise regularly, get adequate sleep, eat a healthy diet, drink plenty of purified water daily and most importantly, wash your hands regularly.
DO ARTIFICIAL SWEETENERS PROMOTE WEIGHT LOSS?
Plain and simple, short and sweet, NO THEY DO NOT! If you want to lose weight it might help to pour that diet soda down the drain. In 1986 the American Cancer Society documented the fact that persons using artificial sweeteners gain more weight than those who avoid them.
The fact that aspartame fattens people is generally well known. Research shows that aspartame actually stimulates appetite and brings on a craving for carbohydrates, making it harder for users to control their calorie intake and body weight.
Normally, when a significant quantity of carbohydrate is consumed, serotonin levels rise in the brain. This is manifested as a feeling of satiety after a meal. However when aspartame is ingested with carbohydrates, such as having a sandwich with a diet drink, aspartame causes the brain to cease production of serotonin, meaning that the feeling of having had enough never materializes and you crave more and more food.
Furthermore studies have shown that people who use artificial sweeteners such as aspartame, don't necessarily reduce their consumption of sugar - or their total calorie intake. Having a diet soda makes it okay to eat a double cheeseburger and a chocolate mousse pudding.
Psychologists at Purdue University reported that relative to rats that ate yogurt sweetened with sugar, rats given yogurt sweetened with zero-calorie saccharin later consumed more calories, gained more weight, put on more body fat, and didn't make up for it by cutting back later.
Human studies have shown a similar effect. A University of Texas survey in 2005 found that people who drink diet soft drinks may actually gain weight; in that study, for every can of diet soda people consumed each day, there was a 41% increased risk of being overweight.
So if you thought you were cutting calories by eating diet or low-calorie versions of your favorite foods, think again. These studies suggest that our bodies cannot be fooled that easily: the more low-calorie or zero-calorie sodas and foods you consume, the more your body demands payback for the calories it was deprived. Those extra calories you saved by drinking a diet soda won't make much of a difference if you still need to satisfy your hunger and indulge in several cookies later. Health risksSince aspartame does not seem to have any significant effect on weight control and if it is actually increasing your appetite, then why use it? Common sense tells us that a proper diet and exercise are more beneficial. Even if you believe that aspartame may aid in dieting, is this worth risking your health? The mounting evidence against aspartame reveals many hidden dangers and possible risks. Some of the symptoms of aspartame intoxication include severe headaches, nausea, vertigo, insomnia, ringing in the ears, loss of control of limbs, blurred vision, blindness, memory loss, slurred speech, mild to severe depression, hyperactivity, gastrointestinal disorders, seizures, anxiety attacks, muscle and joint pain, numbness, mood changes, to mention just a few. If you are experiencing any adverse reactions, stop using aspartame and see if the symptoms disappear.
Conclusion So does that mean you should ditch the artificial sweeteners and welcome sugar back into your life? Not exactly. Excess sugar in the diet can lead to diabetes and heart disease, even independent of its effect on weight. If you cannot ditch the sugar habit altogether then try the two natural safe sweeteners, stevia and xylitol.
That’s all for now folks. Enjoy the beautiful autumn months and begin now to boost your immune system to cope with the onslaught of winter. I look forward to catching up with you again in a few months, however in the meantime should you have questions and comments I’d love to hear them. Till then Stay Well and Stay Natural.