About Flu Vaccines and what are G-BOMBS?

This is an email sent out to all of Dr Fuhrman’s followers on Friday, 18 January 2013. It is well worth the read.

Dr Fuhrman

We are having lots of viral illness going around, and I was asked to comment on the flu vaccine again. Certainly, with the flu virus circulating this season, flu-phobia is everywhere. Plus, there is a shortage of flu vaccines, so what are we to do? The answer is eat right, get enough sleep, and keep your hands away from your face (until right after you wash them). It is very difficult to get a significant viral inoculum if you do not put your hands near your mouth and nose. Remember, when you are in public, such as at work or school resist the temptation to touch your face or put your hands near your nose or mouth. That works, because you can’t get enough virus in the orifices of your body just by breathing the air, unless someone coughs right on you.

Plus, the flu shot is not very effective anyway. Please consider that over 200 viruses cause influenza and influenza-like illness; both produce the same symptoms, such as fever, headache, aches and pains, cough, and runny nose. Laboratory tests are required for doctors to tell the two illnesses apart. Both illnesses last for days and both rarely lead to death or serious illness. Even in the best-case scenario, vaccines might be effective against only some influenza A and B, but those represent less than 10% of all circulating viruses.

Each year, the World Health Organization makes recommendations for which viral strains should be included in the upcoming year’s flu vaccinations. So the vaccines may have some effectiveness against specific viral strains, but the degree to which the vaccine-included strains match the virus actually in circulation varies from year to year.

So that means that even if you are in that 10 percent of sick people with flu-like symptoms who really have influenza A or B, only about half of those vaccinated will be helped by the vaccine because the other half will have strains that were not included in the vaccine.1 And even with the best matching conditions the vaccine may diminish your symptoms somewhat, but not necessarily preclude you from catching the flu. The internationally renowned Cochrane Collaboration investigated this issue directly by reviewing all the relevant studies, involving over 70,000 participants. The most impressive thing about this meta-analysis was that the authors were completely independent from the U.S. vaccine manufacturers and the powerful pharmaceutical and vaccine lobby, so the reported results were unbiased.

They assessed all trials that compared vaccinated people with unvaccinated people. The combined results of these trials showed that even under ideal conditions (vaccine completely matching circulating viral configuration), 4% of unvaccinated people and 1% of vaccinated people became infected – the vaccine had only a minor benefit. They authors estimated that under average conditions, 100 people need to be vaccinated to avoid one set of influenza symptoms or you would have to be vaccinated every year for 100 years, to save yourself one flu episode. Interestingly, the study showed that flu vaccine did NOT significantly affect the number of people hospitalized or working days lost, and did not prevent flu-associated complications or those rare flu-associated deaths.1,2 So even though the vaccine had some very slight effects, the benefits were very small. In fact, in children two years and younger they found the effectiveness of the vaccine was no better than a placebo.(3)

The Cochrane review’s authors were highly critical of the U.S. Centers for Disease Control, with its members having financial ties to the pharmaceutical companies. They noted that industry-funded studies were more likely to report findings favorable to the vaccines, that there was evidence of “widespread manipulation of conclusions” in those studies. The authors disagreed with the CDC’s recommendation for universal vaccination at all ages without clear evidence of significant effectiveness and safety. Certainly the elderly, the group most vulnerable to non-pandemic flu, should benefit the most, but this also is not observed as the vaccine does not work well in the elderly because of their decline in immune function.(3),(4)

To summarize, the vaccine does have some slight effects in reducing flu incidence and severity, but in those at most at risk, the very young and the very old, it is not yet clear whether the vaccine has any protective effect at all.

Those of us that are healthy need not worry about the dangers of the flu anyway. No treatment, drug or vaccine is without risk, and you only have to read the circular with the vaccine to be informed of those clear risks. Also, if you do get a flu shot, never get a shot from a multi-use vial, which contains more mercury and preservatives than the single dose vials.

On the other hand, eating your G-BOMBS (see article on G-BOMBS below) has no known side effects.References

1. Cochrane Summaries: Vaccines to prevent influenza in heatlthy adults.
[http://summaries.cochrane.org/CD001269/vaccines-to-prevent-influenza-in-healthy-adults]
2. Jefferson T, Di Pietrantonj C, Rivetti A, et al: Vaccines for preventing influenza in healthy adults. Cochrane Database Syst Rev 2010:CD001269.
3. Jefferson T, Rivetti A, Di Pietrantonj C, et al: Vaccines for preventing influenza in healthy children. Cochrane Database Syst Rev 2012;8:CD004879.
4. Jefferson T, Di Pietrantonj C, Al-Ansary LA, et al: Vaccines for preventing influenza in the elderly. Cochrane Database Syst Rev 2010:CD004876.

G-BOMBS: Greens, Beans, Onions, Mushrooms, Berries, and Seeds

“G-BOMBS” is an acronym you can use to remember the most nutrient-dense, health-promoting foods on the planet. These are the foods you should eat every day, and they should make up a significant proportion of your diet – these foods are extremely effective at preventing chronic disease and promoting health and longevity.

G – Greens
Raw leafy greens contain only about 100 calories per pound, and are packed with nutrients. Leafy greens contain substances that protect blood vessels, and are associated with reduced risk of diabetes.(1-3) Greens are an excellent tool for weight loss, since they can be consumed in virtually unlimited quantities. Leafy greens are also the most nutrient-dense of all foods, but unfortunately are only consumed in miniscule amounts in a typical American diet. We should follow the example of our closest living relatives – chimpanzees and gorillas – who consume tens of pounds of green leaves every day. The majority of calories in green vegetables, including leafy greens, come from protein, and this plant protein is packaged with beneficial phytochemicals: Green vegetables are rich in folate (the natural form of folic acid), calcium, and contain small amounts of omega-3 fatty acids. Leafy greens are also rich in antioxidant pigments called carotenoids, specifically lutein and zeaxanthin, which are the carotenoids known to promote healthy vision.(4) Also, several leafy greens and other green vegetables (such as bok choy, broccoli, and kale) belong to the cruciferous family of vegetables.

All vegetables contain protective micronutrients and phytochemicals, but cruciferous vegetables have a unique chemical composition – they contain glucosinolates, and when their cell walls are broken by blending, chopping, or chewing, a chemical reaction converts glucosinolates to isothiocyanates (ITCs) – compounds with a variety of potent anti-cancer effects. Because different ITCs can work in different locations in the cell and on different molecules, they can have combined additive effects, working synergistically to remove carcinogens, reduce inflammation, neutralize oxidative stress, inhibit angiogenesis (the process by which tumors acquire a blood supply), and kill cancer cells.(5)

B – Beans
Beans (and other legumes as well) are a powerhouse of superior nutrition, and the most nutrient-dense carbohydrate source. They act as an anti-diabetes and weight-loss food because they are digested slowly, having a stabilizing effect on blood sugar, which promotes satiety and helps to prevent food cravings. Plus they contain soluble fiber, which lowers cholesterol levels.(6) Beans are unique foods because of their very high levels of fiber and resistant starch, carbohydrates that are not broken down by digestive enzymes. Fiber and resistant starch not only reduce total the number of calories absorbed from beans, but are also fermented by intestinal bacteria into fatty acids that help to prevent colon cancer.(7) Eating beans, peas, or lentils at least twice a week has been found to decrease colon cancer risk by 50%.(8) Legume intake also provides significant protection against oral, larynx, pharynx, stomach, and kidney cancers.(9)

O – Onions
Onions, along with leeks, garlic, shallots, and scallions, make up the Allium family of vegetables, which have beneficial effects on the cardiovascular and immune systems, as well as anti-diabetic and anti-cancer effects. Allium vegetables are known for their characteristic organosulfur compounds, Similar to the ITCs in cruciferous vegetables, organosulfur compounds are released when onions are chopped, crushed, or chewed. Epidemiological studies have found that increased consumption of Allium vegetables is associated with lower risk of gastric and prostate cancers. These compounds prevent the development of cancers by detoxifying carcinogens, halting cancer cell growth, and blocking angiogenesis.(10) Onions also contain high concentrations of health-promoting flavonoid antioxidants, predominantly quercetin, and red onions also contain at least 25 different anthocyanins.(11),(12) Quercetin slows tumor development, suppresses growth and proliferation and induces cell death in colon cancer cells.(13),(14,15) Flavonoids also have anti-inflammatory effects that may contribute to cancer prevention.(16)

M – MushroomsConsuming mushrooms regularly is associated with decreased risk of breast, stomach, and colorectal cancers. In one recent Chinese study, women who ate at least 10 grams of fresh mushrooms each day (about one mushroom per day) had a 64% decreased risk of breast cancer. Even more dramatic protection was gained by women who ate 10 grams of mushrooms and drank green tea daily – an 89% decrease in risk for premenopausal women, and 82% for postmenopausal women.(17-20) White, cremini, Portobello, oyster, shiitake, maitake, and reishi mushrooms all have anti-cancer properties – some are anti-inflammatory, stimulate the immune system, prevent DNA damage, slow cancer cell growth, cause programmed cancer cell death, and inhibit angiogenesis. In addition to these properties, mushrooms are unique in that they contain aromatase inhibitors – compounds that can block the production of estrogen. These compounds are thought to be largely responsible for the preventive effects of mushrooms against breast cancer – in fact, there are aromatase-inhibiting drugs on the market that are used to treat breast cancer. Regular consumption of dietary aromatase inhibitors is an excellent strategy for prevention, and it turns out that even the most commonly eaten mushrooms (white, cremini, and Portobello) have a high anti-aromatase activity.(21) Keep in mind that mushrooms should only be eaten cooked: several raw culinary mushrooms contain a potentially carcinogenic substance called agaritine, and cooking mushrooms significantly reduces their agaritine content.(22),(23)

B – BerriesBlueberries, strawberries, and blackberries are true super foods. Naturally sweet and juicy, berries are low in sugar and high in nutrients – they are among the best foods you can eat. Their vibrant colors mean that they are full of antioxidants, including flavonoids and antioxidant vitamins – berries are some of the highest antioxidant foods in existence. Berries’ plentiful antioxidant content confers both cardioprotective and anti-cancer effects, such as reducing blood pressure, reducing inflammation, preventing DNA damage, inhibiting tumor angiogenesis, and stimulating of the body’s own antioxidant enzymes. Berry consumption has been linked to reduced risk of diabetes, cancers and cognitive decline.(24-29) Berries are an excellent food for the brain – berry consumption improves both motor coordination and memory.(30),(31)

S – Seeds
Nuts and seeds contain healthy fats and are rich in a spectrum of micronutrients including phytosterols, minerals, and antioxidants. Countless studies have demonstrated the cardiovascular benefits of nuts, and including nuts in the diet aids in weight maintenance and diabetes prevention.(32-35) The nutritional profiles of seeds are similar to nuts when it comes to healthy fats, minerals, and antioxidants, but seeds are also abundant in trace minerals, higher in protein than nuts, and each kind of seed is nutritionally unique. Flax, chia, and hemp seeds are extremely rich sources of omega-3 fats. In addition to the omega-3s, flaxseeds are rich in fiber and lignans. Flaxseed consumption protects against heart disease by a number of different mechanisms, and lignans, which are present in both flaxseeds and sesame seeds, have anti-cancer effects.(36-38) Sunflower seeds are especially rich in protein and minerals. Pumpkin seeds are rich in iron and calcium and are a good source of zinc. Sesame seeds have the greatest amount of calcium of any food in the world, and provide abundant amounts of vitamin E. Also, black sesame seeds are extremely rich in antioxidants.(39) The healthy fats in seeds and nuts also aid in the absorption of nutrients when eaten with vegetables.

Super ImmunityYou can learn more about the health benefits of G-BOMBS (formerly referred to as GOMBBS) in my best-selling book Super Immunity, which discusses how to naturally strengthen the immune system against everything from the common cold to cancer.

References:
1. Zhao J, Moore AN, Redell JB, et al. Enhancing Expression of Nrf2-Driven Genes Protects the Blood Brain Barrier after Brain Injury. J Neurosci 2007;27:10240-10248.
2. Carter P, Gray LJ, Troughton J, et al. Fruit and vegetable intake and incidence of type 2 diabetes mellitus: systematic review and meta-analysis. BMJ 2010;341:c4229.
3. Lundberg JO, Carlstrom M, Larsen FJ, et al. Roles of dietary inorganic nitrate in cardiovascular health and disease. Cardiovasc Res 2011;89:525-532.
4. Stringham JM, Bovier ER, Wong JC, et al. The influence of dietary lutein and zeaxanthin on visual performance. J Food Sci 2010;75:R24-29.
5. Higdon J, Delage B, Williams D, et al. Cruciferous vegetables and human cancer risk: epidemiologic evidence and mechanistic basis. Pharmacol Res 2007;55:224-236.
6. Bazzano LA, Thompson AM, Tees MT, et al. Non-soy legume consumption lowers cholesterol levels: a meta-analysis of randomized controlled trials. Nutrition, metabolism, and cardiovascular diseases : NMCD 2011;21:94-103.
7. O’Keefe SJ, Ou J, Aufreiter S, et al. Products of the colonic microbiota mediate the effects of diet on colon cancer risk. J Nutr 2009;139:2044-2048.
8. Singh PN, Fraser GE. Dietary risk factors for colon cancer in a low-risk population. Am J Epidemiol 1998;148:761-774.
9. Aune D, De Stefani E, Ronco A, et al. Legume intake and the risk of cancer: a multisite case-control study in Uruguay. Cancer Causes Control 2009;20:1605-1615.
10. Powolny A, Singh S. Multitargeted prevention and therapy of cancer by diallyl trisulfide and related Allium vegetable-derived organosulfur compounds. Cancer Lett 2008;269:305-314.
11. Pierini R, Gee JM, Belshaw NJ, et al. Flavonoids and intestinal cancers. Br J Nutr 2008;99 E Suppl 1:ES53-59.
12. Slimestad R, Fossen T, Vagen IM. Onions: a source of unique dietary flavonoids. J Agric Food Chem 2007;55:10067-10080.
13. Miyamoto S, Yasui Y, Ohigashi H, et al. Dietary flavonoids suppress azoxymethane-induced colonic preneoplastic lesions in male C57BL/KsJ-db/db mice. Chem Biol Interact 2010;183:276-283.
14. Shan BE, Wang MX, Li RQ. Quercetin inhibit human SW480 colon cancer growth in association with inhibition of cyclin D1 and survivin expression through Wnt/beta-catenin signaling pathway. Cancer Invest 2009;27:604-612.
15. Xavier CP, Lima CF, Preto A, et al. Luteolin, quercetin and ursolic acid are potent inhibitors of proliferation and inducers of apoptosis in both KRAS and BRAF mutated human colorectal cancer cells. Cancer Lett 2009;281:162-170.
16. Ravasco P, Aranha MM, Borralho PM, et al. Colorectal cancer: can nutrients modulate NF-kappaB and apoptosis? Clin Nutr 2010;29:42-46.
17. Hong SA, Kim K, Nam SJ, et al. A case-control study on the dietary intake of mushrooms and breast cancer risk among Korean women. Int J Cancer 2008;122:919-923.
18. Shin A, Kim J, Lim SY, et al. Dietary mushroom intake and the risk of breast cancer based on hormone receptor status. Nutr Cancer 2010;62:476-483.
19. Zhang M, Huang J, Xie X, et al. Dietary intakes of mushrooms and green tea combine to reduce the risk of breast cancer in Chinese women. Int J Cancer 2009;124:1404-1408.
20. Hara M, Hanaoka T, Kobayashi M, et al. Cruciferous vegetables, mushrooms, and gastrointestinal cancer risks in a multicenter, hospital-based case-control study in Japan. Nutr Cancer 2003;46:138-147.
21. Chen S, Oh SR, Phung S, et al. Anti-aromatase activity of phytochemicals in white button mushrooms (Agaricus bisporus). Cancer Res 2006;66:12026-12034.
22. Toth B, Erickson J. Cancer induction in mice by feeding of the uncooked cultivated mushroom of commerce Agaricus bisporus. Cancer Res 1986;46:4007-4011.
23. Schulzova V, Hajslova J, Peroutka R, et al. Influence of storage and household processing on the agaritine content of the cultivated Agaricus mushroom. Food Addit Contam 2002;19:853-862.
24. Bazzano LA, Li TY, Joshipura KJ, et al. Intake of Fruit, Vegetables, and Fruit Juices and Risk of Diabetes in Women. Diabetes Care 2008;31:1311-1317.
25. Cassidy A, O’Reilly EJ, Kay C, et al. Habitual intake of flavonoid subclasses and incident hypertension in adults. The American journal of clinical nutrition 2011;93:338-347.
26. Hannum SM. Potential impact of strawberries on human health: a review of the science. Crit Rev Food Sci Nutr 2004;44:1-17.
27. Joseph JA, Shukitt-Hale B, Willis LM. Grape juice, berries, and walnuts affect brain aging and behavior. J Nutr 2009;139:1813S-1817S.
28. Roy S, Khanna S, Alessio HM, et al. Anti-angiogenic property of edible berries. Free Radic Res 2002;36:1023-1031.
29. Stoner GD, Wang LS, Casto BC. Laboratory and clinical studies of cancer chemoprevention by antioxidants in berries. Carcinogenesis 2008;29:1665-1674.
30. Bickford PC, Shukitt-Hale B, Joseph J. Effects of aging on cerebellar noradrenergic function and motor learning: nutritional interventions. Mech Ageing Dev 1999;111:141-154.
31. Krikorian R, Shidler MD, Nash TA, et al. Blueberry supplementation improves memory in older adults. J Agric Food Chem 2010;58:3996-4000.
32. Nash SD, Nash DT. Nuts as part of a healthy cardiovascular diet. Curr Atheroscler Rep 2008;10:529-535.
33. Sabate J, Ang Y. Nuts and health outcomes: new epidemiologic evidence. Am J Clin Nutr 2009;89:1643S-1648S.
34. Mattes RD, Dreher ML. Nuts and healthy body weight maintenance mechanisms. Asia Pac J Clin Nutr 2010;19:137-141.
35. Kendall CW, Josse AR, Esfahani A, et al. Nuts, metabolic syndrome and diabetes. Br J Nutr 2010;104:465-473.
36. Bassett CM, Rodriguez-Leyva D, Pierce GN. Experimental and clinical research findings on the cardiovascular benefits of consuming flaxseed. Appl Physiol Nutr Metab 2009;34:965-974.
37. Saarinen NM, Warri A, Airio M, et al. Role of dietary lignans in the reduction of breast cancer risk. Molecular nutrition & food research 2007;51:857-866.
38. Coulman KD, Liu Z, Hum WQ, et al. Whole sesame seed is as rich a source of mammalian lignan precursors as whole flaxseed. Nutr Cancer 2005;52:156-165.
39. Shahidi F, Liyana-Pathirana CM, Wall DS. Antioxidant activity of white and black sesame seeds and their hull fractions. Food Chem 2006;99:478-483.

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