Flu Shot or Not?
I recently gave a presentation to a large group of people and one woman in particular was frustrated that I thought supplements were needed on this diet if it was in fact a “perfect” diet. I explained how if she likes fermented veggies like Kim Chi, that she can get a lot of probiotics that way, but most people do not eat fermented veggies so I show the importance of supplementing with a few vitamins and minerals that help keep the immune system strong. 70% of our immune system comes from our gut. Keeping the gut healthy with good gut bacteria is defense #1! After this discussion, I asked the group to raise their hand if they get the flu shot and sure enough, she raised her hand. Interesting… (so the question is…Flu shot or not?)
Instead of the flu shot, my family makes sure to get extra bifido bacteria (from food and/or supplements), vitamin D (in the fall and winter months), extra vitamin C from herbs and spices, as well as eating a keto-adapted diet.
The 4 things I suggest instead of the flu shot are:
1. Enhancing vitamin D levels to 70-90 ng/ml (which is obtained by less than 5% of Americans!). In an article called, “Vitamin D Proven More Effective Than Both Anti-Viral Drugs and Vaccines at Preventing the Flu,” studies show that Vitamin D is not only healthy for many other reasons, but it also is more effective than getting an expensive and toxic flu shot. I found it interesting how they link the flu to winter months because that is when the majority of people are deficient in vitamin D (since vitamin D comes naturally from the sun). “Vitamin D acts as an immune system modulator, preventing excessive production of inflammatory cytokines and increasing macrophage (a type of white cell) activity. Vitamin D also stimulates the production of potent anti-microbial peptides in other white blood cells and in epithelial cells lining the respiratory tract, protecting the lungs from infection.”
NOTE: Even my boys who were living on the Equator for the first years of their life and never had sunscreen on had vitamin D levels LOWER than 30 ng/ml when we first brought them home.
2. Increase vitamin C with a keto-adapted diet and lots of herbs: There are also other factors that help keep your immune system strong such as sugar/starch intake. Vitamin C is needed by white blood cells so that they could phagocytize viruses and bacteria. White blood cells require a 50 times higher concentration inside the cell as outside so they have to accumulate vitamin C. There is something called a “phagocytic index” which tells you how rapidly a particular lymphocyte can gobble up a virus, bacteria, or cancer cell. In 1970, Linus Pauling, discovered that white blood cells need a high dose of vitamin C and that is when he came up with his theory that you need high doses of vitamin C to combat the common cold. We know that glucose and vitamin C have similar chemical structures, so what happens when the sugar levels go up? They compete for one another when entering the cells. And the thing that mediates the entry of glucose into the cells is the same thing that mediates the entry of vitamin C into the cells. If there is more glucose around, there is going to be less vitamin C allowed into the cell. It doesn’t take much: a blood sugar value of 120 reduces the phagocytic index by 75%. So when you eat sugar, think of your immune system slowing down to a crawl. Eating a well-formulated keto-adapted diet helps keep your vitamin C levels high and in return, enhances your immune system.
3. Optimize Zinc levels: Another one that many people are deficient in is zinc. Zinc is essential for keeping a healthy immune system, building proteins, triggering enzymes, and creating DNA. Zinc also helps the cells in your body communicate by functioning as a neurotransmitter. A deficiency in zinc can lead to stunted growth, diarrhea, impotence, hair loss, eye and skin lesions, impaired appetite, and depressed immunity. Zinc is critical in wound healing. It’s also important to have zinc to help build the stomach acid you need in order to pull the minerals from your food to begin with. A healthy thyroid produces stomach acid. If you are deficient in hydrochloric acid you can’t absorb the nutrients for bone health and thyroid function. You could be taking a “magic pill” and if you don’t have enough hydrochloric acid, you wouldn’t benefit from the “magic”. So focusing on your digestion is step one.
Correcting a zinc deficiency can go a long way toward helping the frustrated dieter control impulses to eat something sweet, something fatty, or something devoid of nutrition in an attempt to satisfy an inner compulsion.
You lose zinc as you sweat and through excess urination. So in the beginning of a keto-adapted diet, you will be low in zinc. The average American consumes less than 10 mg of zinc per day, far less than what is required for normal sugar metabolism or the other functions of zinc in the body. A zinc deficiency is a huge issue with PMS and salty cravings, or craving a bite of sweetness after each meal.
Our modern day soil is low in zinc, so the best source of zinc is animal products. Oysters, seafood and organic red meat are your best choices for zinc. So if you are a vegetarian, I suggest adding in a supplement. Certain prescriptions, including birth control, deplete zinc in our body. A zinc deficiency can cause birth defects such as cleft palates.
Click HERE to find the zinc I love because it is attached to an amino acid for quality absorption. I use to do a zinc test in my nutrition classes to see if the participants were deficient in zinc and on average 39 out of the 50 participants were! This bottle gives directions on how to test your zinc level too. I suggest 30-50mg at breakfast…please note that as you increase zinc, it can cause nausea so slowly increase. Start with 15mg a day for a week, and then double it the next week. Increase again until you are at 50mg a day.
4. Increase good gut bacteria: The first 2 years of life are crucial for our long-term immune responses. Bacterial colonization patterns set up in the first years and continue to grow throughout our lifetime. The medications and foods that we give our kids totally affect this delicate balance.
Acne would also be an indication of low good bacteria. Having a bought of diarrhea, taking an antibiotic, eating a diet high in refined carbohydrates as well as stress can all deplete a healthy intestinal flora. If a child has been on an antibiotic, it is extremely important to replenish the beneficial bacteria lost by taking a quality probiotics supplement.
A healthy body has 2 POUNDS of good gut bacteria in the large intestine where the typical American has almost none! Could this be why there is so much depression, obesity, sleep issues going on? Serotonin comes from our gut! Low gut bacteria causes low moods, intense cravings, poor sleep and even weight gain. Did you ever wonder why the Asians can eat so much rice without gaining weight? They eat fermented veggies and foods before meals which are filled with good gut bacteria (click HERE for source). I think this is a supplement everyone should take. Click HERE for adults and click HERE to find the one my kids take.
Testimony of the Day
“Where’s the closest bathroom?” was the first question that would come out of my mouth when we would step foot into a restaurant. From as early as I can remember I have suffered from horrible stomach pains after eating meals. I always laughed off my “digestive issues” until one day after my 2-year-old daughter saw me holding my stomach in the fetal position on the couch after a “fun” night out for dinner. She worriedly asked my husband “What’s wrong with Mommy?” I knew at that point I had to get some answers and so I began the very long road to healing my gut.
I was referred to a gastroentrologist who told me, although my gallbladder was functioning at a healthy rate, it should be removed. I was not keen on having an organ taken out of my body, so instead he told me to stay away from butter and oils. I did just that…and lived on boring salads with low-fat dressing for years. Yes, my stomach pains did go away, but my diet was so boring! Then, slowly but surely, I started to get sick again. First it was pneumonia, then nearly once a month I would get almost flu-ish and end up in bed. My weight started to fluctuate, but the last straw was when I came down with shingles. I knew, at 28, that something bad was going on in my body. My doctor told me not to worry, and shingles were completely normal in a 28-year-old woman. It was just too much “stress” in my life…but I wasn’t stressed!
Then one night (when I couldn’t sleep…due to the steroids they pumped in me to combat the shingles) I was researching my issues and came across celiac disease. My mind raced as every description matched mine. The next day I made a conscious decision to cut out wheat. I was ecstatic! I immediately felt a difference in my energy, moods, etc.
After a month of eating gluten-free, I decided to contact my doctor and get a test to “confirm” my allergy. He reluctantly did the tests and cheerfully called me the next week to tell me I didn’t have celiac…but possibly a gluten “sensitivity”. I was crushed! I thought I had found the answer to all my problems. But, as Maria points out, there is a large percentage of false negatives when tested for celiac.
Fast forward to today. I am ever so grateful to have met Maria! I try to adhere to a ketogenic diet, which means high-fat (butter and oils, gasp!), moderate protein and low-carb foods. I have never enjoyed such a wide array of foods in my entire life! Eating is now fun again! My stomach issues have completely disappeared but what’s more astonishing are the other changes: my clearer thinking, my muscle definition, my energy levels, my skin, my moods. The list goes on and on. I am a group fitness instructor and most days of the week I need to be in the gym all morning strength training and teaching high-intensity cardio. I usually don’t get home until late afternoon and a ketogenic diet allows me to have the energy to do this! I sometimes even need to remind myself to eat!
And my Raynaud’s syndrome completely DISAPPEARED This photograph is evidence of what my husband used to refer to as my “corpse” fingers. For 8 months out of the year I would lose complete feeling in not only all of my fingers, but my toes and nose as well! My husband even bought me a very expensive pair of boots that I would clomp around in…and that STILL didn’t work. I would spend hours just focusing on trying to get blood back into my fingers, to no avail.
Out of the blue one day, after following Maria’s supplement recommendations, I suddenly realized I have not lost any feeling since! It’s crazy!
One other “plus”: I have been addicted to Diet Mountain Dew since college (over 10 years ago). I used to say “If you want to kill me, lock me in a room without Diet Dew”. I would drink SIX cans a day. I was so proud of myself when I cut down to four! After eating this way, I suddenly felt ill whenever I would try to slug a can. So I completely quit my pop addiction cold-turkey. The weird thing is, my body doesn’t need the caffeine! The fats in my diet drive my energy sky-high. Now, if you would have told me I wouldn’t drink pop five years ago, I would have died laughing!
I am forever indebted to Maria…for opening my horizons to the ketogenic diet and freeing me from a life of boring salads!” Kristen
To get the results like Kristen, click here to get started. A year from now you will thank yourself!