Saturday, November 21, 2009

Swine flu-Chicken Little Rides Again

In the story of Chicken Little, it was Chicken Little’s view that the sky was falling. She, of course became very fearful of this and was able to convince others that this was the case. All those who believed it became fearful too. There are two endings to this story, a happy one where Chicken Little and friends are saved and a tragic one where Foxy Loxy eats them all.

The moral of the story is don’t believe everything you hear. Chicken little jumps to a conclusion, whips up others into fear and hysteria, which plays right into the hands of the fox that uses the hysteria to his advantage.

Whipping up fear, which can be used to advantage is sadly seen in health matters. Some expert has a view that the sky is falling and countless deaths will occur. In most instances the people running the scare have a “solution” of sorts, which either involves them, making money or wielding influence/power.

In the book Scared to Death by Christopher Booker and Richard North health scares are brilliantly defined as having four components:
1 The source of danger must be universal so anyone can be affected.
2 The danger must not have appeared in the current form before (even though it may have appeared previously.)
3 Whilst the scientific basis of the scare must be plausible there must also be an element of uncertainty to allow for alarmist speculation.
4 Societies response must be disproportionate.

Ladies and gentlemen I give you swine flu, a classic health scare where alarmist speculation about a virus has led to a massive over reaction. A lot has been written and said about H1N1 virus over the past 7 months.

However this article from the New York Times (see link) perhaps best sum up the situation. We have two polarized groups. There are those who desperately want a vaccine, as they are fearful of the H1N1 virus and those who are fearful of the vaccine itself. In amongst this are conspiracy theories with a fair amount of disinformation and a thriving industry.

Of course there is also a silent majority who wonder what all the fuss is about.
Yes there have been deaths associated with the H1N1 virus. There are deaths every year associated with the flu. Yes some previously healthy people for unknown reasons will succumb to overwhelming illness. The vast majority either has a mild illness or no illness at all.

Through all this I am yet to hear anyone in officialdom suggest that a healthy immune system is the best way not to get ill. I am yet to hear about the ways to strengthen your immune system.

Advice like put the right foods into your body, a balanced diet with adequate fruit and vegetables as well as sources of essential fatty acids such as fish, olives (or olive oil), linseed or nuts. Advice like taking vitamin supplements, particularly antioxidants such as vitamins A, C and E, D. Folate and zinc which help the immune system.

Advice to get enough sleep, as this is the bodies recharge the battery time and drink 35ml/kilo of water each day. Advice to lower your stress. This will significantly help the immune system.

No, we get a diet of fear, which increases people’s stress, and a line that there is nothing you as an individual can do, only a vaccine can save you. In turn you are encouraged to look to the medical industrial complex and government to save you in your hour of need. This is not the way to go if you want to be in charge of your own health.

Here is the bottom line. The sky is not falling. The H1N1 virus is a mild strain at absolute worst and there is no need for mass panic or the mass over reaction we have been subjected to.

The best way not to get sick is to be healthy.

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