Swine Selling Cereals

      33 Comments on Swine Selling Cereals

In case you haven’t noticed, Kellogg’s is attempting to cash in on the swine-flu hysteria by informing parents that cereals like Cocoa Krispies can help boost their kids’ immune systems.

Wow, sugary cereal is amazing stuff. According to the American Heart Association, it helps prevent heart disease, and now we’re learning that it wards off the H1N1 virus as well. Somebody call the Obama administration and tell them they can stop feeling embarrassed about promising we’d have 120 million doses of H1N1 vaccine ready by October. Turns out we don’t need it … we have Cocoa Krispies!

It’s too bad my daughters don’t eat cereal for breakfast. Sara, who will turn six this week, might’ve avoided the swine flu. Maybe I should tear into a few bowls of cereal myself, since I spent part of the weekend lying next to her, checking on her fever and unsuccessfully dodging her coughing fits.

The scientific basis (ahem, ahem) for the Kellogg’s claim is that a serving of Cocoa Krispies provide 25% of the recommended daily amount of a few vitamins, such as A, B, C and E. Whoopie. A cup of the stuff also provides you with a big wallop of sugar. Considering that sugar depresses your immune system, eating a bowl of cereal to get a few vitamins is a bit like drinking a bottle of scotch in hopes of ingesting the two aspirin you dropped in there. Maybe they’ll help with the hangover.

Linus Pauling demonstrated years ago that vitamin C helps white blood cells gobble up bacteria and viruses. The trouble with sugar (well, one trouble among many) is that it competes with vitamin C and blocks it from getting into your cells. The more sugar in your bloodstream, the less capable your body is of battling infections.

My daughter had the misfortune of coming home from school with flu symptoms on Friday —  the day before Halloween, the children’s high holiday of sugar-eating. On Saturday, her temperature rose to 103.5.  She still wanted to go trick-or-treating and we let her, figuring kids get maybe five or six good Halloweens in their entire lives and we didn’t want to take one away.

I had to leave before dark to perform in a production of Twelve Angry Men, so my wife took the little witch — accompanied by her gypsy little sister — to a dozen or so houses on our street. Sara soon lost her will to spook the neighbors, however, and my wife had to carry her home.

I reminded her the next day that sugar is bad for her immune system, and for once she didn’t ask to review the scientific literature to make sure I wasn’t just scheming to deprive her of her right to candy. She negotiated her way into eating one small piece.

We elected awhile back not to seek out the H1N1 vaccine — I’m not sure we could’ve found any, given the shortage — but for the past few weeks, I’ve been making sure my daughters take their multivitamins, and I’ve been giving them an additional 1,000 units of vitamin D, which has been shown to boost the immune system.  (I’ve also been taking 6,000 units myself.) When Sara came home with the flu, I upped her dose to 2,000 units.

On Sunday afternoon, her fever inched up to just over 104 and she threw up a couple of times.  We don’t know for sure it was swine flu, but she certainly had the symptoms, and that’s supposedly the only flu going around right now.  Since she didn’t feel like eating, I made her a small protein shake and mixed in some coconut oil.

She was sick again late Sunday night. We’re big believers in the power of positive thinking, so as I lay next to her with her head on my shoulder, I told her something she always loves to hear: “Sara, you’re a tough chick.” (And she is. Her two favorite phrases, in order, are “Watch this!” followed by “I’m okay.”)

She agreed. “I know, Daddy. I’m a tough chick. My body is killing the flu.” Then, since a high fever puts her in a mental state that resembles being happily drunk, she babbled on for some time, recounting detailed storylines of some of her favorite TV shows, giving me a blow-by-blow of her week in school, and expressing her doubts about the constitutionality of the Federal Reserve System. (I might’ve imagined that last one. I was getting tired.)

She woke up this morning with no symptoms and no fever. She was bouncy and energetic all day. In the afternoon, her temperature rose to 99.6, then dropped again. Before bed, she told me she’s not sick anymore and wants to go to school tomorrow.

If this was the swine flu, she beat it in three days — and she’s never eaten Cocoa Krispies in her life. I’m reasonably sure her immune system was better off without the stuff.

Small gypsy, and a witch with the flu.

Small gypsy, and a witch with the flu.

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33 thoughts on “Swine Selling Cereals

  1. monasmee

    Glad to hear Sara bounced back from her hero’s journey.

    Speaking of sugar’s negative effect on the immune system, has anyone else noticed that flu season seems to correspond with an increase in sugar ingestion, year after year?

    Megadoses of holiday candy sell just prior to Halloween and continues (practically nonstop) through Thanksgiving, Hanukkuh, Christmas, New Years, St. Valentine’s Day, & Easter. Afterwards, we’re mostly back to the barbeque holidays (dietarily speaking).

    The other thing that bugs me is the misleading advertisement of “immune boosting” products as if one can supercharge one’s natural defenses.

    My understanding is that our immune systems can only be normalized at best, with such outlandish immune boosting claims appearing as a supercharge relative to one’s own compromised health.

    Viruses are around all year, but people tend to get sick in the winter. I think holiday sugar and lack of vitamin D from spending more time indoors both contribute.

  2. Dexter

    Bought your movie last week. Arriving tomorrow. Can’t wait.

    Congrats to Sarah on beating H1N1. Perhaps next Oct 31, you will
    dose her up to 10,000IU of D3 a day a week before sending her out into the gremlin world.

    And be sure she gets the appropriate PubMed literature to convince her that the D3 will keep the flu at bay.

    She may require convincing. We had a debate tonight about the proper use of “I” vs. “me.”

  3. Jeanie Campbell

    Tom, you’re a good daddy. Your wife deserve credit, too, of course, but you are doing a fantastic job with your girls. Cheers!


  4. gallier2

    She looks pale and absent on the picture, not like on the other pics of her on your blog where she has always a sunny, happy, funny aura to her (difficult to express what I mean). I had the same situation here (except that I don’t like all that Halloween crap, it’s OK for you in the US or Ireland, but it’s not here on continental Europe where it is only a merchant imported event, existing only since 10 or 15 years) the kids were both starting to fall ill (fever, cough, soar throat), I managed to find Vit-D (not easy here because the one you get otc are always with calcium), a bottle with 100,000 IU and I split it between us three (I took about 25K, Roland (6) took also about 25K and Kevin (11) took 50K in 3 days). We are now all three completely “cured”, no symptoms any more, fit and merry as ever (Kevin who is often quite grumpy is incredibly in a good mood, never thought it could have an impact on that). The only problem with that treatment, it has costed me excactly 2€30 (a little more than $3), nothing to gain for big pharma/government in that.

    You spotted it correctly; she was feeling awful in that picture but trying to make the best of it. Glad the vitamin D therapy helped your family as well. I guess if someone had a patent on vitamin D, we’d be hearing all about the wonders of it and doctors would be prescribing it.

  5. Amy Dungan

    I’m so glad she’s better. I hate it when my kids are sick. It just breaks my heart to see them feel so bad.

    I saw that big Immunity banner on cereal the other day and started laughing. I can just see the marketing team on this one – sitting in their little room with graphs and charts and pouring over the health research data while smoking crack. Hey.. Do you think if they crushed cocoa krispies up and put them in the crack pipes too they would absorb those immunity enhancing vitamins any faster? Dealers could put that in there sales pitch “Psst. Hey buddy.. wanna buy some crack? It’s now fortified with immunity boosting antioxidants and nutrients!”

    I hope these goofy marketing ploys are a sign they’re getting desperate.

  6. Ellen

    Oh so glad to hear she is on the mend. I had the flu and a nasty case of bronchitis this past week and it’s taken me 10 days to get back to normal. I made the mistake of eating more carbs (I don’t know why, it made sense when I was running a fever) and it has been a nasty ride. Couldn’t eat for the first 4 days, and then for some reason, had to have a grilled cheese sandwich on the fifth day. That set off a bread craving for 4 days which I’m sure contributed to the worst of this stuff. After a severe hypoglycemic reaction and feeling like I was dying on day 8, I wised up and cut the carbs. I’m back on the mend again, no bread, no sugar, feeling much better today. The moral of this story – stick to your low carb diet if you get the flu.

    Good advice. Last thing you need when fighting off the flu is to depress your immune system and kick up your inflammation level.

  7. Sizzlechest

    Viruses are around all year, but people tend to get sick in the winter. I think holiday sugar and lack of vitamin D from spending more time indoors both contribute.

    It’s also due to the fact that kids go back to school. They’re the reason for spreading most of the colds and flu viruses. Their hygiene leaves much to be desired. (Present company excepted.)

    You didn’t mention it, but did you give them Motrin or Tylenol for her fever?

    We gave her children’s Tylenol when the fever spiked and applied cold packs. For milder fevers, say 102 or below, we prefer to let the fever do the work it’s supposed to do, which is to kill the infection.

  8. Vin - NaturalBias

    Just when I thought I couldn’t be surprised by a food label. Unbelievable! Dannon recently settled a lawsuit regarding the immunity boosting claims on their labeling for DanActive. Maybe someone will sue Kellogg’s too.

    It’s good to hear that your daughter recovered nicely.

    Lawsuit or not, I say we at least laugh at them.

  9. Hiit Mama - Meredith

    My son was also sick this past week. On again off again fever, coughing, etc. But, he keeps bouncing back and won’t stop eating his cheesy scrambled eggs. Once or twice I felt a twinge of guilt in not getting the H1N1 vaccine. But this cereal box thing is totally insulting. The news coverage and all of the crazy hype about this flu has gotten mothers in enought of a guilt induced tizzy. Now these frauds want us to buy their SUGAR to protect our kids and make ourselves feel better? Outrageous.

    Indeed. It’s laughable and outrageous at the same time.

  10. Grok

    Man this stuff irritates me! Sucks even more when you go to warn someone (like a mother you know personally) of the immune system depression and such as you mention in this article, and they blow you off because it must be true if it’s on the box.

    Darwinism I guess.

    Perhaps you can write up some good advice, print it onto a sticker, and slap it on the box.

  11. Anna

    Great post! Those processed food claims irritate me to no end, too. I buy very little of my family’s food in packages or at supermarkets (the bulk of our food is bought direct from ranchers and farmers) and I fast forward through ads on a DVR, so I’ve missed a lot of the latest marketing baloney. The marketing claims only seems to get worse. People just don’t think through the claims, do they?

    My 11 yo, 85 pound son does seem to pick up illnesses more often than my husband and I do, though in general he’s sick far less often and for shorter periods than his classmates. He was sick with a fever, headache, the sniffles, etc., for about 36 hours about a month ago, but I doubt it was a flu – no body aches. Right away I doubled his daily dose of Vit D3 to 8000iU (yes, you read that right, his daily dose is 4000iU). After the fever peaked and broke about 24 hours after onset of symptoms he was back to normal and itching to play, but I kept him home an extra day to be safe.

    Last night, he again became sick, this time waking at 1:30 am with vomiting up his dinner every hour for most of the night. Not sure what this is all about but he doesn’t seem to have the other flu symptoms (he ate the same dinner as my husband and I so I doubt it’s food poisoning). Now he’s complaining of hunger so I think he’s on the mend already. I’ll probably still raise his daily dose of D3 to 6-8KiU for a few days.

    My experiments in testing our 25 (OH)D to find the best D3 dose over the past few years tells me we generally need a year round dose of approx 1000iU D3 for *each* 25 pounds of body weight to maintain keep our twice yearly individual 25 (OH)D test results in the 60-80 range. That level has greatly improved our resistance to colds and illness, among other benefits. Our son’s growth spurt over the summer prompted raising his dose from 2000iU to 4000iU because his Vit D test result in September had dropped below 50 ng/mL (for him we usually do the easier finger prick mail-in test via http://www.grassrootshealth study participation, but he was having blood drawn for another reason so I asked the doctor to include a Vit D test, which he was happy to do). Note that even though we live in So Cal (and are of Northern European heritage) and our son plays outdoors quite a bit in midday in summer with little or no sunscreen and only occasional SPF clothing protection as needed to avoid burning such as at the pool, beach or camping, we still need hefty doses of Vitamin D3 supplementation to maintain a protective level of 25 (OH)D. Many people in So Cal and other “mild” sunny climates are still quite Vit D deficient much of the year unless they regularly get adequate midday sun exposure year round, which often requires deliberate effort. Perhaps it is the air pollution filtering the invisible UVB rays that produce Vit D, perhaps it is because we avoid the sun better than people in less sunny climates. The only way to know how much Vit D we get from all sources is to test with a 25(OH)D test, preferably twice a year, going into winter and before the summer.

    I’ll have to get mine checked. I went with 6,000 units based on some online recommendations, but I weigh nearly 200 pounds, which would put it at 8,000. Sara weighs 42 pounds, so the 400 in her multivitamin, plus whatever she picks up her diet, plus the additional 1,000 is probably about right. During the peak of the infection, I figured she might benefit from a bigger dose.

    I’ve actually gotten more sun since leaving L.A. for Tennessee. My Irish skin tends to burn, so I covered up in SoCal.

  12. Ninja Mom

    Darn! I wish I had known about Cocoa Krispies when my kids and I were sick. Unfortunately, we had to just stick with megadoses of Vit. C/D3. Wit that, we had much the same story as you guys did – couple of days of fever, then completely gone. Sort of anti-climactic, isn’t it?

    Certainly doesn’t qualify as a story to tell our grandchildren.

  13. Dr.LaTino

    “Hey watch this” followed by “I’m okay!” Adorable! Glad she stabilized. Or in her case got all jumpy again.

    Soon the company that makes Snickers will come out saying that their product helps keep hunger at bay, and thus is a good snack to indulge on… oh wait, they already do that.

    Keep on pulling out the truths, and we’ll keep laughing.

    The first time I saw a Snickers ad in which people talked about how it kept them from being hungry between lunch and dinner, I nearly jumped out of my chair.

  14. Kathy

    Eating sugared cereal to boost immunity makes about as much sense as popping pain pills while standing on a nail.


  15. Tinamemphis5

    Finally someone who agrees with me about fevers! They come for a reason, let them battle the bug. If it gets too high then treat it. My in laws thought I was crazy when I didn’t dose the low grade 100 degree fevers. Glad she is feeling better.

    Exactly. Fever, runny nose, etc., are all your body’s way of trying to get rid of the bug. No use making the liver deal with a dose of Tylenol for a mild fever. We don’t try to bring down a fever unless it gets up around 103.

  16. mezzo

    And don’t forget that there is such a thing as hyperthermia (artificially induced high body temperature) as a treatment for cancer. It doesn’t always work but has been effective in some cases.


  17. Deb

    First, Love your blog! Second, your post was like deja vu. I could’ve written it with name changes. My daughter’s 4yo, also a witch for Halloween and also mildly sick (guessing H1N1) on halloween. I guiltily bundled my kids up and took them out. Figured she’d be more stressed out and get sicker if we didn’t go! haha. We made it about 4-5 houses and she decided it would be more fun to go home and hand out candy.
    Anyway, we take VitD; 800-1000 IU for them, 2000-5000 for me. Interestingly enough, I caved and got h1n1 flu vaccine (I work in healthcare) and the day after came down with flu and was in bed for a week! I don’t think the vaccine gave me flu, but I DO think it dropped my immune system enought that my body couldn’t fight it off. Won’t be getting vaccine for the kids. And my husband (who does nothing healthy!) didn’t get sick at all. He does take about 1200 IU vit D.
    AND, not a cocoa krispie in sight!!

    Dr. Russell Blaylock has some interesting statistics on the number of people who develop complications from vaccines versus the number of people who’ve died from swine flu. Bottom line: I ain’t taking no H1N1 vaccine.

  18. jegesq

    I’m sure your neighbors and the rest of the kids who really appreciated the needless exposure to a child with a 103 degree fever and flu symptoms.

    Nice. Really? Trick or treating is so important that you felt it appropriate to allow a child to indulge her desire to not feel left out, while potentially exposing others to a highly contagious disease? Because you “didn’t want to deprive her”?

    Seriously? In the middle of a flu pandemic, where children are dying at rates not seen since the 1918-1919 flu pandemic which killed 50 million people world wide? You didn’t want to deprive her? Sheesh.

    Nice. I’m glad I don’t live in your neighborhood.


    Bad cereal is the least of our concerns.

    Let’s see … Sara and her sister, already exposed to anything Sara has, go trick-or-treating with Mommy. No other kids in their group. The three of them approach a house. Mommy rings doorbell. Neighbor, who most likely has a child in the same school my daughter attends and where flu virus is being spread, answers. Kids say “Trick or treat!” and neighbor smiles, tosses candy into bag. Kids leave.

    Yup, I can see where that would cause a pandemic.

    Rates not seen since 1918? What newspaper are you reading? In case you missed the news stories, more people have died from regular ol’ flu this year than from swine flu.

    From CBS story on the CDC exaggeration of swine flu cases: “Many states found that only 1 – 2% of “probable” or “presumed” swine flu cases in fact were swine flu …The numbers of swine flu cases thus appear to have been greatly exaggerated even before July. And as the CDC ordered states to stop counting in July, we have no way to make an accurate count now.”

    But if you want to trust the CDC and join the hysteria, be my guest. And I think we’re both glad you don’t live in my neighborhood.

  19. jegesq

    Did you even read the CBS News report? Or are you just relying on the secondary interpretation of it from Coto? Read it again. The article is about how the CDC mistakenly instructed states to stop testing, based on the misdiagnoses and assumed (mistakenly so) belief that immunity was conferred once a person was exposed to the H1N1 virus. Turns out the CDC’s original belief in conferred immunity may have been wrong, and this may have deadly consequences. From the CBS story you cited to:

    “The ramifications of this finding are important. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and Britain’s National Health Service, once you have H1N1 flu, you’re immune from future outbreaks of the same virus. Those who think they’ve had H1N1 flu — but haven’t — might mistakenly presume they’re immune. As a result, they might skip taking a vaccine that could help them, and expose themselves to others with H1N1 flu under the mistaken belief they won’t catch it. Parents might not keep sick children home from school, mistakenly believing they’ve already had H1N1 flu.”

    So, let me ask you: Do you really believe it’s prudent behavior for a parent to allow a child with a contagious disease to be exposed other people who aren’t sick?

    Frankly, I’d like to say that what you do with your children is your choice, but it’s not. We live in a society where what you do and what I do affects everyone around us.

    The CDC bulletin that I cited simply contains some common-sense advice that benefits us all and does no harm to anyone: If you’re sick, stay home. If you have a sick child, don’t expose the child to others– keep them home.

    And since we’re talking about CBS, perhaps you’ve seen the 60 Minutes piece (http://www.cbsnews.com/video/watch/?id=5486397n) about the young high school football player who is struggling to recover from the effects of H1N1. Some people are more impacted by this disease than others. But the disease has been demonstrated to be highly contagious and communicable simply by being in the same room at a distance of 10 feet without touching.

    You may believe this flu is exaggerated. Tell it to the unfortunate kids and immunosuppressed folks for whom H1N1 isn’t just a few days of fever.

    Yes, I read the report, and I’ve looked at world-wide death figures, which make comparisons to 1918 laughable. I also watched the 60 minutes story. Sad about the football player. But regular ol’ flu kills roughly 30,000 people per year. If we splashed the deaths all over the news, people would be in a needless panic, as they are with H1N1. The hype about this flu far exceeds the actual danger. Even the CDC admits more people have died this year from seasonal flu than from swine flu.

    By the way, my wife and I have apparently been exposed to this supposedly wildly contagious virus for several days. Not a sniffle for either one of us.

  20. jegesq

    If you’ve not seen the original story done by CBS 60 Minutes about the devastating effects of H1N1, you should watch this: http://www.cbsnews.com/video/watch/?id=5394553n

    As noted, for 99% of the people who get H1N1, it’s just a few days of fever and aches and pains. But for a small minority of people, it’s deadly and devastating.

    Whether Kellog was misstating claims of health benefits misses the much larger point. This is a dangerous and potentially devastating illness and it’s not like chicken pox where we can all get together in a room and expose each other and then be done with it. It’s a far more dangerous and potentially complicated situation, and I think it’s just reckless to pretend otherwise.

    A small minority of the population dies from seasonal flu as well, not to mention seasonal pneumonia. But again, if you want to get lathered up over a flu that is killing far fewer people than seasonal flu, that’s your choice.

    Incidentally, a neighbor told us when we moved in that there are 225 families in our subdivision, and 200 of them have kids in our daughter’s school. This whole neighborhood has been exposed. We’re not exactly dropping like flies around here.

  21. andy barge

    Interesting article this. There are problems in the UK at the moment with breakfast cereals that pertain to being healthy. The biggest myth seems to be that if kids dont eat whole grains they will explode!

    Kelloggs and other companies are fighting tooth and nail to try and keep their secret it seems. They are worth over £12billion and they apparantly have the power to keep their crap hidden on the shelves!

    My kids haven’t exploded yet, but they’re young …

  22. April

    I saw this article today in AdAge, this might make you feel a bit better…though personally, I don’t quite trust the FDA. But this is progress I guess?


    When the FDA and cereal makers get into a fight, I find it hard to take sides either way … kind of like watching a gang fight.

  23. jegesq

    One last post and then I’m done.

    In reference to flu death rates, you asked “what newspaper are you reading?” in an effort to downplay the significance of the current death rate from H1N1.

    Why don’t you just use Google News. Try this: Do a Google News search for “2009 flu death rates”. Don’t even bother plugging in “H1N1” as a qualifier, just use “flu”.

    You’ll find more than 3,584 major, minor and regional news outlets from all over the world that will tell you the most dangerous aspect of the current strain of flu happen to be that more people have been killed worldwide this year from ANY TYPE of flu than since the 1918 pandemic, and that the particular danger with this strain of flu is that the death rate is as high as its been in October and November, before flu season even begins. From the NY Times, to the Wall Street Journal, to the Altana Journal Constitution, to the LA Times, SF Chronicle, AP, London Times, Vancouver Sun, Xinhua China News, CBC, ABC, you name it, every newspaper in the world has published stories about this, and you’d have to be living under a rock not to have read this. Yeah, it’s all a drug company conspiracy, right? They’re all just overstating the case to scare us, right?

    In contrast, try the same Google News search with the text “2009 flu death rates overstated”. You get 4 hits. And if you read them (NY Times, Daily Kos, Montreal Gazette, and something called “HSToday”) they all say what the other reports state: Flu death rates are at unprecedented numbers for this time of year. Why is this a concern? Because of the very real possibility that the particular strain causing so much difficulty now will have mutated by the time what we call “normal” flu season hits and the vaccine may not confer protection. But I suppose since you don’t believe in vaccines, that won’t make a difference.

    You may believe it’s just “hysteria” to be concerned, but when folks like you impose your decisions on others who don’t share your view, that’s just reckless. And, as Secretary Kathleen Sebelius of the U.S. Dept. of Health and Human Services said on the CBS program linked above, I prefer to get my health information and advice from scientists with medical degrees, not from TV commentators like Rush Limbaugh and Bill Maher.

    I truly hope that your daughter is well and that nothing more serious comes of this. But next time, how about just exercising a bit more discretion and concern for the health and well-being of those around you? Your daughter will surely understand, and if she doesn’t now, one day when she grows up she will.

    I also like to get my information from scientists with medical degrees, which I have, but I prefer to listen to those who don’t work for the federal government and aren’t under orders to repeat the party line. If I shared your faith in the wisdom of government experts with MD after their names, I’d be on a lowfat, grain-based diet right now, too.

    Okay, I ran the search you suggested. Pasted some quotes from what came up below.

    New estimates suggest that the death rate compares to a moderate year of seasonal influenza, said Dr Marc Lipsitch of Harvard University.

    The low mortality rate associated with this flu outbreak does not deserve the attention the news media has given it or the widespread preparations that public health authorities have made.

    So far, H1N1 is much less severe than the regular flu. The calculated mortality rate for H1N1 in 2009 is only 0.5 percent. [1] In 2006, the death rate for influenza was 0.77 percent, and in 2005 it was 0.79 percent. New Zealand recently reported that their winter experience with H1N1 was particularly mild, with a death rate of 0.5 percent and a total of only 3,179 cases nationwide.

    Multiplying the incidence rate by the case fatality rate suggests that if you are generally well, the odds of dying of swine flu are less than 1 in a million…These fatality rates can only be the maximum theoretically, since even in these first-world countries, the great majority of those who did have swine flu symptoms would not have reported in to be tested.

  24. Holly

    Glad to hear your daughter is feeling better. It’s great that she has such a strong immune system and parents who know how to help it fight off infections and whatever else that attacks.

    My son doesn’t get sick very often; strep this year, in the summer – doc was surprised because little man didn’t have any symptoms except a high fever and he said he stomach hurt. The last time he went to the doctor, for illness, before that was in Feb 2005 – after that last illness (it was BAD) we switched our eating. Never looked back.

    Usually when he gets a little sick we up his D as well, but I also give him a nice bath and put the coconut oil on as a lotion. And have him sleep in some warm PJs to sweat whatever it is out, and absorb the oil faster. Your skin is your biggest organ. We have him eat it too so he stays healthy, but when he doesn’t feel good he doesn’t eat. That’s when you know he’s really sick because the kid eats like a pig – or teenage boy (and he’s only 7).

    They’re having mass histrionics over here about H1N1 too. I swear the school isn’t helping either by sending out fliers several times a week for updates. I’ve also received several phone calls updating and such. We don’t vaccinate for the regular flu so why would we for this one? Usually it’s complications from the flu anyway that kill, not the flu itself. Beyond that so many people coughing, hacking and sneezing all over the place every year, and we still never get sick in this house. In fact, my son was complaining last year that all the kids in his class were able to stay home and he had to go everyday. I had to explain they were home because they were sick and miserable, not because their parents wanted them home. This year I told him that if he made it through the winter without being sick (likely) that he could have a “wellness” day from school and spend time with me. He seemed pleased with that. (Besides, my parents did that with me.) Telling him that makes me feel like he won’t go around licking people who are sick or having them lick him so he can stay home sick too… you never know with kids!

    I’d be more afraid to end up in a car accident than get sick (and subsequently die) – esp. since we live in the metro DC area!

    Enjoy that wellness day. Nice idea.

  25. jegesq


    Nice selection of what to cut and paste: A blog posting from “HealthSpanLife”, an opinion piece from Epoch Times, and a two month old story from September 17 in the “Bangladesh News” (the latter of which by the way acknowledged that we are in the midst of a worldwide flu pandemic; you’ll be interested to know also that the same paper followed up on October 17 with a story about how unpredictable and dangerous this strain may turn out to be yet because we’re not even in the midst of the January-February traditional flu season).

    Whatever….I suppose we can all justify our choices any way we like, and if you want to downplay the significance of the current death rates or the seriousness of the pandemic, you’ll certainly find someone else on the internet who agrees with you. As my brother-in-law likes to say, “If you can’t find something on the internet, you can put it there.”

    The point though, and one which I don’t think even you’d quibble with is that ALL flu is potentially dangerous. As you note, even a “normal” seasonal flu death rate of 300,000 to 500,000 is something that we’ve come to expect. Certainly it’s hard to argue with the basic health advisory that the CDC promotes, i.e., that sick people should be kept away from others, especially those whose health may be compromised, both to avoid spreading the disease and getting others sick and to prevent secondary infections to the sick person.

    Whatever…trick or treat, right?

    I took what came up near the top of the searches. Most of them were repetitive. The Bangledesh paper quoted a researcher from Harvard — one of those infallible MDs who isn’t Bill Maher or Rush Limbaugh. (Same story appeared in several other publications, but I grabbed the first.) Epoch Times piece also written by an MD. You said you would rather take advice from MDs, so I found some for you. The blogger’s piece on the odds of dying from swine flu was compiled from government statistics, which he linked. If you don’t agree with his math, you can point out how he got it wrong. Dismissing him as “just a blogger” doesn’t alter the math.

    A prediction that swine flu will really kick up and start killing people later in the year isn’t evidence; it’s a prediction. The same prediction was made about Australia and New Zealand before their winter flu season. That prediction turned out to be wrong.

    I’m not downplaying the death rates. I’m citing them. Big difference. What the death rates make clear, as even the CDC will admit, is that swine flu is killing fewer people than seasonal flu.

  26. TonyNZ

    In New Zealand, we had a whopping 13 people die from swine flu as far as I know. I don’t think any of them didn’t have aggravating factors (asthma, diabetes etc.) Anually, 500ish people reportedly die from seasonal flu in an average year here (albeit complications are involved in many of those too). Seems like it really messed us up…

    By the way, my wife caught both seasonal and H1N1 this winter. She found the H1N1 much more pleasant.

    As far as contagions go, as long as people sneeze into tissues, wash their hands and all that, a sypmtomatic sufferer of the flu is no more likely to pass on the flu than an asymptomatic carrier.

    Considering that schools are virus-passing centers and nearly everyone in our neighborhood has a kid or two in the same school, I think we’ve all been exposed. Probably lots of us are asymptomatic carriers. I’m way more interested in keeping my immune system strong than in trying to hide from viruses.

    Sorry to hear you wife had to deal with flu twice.

  27. Kate

    Wow, one commenter has got her knickers in a right old twist!
    My two cents worth is that your family did the right thing, letting the little lass dress up and go out on Halloween. I’ve done things of the sort with my lot – no harm done, the kid still has some fun, and as you’ve pointed out, very small chance of infection anyway.
    We’ve minimised illness in our family as others here have by taking large doses of Vit D. The worst place to pick up infections is at the local supermarket in my experience.
    BTW, I’m the grinch who stole Halloween because I stock up on sugar-free candies for the occasion. The local kids are not overly impressed but their parents approve.

    I think the vitamin D is a good idea. In a modern society, all the interactions, it’s unlikely you’ll avoid the virus completely.

    Sara only visited about a dozen houses on our street before she ran out of gas, so if any of those families come down with swine flu, I guess it’s our fault … or because they have children in the same school.

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