Diet and exercise can boost immune system

allure.com

Do Immune System Boosters Really Work?

“Good nutrition is needed to support the immune system’s varied functions, but this is achieved over time by high-quality dietary patterns.”


Over a year into the pandemic, vaccines are rolling out and it feels as if there’s finally a light at the end of the tunnel. For many Americans, however, there is still a bit of a wait before they can receive their shot, depending on the state they live in. As we strive to stay healthy while the country works toward building herd immunity, it’s natural to continue to look for ways to bolster your immune system. You may have heard claims that vitamin D could help combat COVID-19 (the jury is still out on that one), or maybe you’ve stayed up late Googling the benefits of probiotics. But is it really possible to truly boost your immune system? And if so, how? To start with, it helps to understand the basics of how the immune system works.

Okay, so how does the immune system operate?

“The immune system is complex, distributed throughout the body, and highly active,” explains David C. Nieman, a professor of biology at Appalachian State University, and director of their Human Performance Lab in Kannapolis, North Carolina, who specializes in research on nutrition immunology. “Good nutrition is needed to support the immune system’s varied functions, but this is achieved over time by high-quality dietary patterns.”

In other words, there’s really no such thing as a quick fix when it comes to your immune system. The experts agree that there’s a reason why it can be difficult to find studies proving that supposed immune boosters such as the ones listed above are effective. According to Nicolai van Oers, a professor of immunology, microbiology, and pediatrics at UT Southwestern Medical Center in Dallas, each individual is different in terms of what their immune system needs. “Many of the benefits suggested are documented in test-tube experiments and simply cannot be achieved in vivo because one can never take up the levels that are needed,” he adds.

Willow Jarosh, a registered dietician nutritionist based in New York City, echoes this sentiment. “In some cases, the immune boost you might see reported from a study is seen in people who were deficient to begin with,” she says. “So taking that nutrient may not have any benefit to someone who isn’t deficient.”

With that in mind, let’s take a look at some oft-touted immune boosters and what the experts have to say about their efficacy. And, as always, consult your doctor before deciding to take any supplements.

Which immune boosters actually work?

Acupuncture

Van Oers says that acupuncture may be able to reduce inflammation — with a caveat: “This is… very individual-specific and may not work in many people.”

And it seems to be the consensus among experts. “If acupuncture helps to reduce your anxiety levels, helps you sleep, etc., then there is a likely immune benefit,” says Jarosh. “It’s more about addressing something that may have been preventing the immune system from fully functioning as opposed to boosting the immune system beyond what it would otherwise be capable of.”

Niket Sonpal, an internist and gastroenterologist based in New York City agrees that acupuncture can be beneficial for stress reduction, explaining that “small studies have suggested it can be helpful in alleviating stress and anxiety which can have a positive effect on the immune system.”

Elderberry

“Elderberry is [a] supplement I get asked about quite often,” Jarosh says. “There is some research indicating that elderberry might help shorten [the] duration of influenza and sinusitis. But again, nothing conclusive.”

Sonpal says that any potential benefit from elderberries is all about the antioxidants. “Elderberries are packed with antioxidants and vitamins that directly boost the immune system,” he explains. “Epidemiological research has found links between antioxidant-rich diets and a reduced incidence of cancer.”

If you do choose to incorporate elderberry into your diet, talk to your doctor first, proceed with caution, and look closely at the supplement. And avoid uncooked elderberry, as it can cause stomach upset.

Garlic

Sonpal says that garlic could be another option to add to your diet, particularly aged garlic extract, which some studies have found contains heightened antioxidant properties. “Research is more clear in terms of garlic’s boosting of the immune system,” he says. “Scientists have also found compounds within garlic that increase the immune response in white cells, which helps them combat viruses and symptoms of sickness.”

According to Jarosh, “there are some studies that indicate garlic may be able to stimulate or support aspects of our immune system.” So feel free to use that as justification for adding twice as many cloves in your favorite recipes.

Probiotics

According to Sonpal, probiotics are live bacteria that help diversify our gut microbiome and help the immune system regulate inflammation. “The more diverse our bacteria colonies are in our gut, the better we tend to feel,” he says.

There is a catch, of course. “Without question, the bacterial species that live in the stomach and intestines can definitely influence the immune system’s behavior. However, simply adding probiotics does not change the normal populations of these bacteria,” explains van Oers.

“What is the appropriate diversity needed for this is not known and may differ from one person to another,” he continues. “A probiotic mixture is just that, a mixture, and is likely to be completely ineffective for most individuals.”

Turmeric

Research has found that [turmeric] may help downregulate some inflammatory responses and help regulate immune responses in other cases,” Jarosh says. She stresses that researchers are still trying to figure out exactly how it does these things, which is an essential step when it comes to figuring out who can benefit from it.

Sonpal points to a few possible ways turmeric could help your body regulate the immune system. “The curcumin in turmeric serves as a prebiotic that helps feed the bacteria in your gut,” he explains. “It battles inflammation and cell damage as it has plenty of antioxidant content.”

He adds that it can also help boost your immune system by lowering stress: “Turmeric can also help lower cortisol levels, which are the hormones that trigger our fight-or-flight response when we are stressed.”

Vitamin C

Vitamin C gets a thumbs-up from van Oers, although he says it depends on where your body gets the vitamin. “[The] best source is from citrus fruits,” he says… Simply increasing vitamin C in the form of [taking a] vitamin results in most of the vitamin C not being absorbed through the stomach.”

Sonpal agrees that vitamin C plays an important role in your immune system because it “helps stimulate the production of lymphocytes, which are white blood cells that help protect the body against infection, [and it] allows white blood cells to function better and protects them from damage.”

“When people have pneumonia their vitamin C levels typically decline,” Sonpal adds. Studies such as this one have shown that vitamin C supplements may help with recovery time.

Vitamin D

There has been increased public interest in vitamin D ever since some research noted its possible connection to the immune system’s response to COVID-19.

“The role that vitamin D plays in keeping the immune system healthy is very complex because the immune system has to be perfectly balanced,” explains Sonpal. “Low levels of vitamin D have also been associated with frequent infections. In 2009, a National Institute of Health-funded study found low vitamin D levels associated with frequent colds and influenza.”

However, there’s a good chance that you don’t need vitamin D supplements. “Vitamin D can also boost the immune system,” says van Oers, citing its ability to help weaken infections such as influenza. “But this is generally when people do not get enough vitamin D from sunlight. And for most Americans, enough sunlight exposure occurs, even in winter.”

Zinc

The experts agree that zinc can be beneficial, but only if you need it, which is why it’s always best to speak to your doctor before starting any supplements. “Zinc can definitely improve immune functions, but this is generally in the elderly when the normal absorption of zinc has diminished,” says van Oers.

“With both zinc and vitamin D, the benefits are seen more in people who were deficient,” Jarosh concurs.

What can you actually do to boost your immune system?

All four experts emphasize the importance of a balanced diet. Nieman suggests not worrying about any one superfood or herb. Instead, increase your intake of fruits and vegetables that are rich in antioxidants and flavonoids.

Jarosh also advises eating a variety of nutrient-rich foods and warns against overdoing it with alcohol consumption as well as fad diets and cleanses. She points out that managing stress is an important part of immune system upkeep. “This can certainly include stress around dieting, especially with headlines focusing on people’s weight during the pandemic.” You may also find it helpful to cut back on consuming media that triggers stress or unhealthy habits for you.

Exercise is another vital piece of the puzzle. “Recommended amounts of moderate-intensity physical activity typically range between 150 to 300 minutes per week and are consistent with enhanced immunosurveillance and lowered risk for respiratory illness,” explains Nieman.

If more vigorous forms of exercise are beyond your reach for whatever reason, van Oers says that walking, yoga, and even meditation and breathing exercises can be beneficial as well. The most important thing is consistency. As Jarosh puts it, “Find a way to move regularly that you enjoy, or at least don’t hate.” Dancing around your living room to your favorite music definitely counts.

Other simple but essential habits for a healthy immune system include sleep (van Oers recommends getting seven to eight hours every night), staying hydrated, and washing your hands regularly and properly. And if you do take any vitamins or supplements, Jarosh advises that you see your doctor and “have basic blood work done to identify any places where you may be deficient and then supplement accordingly.”

Finally, if you can get the COVID-19 vaccine, van Oers recommends doing so. “Vaccinations are very important,” he explains. “For example, measles can wipe out 50 to 70 percent of the immune system’s memory for unvaccinated children if they become infected. COVID-19 can also wipe out components of the immune system, which increases a risk for other infections.


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Distrust in government, media, and big tech

pjmedia.com

The New World Order Is Taking Its Mask Off While Telling You to Keep Yours On

These two events — the pandemic and nationwide riots — began to usher in a New World Order. Americans tolerated our government behaving as if citizens were subjects to be ruled. Children took classes on Zoom at home and employees of public and private organizations began to see overtly racialized curriculum where the color of a person’s skin determined whether they were oppressed or oppressor

By Stacey Lennox Apr 16, 2021

New World Order used to be the province of conspiracy theorists. However, the phrase is now descriptive of what we see daily in the news. There is tremendous pressure to reorder society in the West, using the pandemic as a pretext. In America, the result has been an assault on our God-given rights on an unprecedented scale. Political leaders proclaimed they were following the science to protect public health and stripped citizens of their ability to work, to associate, to worship, and even to petition our government.

Big Tech jumped in to help and made sure that no information that contraindicated their favored experts was easily accessible to the public. Using the pretext that the global and national health bureaucracies are the only experts Americans should listen to, they set out to ban or suppress information that contradicted the World Health Organization and Centers for Disease Control. Permissible content changed from day to day because those two agencies often disagreed.

Then the entire country — and, to some extent, the West overall — was rocked by consistent and unmitigated street violence. What happened last summer, including a days-long siege on the White House, has been memory-holed by the corporate media. If not for brave, independent journalists who navigated to nightly mobs, those who did not live in affected areas might not have understood the extent of the violence and damage. Nineteen people were killed in the first 14 days of the riots following the death of George Floyd. Rioting and looting in the name of racial justice were exceptions to pandemic restrictions. Lockdown protests were not.

Now, it is nearly certain that the nation will see a repeat performance after the trial of the officer involved in Floyd’s death. The outcome will not matter. America is now a nation that tolerates riots in the wake of police-involved shootings and trial verdicts. Americans don’t even pay attention to near-nightly violence and arson in Portland’s once beautiful and vibrant city—a city that is now a microcosm of a failed state.

These two events — the pandemic and nationwide riots — began to usher in a New World Order. Americans tolerated our government behaving as if citizens were subjects to be ruled. Children took classes on Zoom at home and employees of public and private organizations began to see overtly racialized curriculum where the color of a person’s skin determined whether they were oppressed or oppressor. Group identity, rather than the individual, and color of skin, rather than character, determine what benefits and opportunities an individual may enjoy in society. The ideology of the New World Order, demanding equity rather than equality, has even infected the Oval Office.

Whether by design or by accident, politicians, the corporate media, billionaires, and the expert class figured out that if they crushed the economy and terrified citizens, they could convince them of almost anything. Now they tell us COVID-19 vaccines are a miracle, and everyone should get them, but you can’t go back to living your life mask-free and without restrictions even if you get one. Both of these things cannot be true, and the data says something completely different, but people still obey. Now we are being told to prepare for a “permanent pandemic.”

Now, they’re going to do it all over again. You can count on CNN to say the quiet part out loud, which is the only valuable thing it does.

The newly designated “climate emergency” is designed to bring about global equity. If you wonder why you feel like you are being conditioned for something, because what you hear doesn’t match reality, you are not alone. And CNN just let you in on the secret even if they did not mean to. Massive global redistribution is on the horizon, and it can only happen if you are broke, scared, and ashamed.

Whether it is The Great Reset from the World Economic Forum, Agenda 2030 from the United Nations, or the Green New Deal disguised as “infrastructure,” the ruling class needs to make sure you buy into its narratives. COVID-19 will be a terminal crisis, the planet is dying, and Western societies can never escape from their original sins of colonialism and slavery.

These three narratives are conditioning Americans to accept another massive spending package. President Joe Biden wants to spend trillions in an economy experiencing a V-shaped recovery with declining unemployment. Even the restaurant industry, one of the hardest hit during the pandemic, outperformed with a 17% uptick in retail sales. The industry is now only 5% below pre-pandemic levels despite ongoing capacity and operating restrictions. Another $2 trillion package makes zero sense in these economic conditions.

The pandemic and associated lockdowns pushed 150 million people out of the middle class and into poverty, the first decline in this socioeconomic class in over 30 years. In America, small businesses were hit hardest during the pandemic. Government spending to date has already caused prices for lumber, gas, and other commodities to rise significantly. Groceries are getting more expensive. Injecting more money into the economy will just encourage more and potentially excessive inflation. The middle class is the one that suffers when prices go up and wages stagnate.

Those who seek power and elite status have known for some time that the primary barrier to their plans is a robust and content middle class. Committed Marxists figured out that this is why proletariat revolutions did not occur spontaneously in the early 20th century. So, policy, messaging, and restrictions will be aimed at breaking this class. No policy proposed by the Biden administration benefits the middle class, and many of its policies will hurt it. Pandemic checks and inflated unemployment payments are conditioning people to rely on the government.

Managing the narratives is why Governor Ron DeSantis and health experts from Oxford, Stanford, and Harvard can’t remain on YouTube. It is also why Chelsea Clinton is waging a campaign to get Tucker Carlson removed from Facebook, accusing him of vaccine misinformation when he is simply questioning the mixed messaging. Senator Ted Cruz must be shamed for unmasking post-vaccination, and respected, well-intentioned researchers who try to relieve the public’s anxiety, like Yale epidemiologist Dr. Harvey Risch, must be silenced.

This is also why the implied threat of riots and violence will continue along with the continued pressure to be ashamed of America’s history, heritage, and heroes. Meanwhile, a unified Democrat government in Washington, D.C., seeks to destroy every institution that provides for deliberation, moderation, or protection of constitutional rights. The Senate, the Electoral College, and the Supreme Court are all targets for destruction through their policies.

Hopefully, human nature will take over. After allegiance to family, allegiance to a nation is strongest. Most Americans would view national policy dictated by unelected and accountable global organizations, global corporations, and ideologues as a New World Order. That is what The Great Reset and Agenda 2030 are driving and the Biden administration is a willing partner. The most successful nation in the history of the world will morph into something that is not America if citizens do not object. And it won’t take long once the ideologues are in charge. Just ask the residents of Portland.

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Palestinian Authority Needs Reform

    • Restoring U.S. Funding to UNRWA – A Great Obstacle to Israeli-Palestinian Peace

    • Einat Wilf and Adi Schwartz (Newsweek)

    • Reprinted from Daily Alert, April 15, 2021
    • By resuming U.S. funding for UNRWA, the UN Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees, the Biden administration is choosing to fund an agency that is institutionally committed to ensuring that peace will never be possible. UNRWA, under the cover of providing social services to Palestinians, is giving political cover to the dream of undoing Israel by nurturing and legitimizing the demand to settle millions of Palestinians inside Israel.
      UNRWA is one of the greatest obstacles to peace between Israelis and Palestinians. The vast majority of UNRWA refugees, the grandchildren and great-grandchildren of the original refugees, are also citizens of other countries or living within territories governed by Palestinians, and so are not actually refugees and in no need of resettlement. UNRWA sustains many of them in perpetual limbo, in the elusive promise that they will one day be able to “return” to Israel.
      There are perfectly rational, humane and effective ways to provide public healthcare and education services to Palestinians without fueling the conflict with Israel. As long as Palestinians are indulged by the West in their belief that the war of 1948 remains an open case, there is zero possibility that peace will be achieved. It is hard to imagine a more anti-peace U.S. policy choice.
      Dr. Einat Wilf, a former Labor member of the Israeli Knesset, and Adi Schwartz, a former senior editor at Ha’aretz, are the co-authors of The War of Return: How Western Indulgence of the Palestinian Dream has Obstructed the Path to Peace. (Newsweek)
    • Is the U.S. Supporting Palestinian Dictatorship? – Khaled Abu Toameh
      A recent decree issued by PA President Mahmoud Abbas effectively turns Palestinian NGOs into government-controlled institutions. The organizations are now required to present to the PA government an “annual action plan and estimated budget.” This means that the organizations will be working for the PA.
      “This [decree] undermines the professionalism, independence and freedom of civic activity, including its monitoring role over the performance of the executive authority and its objective to hold this authority accountable for its violations,” several Palestinian civil society organizations said in a joint statement.
      Abbas is worried that Palestinian civil society organizations would criticize him or his government on the eve of the planned elections and hurt his (and his ruling Fatah faction’s) chances of winning. The U.S. is about to pump millions of dollars into Abbas’ coffers to help him cut off the emergence of new and young leaders and to help him maintain his authoritarian rule over the Palestinians. (Gatestone Institute)
    • See also Improved Vetting Is Key to U.S. Reengagement with Palestinian NGOs – Yona Schiffmiller (JNS)
    • Can Biden Fund the Palestinians without Breaking the Law? – Jonathan S. Tobin
      The 2018 Taylor Force Act – named for a non-Jewish American veteran who was murdered by a Palestinian terrorist in Israel – mandates that no American funds can be transferred to the Palestinian Authority as long as it is paying pensions and salaries for convicted terrorists. The only exceptions are money allocated for hospitals, vaccines and water-treatment projects. The PA has not halted its terrorist subsidies, but the administration has announced a $235 million aid package for the Palestinians.
      $150 million will go to UNRWA, the UN refugee agency devoted solely to the Palestinians, which operates a vast number of institutions to support the millions who claim descent from the original 1948 refugees, including schools and food assistance. Another $75 million will go to economic development programs in the West Bank and Gaza, while yet another $10 million will go to “peace building” initiatives.
      The administration says these allocations won’t violate the Taylor Force Act since none of the money will go directly to the PA but to partner agencies that are supposedly independent of either the corrupt Fatah government in the West Bank or Hamas who rules Gaza. But as is well known, Palestinian NGOs have no real independence from their government.
      Moreover, the package clearly violates the intent of the Taylor Force Act since the money is fungible and allows the PA to spend other funds on supporting terrorists. Congressional intent was clear. No more American money was to go to the PA – let alone Hamas – so long as it was in the business of backing terrorism.
      The same reasoning was behind the Consolidated Appropriations Act of 2021 by a Democratic-controlled Congress, which similarly banned any U.S. assistance to the PA if it had initiated an investigation into bogus charges of war crimes by Israel by the International Criminal Court. (JNS)
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Israeli President stresses unity and partnership

momentmag.com

An Interview with Israeli President Reuven Rivlin

Israel is the most daring enterprise in the history of the Jewish People, and we are full partners—not only in the establishment of Israel, but also in its development. All Jews are true stakeholders in this wonder called Israel.

By Larry Cohler Esses

In 2015 you described the internal challenges faced by Israel and your vision of four “pillars” to strengthen social cohesion (a sense of sector, shared responsibility for the well-being of the state, equity and equality and a shared sense of “Israeliness”). Do you agree with that vision today? 

At the beginning of my presidency, I spoke of a far-reaching transformation in Israeli society. I said that it was neither trivial nor was it something we could avoid. But I also noted that we should be wary of speaking in apocalyptic terms, or of casually referring to one group or another in our society as a danger.

The simple truth is that we have gone from being a society in which a sizeable majority of Israelis are both Zionist and secular to one in which we have four main groups of relatively equal size. This is what I referred to as the “four tribes” of Israel, a society comprising religious, secular, ultra-Orthodox and Arab Israelis, each living largely separate lives. When I spoke of this in 2015, I called for an honest evaluation of the situation: “We need to look bravely at this reality…out of a deep commitment to find the answers to these questions, out of a readiness to draw together all the tribes of Israel, with a shared vision of Israeli hope.”

Since then, we have turned that “vision of Israeli hope” into Israeli Hope, or in Hebrew Tikvah Israelit, the flagship program of my term in office and our response to the challenges that we face in this new reality. Tikvah Israelit works in five key areas—schools, academia, sports, local government and employment—to bring the four tribes of Israeli society together in meaningful and constructive partnership.

Creating partnership between communities who have been largely separate from each other is a process that requires time and patience. Each group needs to know that its fundamental identity is not under threat, but that it will be protected and valued as part of the broader fabric of society. Only if our own identity is secure can we reach out to others and get to know them. I believe, too, that shared responsibility remains a key element of this new view of Israeli civic society. If we are all partners, we all bear responsibility for the success and the future of the country—our country. No one group is more or less responsible for ensuring our safety and security, no one group is more or less responsible for ensuring our economic resilience, no one group is more or less responsible for setting and maintaining the moral or ethical standards we aspire to, or the cultural and ethnic sources we draw from.

But we still face significant barriers to such partnership. Unless and until we address the question of equality, Israeli society will continue to be divided. Over the course of my own lifetime—I was born ten years before the State of Israel was established—we have created a state that is nothing less than a miracle. We can rightly be proud of our status as a world leader in technology and innovation, with outstanding achievements that truly make the world a better place. But we must not let that blind us to another reality, in which structural gaps, whether in budgets, infrastructures or allocation of land, between some Israelis and others are significant and persistent. Only when the aspirations and talents of every young Israeli are allowed to determine the course of their lives, not their ethnic or social origins, can we build a shared future.

The result of this process is not just the end of sectarianism, although that would be reward enough. We must aspire to more—to forge a new Israeliness of diversity and cultural richness, of partnership and shared responsibility, where our differences inspire our humanity and sensitivity. If we truly believe that we were not doomed to live together, but rather destined to do so, I believe we can make this vision a reality.

Each group needs to know that its fundamental identity is not under threat, but that it will be protected and valued as part of the broader fabric of society. Only if our own identity is secure can we reach out to others and get to know them. I believe, too, that shared responsibility remains a key element of this new view of Israeli civic society.

Do you think that these four “pillars” apply worldwide; are they universal? Are there lessons that can be learned? 

Israel is not unique in addressing the questions of social resilience and cohesion. All over the world, countries are dealing with the polarization and radicalization of political and social discourse, and struggling to find a national identity that is inclusive and diverse and still maintains a distinctive flavor of its own.

But as a global people, we face an additional challenge. The State of Israel is home, and always will be home, to every Jewish person. We are one people, and the global Jewish community is a full partner in the most daring enterprise in our history—the establishment of our sovereign, independent, Jewish and democratic state. The global Jewish community is with Israel in its times of joy and of crisis. We share dreams and we address tough realities together. The challenge is to put that relationship beyond any argument or disagreement, to recognize differences, to understand alternative perspectives and to be strengthened by them. As the four tribes of Israeli society face the challenges of creating social cohesion, we look to the fifth tribe—the global Jewish community—as full partners.

Has Israel advanced toward your stated goals since 2015 or has it regressed? How have the attitudes and actions of each of the “four tribes” changed? How can schooling be reconfigured to encourage a deeper commitment to community? 

What began as a description of the new reality facing Israeli society has become a vibrant program of work that is delivering real change. One example is Israeli Hope in Education, one of the five areas of work undertaken by the Office of the President to bridge the gaps between the four tribes. Our pilot program has already brought together close to 1,000 teachers from the religious, secular, ultra-Orthodox and Arab school systems on a three-day journey. The program allows them to gain and deepen their knowledge about each sector, to explore the areas of sensitivity and cultural strengths of the different groups, and to develop the tools for education towards a shared society. The success of this pilot has led to its adoption by the Ministry of Education, which will now take 1,500 educators each year through this process, creating real and sustained change in our education system by connecting Israelis from across our society with each other.

We are also working with the next generation of Israel’s teachers, encouraging those in teacher training to work in a school system different from the one they were educated in, and giving them the tools and cultural competency to do so successfully. If the teachers’ lounges in our schools are more diverse, we send a strong message to the next generation of Israelis that our diverse society is a source of strength and pride.

Is there an example or a personal experience you have had that illustrates how to build community in today’s world? 

Over the last seven years, there have been countless moments that have filled me with pride and hope for the future of our country. The Open Sukkah event at Beit HaNasi, where all are invited to celebrate together, shows the amazing diversity of our society. The gardening club established in the grounds by my late wife Nechama brought local schoolchildren to plant and grow things and to learn to appreciate our wonderful nature.

But perhaps the most tangible example of community building that comes to mind is the work done by Tikvah Israelit. In the field of education, we have pioneered programs that bring together teachers to break down the barriers between us. One group includes Sarit, an ultra-Orthodox mother of eight who teaches in a secular school; Ya’ara, from the national-religious community who teaches in an Arab school; Sahar from the Israeli-Arab town of Tira who teaches in Petah Tikva; and Guy from Haifa who teaches Hebrew to kids in Sakhnin whose first language is Arabic. According to Sarit, “The differences between us are only external. I wear a long skirt and the other teachers wear pants. But I had to learn a new language—secular. I feel like a bridge.” Sahar, who teaches mathematics to Jewish kids, is often the first Arab they have ever met. When teachers and students meet each other, the part of society they come from is a background detail. It remains important, but it is not their whole identity. The same is true across the different fields of Israeli Hope—sports, academia, local government and employment. This is how we can build community, by finding meaningful ways to get to know each other, to live alongside each other and to appreciate each other’s unique characteristics.

Finally, I would like to add some words to world’s Jewry. Early last year, we hosted an historic gathering of some 50 global leaders to mark the 75th anniversary of the liberation of Auschwitz-Birkenau. This solemn occasion, the largest of its kind in our history, was an opportunity to stand together, here in Jerusalem, and pledge to work for Holocaust remembrance and education for future generations, strengthening our bonds of commitment to stand up to anti-Semitism, racism and hatred of all kinds.

The State of Israel was, and will always be, the home of every Jew: Orthodox, Reform, Conservative, secular, traditional, Ashkenazi, Sephardi. We are all one people, and Israel is dear to all of us. Israel is the most daring enterprise in the history of the Jewish People, and we are full partners—not only in the establishment of Israel, but also in its development. All Jews are true stakeholders in this wonder called Israel. You stand beside us at times of crisis and joy. You dream with us. You challenge us. You help keep us strong. And we are strong. This cannot be taken for granted. and I thank you for this sense of family and for your unconditional support and love.

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Virus update from Shane Crotty

COVID Variants vs. Coronavirus Vaccines (AstraZeneca, Pfizer, Moderna, Johnson & Johnson) + Immunity

Youtube, March 25, 2021

From MedCram. (This video was recorded on March 23, 2021)

Renowned virologist Shane Crotty, PhD joins us again to address the most important COVID-19 questions: Should people who’ve been vaccinated or had COVID-19 continue to wear masks and physically distance? How will each vaccine hold up to the SARS-CoV-2 variants? What does the research say about people who’ve already had COVID-19 who get a vaccine? How long will immunity last for the vaccines or COVID-19 infection? Shane Crotty is a Professor at the La Jolla Institute for Immunology, Center for Infectious Disease and Vaccine Research, Crotty Lab. Prof. Crotty also has an academic appointment with the University of California San Diago. See his full bio here: https://www.lji.org/labs/crotty/#over… Prof. Crotty on Twitter: https://twitter.com/profshanecrotty Interviewer: Kyle Allred, Physician Assistant, Producer and Co-Founder of MedCram.com (This video was recorded on March 23, 2021) Just to clarify at 8:40 in the video: Prof. Crotty is describing a theoretical person when he says “I myself am comfortable getting infected…” He hasn’t had COVID, and doesn’t have that opinion. He was explaining one end of the spectrum of level of concern for individuals. TOPICS DISCUSSED IN THIS VIDEO INCLUDE: 0:00 Intro 0:46 Heated exchange between Dr. Fauci and Senator Rand Paul 1:00 How long does immunity last for those who’ve had COVID-19? 3:31 How antibody levels and T cells drop over time 4:03 Dr. Fauci: Difference between in vitro and real-world studies 4:36 Population-based studies about COVID 19 immunity against reinfection 6:22 Huge variability from person to person for post coronavirus immunity 8:20 Policy decision: individual vs. community goals during a pandemic 9:03 Very rare for hospitalization from COVID-19 reinfection 9:34 Avoiding COVID-19 infection and transmission potential 10:12 Should mask-wearing continue for those who’ve had COVID-19? 12:23 If I’ve had COVID-19, shouldn’t my vaccine dose go to someone else? 13:39 Vaccines are eliciting more immunity than natural infection 14:02 Is natural immunity always better than a vaccine? 20:05 If you’ve had COVID-19, when should you get vaccinated? Both doses? 22:07 How are variants “game changers” for vaccines and natural infections? 24:53 Can’t I stop wearing masks and distancing after a vaccine or having COVID? 26:14 Variants of concern: B.1.1.7 (UK) and B.1.351 (S. Africa) details and implications 30:57 South Africa Variant escaping immunity: AstraZeneca Vaccine data 32:28 Isn’t preventing COVID 19 hospitalizations and deaths the primary goal? 35:25 Will we need updated coronavirus vaccines? 36:38 Johnson and Johnson vaccine versus the variants 37:57 Preventing transmission to prevent SARS CoV 2 mutation opportunities 38:40 Coronavirus antibodies vs T Cells and other parts of the immune system 39:54 Replication and asymptomatic spread of COVID-19 vs. Pneumonia 42:53 Vaccine incentives and Senator Rand Paul’s perspective 45:35 Looking ahead, SARS-CoV-2 vs Influenza, Will we need annual vaccinations? 52:20 Current research and goals for Prof. Shane Crotty PREVIOUS MEDCRAM DISCUSSIONS WITH PROF. CROTTY : https://youtu.be/eK0C5tFHze8 (Dec 16, 2020) https://youtu.be/j7xsOsrDmPQ (January 5, 2021) REFERENCES: Crotty’s Research Published in Science | https://science.sciencemag.org/conten… Variant Tracker | https://www.nytimes.com/interactive/2… Denmark Research in the Lancet | https://www.thelancet.com/journals/la… UK SIREN study: https://www.medrxiv.org/content/10.11… Research from Qatar | https://www.medrxiv.org/content/10.11… UK Research in NEJM | https://www.nejm.org/doi/full/10.1056… Qatar: https://www.medrxiv.org/content/10.11… Congressional Hearing 3/8/21: exchange with Dr. Fauci and Rand Paul: https://youtu.be/PEmOG16aEmI (PBS News Hour) and https://youtu.be/Mg2V4Cne0Jc (CNBC) THE MEDCRAM WEBSITE: Visit us for videos on over 60 medical topics and CME / CEs for medical professionals: https://www.medcram.com All coronavirus updates are at MedCram.com ad-free (including more on RNA vaccines, COVID variants, South African Variant, Johnson and Johnson vaccine for COVID 19, and more): https://www.medcram.com/courses/coron…

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More support for Vitamin D to prevent COVID

medscape.com

Vitamin D May Protect Against COVID-19, Especially in Blacks

“These new results tell us that having vitamin D levels above those normally considered sufficient is associated with decreased risk of testing positive for COVID-19, at least in Black individuals,” said lead author, David Meltzer, MD, chief of hospital medicine at University of Chicago Medicine in Illinois, in a press release from his institution.

By Becky McCall

Higher levels of vitamin D than traditionally considered sufficient may help prevent COVID-19 infection — particularly in Black patients, shows a new single-center, retrospective study looking at the role of vitamin D in prevention of infection.

The study, published recently in JAMA Network Open, notes that expert opinion varies as to what “sufficient” levels of vitamin D are, some define this as 30 ng/mL, while others cite 40 ng/mL or greater.

In their discussion, the authors also note that their results show: “Risk of positive COVID-19 test results decreased significantly with increased vitamin D level of 30 ng/mL or greater when measured as a continuous variable.”

“These new results tell us that having vitamin D levels above those normally considered sufficient is associated with decreased risk of testing positive for COVID-19, at least in Black individuals,” said lead author, David Meltzer, MD, chief of hospital medicine at University of Chicago Medicine in Illinois, in a press release from his institution.

“These findings suggest that randomized clinical trials to determine whether increasing vitamin D levels to greater than 30 to 40 ng/mL affect COVID-19 risk are warranted, especially in Black individuals,” he and his coauthors say.

Vit D at Time of Testing Most Strongly Associated With COVID Risk

An earlier study by the same researchers found that vitamin D deficiency (less than 20 ng/ml) may raise the risk of testing positive for COVID-19 in people from various ethnicities, as reported by Medscape.

Data for this latest study were drawn from electronic health records for 4638 individuals at the University of Chicago Medicine and were used to examine whether the likelihood of a positive COVID-19 test was associated with a person’s most recent vitamin D level (within the previous year), and whether there was any effect of ethnicity on this outcome.

Mean age was 52.8 years; 69% were women; 49% were Black; 43% white; and 8% were another race/ethnicity.

A total of 27% of the individuals were deficient in vitamin D (less than 20 ng/mL), 27% had insufficient levels (20 to less than 30 ng/mL), 22% had sufficient levels (30 to less than 40 ng/mL), and the remaining 24% had levels of 40 ng/mL or greater.

In total, 333 (7%) of people tested positive for COVID-19, including 102 (5%) whites and 211 (9%) Blacks. And 36% of Black individuals who tested positive for COVID-19 were classified as vitamin D deficient, compared with 16% of whites.

A positive test result for COVID-19 was not significantly associated with vitamin D levels in white individuals but was in Black individuals.

So in Black people, compared with levels of ≥ 40 ng/mL, vitamin D levels of 30 to < 40 ng/mL were associated with an incidence rate ratio (IRR) of 2.64 for COVID-19 positivity (P = 0.01). For levels of 20 to < 30 ng/mL, the IRR was 1.69 (P = 0.21); and for < 20 ng/mL the IRR was 2.55 (P = .009).

The researchers also found that the risk of positive test results with lower vitamin D levels increased when those levels were lower just prior to the positive COVID-19 test, lending “support [to] the idea that vitamin D level at the time of testing is most strongly associated with COVID-19 risk,” they write.

Try Upping Vitamin D Levels to 40 ng/mL or Greater to Prevent COVID?

In their discussion, the authors note that significant association of vitamin D levels with COVID-19 risk in Blacks but not in whites, “could reflect their higher COVID-19 risk, to which socioeconomic factors and structural inequities clearly contribute.”

“Biological susceptibility to vitamin D deficiency may also be less frequent in white than Black individuals, since lighter skin increases vitamin D production in response to sunlight, and vitamin D binding proteins may vary by race and affect vitamin D bioavailability.”

Given less than 10% of US adults have a vitamin D level greater than 40 ng/mL, the study findings increase the urgency to consider whether increased sun exposure or supplementation could reduce COVID-19 risk, according to the authors.

“‘When increased sun exposure is impractical, achieving vitamin D levels of 40 ng/mL or greater typically requires greater supplementation than currently recommended for most individuals of 600-800 IU/d vitamin D3,” they add.

However, Meltzer also acknowledges, “This is an observational study. We can see that there’s an association between vitamin D levels and likelihood of a COVID-19 diagnosis, but we don’t know exactly why that is, or whether these results are due to the vitamin D directly or other related biological factors.”

All in all, the authors suggest that randomized clinical trials are needed to understand if vitamin D can reduce COVID-19 risk, and as such they should include doses of supplements likely to increase vitamin D to at least 40 ng/mL, and perhaps even higher, although they point out that the latter must be achieved safely.

“Studies should also consider the role of vitamin D testing, loading doses, dose adjustments for individuals who are obese or overweight, risks for hypercalcemia, and strategies to monitor for and mitigate hypercalcemia, and that non-white populations, such as Black individuals, may have greater needs for supplementation,” they outline.

They are now recruiting participants for two separate clinical trials testing the efficacy of vitamin D supplements for preventing COVID-19.

The authors have disclosed no relevant financial relationships.

JAMA Netw Open. 2021;4:e214117. Full text

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Oral COVID vaccine to begin clinical trials

medscape.com

Clinical Trials Planned for Oral COVID Vaccine

The Oravax vaccine “targets three structural proteins of the novel coronavirus, as opposed to the single spike protein targeted via the Moderna and Pfizer vaccines,” Kidron told The Jerusalem Post. That would make the vaccine more resistant to COVID-19 variants, he said.

By Ralph Ellis

Editor’s note: Find the latest COVID-19 news and guidance in Medscape’s Coronavirus Resource Center.

A coronavirus vaccine that could be taken as a pill may enter clinical trials in the second quarter of 2021.

The oral vaccine is being developed by Oravax Medical, a new joint venture of  the Israeli-American company Oramed and the Indian company Premas Biotech, Business Insider reported.

So far, all vaccines in use are delivered by injection. One advantage of an oral vaccine is that people could take it at home instead of having the vaccine administered by medical personnel at a central location.

In a news release, Oramed said the vaccine being developed would also be easier to distribute because it could be shipped in a normal refrigerator and stored at room temperature.

“An oral COVID-19 vaccine would eliminate several barriers to rapid, widescale distribution, potentially enabling people to take the vaccine themselves at home,” Nadav Kidron, CEO of Oramed, said in the news release. “While ease of administration is critical today to accelerate inoculation rates, an oral vaccine could become even more valuable in the case that a COVID-19 vaccine may be recommended annually like the standard flu shot.”

The Oravax vaccine “targets three structural proteins of the novel coronavirus, as opposed to the single spike protein targeted via the Moderna and Pfizer vaccines,” Kidron told The Jerusalem Post. That would make the vaccine more resistant to COVID-19 variants, he said.

The vaccine is yeast-based, which would make it cheaper to manufacture, the newspaper said.

The company said a pilot animal study proved promising. It’s not known how long clinical trials on humans would take.

“Oravax anticipates commencing a clinical study during the second quarter of 2021,” the news release said.

The CDC says that the rotavirus, adenovirus, cholera vaccine, and oral typhoid vaccines are the only vaccines administered orally in the United States.

Sources:

Business Insider. “Early tests are planned for a COVID-19 vaccine that can be taken as a pill, with no need for injections”

Oramed. “Oramed Forms a Joint Venture, Oravax Medical Inc., for the Development of Novel Oral COVID-19 Vaccines”

The Jerusalem Post. “Israeli company claims oral COVID-19 vaccine on its way”

CDC. Vaccine Administration

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In each generation Exodus gets new interpretation

Will the Story of Exodus be the next victim of cancel culture?

Cancel culture has become an effective societal mechanism to silence dissent, intimidate those who think differently or oppose the progressive side of the political map, and change historical memory such as the story of Exodus.

By Ron Jager, March 23, 2021

With Pesach (Holiday of Passover) literally just around the corner, should we be concerned that the story of Exodus may very well be the next victim of “cancel culture”. The story of Exodus tells of the Jewish nation’s departure from Egypt, the revelations at Mount Sinai, and their wanderings in the desert wilderness for 40 years prior to entering the Land of Israel. The central message of Exodus was that the Jewish nation was delivered from slavery to freedom by God, and therefore became the “Chosen People” by the covenant given to the Jewish nation at Mount Sinai.

Early Christians saw the Exodus as a typological prefiguration of resurrection and salvation. The story has also resonated with other non-Jewish groups, such as the early American settlers fleeing persecution in Europe, and African Americans striving for freedom and civil rights. However, this message of liberation from slavery to redemption may very well be nothing more than a hollow manifestation of wishful thinking and a remnant of what was once accepted as progressive thinking.

Today’s progressive movers and shakers, such as Black Lives Matters and their supporters among America’s intelligentsia, academia, and media celebrities, have rendered this interpretation of Exodus no longer valid. With the proliferation of fake news alongside the unparalleled political polarization that has swept America, its makes it nearly impossible to establish an agreed-upon set of historical facts from which to draw conclusions, let alone accept the story of Exodus as a beacon of hope and freedom from slavery.

Current progressive thinking has a wholly different approach and asserts that not only are Jews to be seen as privileged whites, but that being Jewish can be invoked and used to benefit Jews as a way of intensifying someone’s status as being white. This being the case, their argument goes further and claims that essentially Jews have no right to be identified as oppressed and thus cannot claim sympathy for being slaves under Egyptian bondage. Inferred in this interpretation is that Jews should not be viewed in the same way as other minorities who have been freed from slavery. In other words, the Jewish nation’s past persecution has been canceled by their present day status as white privileged.

Many liberal Progressive Jewish leaders and Jewish organizations have been unable to remain on the sidelines and have eagerly jumped on the bandwagon to strengthen this cancel culture mentality. They absurdly claim that we must realize that oppression today is as real as it was in Biblical times. They go one step further and state that we have to consider the possibility that we, as white American-born Jews, are the Egyptians of today and must repent for the sin of our status as white privileged. Progressive Jewish thinking takes it one step further and blames Jews for moving their Jewish institutions to the suburbs as Jews gravitated out of urban areas. They blame Jews for not investing in their former urban neighborhoods and in non-Jewish residents that have remained residing there. They claim that Jews have been warmly welcomed and integrated into their new communities in no small part because of their white skin and have been lulled into complacency enjoying their “insider white” status. The massacre at the “Tree of Life” Synagogue and the thousands of anti-Semitic attacks on Jews everywhere in American, whether in cities or in the suburbs, doesn’t even make a dent in these cancel culture sympathizers and only strengthens the belief that American Jews are no different than White supremacists and can no longer be viewed in the same way as other minorities.

The most insidious aspect about cancel culture is that you don’t even have to support it or actively participate in cancel culture for it to endanger the well-being of American Jews. Due to the impact of social media and mainstream media that do nothing to counter the cancel culture mentality overtaking America, events are driven and amplified by small numbers on social media that shame and intimidate much larger groups into silence and apathy.

This modern day form of ostracism and the current state of cancel culture can be correctly compared to the “Blacklist” period of the McCarthy period in the 1950’s that swept America. Cancel Culture can also be associated as a modern manifestation of the Nazi book burnings campaign conducted by the German Student Union (the Deutsche Studentenschaft) who ceremonially burned books in large bonfires in Nazi Germany and Austria in the 1930s. The first books burned were those of Jewish authors and ideologues such as Karl Marx. The book burning and blacklisting of the past, and the cancel culture of today are two sides of the same coin. Unfounded claims, or guilt by association are sufficient to put American Jews in danger and the escalating acts of anti-Semitic attacks on Jews attest to this phenomenon.

What cancel culture fails to address in its wider impact is that it is inherently selective in cancelling any manifestation of thinking right-of-center exclusively. The most obvious example has to be with extremism being defined as “white supremacist” beliefs. Nothing about anarchism, nothing about any group that might be found on the left. Advocates of cancel culture refuse to consider antifa as an extreme organization. Even simpler, why is it extremist to attack a Capitol police officer (by white supremists), but not extremist to attack a Portland police officer (by black supremists)?

Cancel culture is not a response to attempts to silence legitimate protests rejecting the racial status quo in America, nor is cancel culture an authentic attempt to right historical wrongs and push for meaningful change. Cancel culture has become an effective societal mechanism to silence dissent, intimidate those who think differently or oppose the progressive side of the political map, and change historical memory such as the story of Exodus.

It was Prime Minister Winston Churchill who stated that “Some people’s idea of [free speech] is that they are free to say what they like, but if anyone says anything back, that is an outrage.” Wherever we look, whatever we hear, wherever we tune in; it’s everywhere; cancel culture represents the progressive vanguard dedicated to erasing the origin, the spirit, and the magnificence of Western society.

‘The time has arrived to cancel the cancel culture. Only by shining a light on those individuals and organizations at the forefront of cancel culture and holding them accountable for historical homicide that they commit again and again, only then can we regain the upper hand in fighting those that are a modern manifestation of McCarthyism and the burning of books.

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