Health Advice Paula Owens

A heathy immune system is influenced by lifestyle choices, emotional state, stress levels, dietary habits, gut health, environment and nutritional status. Chronic stress, underlying infections, eating a nutritionally-void diet, insufficient sleep, poor gut health, and nutrient deficiencies are the most common and frequent causes of a depressed or overactive immune system.

Protection from the flu doesn’t come from a flu shot. It comes from a strong and healthy immune system, building resistance, and avoiding immune suppressors.

If you opt for a flu shot, it’s important to do your homework and educate yourself. The flu vaccine is prepared with egg proteins and associated unidentified viral DNA from this animal tissue, polysorbate 80 (which crosses the blood brain barrier), formaldehyde (a carcinogen), triton x100 (detergent), gelatin (an allergen), sucrose (an immune suppressor), resin, gentamycin (an antibiotic), aluminum (a neurotoxin) and thimerosol/mercury (a neurotoxic metal).

“Mercury-containing vaccines are offered to pregnant women despite evidence linking vaccine-related exposure to autism spectrum disorders,” said Dr. Kelly Brogan. Studies have also reported that children can become symptomatic from mercury toxicity from as little exposure as 10 mcg/kg/day.

A study in the journal Vaccine reports that the flu vaccination elicits a strong inflammatory response in pregnant woman. There is mounting evidence that flu vaccines can cause Alzheimer’s disease. One study reports that those who received five or more consecutive flu shots increased their chance of getting Alzheimer’s ten-fold.

Serious complications have been reported from the flu vaccine including allergic reactions (anaphylactic), neurological disorders and Guillain-Barre Syndrome, which can be fatal.

“One very reliable way to determine the effectiveness of the flu shot is to look at the database analysis presented by The Cochrane Collaboration, an independent group of scientists who have no link to any industry or government agencies. After analyzing all of the data on the flu shot, they have concluded that it really doesn’t work well,” said Dr. Mark Hyman.

Instead of poisoning yourself and putting your health at great risk by getting a flu vaccine, a smarter and healthier option is to keep your immune system strong all year.

12 tips for a strong, healthy immune system

1. Food is medicine (or food is poison). Eat nutrient-dense, real foods every day.

Green smoothies, veggies, leafy greens, herbs, spices, healthy fats, and clean protein. Dark leafy greens impact intestinal health by delivering protection to certain cells of the immune system. Opt for a variety of locally-grown, organic, in-season veggies and greens.

Proteins are the building blocks of the body, including your immune and detoxification systems. Remember, the first 40g of protein you eat every day goes toward rebuilding your immune system.

2. Sleep is nature’s greatest antioxidant, a potent immune-booster, anti-aging antidote and repair mechanism. Aim for 7-9 hours of uninterrupted sleep every night.

3. Optimize your microbiome and healthy gut function. Approximately 80 percent of the immune system resides in the gut. Test for and rule out underlying infections, which are extremely common and often go undetected. “All disease starts in the gut.” – Hippocrates.

4. Avoid immune suppressors: sugar, fructose, fruit juices, processed carbs, wheat, artificial sweeteners, processed foods, GMO, glyphosate, too much or too little exercise, alcohol, skimping on sleep, chronic stress, negative low-energy thoughts, and dehydration. Studies have shown consuming sugars and processed carbs suppress your immune system for hours after ingested.

5. Support your immune system with the basics: vitamin D, probiotics, essential fatty acids, zinc, selenium and a high-quality multi-vitamin/mineral. An overwhelming number of clinical and experimental studies have determined that any single nutrient deficiency can cause immune dysfunction. Those with the lowest vitamin D levels (

6. With the dryer air inside and out, winter can be a particularly challenging time to stay hydrated. Drink a minimum number of ounces equal to half your body weight in water every day.

7. Practice common sense hygiene. Wash your hands often and thoroughly throughout the day with soap and water, especially after bathroom use or shaking hands.

Avoid hand sanitizers that are loaded with triclosan, a dangerous antibacterial chemical that has been linked to hormone disruption and antibiotic-resistance.

Refrain from sneezing or coughing openly into your hands (instead sneeze or cough into your elbow). Avoid touching your eyes, nose or mouth since that’s often how viruses enter the body.

Wash your workout clothes after every workout. Wash towels daily. Wash sheets every week. Keep the lid on the toilet closed. Replace your toothbrush every month.

8. Let your kids play in the dirt to build their immune systems.

9. Optimism, positive emotions, thoughts and mindset build up immunity and produce health-enhancing bio-chemicals. The cells in your body react to everything that your mind says. Negativity brings down your immune system, whereas positivity builds it up. Everything’s interconnected.

10. Natural immune boosters can be found right in your kitchen: onions, oregano and garlic (natural antibiotics), turmeric (curcumin), ginger, homemade bone broth, coconut oil, raw honey, mushrooms (shiitake, reishi, maitake), and green tea.

Get a daily dose of sunshine (natural vitamin D), vitamin “L” (love), relax more, breathe deeper, and take nature walks.

11. The lymphatic systems carries immune fighting white blood cells and removes toxins. Practice deep belly breathing, lymphatic massage, rebounding on a mini trampoline and dry brush your skin before showering.

12. Adrenal insufficiency affects 80 percent of the population. It’s the number one hormone imbalance in women. Support your adrenals with nutrient-dense foods, sleep, nutrients, and yoga, meditation, biofeedback and other mind-body techniques to activate the parasympathetic branch of the nervous system, and increase the activity of certain genes linked to stress and immune function.

• Paula Owens, M.S., is the author of “The Power of 4” and “Fat Loss Revolution.” An Ahwatukee resident for 22 years, she is a leading expert in nutrition, functional health, fitness and fat loss with more than 20 years of experience. For more information, visit

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(1) comment

Lucas Atkinson

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