Immune Health: 8 Foods That Strengthen Immunity
Strong immune health is key for overall health and well-being. Your immune system is your protector. It safeguards your body from pathogens, such as bacteria, viruses, and parasites that may attack your body. It protects you from their potential harm, such as infections, inflammation, illness, and disease.
If you want to protect yourself from illness and health issues, boosting your immune health is essential. The good news is that eating an immune-boosting diet and taking immune-supporting supplements can improve your immune health significantly.
In this article, you will learn about the importance of good immune health and the main things that may harm your immune health. You will also learn about my 8 favorite foods that can strengthen your immune system, as well as some powerful immune-boosting supplements I recommend this season.
Importance of Good Immune Health
Your immune system is absolutely essential not only for your health but simply for your survival. It is a complex network of cells and tissues in your body with the goal of protecting you. They are watching for invaders, such as bacteria, viruses, parasites, and more that may attack your body. If they detect a pathogen, they attack the pathogen, protecting you from harm. Without the protection of your immune system, your body would be open to attack or harm from these pathogens.
Your immune system is there to keep you healthy. A compromised immune system becomes sluggish, and cannot properly protect you, leaving you vulnerable to infections, illness, and disease. Hence, good immune health is an essential base for establishing good health.
5 Things That Hurt Immune Health
If you want to protect your immune system, there are a few things you need to watch out for. Let’s look at the top 5 things that can hurt your immune health.
There are many problems when it comes to sugar. One of these problems is that sugar can hurt your immune system. Eating too much sugar feeds parasites in your body and also depletes your body from immune-boosting nutrients, such as vitamin C, zinc, and glutathione. Sugar also contributes to the development of abnormal tissues in your body and may lead to cancer growth (1, 2).
Sugar may also lead to depleted vitamin C levels. Back in the 1970s, Dr. John Ely discovered the Glucose-Acorbate-Antagonism, and realized that glucose (sugar) and vitamin C (ascorbate) have an incredibly similar chemical make-up. Both of them depend on insulin and its signals to get into your cells.
The problem is that glucose has a greater affinity than vitamin C. This means that the more glucose is in your body, the less vitamin C can enter your cells. Vitamin C is one of the most important vitamins for your immune system, so the fact that sugar can interfere with its positive effects is a huge concern (3, 4).
Getting regular quality sleep is essential for good immune health and your entire well-being. Your body needs time to rest and repair in order to function optimally. Not getting enough or quality sleep on a regular basis may increase the stress response in your body and disrupt the normal cycle of rejuvenation (5).
To protect your immune health, you need 7–9 hours of sleep every night. Getting less than 7 hours of sleep on a regular basis may increase chronic stress, inflammation, and immune dysregulation in your body (6). If you are having poor sleep read this article and address the root cause of this sleep disturbance.
Drinking Tap Water
Hydration is incredibly important for your immune health. However, what kind of water you are drinking matters are well. Unfortunately, municipal water is incredibly toxic to your body. It is high in toxins, such as chlorine, fluoride, heavy metals, DBPs, and arsenic (7, 8, 9).
To get quality water, it is important to have a proper water filtration system at home. Drinking spring water may be an option as well, however, limit plastic bottles as much as possible. The plastic can leak into the water you are drinking leading to inflammation and health issues. Stainless steel and glass bottles are a safer bet when you are out and about or looking for the convenience of a water bottle.
I recommend systems like Aquatrue or the Berkey system for low cost filtration. The best water is the Synergy Science hydrogen water which is what I use at home as it is powered by molecular hydrogen which reduces oxidative stress in the body and improves immune function. Add a slice of lime for some extra flavor.
Chances are, you are like most people in our modern world and spend 90 percent or more of your life indoors. The problem is that staying indoors all the time, you are missing out on the protective factors of nature.
You are missing out on the benefits of fresh air, vitamin D from the sun, and grounding. Instead, your indoor environment may come with indoor toxins, such as mold or chemical toxins, that can be harmful to your immune health (10).
Water is essential for your health, including your immune health. Just think about it, your life began in water. Fetuses are, after all, surrounded by water in the womb. Most of your body is water. It is no wonder then that your body needs good hydration to form a strong immune system.
In our modern, busy world, many people simply forget to drink enough water. Consuming caffeine, sugar, and alcohol has further dehydrating effects as well. When your body is chronically dehydrated, it must take water from different parts of your body. This can lead to headaches, chronic pain, constipation, allergies, and a variety of health issues (11).
Top Foods For Immune Health
Eating nutrient-dense, immune-boosting foods is one of the best ways to support your immune health. In general, low sugar, phytonutrient rich herbs, fruit and vegetables, fermented foods and healthy fats are the best immune-supporting foods to include in your diet. Here is a list of my top 8 foods to incorporate for robust immune health.
I recommend getting at least 3 servings of one or more of these in your diet daily and try to incorporate all of these in your diet throughout the week if possible. If you have a food sensitivity or allergy to one of these foods or herbs, then be sure to avoid that and focus on the others.
Lemons & Limes
When it comes to immune health, it is likely that vitamin C is the first thing that comes to mind. Vitamin C is a powerful immune-boosting vitamin that can fight infections and help prevent illness. It helps to build up your immune system and support your immune health (12).
Some of the best sources of vitamin C are citrus fruits, such as lemons and limes. Lemons and limes are so easy to incorporate into your diet. You can squeeze it into just about any juice, meal, dressing, dip, or salad for extra flavor. I also recommend adding some lemon or lime juice into your water for extra immune health, detox- and metabolism-boosting benefits. To learn more about the benefits of lemon, read this article.
Bone broth is a delicious and nutritious liquid made from brewed bones and connective tissues of cow, chicken, or even fish. It is incredibly rich in minerals and vitamins that may boost your immune health. Some of the benefits of bone broth come from bone marrow which helps provide the raw materials for healthy blood cells and immune development.
Therefore, bone broth is great for those with inflammation and immune health issues. It is fantastic for your digestion and joints as well. It may also support your sleep. To learn more about the benefits of bone broth, read this article (13, 14, 15).
Incorporating bone broth into your day is simple. You can drink it at any time of your day or even use it as a meal replacement. You may make homemade broth with the recipe in the image below or you can buy organic bone broth at health food stores and online.
My favorite pre-made brand is Kettle & Fire which uses grass-fed bones, organic vegetables & herbs and slow cooking process to extract all the minerals and nutrients into the broth. You can find Kettle & Fire at many grocery stores or check it out here for 20% off your order.
Besides their powerful immune health benefits, one of the best things about mushrooms is that there are so many kinds of them. Of course, you know portabella mushrooms in some of your childhood favorites. But there is more to mushrooms than that. There are many kinds of mushrooms that are considered superfoods for their potent health benefits. Eastern medicine has been using these medicinal mushrooms for thousands of years for their immune health and other health benefits (16, 17, 18).
Reishi is one of the most popular mushrooms for supporting your sleep, mood, and immune health. Chaga may reduce inflammation, and as a result, it may support your immune health. Turkey tail is incredibly known for its antioxidant benefits and immune health support. Lion’s Mane is great for immune health. Cordyceps is fantastic for energy. Using these mushrooms is easy. Just add them to your morning smoothies, a cup of coffee, or stir-fry. You may also try my Paleo Stuffed Mushrooms as well.
Garlic & Onions
Garlic and onions are close relatives with similar benefits. They are found in just about every cuisine and culture around the world. They have been used to fight infections for thousands of years. They are powerful foods that are incredibly anti-inflammatory and beneficial for your immune health. Learn more about the benefits of onions here (19, 20).
Garlic and onions are versatile and easy to use. They can be enjoyed both raw and cooked. Add them to your salads, vegetable stir-fries, baked vegetables, meat dishes, dips, dressings, sauces, and soups. You may try my Lemon Garlic Kale Salad and my low-carb alfredo sauce which has both onion and garlic.
Olive oil has been used throughout the Mediterranean. It’s also one of the favorite oils in the US for cooking, dressings, and dipping. It is rich in healthy monounsaturated fats. It is rich in polyphenolic antioxidants, incredibly anti-inflammatory, and fantastic for your immune health. Research has shown that olive oil may boost your immune health, lower the risk of infections, and protect against immune-mediated inflammatory responses (21, 22).
I recommend that you choose extra-virgin olive oil. Olive oil is fantastic when consuming raw. It provides a fantastic aroma and flavor to any salad dressing or dipping sauce. It is perfect for making stir-fries or bakes vegetables as well.
My Favorite Olive Oil
My favorite olive oil is this Fresh-Pressed Olive Oil. It is the most flavorful artisan olive oil you can find out there. It comes from award-winning artisan farms with a harvest-fresh taste to your table. These oils are independently lab-certified to be 100 percent extra virgin olive oil — so you can trust the quality. My family swears by it. We use it daily on our salads and meals. Our kids love it. I am sure your family will too.
I am excited to share a special offer with you. You can get this $39.00 bottle of Fresh-Pressed Olive Oil for only $1.00 to help with shipping if you click on the link here
Apple Cider Vinegar
Apple cider vinegar is a type of vinegar that is created from the fermented, unstrained juice of crushed apples. It is a highly acidic substance with a potent, distinct smell that may remind you of aged wine.
It may be one of the most versatile foods in your kitchen that may be used both internally and externally for your health, as well as a natural cleaning or beauty product. It is high in vitamin C, vitamin E, antioxidants, and has probiotic benefits. Research has shown that it is highly beneficial for your immune health and may help with congestion and colds (23, 24).
I recommend adding apple cider vinegar to your water in the morning for extra immune health benefits. If you struggle with acid reflux, you may try apple cider vinegar water in the morning. For colds, mix 1 part apple cider vinegar with 5–6 parts of water and 2–3 tablespoons of organic, raw honey.
Ginger has been used for thousands of years in Asia for its natural healing properties. It quickly made its way to Europe and other parts of the world as a natural remedy and a flavorful spice. Research has shown that ginger has powerful antioxidant and anti-inflammatory benefits. It may help to decrease inflammation, boost your immune health, improve sore throat, reduce pain, and improve your digestion (25).
You can find ginger at any grocery or health food store, and find ground ginger in any spice aisle. Flavor any of your soups, dishes, and salads with a bit of ginger. Add it to your green juices and smoothies.
Make ginger tea for further immune health boost by boiling 2 tablespoons of ginger root in 1.5–2 cups of water for 10–15 minutes. Add a tablespoon of lemon juice for further immune health support. You may also try my Keto Thai Ginger Chicken recipe.
Top Immune Health Supplements
Living a busy life in a fast-paced world can seriously compromise your immune health. You can use all the help you can get. This is why I recommend that you support your immune health with these immune supplements.
ImmunoCharge™ is one of my favorite supplements for immune health. It is powered by quercetin, resveratrol, vitamin D, vitamin A, selenium, zinc, vitamin C, N-Acetyl Cysteine (NAC), vitamin K2 and magnesium. These ingredients support the body’s natural immune mechanisms to help maintain good health. This formula is designed to be taken short term.
It has anti-viral potential, antioxidant benefits, and immune health benefits. I have found it to be the very best immune support supplement on the market!
Take 2 capsules, 2 times a day with meals for appropriate immune health support. For advanced support, I recommend 3 capsules, twice a day. If someone is suffering from a seasonal immune challenge, I will often have people do 4 capsules every 4-6 hours with a meal until they knock out whatever immune challenge they are suffering with. You can save 30% on Immunocharge by using the coupon code Immune30 at checkout.
Glutathione fights against cellular toxins. It helps protect your body against disease, toxins, viruses, pollutants, radiation, drugs, and oxidative stress and helps to repair free radical damage. The most absorbable form of glutathione is the S-acetyl glutathione compound, which moves through the digestive system without compromise and goes right into the cells where it helps to modulate the immune system and control inflammation.
This is why we put the S-acetylated form of glutathione in our Super Glutathione product. I recommend two capsules a day, or for advanced protocol, two capsules twice a day.
Vitamin D For Immune Health
Vitamin D is an important vitamin that more resembles a hormone than a vitamin considering its function in your body. Vitamin D boosts up our natural T Helper cells. These T helper cells work to suppress inflammation and modulate the immune response so it is more effective at combating pathogens.
Being out on the sun is the ideal way to boost your vitamin D levels. You can also use certain foods such as egg yolk, organ meat, grass-fed butter and salmon, but the levels are too low to have a really strong impact.
I recommend that you take roughly 1,000 IU’s of vitamin D per 25 lbs of body weight as a maintenance dosage. For an advanced dosage to raise your levels quickly, I recommend 2,000 IU’s of vitamin D per 25 lbs of body weight. I recommend taking vitamin D with a proper amount of vitamin K2 as these nutrients work in synergy to enhance calcium metabolism, bone and cardiovascular health. This is why we created our Vitamin D3/K2 Power supplement.
Zinc For Immune Health
Zinc is one of the most common nutrient deficiencies in modernized countries and is a necessary nutrient for optimal immune health. Experts predict that almost 2 billion people (which is roughly 25% of the world’s population) is deficient in zinc.
Zinc is critical for balancing your immune system and to reduce immunological stress and improves immune coordination. I recommend one capsule of Zinc Charge once a day with food. For advanced support, take two capsules once or twice a day with food.
Probiotics For Immune Health
If your gut health is compromised and your gut microbial flora is imbalanced, it can throw off your immunity and create a state of chronic inflammation. This is why I recommend probiotics. Supporting your gut health is the basis of supporting your immune health.
SBO Probiotics – Ultimate contains a powerful array of soil-based organisms, prebiotic superfoods, and humic and fulvic acids to reduce yeast overgrowth and repopulate the gut effectively with healthy microbes. Take two capsules a day to support your gut and immune health.
Use Elderberry & Astragalus
Elderberry and astragalus are fantastic for bronchitis symptoms. I recommend ImmunoStrong Berry Liquid. It offers a great tasting supplement to boost your immune health. It’s made with elderberry, astragalus root, wild cherry bark, shiitake and maitake mushrooms, and beta 1,3 glucan all for your immune health.
Use it to defend the body against bacterial and viral attacks and strengthen immune defenses that fight against infections (26, 27, 28).
Use a Specific Herbal Support Formula
Various wild herbs that have survived for thousands of years by building resilience against pathogens can offer us great protection from microbes as well. It is important that get an herbal support formula that is made with organic and wild crafted herbs for the best protection. You can find something that specifically helps the respiratory tract which is vulnerable to pathogen attack.
Lung Health is a natural respiratory support formula that uses a powerful blend of herbs and essential oils, including lovage root, eucalyptus leaf, peppermint leaf, lemon balm leaf, lungwort leaf, orange leaf, plantain leaf, chapparal leaf, menthol, elecampane root, lobelia flower, and peppermint essential oil to encourage lung, sinus, and respiratory tract health.
Many of these healing plants have been used in traditional medicine for hundreds of years, yet their beneficial qualities have only recently been proven by modern scientific research.
Final Thoughts on Immune Health
Strong immune health is key for overall health and well-being. Your immune system protects you from pathogens, infections, inflammation, illness, and disease. If you want to protect yourself from illness and health issues, boosting your immune health is key.
Eat a nutrient-dense diet, incorporate these top 8 immune-boosting foods, and try the immune-supporting supplements I recommend for immune health. You may notice a great difference and may feel healthier than ever this season.
If you want to work with a functional health coach, I recommend this article with tips on how to find a great coach. Our website offers long-distance functional health coaching programs with our world-class team of health coaches. For further support with your health and other goals, just reach out—our fantastic coaches are here to support your journey.
Your articles are excellent and presented very well.
You provide information and do not drag chatter out like most others. Greatly appreciated.
Thank you so much Taveta!! Blessings to you!
actually Mackerel is the # 1 food for vitamin D with over 823 IU Salmon can’t even touch that. https://www.eatthismuch.com/food/nutrition/mackerel,3303/
Usually a can of 4 oz will have 25% of the vitamin D for RDI. Look for the brand titled Season which can also be found at Wal-mart for under $2.00 per can caught in the Atlantic avoid all fish from the pacific they are Fukashima fresh… If you are going to eat Salmon buy only from the wild caught from Norway or from the Atlantic ocean. Be careful for deceptive labels that say Atlantic Salmon farm raised in Chile. This is garbage forget that. I appreciate the articles, ideas, and animations but we want to make sure we do quality research before putting out any articles.
Thanks for sharing Andrew! Blessings to you!!
Andrew, to put mackerel and salmon in perspective, compare the mercury levels in wild caught mackerel to those of wild caught salmon. Because of the higher levels of mercury in mackerel, I would definitely choose salmon over mackerel even if its vitamin D levels are lower. Believe me, you do not want to experience mercury toxicity!
You cannot safely look at just the vitamin D, it is important to consider other nutrients and contaminants in the fish as well. My biggest concern with wild caught Alaskan salmon is the radioactive Cesium-137 that has contaminated most of the northern hemisphere’s Pacific waters. This is from the ongoing contamination from Fukushima’s nuclear reactor meltdown.
hi…thank you for all your usual great information. may i point out that you call your alfredo sauce non-dairy, but it has butter and cheese in it. just an oversight i’m sure. 🙂
Oops! Thanks so much! We made the change!
“protecting your for harm.” I appreciate your articles, but every single one has typos, and I have not even read through much of this one.
Your desire for typo-free articles may be interfering with your focusing on the subject and obtaining maximum value from it. I used to get so caught up in spotting typos that after a while I realized I was so focused on the typos and not as much on the useful content. I realized it was interfering with my true purpose for reading the article in the first place.
If you really have a passion for spotting typos, why not find someplace where you can volunteer o,r even better yet, get paid to be a copy editor. That’s much more satisfying than complaining in the comment sections of blogs and articles, I have found.
I found my outlet with Atlas Obscura dot com. There, I can not only edit for typos but even for content! Of course, the site’s owners will vet your editing to be sure it is an actual improvement to the article. Check them out. And have fun while doing it!
Great info and advice Michael… especially using your skills to help AND get paid. ThankYOU for pointing to a company you have vetted. Bravo. If everyone proactively commented like this we all would find our spot where we may BEST use our skills and be productive too.
I agree with Michael. I consider that Dr. Jockers’ content is exceptional. His articles are quite lengthy and comprehensive; to find a few typos in a document this size is nothing to complain about — especially as he provides so much information to us, absolutely free. He deserves our thanks.
Thanks for all your support!
I totally agree – never too late to do so.
For those of us who are native English speakers, or read aloud, typos are a hindrance to a smooth read and can even inhibit viewing the professionalism of an article. Dr. Jockers’ articles are amazing, as are the graphics and action items, and I sincerely appreciate them, and they should be as perfect as his intent is pure. Perhaps this “copy editor” was only hoping to alert his staff to the typos and that correcting these simple errors will only improve the status of his articles. As someone who has had our own professional website, these errors are easy fixes for an easy, smoother and more professional read for his audience. I would think he would care about this side of his profession as well as any other aspect of it.
Thank you for sharing your thoughts Teresa. Yes we work hard to make our articles the best in the world! Blessings!
Great article! I love the graphics along with the content. One more thing I would add is Iodine. Iodine is a key component to health. It is an essential element in every cell in the body. All cells and tissues contain and utilize it. We cannot live without it and our bodies cannot make it, so it must come from diet and/or supplementation and it’s very hard to get enough in the diet. No bacteria, fungus, parasite, mold or virus has been shown to be resistant to iodine. Iodine improves white blood cell’s ability to kill bacteria and white blood cells cannot effectively guard against infection without adequate amounts. Iodine has anti-inflammatory properties and plays a major physiological role in the inflammatory process. A drop of Lugal’s Solution can be added to Dr. Levy’s hydrogen peroxide nebulizer protocol.
In health! 💕
Yes Iodine is fantastic! Thanks for sharing!
Can you please recommend a water purifier that will clean my sink water? Thanks
Hello Dee – this is a good one here: https://aquatruwater.com/?c=drjockers
Hi, my daughter’s and I deal with food sensitivities in the phenol category and possibly mcas(self only). I know so many useful herbs and foods that may boost immunity but not sure if they will cause more harm than good. Particularly elderberry and black seed oil. As well as moringa. Do you know if those with salicylate and histamine issues can use them to some degree? Are there any specific things we can use for our immune systems without phenols? Thank you for you help!
Hey Lkeesha, I would focus in on vitamin C, zinc and quercetin which can help reduce histamine and salycylate sensitivities.
Omega 3’s and vitamin D and probiotics would all be great as well!
Lkeesha, I have histamine issues as well [no sure about salicylates] and have found that pre-dosing with quercetin (found in high levels in apples and onions0 is a natural antihistamine and has produced excellent results for me.
Quercetin is often found in the parts of foods that are high in vitamin C, like the white pithy tissue found under the peel of citrus, also just under the outer peel of apples [eat with skin on, after washing, if not organic]. I believe it is in the bioflavonoid family of nutrients, along with rutin and hesperidin, which are all co-factors in the body’s utilization of vitamin C.
I have two ways I take the supplement form for this use. One is as a pre-dose before taking other things that may be problematic. For example, 15 – 30 minutes before eating. The second way that seems to work well for me is to open the capsule and put it in my daily smoothie so I’m continually dosing throughout the day.
I also eat lots of apples and onions. I have found both [food sources & supplements] of quercetin to be very healing to my gut and dramatically improves my bowel movements in all aspects; nutrient absorption, intestinal motility with smooth, rapid evacuation, much less gas and odor, and integrity of the stool. I don’t intend to be gross here, merely trying to convey important information from my experiences.
Maybe it will help with your salicylate sensitivity too!
Thank you for the tips. They are great.
Thanks Rochelle! Hope you are doing well! Blessings!
Hi Dr Jockers
Which of your supplements can I buy for my metal hypersensitivity?
Hey Michelle, yes I would recommend getting the Bioactive Carbon Minerals which will help create mineral balance in the body and I would get the Bioactive Carbon MetChem to help bind and eliminate the metals. https://store.drjockers.com/products/bioactive-carbon-minerals
Here is the Bioactive Carbon MetChem https://store.drjockers.com/products/bioactive-carbon-metchem
Thanks for shering your knowedge with us. Unfortunately it’s not easy in my country to import some things overseas without huge additional costs. Anyway you have changed my life. I’m very greatful. Darja
Glad to hear this info has been so helpful for you Darinka! Blessings!
Hey Dr,thanks for all you do….In the diagram “10 signs you may need vitamin d”,under Depression it says “Women with low levels of vitamin D are twice as likely to combat depression”….Maybe this was a typo…or were you just making sure we are paying attention lol.
This might be my first winter in which I didn’t get sick. Aside from the limited interactions with people, I’ve regularly been taking Vitamin D, liposomal Vitamin C, probiotics, zinc, and quercetin.
My sleep schedule and my stress need some work, though.
Great to hear you are doing well Liana! Dialing in the sleep and stress is key! Glad you have awareness of that!
Hello Dr Jockers,
I am a diabetic and would really love to be off the medications. My last a1c was 7. I cannot get pass that. My readings are 5 to 7 the most on the medications.
Really hate this disease, please help me in any way possible. I am not overweight. My weight is 115. Thanks in advance
Hello Cynthia – yes, here is a helpful article: https://drjockers.com/insulin-resistance/
Always excellent and informative articles..thank you Dr Jockers
Thank you so much Lyn! Blessings to you!
Hi Doc, what about bit E