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 monosaturated fats. It is rich in 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.
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 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.
Take 2 capsules, 2 times a day with meals for appropriate immune health support. For advanced support, I recommend 4 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.
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.
MegaCidin is a powerful probiotic and herbal throat spray that harnesses the power of probiotic spores along with the highly effective botanical mixture, known as Biocidin®, to provide synergistic immune support for every climate and season.
This product also contains an herbal blend which includes milk thistle, echinacea, goldenseal, shiitake extract, white willow bark, garlic, grapeseed extract, black walnut, tea tree oil, oregano oil, and several others. 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.