Our immune system is a network of intricate pathwaysin the body that protects us from environmental threats. A well-functioning immune system is critical for survival, but this requires increased energy levels to maintain optimal function.

The only source for this energy is nutrients from your diet. A diet lacking in one or more nutrients can reduce the production and activity of immune cells and antibodies. Naturally-sourced supplements and a few choice food additions to your diet can help supply the immune system the energy it needs to defend you properly.

Top 5 Favorite Foods For Immune Health

A balanced diet full of nutrients is essential for all cells in the body. There are certain food choices you can make to better support immune cell activity to better prepare the body for microbial attacks. Each stage of the body’s immune response requires many micronutrients, including vitamin C, vitamin D, zinc, selenium, iron, and protein.

The foods below are a great way to make sure your immune system gets these essential nutrients. 

1. Blueberries

Blueberries contain a type of flavonoid called anthocyanin, which has potent cleansing properties. A clinical study found that flavonoids like this play an essential role in the respiratory tract’s immune defense system. Anthocyanin helps reduce occasional oxidative stress to immune cells and tissues and supports the activity of chemicals that regulate the immune response. 

Grilled salmon with garlic lemon

Pterostilbene, a compound in blueberries, has also been studied for its role in helping a gene that works in the body’s defense mechanism against environmental threats. Additionally, you can find other immune-essential nutrients within blueberries, such as vitamin C, which support white blood cell production.

2. Spinach

This leafy green is beneficial for overall health and contains many essential nutrients and antioxidants, including flavonoids, carotenoids, vitamin C, vitamin E. One of the flavonoids found in spinach is quercetin, and this antioxidant compound helps reduce oxidative processes and unwanted immune responses.

Vitamin C helps support immune cell production and supports the role of vitamin E in the immune response. Vitamin E protects against occasional oxidative stress and promotes the production of T-cells that are responsible for identifying and taking out problem cells. Vitamin C recycles spent vitamin E so that levels within the body are maintained for optimal immune function.

3. Ginger 

Ginger has been used for centuries in herbal medicine as a result of its purifying properties. The phenolic compounds in ginger can help reduce occasional oxidative stress and unwanted immune system responses. 

Ginger also supports proper respiratory health. As part of a daily routine, ginger can help support normal mucus thickness, allowing it to be coughed up normally and removed from respiratory airways. The benefits of ginger can be obtained by consuming fresh ginger, drinking ginger tea, or taking a supplement that includes ginger. 

4. Fatty Fish

The omega-3 fatty acids in fish such as salmon and tuna are important to immune system function and overall health. Regular consumption of omega-3 fatty acids may can support healthy cellular aging and reduce occasional oxidative stress.

Additionally, some specific immune functions are promoted by dietary omega-3 fatty acids, such as phagocytosis. This is performed by macrophages and neutrophils, which are responsible for removing problem cells. 

close-up of a green leaf

5. Garlic

Garlic is another food that has been used for centuries. Garlic contains allicin, which gives garlic a prominent place among immunity-supporting foods. A key mechanism of allicin is the regulation of cytokines (chemicals secreted by immune cells) to promote proper immune system responses.

Eating a healthy diet is an important step you can take to promote overall immune health. In addition to these immune-healthy foods, supplemental support with clinically studied ingredients can provide additional support for optimal immune system function. 

BreatheMD: Powerful Immunity & Respiratory Support

BreatheMDTM is the first-of-its-kind supplement with clinically studied ingredients that work synergistically to support immune cells and antioxidant capacity, aid respiratory functions, and promote overall immunity. These essential botanicals, amino acids, vitamins, and minerals include:

South African Geranium: This powerful herb helps promote the body’s natural healing rate and hs been used to help relieve common headache, fatigue, cough, and nasal drippage. 

L-cysteine: A beneficial amino acid that helps promote glutathione production. Glutathione is one of the most important antioxidant enzymes in the body that promotes respiratory tissue health and function.

Vitamin E: An essential vitamin that promotes T-cell production in the thymus. When the body’s T-cell populations are healthy, our immune response is properly maintained. 

Vitamin C: This vitamin supports the activity of vitamin E by helping recycle spent vitamin E. It also strengthens epithelial tissue, which is the first main defense of our immune system.

Elderberry: Elderberry is full of antioxidants that can help reduce occasional oxidative stress and stimulate the body’s healing processes. 

Marshmallow Root: This herb helps promote the body’s healing time and activates the immune system response, specifically encouraging a process known as phagocytosis whre problem cells are removed from the body.

close-up of a green leaf

ImmunityMD®️: Comprehensive Immune System Care

ImmunityMD® is a probiotics-based supplement formulated by 1MD Nutrition’s allergist and immunologist to help support healthy immune system responses and promote lip, skin, and oral health. The gut microbiome is essential to your immune health, and the probiotics work to bring balance to the gut, strengthening defenses so your body is better able to defend against environmental threats.

This formula also contains ingredients that support the probiotic activity. 

Nutraflora® Fiber: This prebiotic helps nourish the growth of the beneficial gut bacteria at the root of immune system strength.

L-Lysine: This essential amino acid helps to reduce everyday stress and worry to promote calmness and overall immune health. 

Zinc: This trace element is essential to immune health, supporting immune cell activity and the body's ability to respond to problems.

Final Thoughts

Diets that are limited in variety and lack essential nutrients can negatively affect immune health. It is believed that a Western diet high in refined sugar and red meat and low in fruits and vegetables can allow unhelpful bacteria in the gut to thrive. It is important to nourish the good bacteria for optimal immune health. 

The immune system is responsible for defending against environmental threats and to do this effectively, it requires the right support. A healthy diet along with potent supplemental formulas such as BreatheMD or ImmunityMD® will help support immune system function and promote your overall wellbeing.

Dr. Brian Greenberg

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Dr. Brian Greenberg is an immunologist, allergist, and pediatrician who received his medical degree from the University of Florida, and completed his residency and fellowship at UCLA. He has practiced medicine in Southern California for almost 25 years.