|To write a piece on foods that help the immune system would be an encyclopedia instead of a blog post. The truth is that it’s complicated. The immune system generally works just fine when it’s given the right nutrients without being burdened with overwhelming toxins. There are individual nutrients like vitamin A, vitamin D, zinc, beta glucan and scores of others that have been shown to help strengthen the immune system.|
The part that complicates it is that the magic seems to be in the combinations of discovered and yet-to-be-discovered nutrients found in foods. These combinations can’t be mimicked with supplements or drugs as well as God did it with food, itself. So, if I told you that the immune factor in garlic was the sulfur, or the power of broccoli is entirely found in the sulforaphane, I’d be only partially correct. I used to make the mistake in singling out individual nutrients in food and saying, “Here’s the power!”, but I don’t do that anymore. It’s the combinations that make food so stunningly effective. In a band, you can single out the lead singer or the guitarist, but when a band is legendary, it’s the synergy of all the members that make it what it is. Food works the same way.
The fruits and vegetables are the big winners with food when it comes to nutrients, antioxidants, anti-fungals, minerals, and weird phytonutrients you’ve never heard of – all of which work together to help the body’s immune system.
Dr. Richard Beliveau is a biochemistry researcher at the University of Montreal. He initially tried finding the strange pathways that help make cancer medicines effective. He eventually found magic in foods. He found that certain foods seemed to inhibit cancer better than others. Is it because certain foods help build the immune system better than others? Some are more anti-fungal? Some have more antioxidants? Some have components that scientists haven’t even discovered yet? The answer is probably yes to all of those! I won’t pretend to know all of the reasons. I’ll just report what Dr. Beliveau found in his research on the most anti-cancer foods. In my mind, if a food is effective at inhibiting the most feared of all diseases, an immune component is doubtlessly involved.
Dr. Richard Beliveau’s Top 15 Most Anti-Cancer Foods
The best of the best seem to be very sulfur-intensive, Garlic, leeks, scallions, Brussels sprouts. Also, note how many of the top 15 are green. Chlorophyll is anti-fungal, anti-mycotic, and a favorite among natural health practitioners for detoxification. Is it only the sulfur and selenium in garlic or the chlorophyll in spinach that make them effective at nourishing the immune system? Not a chance. The superstar nutrients matter, but the combination of nutrients in each food item matters more.
Dr. Beliveau has published a book on his research into these high-octane foods. I like using it as a guide for intensive “diet therapy”, and I try to come up with menus that routinely use the best of the best of his list. (All of the best are Kaufmann 1 foods, by the way. This is just a way to personalize Kaufmann 1 for a specific application.) Other lists exist, and there are always some variations according to each researcher’s biases, but they always feature vegetables and berries as the big winners.
Hope these help!