A Healthy Immune System Helps to protect Against COVID-19

The old adage “the best defense is a good offense” has never been so true as during this anxious, unsettling period in our lives when it comes to safeguarding ourselves from the novel coronavirus that has disrupted daily life all over the world.

At this crucial time, more than ever, it is vital to make sure you're eating right to bolster your immune system. What we eat has everything to do with our health. Social distancing and hygiene measures will reduce the likelihood we are exposed to the virus. However, if we do become exposed to any respiratory virus, being in good health and having a superior immune function is our best protection against serious illness.

Your health and longevity are directly linked to your immune system, and your immune system depends on sufficient amounts of micronutrients to function properly. The Nutritarian program is unique in supplying a sufficient amount and a wide variety of phytonutrients and also making sure no nutritional inadequacies occur. To boost your immunity and keep it operating at peak efficiency, you need to eat a diet designed to optimize your body's ability to heal and repair.  The Nutritarian diet is based on powerful immune-boosting ingredients. G-BOMBS:  greens (cruciferous vegetables), beans, mushrooms, onions, berries and seeds, are crucial for optimizing your immune system and protecting your precious health. Eating a healthy diet plays a major role in the prevention and recovery from diseases like the flu, autoimmune disease, cancer and more.

It's also worth noting that many of the conditions that make people more vulnerable to serious disease or death from COVID-19 are lifestyle conditions that are largely preventable with a high-nutrient diet and regular exercise: heart disease, type 2 diabetes, and obesity are on the CDC’s list of conditions causing increased risk. Similarly, people with these chronic diseases are at higher risk of complications from flu.  When you are in good health your body is better able to handle the stress of a viral infection; you will be less likely to experience serious illness or complications as a result of the infection.

The elderly are also at risk. We can’t control our chronological age, but adequate vitamin and mineral intake may help to slow the decline of immune system function that typically occurs with age. For example, zinc insufficiency is relatively common among elderly people.1-34 In a study of older adults in nursing homes, those with normal serum zinc had a lower incidence of pneumonia and half as many antibiotic prescriptions compared to those with low serum zinc.5 Studies have also suggested supplementing with zinc could improve immune function and reduce the rate of respiratory infections in the elderly.67

There are also some common-sense strategies you can use to protect yourself and your loved ones. And long after this crisis has ended, you should continue to protect your health year-round by adhering to these best health practices.


  • Every surface in a public place can harbor germs. Carry your own pen (and don’t lend it to anyone) in case you need to sign a credit card receipt. If you have to use the stylus or write your name using your finger at a terminal, use hand sanitizer afterward, or better yet, wash your hands. Use alcohol-based sprays or wipes to disinfect hard surfaces.
  • If someone is sneezing or coughing around you, try breathing out slowly as you move away from them. This will keep you from inhaling the germs they just expelled.
  • Make a point of getting seven to nine hours of sleep per day — and even more for children and teens. We all require a different amount, so don’t use caffeine to enable less sleep, and don’t use an alarm clock. Sleep as much as your body wants to.
  • Wash whenever you touch anything used by other people, such as doorknobs, the buttons on the microwave at work, office telephones, etc. Use soap and water and be sure to scrub the back of your hands, between your fingers, and under your nails. Wash for at least 20 seconds. Don’t touch your face, mouth, eyes, or nose until you’ve washed your hands.
  • Keep fit with regular exercise.


If you get sick with a viral syndrome: rest, drink water, avoid cooked food, and only consume fresh fruit and raw vegetables if hungry. Fasting or eating very lightly when ill speeds recovery, reduces mucus production and activates the immune system’s defenses to rapidly eliminate the viral load.  Most importantly, do not poison yourself with medications in an attempt to manage symptoms. Adding toxins to the body when you are ill can complicate and worsen the illness.  

Fever-reducing medications and antibiotics can make a mild illness dangerous. Fever is part of the body’s attack on the virus – it stimulates immune system activity.8 However, if you experience a sudden worsening of symptoms, especially including labored breathing, or a fever above 103 degrees for three days, then you should call your doctor.

Our immune system is on the job 24 hours a day — so it is vital to fuel it with a micronutrient-rich diet that will keep it operating at peak efficiency.  To learn more about how to strengthen your immune system you can read two of my New York Times Best Sellers, Super Immunity or my latest, and most comprehensive book, Eat For Life.   You can also join me for my 3-week online Super Immunity Detox. 


  1. Mocchegiani E, Romeo J, Malavolta M, Costarelli L, Giacconi R, Diaz LE, Marcos A. Zinc: dietary intake and impact of supplementation on immune function in elderly. Age (Dordr) 2013, 35:839-860.
  2. Prasad AS, Fitzgerald JT, Hess JW, Kaplan J, Pelen F, Dardenne M. Zinc deficiency in elderly patients. Nutrition 1993, 9:218-224.
  3. Pepersack T, Rotsaert P, Benoit F, Willems D, Fuss M, Bourdoux P, Duchateau J. Prevalence of zinc deficiency and its clinical relevance among hospitalised elderly. Arch Gerontol Geriatr 2001, 33:243-253.
  4. Briefel RR, Bialostosky K, Kennedy-Stephenson J, McDowell MA, Ervin RB, Wright JD. Zinc intake of the U.S. population: findings from the third National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey, 1988-1994. J Nutr 2000, 130:1367S-1373S.
  5. Meydani SN, Barnett JB, Dallal GE, Fine BC, Jacques PF, Leka LS, Hamer DH. Serum zinc and pneumonia in nursing home elderly. Am J Clin Nutr 2007, 86:1167-1173.
  6. Prasad AS, Beck FW, Bao B, Fitzgerald JT, Snell DC, Steinberg JD, Cardozo LJ. Zinc supplementation decreases incidence of infections in the elderly: effect of zinc on generation of cytokines and oxidative stress. Am J Clin Nutr 2007, 85:837-844.
  7. Barnett JB, Dao MC, Hamer DH, Kandel R, Brandeis G, Wu D, Dallal GE, Jacques PF, Schreiber R, Kong E, Meydani SN. Effect of zinc supplementation on serum zinc concentration and T cell proliferation in nursing home elderly: a randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled trial. Am J Clin Nutr 2016, 103:942-951.
  8. Evans SS, Repasky EA, Fisher DT. Fever and the thermal regulation of immunity: the immune system feels the heat. Nat Rev Immunol 2015, 15:335-349.
6/5/2020 7:00:00 AM
Joel Fuhrman, M.D.
Joel Fuhrman, M.D. is a family physician, New York Times best-selling author and nutritional researcher who specializes in preventing and reversing disease through nutritional and natural methods. Dr. Fuhrman is an internationally recognized expert on nutrition and natural healing, and has appeared on hundreds of radio a...
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