2020 Immunity Superfoods List
The viral pandemic has swept across the world, infecting millions and sadly, leading to the deaths of hundreds of thousands people.
It’s very important to follow CDC advice and contact your healthcare provider if you suspect infection.
As yet, no pharmaceuticals have been proven to work, and some being suggested can have serious side effects.
No natural remedies or supplements have been tested against the new virus either and it will likely be many years before they are.
What we do know though is the specific actions of certain herbs, foods and nutrients on your immune system, and how they work against other respiratory viral infections.
We also know the specific pathways in the body that the new coronavirus uses, such as ACE-2 receptors, the furin enzyme and 3-CL protease.
Based on both sets of research, here is a list of immune boosting superfoods and antiviral supplements I am personally taking each day for my own protection.
This is not medical advice. Just the results of my own extensive study of the best research and expert articles I could find on this extremely important topic.
I’ve already shared this list with family and friends and now I am sharing it with you.
I hope it’s helpful and wish you and your family good health and strong immunity in these challenging times.
12 Superfoods that Boost Immunity and Protect Your Respiratory System
1. AntiViral High Curcumin Turmeric
Golden turmeric powder, and its curcumin compound, are proven immune system modulators with direct actions against other respiratory viruses.
Curcuminoids have also been shown in scientific research to block pro-inflammatory cytokine release. A ‘cytokine storm’ is a severe immune overreaction that doctors now think is responsible for many coronavirus deaths.
2. Fresh Ginger Root to Fight Respiratory Viruses
Volatile oils in ginger, like gingerols and shogaols, boost immunity and combat viral infections.
Ginger tea is a particularly good homemade remedy for sore throats and persistent coughing, two common symptoms of viral respiratory infection.
Use fresh ginger root, grated or thinly sliced, in ginger turmeric tea for synergistic protective effects.
3. Medicinal Mushrooms for Immunotherapeutic Polysaccharides
Many people are discovering the detoxifying, energizing and nootropic properties of medicinal mushrooms. Two of the best for boosting your innate immunity against viral infections are reishi and turkey tail.
Polysaccharides in these mushrooms enhance immune system function and research has shown turkey tail to have strong immunotherapeutic actions.
Reishi has hundreds of bio-active substances that modulate immune response, decrease inflammation, fight free radicals and antimicrobial properties to combat viruses and harmful bacteria.
I get my daily reishi and turkey tail from Organifi Gold. It also contains high curcumin turmeric, ginger, piperine, Ceylon cinnamon, prebiotics and herbs to lower stress and help you get to sleep, important factors in maintaining strong immunity.
This highly recommended gold powder is on discount here and covers a lot of nutritional bases, as well as being a powerful anti-inflammatory against chronic pain. Read my detailed Organifi Gold review here.
4. Onions and Garlic for Immune Cell Function
Put as much onion and particularly garlic in your meals as you can right now during the pandemic.
Garlic is a powerful antiviral and antimicrobial. It has been shown in scientific studies to improve NK and T-cell immune function and activate multiple genes related to immunity.
Onions, leeks and other members of the allium family are also good sources of protective quercetin. More on this powerful flavonoid and why you should take it in the Antioxidant Supplements section ahead.
5. Pumpkin Seeds for Zinc
A co-factor in protein building and essential for cell division, zinc is required for maintaining an effective immune response. Even a mild deficiency in this mineral lowers your defenses against viral infection.
Pumpkin seeds are one of the best plant sources of zinc. I use them in morning mueslis and on top of many lunch and dinner dishes. They also make a nutritious and satisfying snack food.
Always get raw and organic pumpkin seeds for the most benefits and nutrients. I like these big tasty green Styrian seeds grown in Oregon. Caution — they can be addictive.
6. Brazil Nuts for Selenium
Selenium deficiency is common in countries like America and linked to compromised immune function and a higher risk of a range of serious conditions like cardiovascular disease (itself a strong risk factor).
7. Cod Liver Oil for Vitamin D, A and Omega-3s
Vitamin D is particularly important for antiviral immunity and many people in the northern hemisphere are deficient throughout the winter, putting them at higher risk of viral infections like influenza and the common cold.
You can take supplements, but I prefer a daily teaspoon of high quality cod liver oil, like this lemon flavored, wild caught Arctic oil in my fridge. Over many winters of testing it seems to give me much better cold and flu resistance.
It’s tested for impurities, high in vitamin D, has vitamin A, and is rich in omega-3s, particularly the more beneficial DHA, so you no longer need to take fish oil. Omega-3 fats reduce inflammation and enhance immune B cells function as well.
8. Ground Flaxseeds for 3CL Protease Blocking
Flaxseeds are another source of omega-3 fatty acids. They could be specifically beneficial here though because of a special compound they contain called herbacetin.
Coronaviruses are known to proliferate among cells by creating an enzyme called 3CL protease. Herbacetin is a flavonoid shown in studies to strongly inhibit 3CL protease against the related coronavirus that caused the SARS outbreak.
This 3CL protease inhibiting mechanism is the basis for the World Health Organization’s approval for large scale testing of several pharmaceutical drugs.
Ground flaxseed meal, like this organic bestseller, is also very high in fiber and an excellent prebiotic food for more beneficial intestinal flora.
A tablespoon or two tastes great in homemade muesli, mixed into Greek yogurt or added to healing smoothie recipes like these.
Scientists are now discovering just how important gut health is to disease resistance and innate immunity. Daily flax meal is a simple and enjoyable was to improve it, while also boosting your defenses with herbacetin.
9. Nutritional Yeast for Beta Glucans and B Vitamins
Beta glucans are biologically active compounds found in nutritional yeast and recommended for a wide variety of health conditions. They have immunostimulating properties and are beneficial for respiratory tract infections.
This study noted a beta glucan supplement “reduces upper respiratory symptoms and improves mood state… and may be a useful approach for maintaining immune protection.”
Nutritional yeast is also high in stress reducing B vitamins, especially riboflavin, niacin, thiamine, B6 and the essential but difficult to obtain vitamin B12.
I’ve been using this nutritional yeast by Bragg for years as a very healthy food seasoning. It’s full of beta glucan and B vitamins, naturally tastes like cheese and has to be one of the best tasting supplements anywhere.
10. Spirulina for Interferon Boosting Phycocyanobilin
Spirulina is an incredibly rich source of trace minerals, vitamins, amino acids, chlorophyll, gamma linolenic acid, omega-3s and a wide range of powerful phytochemicals.
Its nutrients are much better absorbed than those in isolated supplements and most people would be far better off taking it than ineffective multivitamins.
One of the bio-active phytochemicals concentrated in spirulina is phycocyanobilin. This compound has been shown in studies like this to boost type 1 interferon response to RNA viruses, including coronaviruses and influenza.
While not specifically tested against the new virus, this research also found spirulina extract inhibited viral plaque formation, viral replication and reduced virus-induced mortality.
Spirulina is a powerful antiviral, incredibly rich in nutrition and a superfood everyone should be using daily, especially right now.
I also add a tablespoon of this vivid green, California grown and USDA organic powder to most smoothies and fresh juices I make for extra spirulina and phycocyanobilin.
11. Amla Powder for Natural Vitamin C
The antioxidant and immune enhancing properties of vitamin C are well known. It supports lymphocytes growth for increased antibodies in your blood and boost immune cells called phagocytes.
Scientists say there is no robust evidence that vitamin C can help prevent or treat the new virus. Always seek professional medical advice when dealing with possible infection.
I personally take this organic amla powder daily, not just for its very high natural vitamin C content, but even more so for its detoxifying, rejuvenating and immune system stimulating properties. Read more about the benefits of taking alma powder here.
12. Elderberry Extract as a Viral Preventative
Substances in elderberry inhibit viruses ability to infect cells. This herbal extract has also been demonstrated to reduce the duration and severity of influenza infection symptoms.
Elderberry is taken as a viral preventative, but importantly it should be discontinued if you develop symptoms like fever or an ongoing cough.
This is because scientists are concerned it may increase cytokine production. If it does then this action would only be problematic at later stages of infection.
To be extra safe though, only take elderberry preventatively. Always discuss using natural remedies with your doctor as well if on prescription drugs.
I take this sugar free organic extract each morning for viral immunity. Avoid high sugar elderberry extracts as glucose and fructose have immune suppression properties.
3 Antioxidant Supplements that Benefit Your Immune System
I much prefer to get my nutrition from superfoods as nature intended, rather than isolated chemicals that don’t always work as expected inside your body.
When discussing the new coronavirus though there are 3 special nutrients that can’t be found in significant amounts in foods, yet could be highly beneficial for increasing your immunity against viral infections.
1. N-Acetylcysteine for Inflammation and Inhibiting Viral Replication
The first is N-acetylcysteine, commonly known as NAC. This nutrient has been shown to reduce inflammation in your respiratory tract and enhance glutathione levels in your lungs.
NAC has proven effective in the treatment of influenza, where it inhibited viral replication, and is now the subject of research studies for the new virus.
N-acetylcysteine is also commonly taken to treat lung congestion in bronchitis and this study showed it reduced inflammation in patients with pneumonia.
These positive effects on other respiratory disorders are not proof that NAC would work against this virus. You should also discuss taking large doses of it with your physician if on medications.
I’ll simply share that I am personally taking 600 mg of this NAC with extra selenium and molybdenum 3 times a day before meals and feel great on it.
2. Alpha Lipoic Acid for Cellular Protection
Alpha lipoic acid, ALA for short, is a cellular coenzyme and antioxidant that protects cells against free radical oxidative damage and inflammation.
Recent research has shown its potential to raise type 1 interferon response to viral infections. It is currently the subject of scientific studies as a possible therapeutic aid for current treatments.
While still unproven, reviews on potential interventions for the novel coronavirus, as well as papers by many medical experts I’ve read, have consistently recommended ALA supplementation.
As a strong antioxidant that also helps ‘recycle’ glutathione, vitamin C, vitamin E and other antioxidants, and with few side effects, I personally see benefit in taking it daily.
Suggested daily dosage from medical literature is 1200 mg. This would be best taken in 2 divided doses of 600 mg morning and night and away from prescription medicines.
I use this highly rated ALA with added grape seed extract and bioperine for nutrient absorption. Take 1 before breakfast and 1 before dinner for best results.
3. Quercetin as an AntiViral and Anti-inflammatory
Quercetin is a powerful flavonoid found in small amounts in foods like onions, broccoli, kale, berries, apple skin and citrus fruits. It has been shown to have anti-inflammatory, antiviral, antioxidant and anti-carcinogenic properties
This research in The Journal of Virology showed quercetin had antiviral activity against previous coronaviruses. The scientists concluded: “As FDA-approved… quercetin offers great promise as a potential drug in the clinical treatment of SARS”.
The new coronavirus has a similar structure to the one that caused the original SARS outbreak. But of course, quercetin is unproven at this stage.
I personally take a capsule of this popular quercetin complex, with digestive bromelain to aid absorption, 3 times a day with main meals.
Other Immunity Supplements
Vitamin D is definitely worth taking if you are not using cod liver oil or getting natural sunlight, particularly in the colder months.
It may also be a good idea to take supplemental zinc and selenium if you can’t get Brazil nuts, or don’t feel you can increase your intake of zinc rich foods like pumpkin seeds.
This immunity superfoods list will be updated as new information comes to light. Please feel free to share it with friends and family.
Once again, please follow CDC advice and contact your local medical authorities if you experience any potential symptoms.
Wishing you good health and strong immunity as we all get through 2020.