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Fighting Infections with Nutrition: Integrative Approaches for Clinicians and Patients

The immune system is a complex network of cells, tissues, and organs that collectively defend the body against pathogens, including bacteria, viruses, and fungi.  

The efficiency of this system is not just reliant on genetics or the absence of disease— it’s also dependent on a well-rounded, nutritious diet.   

Nutrients are pivotal in maintaining immune homeostasis and enhancing the body’s ability to fight infections.  

However, modern diets often lack essential nutrients due to processed food and poor eating habits, leading to deficiencies that compromise immune function.  

In this blog, we’ll explore the impact of nutrients on immune health and preventing infection, dietary strategies that support a robust immune system, and targeted diagnostic testing that can identify and help address gaps in your nutritional intake.  

Table of Contents

Nutritional Foundations for Immune Support 

nutrition and immune support

The inflammatory mechanisms that compose innate immunity are strongly influenced by nutrition, and when stimulated, can profoundly impact disease development.  

The immune system can destroy antigens through both innate and adaptive immune cells and antibodies specific to each foreign invader. 

However, when deficient in critical nutrients, your immune response is impaired, making you more vulnerable to infection.1  

Nutrients are necessary for various survival mechanisms in the body, including cell proliferation, specialization, tissue and organ growth development, energy supply, and the immune defense function.1  

Both macronutrients and micronutrients serve essential roles. 

Macronutrients: The Backbone of Immunity


The building blocks of our diet—proteins, fats, and carbohydrates—are necessary for a properly functioning immune system. 

Proteins, composed of amino acids, are crucial for the growth and repair of immune cells.   

Fats, particularly omega-3 fatty acids found in fish oil, flaxseeds, and walnuts, are essential for reducing inflammation, which is crucial when resolving immune responses to acute infection.   

Carbohydrates, especially complex varieties from whole grains, fruits, and vegetables, provide the energy immune cells need to function effectively.  

These macronutrients fuel the immune system and help in the synthesis and activity of immune cells and antibodies. 

The Specialized Role of Micronutrients


While macronutrients build a foundation, micronutrients fine-tune immune responses. 

Micronutrients are responsible for many vital bodily processes, including: 

  • Immune defense  
  • Energy production  
  • Hemoglobin synthesis  
  • Maintenance of bone health  
  • Protection against oxidative stress and cellular damage  

Vitamins and minerals such as vitamin C, vitamin D, zinc, and selenium are pivotal in supporting the immune system’s ability to combat infections. 

Inadequate micronutrient levels can increase the risk of diseases like cancer, diabetes, and heart disease. 

Micronutrients like vitamins A, B6, B12, C, D, E, and folate, as well as trace elements like zinc, selenium, copper, and magnesium, support each component of the immune system.  

This means that deficiency in various micronutrients could increase the chance of contracting an infectious disease.  

Regarding innate immunity, micronutrients help maintain our physical barriers' structural and functional integrity, including that of the skin and mucus membranes.    

They also support the activity of antimicrobial proteins and chemotaxis of innate cells—the first line of the immune system’s defense in which cells move toward a site of infection or inflammation.2 

Certain vitamin and mineral deficiencies also affect adaptive immunity, specifically the humoral response (antibody-mediated) and cell-mediated immunity.    

Finally, micronutrients also combat inflammation by fighting oxidative stress, neutralizing free radicals, and inhibiting the production of inflammatory substances like cytokines.   

This further bolsters the immune system, helping protect against infection.  

Diagnostic Tools for Assessing Nutrient Status



Precision testing like the Vibrant Micronutrient Panel is the most effective way to ensure you’re getting sufficient nutrients to support immunity and overall health. 

The Micronutrient Panel detects direct levels of extra- and intracellular micronutrients providing insight on absorption at the gastrointestinal barrier and cellular membrane. 

The panel detects precise levels of:   

  • Vitamins  
  • Minerals  
  • Co-factors  
  • Amino acids 
  • Metabolites  
  • Antioxidants 
  • And essential fatty acids 

The Micronutrient Panel can help uncover nutrient-related health issues and guide personalized nutrition and supplementation plans, ensuring you get the correct amount of nutrients for your body and achieve optimal functioning.  

Integrative Nutritional Strategies to Fight Infection

To help ward off infection and bolster immunity, you can implement strategic strategies to enhance your nutrition.  

Dietary Approaches 

mediterranean diet

Targeted dietary approaches play a pivotal role in boosting immune function. Among the most beneficial is the Mediterranean diet, which emphasizes fruits, vegetables, whole grains, nuts, seeds, olive oil, and moderate amounts of fish and poultry.  

This diet is rich in nutrients that enhance immune health, including antioxidants and healthy fats that help reduce inflammation—a key factor in immune responses.  

Another effective dietary strategy is the anti-inflammatory diet, which focuses on foods that reduce inflammatory markers in the body. This includes a high intake of anti-inflammatory foods like turmeric, green leafy vegetables, and berries while avoiding processed foods, red meat, and sugars that can exacerbate inflammation and hinder immune function. 

To optimize your nutrition with advanced wellness techniques, listen to our recent podcast episode: 

Exploring the Confluence of Nutrition and Well-Being with Carly Pollack 

Supplementation for Enhanced Immunity

While a balanced diet is the cornerstone of good health, supplementation can enhance immune function, especially when nutrient deficiencies exist.  

Supplements such as vitamin C, vitamin D, zinc, and omega-3 fatty acids can bolster the immune system, particularly during times when dietary intake don’t meet all nutritional needs.  

However, the body maintains a delicate balance of nutrients. Thus, when supplementing, it's vital for your intake to match your needs to avoid potential toxicity and negative interactions with medications. 

Consult with your provider and consider micronutrient testing to determine your precise nutrient and supplement needs.

Nutrition, Immunity, & Longevity

nutrition and longevity

What we eat does more than fill our stomachs—it fortifies our body's defenses against pathogens. 

By adopting dietary practices that boost immune function and utilizing tools like precision testing to monitor nutrient status, we can enhance our body's ability to ward off and recover from illnesses.  

This not only strengthens immediate immune responses but also contributes to long-term health and longevity.  

Thus, investing in nutritional health is an investment in a longer, more vibrant life. Every meal can be a step toward sustained well-being, longevity, and resilience against diseases. 

Additional Reading: 

Want to gain a deeper understanding of the essential role of nutrients in health and longevity? 

Read these next: 

Nutrient Bioavailability: Optimizing Supplements for Absorption 

The Connection Between Nutrients and Longevity 

The Gut Barrier’s Role in Micronutrient Absorption  



  1. Munteanu C, Schwartz B. The relationship between nutrition and the immune system. Front Nutr. 2022;9. doi:10.3389/fnut.2022.1082500