Nutrition: Common Foods for HealthyImmunity and a Healthy Gut


Gut microbiota alterations due to unhealthy lifestyle factors and dietary triggers may contribute to inflammation, intestinal permeability, immune system dysfunction, and the pathogenesis of a broad spectrum of chronic diseases. Healthy lifestyle factors, including a diversified diet, limited consumption of processed and refined foods, and consumption of adequate dietary fiber, may all promote a healthy microbiome.

Foods and nutrients that potentially boost immune function also tend to promote gut health. For example, consuming a diverse array of fruits and vegetables rich in antioxidants, anti-inflammatory nutrients, and phytochemicals may reduce oxidative stress, support the liver to promote efficient biotransformation and detoxification, and boost overall immune system function. These same fruits and vegetables also contain soluble fibers that "feed" the commensal microbial community in the colon to optimize gut balance and health and insoluble fibers that assist in the efficient processing and elimination of waste from the intestinal tract.

Clinical Applications

Supporting a healthy microbiome is a cornerstone of Functional Medicine and essential for strengthening immune responses and improving overall health. Personalized therapeutic interventions that focus on modifiable lifestyle factors may optimize immune system function while supporting gut health. Such lifestyle modifications may include the following:

  • Therapeutic food plans
  • Multi-strain probiotic supplementation
  • Adequate sleep and sleep quality
  • Movement and exercise plans
  • Reduction of dietary triggers and toxic exposures
  • Stress management or transformation

"The microbiome helps determine the vitality of the immune system, as well as its 'set-point' for the pro-inflammatory response to infection."


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