Never Get Sick – The Secret to Super Immunity



“Let food be thy medicine and medicine be thy food.” — Hippocrates

What if you could never get sick?

Or, what if you could radically reduce the frequency you get sick, or how much you get sick?

“No shots, no drugs, no sick days” … that’s the tag line in Dr. Joel Fuhrman’s book, Super Immunity.

Imagine what you could save in terms of either sick days, or medicine, or healthcare costs, or maybe even your life.

The Practice of Nutritional Competence

The big idea in  Super Immunity is that you can control and influence how much you get sick by controlling your nutritional competence and practicing nutritional excellence.

What inspires me about the idea is my own little story.

I had a habit of getting sick each Fall, without fail, until I removed a couple things from my diet, added a few things, and then didn’t get sick for years.

Dr. Fuhrman’s Kids Don’t Get Sick

Dr. Furhman is already impressive but I like what he’s been able to do for his kids.  He doesn’t give them the flu shot.

He gives them nutritional competence.

Via Super Immunity:

“I prefer to feed my children in a manner that protects them against all diseases and simply allow their healthy immune system to deal with the flue, should they get it. 

My four children, who now range in age from ten to twenty-four, almost never have been sick for more than a few days in their whole lives, never had an ear infection or needed an antibiotic, and never, to my recollection, ever got the flue. 

Maybe good nutrition had something to do with it.”

The 4 Factors That Determine Whether You Get Sick

According to Dr. Fuhrman, there are 4 factors that determine whether you get sick and to what extent.

The 4 factors that determine if you get sick and to what extent are:

  1. The size of the inoculum.  In other words, how much of the virus or bacterium was present in the exposure?
  2. The virulence of the exposure.  How powerful is a disease-causing agent was that microbe?
  3. The immune-response of the host.  Was there an opportunity for the host’s immune memory to that microbe (or a similar microbe) to facilitate a rapid and potentially protective immune response; could the immune system quickly remove the virus before it replicate itself in large numbers?
  4. The nutritional status and health of the host.  Was the host’s immune-competency compromised, or could the immune system react to its full potential in inhibiting and eventually subduing the viral invasion of normal cells?

What We Control and What We Don’t

When it comes to getting sick, there some of the risk factors are beyond our control.

But others aren’t.

The most important thing we control is our Comprehensive Nutritional Adequacy.  Basically, it’s a measure of the presence of micronutrients in our body.

Dr. Fuhrman writes:

”For the most part, we don’t have the opportunity to modify these risk factors substantially, though with hand washing and other proper hygienic measures, such as not touching our own face without washing first, we can diminish some of the exposure risks. 

However, there is one major factor well within our control that can alter the equation.  That is, we can maintain comprehensive nutritional adequacy (CNA). 

Comprehensive nutritional adequacy means that a sufficient amount and variety of all known and unknown micronutrients are present. 

Very few of us currently have CNA because our present dietary model contains too many processed food that are micronutrient-barren.  For most of us to achieve CNA, we need to change our diet and begin to eat all of the immune-supporting nutrients available to us.”

Are You Nutritionally Competent?

Nutritional incompetence can be our downfall.  Science says we can rise above sickness through “nutritional competence”.

Dr. Fuhrman writes:

“Think about what I’m saying: a viral exposure that would cause a serious or even life-threatening infection in a person eating the conventional diet would not even result in symptoms of illness in a nutritionally competent person. 

Let’s stop here for a moment and revisit the implications of this.  We now have scientific evidence that clearly demonstrates the dangers of nutritional incompetency

And yet far too many of us still aren’t aware of the essential nutritional factors that support and sustain our everyday health.  Together, we can change this.”

Nutritional Excellence is Our Most Effective Defense

The big idea is that with nutritional excellence, we can both reduce our changes of getting sick, and we can reduce the impact if we do get sick.

Here is how Dr. Fuhrman puts it for us:

  1. The nutritional status of the host is critical in permitting or preventing viral and bacterial infections.
  2. Nutritional inadequacies in the host allow the modification of viruses into more virulent or dangerous forms.

Dr. Fuhrman writes:

“The concept that powerful and competent host defenses are enabled by nutritional excellence is not just an opinion or observation; it is the reality of human physiology supported by hundreds of scientific studies. 

When the body is deprived of nutrients, viral infections can cause serious, even fatal diseases that don’t occur when deficiency is not present. 

Immunity, when optimized, can ward off infection; and if infection does occur, it is much more likely to have a harmless outcome.”

A Healthy Body is Highly Resistant to Viral Attack

We can build up our defenses.   And, it actually works.

Dr. Fuhrman writes:

“We often hear comments such as ‘The virus attached his heart’ or ‘She had a virally induced cancer,’ and yet we rarely consider or address the issue that enabled the virulence of that virus. 

We aren’t just targets waiting to be attacked; in fact, a healthy body is highly resistant to viral attack. 

It has already been demonstrated that when children eat more vegetables, they have fewer infections.”

The Secret to Super Immunity is Super Nutrition

As you’ve heard before, we are what we eat.

Dr. Fuhrman writes:

“Superior nutrition is the secret to Super Immunity, and it’s relatively simple… When studying the survival potential of animals and humans, we must realize that we are dependent on the health and quality of the food grown from the earth to sustain us:

the health of the food we eat ultimately determines our own health

When we eat healthy food, we become healthy; when we don’t, we develop disease.  Essentially, we are made from the food we eat.  As it is commonly said, we are what we eat.”

Combining is More Effective

If we want the most effective results, and to develop our Super Immunity, we need to combine compounds.  Berries alone don’t do it.  Greens don’t do it.  Neither do mushrooms or onions in isolation.

It’s the combinations that count.

Dr. Fuhrman writes:

“The great news for all of us it that the recent advancements in nutritional science have created an opportunity to earn great health via what we eat. 

And, as you will discover, it is not only the powerful compounds in foods such as berries and pomegranates that are so protective, but these compounds–when combined with those found in green vegetables, mushrooms, and onions in the diet,–fuel the miraculous self-healing and self-protective properties already built into the human genome, together resulting in Super Immunity.

A combination of these compounds is more effective than a single agent, even in a high dose.  For example, taking a large dose of vitamin C or vitamin E is not very effective, especially if no deficiency existed prior to dosing. 

Likewise, although certain phytochemical compounds have more profound, long-acting and powerful free-radical-scavenging effect than do known antioxidant vitamins such as C and E, supplementing with a hefty dose of a natural phytochemical extracted from a green vegetable would not offer as much protection as combining it with the hundreds of other beneficial compounds found in nutrient-rich foods. 

Acting cooperatively, these newly identified micronutrients work together to fuel an assortment of mechanisms that both prevent cell damage and also kill heavily damaged cells that cannot be adequately repaired, before they become dangerous to the body.”

Phytochemicals are the Most Important Discovery in Nutrition Over the Last 50 Years

Phytochemicals give us new insight into how to build our immune defenses.

Dr. Fuhrman writes:

“A phytochemicals deficient diet is largely responsible for a weak immune system.  Populations with a much higher intake of vegetables have much lower rates of cancer, and the longest-living populations throughout history have been those with the highest intake of vegetables in the diet.

I would go so far as to say that phytochemicals are the most important discovery in human nutrition over the last fifty years. 

Several hundred phytochemical plant nutrients have been identified and about 150 have been studied in detail, though there may be more than a thousand plant-derived molecules that support human immune defenses. 

The concentration of phytochemicals is often highlighted by vibrant colors of black, blue, red, green, and orange.  The classes of phytochemicals contain widely varied structures and unique health benefits, which is why a broad variety is most beneficial.”

The Protective Roles of Phytochemicals

Phytochemicals are a powerful way to catalyze your immune system.

Via Super Immunity:

  • Inducing detoxification enzymes
  • Controlling the production of free radicals
  • Deactivating and detoxifying cancer-causing agents
  • Protecting cell structures from damage by toxins
  • Fueling mechanisms to repair damaged DNA sequences
  • Impeding the replication of cells with DNA damage
  • Inducing the beneficial antifungal, antibacterial, and antiviral effects
  • Inhibiting the function of damaged or genetically altered DNA
  • Improving immune cells’ cytoxic (destructive) power–that is, the power to kill microbes and cancer cells

We Weaken Our Immune System When We Lack Micronutrients

Fat is not the enemy.   In fact, fat can actually help the absorption of micronutrients.  It’s the lack of micronutrients in our system that hurts our immune system.

Dr. Fuhrman writes:

“Many people see fat as the villian and mistakenly ignore the impact of protective micronutrients.  They might be surprised to discover that nutritionists have recently learned that when there is fat present in the meal, the most powerful micronutrients found in vegetables are absorbed more readily into the body. 

In other words, fat itself is not the villain.

The point here is that when our body is deficient in plant-derived micronutrients, we weaken our immune system and leave ourselves exposed to infections and cancer. 

The way we’re going–eating more processed and packaged convenience foods and routinely giving fast good to children–I worry especially about the potential spike in breast cancer rates in younger women in the next twenty to thirty years (or sooner.)”

Green Vegetables Win the Race

So what helps the most when it comes to giving our immune system a boost?

It’s green vegetables.

For some of us, green vegetables may be our arch enemy, but science says green vegetables help our immune systems fight the good fight.

Dr. Fuhrman writes:

“Nutritional scientists have shown over and over that people who eat more natural plant foods–vegetables, fruits, legumes–are less likely to get sick. 

But are all vegetables equally protective? 

If we wanted to design a Super Immunity diet, we would want to know which foods had the most powerful effects.  Then we could eat plenty of these foods each day, flooding our bodies with the protective substances contained within them.

when it comes to immune system-building micronutrients, green vegetables win the race.  No wonder those are the foods most closely linked with protection against heart disease and cancer. 

A review of more than 206 epidemiological studies shows that the consumption of raw green vegetables has the most consistent and powerful association with reduction of cancer of all types, including stomach, pancreas, colon, and breast. 

How many green vegetables do you eat a day?”

You Can Test Your Vegetable Consumption with a Blood Test

Scientists can actually assess our vegetable consumption with a blood test for alpha-carotene.

Apparently, alpha-carotene is a great marker of our high-nutrient vegetable intake.

Dr. Fuhrman writes:

“Because vegetables are so rich in these beneficial compounds, vegetable consumption, especially green vegetable consumption, is an easy way to measure the total antioxidant capacity of a diet.

One way scientists can assess our vegetable consumption is with a blood test for alpha-carotene

Beta-carotene, high in carrots and other orange vegetables, is the most widely studied carotenoid, but alpha-carotene more accurately reflects vegetable intake–first because alpha-carotene is not present in most multivitamins and supplements, and second because it is an excellent market of high-nutrient vegetable intake (given that dark green and orange-colored vegetables are the richest sources of alpha-carotene). 

Alpha-carotene is one of over forty carotenoids, a family of antioxidants with documented disease-protective and lifespan-promoting benefits.”

Low in Green and Yellow Vegetables Leads to Trouble

When we’re low in green and yellow vegetables, we’re in trouble.  When we have a low consumption, viruses can do more damage.

Dr. Fuhrman writes:

“If you are deficient in virtually any known vitamin or mineral, research has shown that your defense functions can be negatively affected. 

Most notably, it has been demonstrated that when diets are low in consumption of green and yellow vegetables (rich in carotenoids), viral illnesses take a more serious form

Multiple micronutrients, including lutein, lycopene, folate, bioflavonoids, riboflavin, zinc, selenium, and many others have immune-modulating functions.  We will learn much more about these later. 

But what it comes down to is this: their presence or absence strengthens or weakens the ability of the immune system, influencing our susceptibility to infectious diseases and the course and outcome of such diseases.”

A Nutritarian Diet is Your Best Defense

It’s probably no surprise that where there is an abundance of sickness, there is a lack of nutrition.   But the key point is that nutrition can help limit the success and impact of viral diseases.

Dr. Fuhrman writes:

“The ability of the nutritionally competent immune system to prevent viral genetic mutations that would allow the virus to evade the host’s defenses has been recognized in varying investigations, even those studying HIV (human immunodeficiency virus.)  Micronutrient deficiencies are prevalent in many HIV-infected populations, and numerous studies have reported these deficiencies impair immune responses and are associated with accelerated HIV disease progression.”

“More recently, research has shown that the influenza virus also exhibits increases virulence in a nutritionally deficient host, allowing multiple changes in the viral genome.  In other words, your everyday flu can mutate and become able to cause more serious damage to the lungs and other parts of the body. 

Although it has been known for many years that poor nutrition can affect host response to infection, the finding that host nutrition also affects the genetic sequence of a pathogen (a disease causing microbe) is recent–an important finding for us now and as a field of future investigation.”

“As the data suggests, a nutritarian diet is an effective intervention for viral disease, such as HIV, mononucleosis, herpes, and influenza, because viral mutations will be suppressed, limiting disease-causing potential and virulence.”

Food can be your best medicine, and your best prevention.  But not just any food.  It’s about nutritional density and the right combinations.

Practicing nutritional competence, just might be your best defense in the fight against the flue and other viral illnesses, and more.

Maybe nutritional excellence might just be what the doctor ordered to never get sick.

Check out Dr. Joel Fuhrman’s book, Super Immunity

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  1. Yes, eat more vegetables and fruits. But when you check into his diet you really really have to love beans—yuk!

    • The good news is that beans is a really broad bucket with a wide variety.

      At the end of the day, I think a lot of it comes down to squeezing out the bad stuff, with higher nutritional dense good stuff. And, just like working out, the trick is to figure out what works for you through experiments to find what you like, don’t like, and what actually works.

      Effectiveness is the ultimate test.

  2. Love the review, JD and the concept of “nutritional competence” You know, when I was born, the number of vaccines were far less than what is available today. People bring sickness upon themselves with their lifestyles most of the time.

    That food is the cure has been proven over and over by our ancestors. My Grandma passed away peacefully at 87 – in her sleep. She was fine and mentally alert. And so were a whole lot of people in her generation.

    Big case for home remedies from the kitchen! 😀 Would love to read this book! Thanks for introducing it!

    • Well put — so many remedies can be brewed right at home in our own kitchens.

      I think people give up their power when they don’t own their health. I think it’s easy to delegate our health to other people and depend on “experts.”

      Along those same lines, I remember Tony Robbins making a comment that he regretted delegating his personal finances to other people early on and paid a big price. He switched his philosophy to owning his personal finances and learning all about them. Only after that did he delegate, once he really understood what he was leaving up to other people.

      Knowledge is power, and what we don’t know (or leave up to other people) can hurt us.

  3. I think we can never have a life without sickness but we can have a life strong enough to limit sickness.

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