- There are no individual foods that can affect immune function on their own. A well balanced, nutritious diet high in fiber, fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and legumes is important for a healthy immune system
- t is always preferable to get our nutrients from whole foods, but if a supplement is necessary, including a greens powder as part of a nutritious diet may contribute to healthy immune function
- The potential for any supplement to provide benefit is highly dependent on its quality. Always opt for a high-quality product
Our immune system plays a vital role in our health by protecting the body from harmful substances, germs, and cell changes that could make us sick. It is our body’s defense against illness.
When your immune system is running smoothly, you won’t even notice it’s there – working away in the background. But when it is weak or encounters germs that it can’t easily eliminate, that’s when we get sick.
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Importance Of Healthy Immune Function
Our immune system protects us by:
- fighting disease-causing germs like bacteria, viruses, parasites, or fungi
- recognizing and neutralizing harmful substances from the environment
- fighting disease-causing changes within the body, such as cancer cells
Which is why it is so important to keep it working efficiently.
If our immune system is weak, our body can less protect us from infection and we are more likely to get sick.
Some signs of a weakened immune system include:
- Frequent colds
- Frequent infections
- Constant fatigue
- Digestive issues such as diarrhea, gas and bloating, cramping
- Slow wound healing
There are several factors that contribute to a healthy immune system.
Managing our stress levels, getting adequate sleep, maintaining good hygiene, reducing exposure to environmental toxins, and moving our bodies regularly are all important for healthy immune function, as indeed is our diet.
Diet And Immune Function
Getting enough nutrients from our diet is essential for the health and function of all cells in the body, including immune cells.
Each stage of the body’s immune response relies on the presence of many micronutrients. Some nutrients that have been found to be critical for the growth and function of immune cells include:
A deficiency or insufficiency in any of these nutrients can negatively affect our immune function.
Our nutrition contributes significantly to our immune health because what we eat can affect our gut microbiome, gut barrier function, inflammatory processes, and white blood cell function, all of which impact immune function. (Source)
There are no specific, individual foods that can offer any special protection to our immune system, it is our overall dietary pattern that matters.
Diets that are lower in nutrients and lack variety can cause disturbances in the balance of bacteria in the gut, reducing healthy bacteria and encouraging the growth of harmful bacteria. This can lead to chronic inflammation of the gut, which in turn can cause suppressed immunity. (Source)
This includes diets such as the Western diet, which consists mainly of ultra-processed foods and is high in saturated fat, added sugar, and salt, and low in fruits, vegetables, and whole foods.
Nutrient deficiencies may also be more common in those consuming this type of diet.
On the other hand, a high-fiber, plant-rich diet with plenty of fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and legumes have been shown to promote healthy immune function. (Source)
Green Powders And Immune Function
Including a variety of fruit and vegetables in our diet is key to maintaining a strong immune system. This is because fruit and veg contain the nutrients our immune system needs to function properly.
The best way to get the nutrients we need in our diet is to consume whole foods. When we eat whole foods, we’re consuming a huge range of nutrients – vitamins, minerals, enzymes, fiber, and proteins – that work synergistically in our bodies in to provide their benefits.
However, in our modern, busy lives, it can be hard to get an adequate amount of fruit and veg in every day. This is why some people opt for dietary supplements, such as greens powders.
While they cannot substitute the nourishment we get from a well-balanced diet, supplements can be helpful for further increasing nutrient intake or bridging nutritional gaps.
Green Powders And Their Benefits
Green powders are nutritional supplements that consist of dried, powdered forms of a number of greens.
These can include leafy greens such as spinach and kale, grasses like barley grass and wheatgrass, and algae such as spirulina and chlorella. They may also include herbal extracts, fiber, probiotics, and digestive enzymes.
Due to their nutrient-dense ingredient list, green powders are thought to impart various health benefits.
Research suggests that green powders may:
- Increase the nutrient density of the diet
- Improve energy levels (Source)
- Reduce blood pressure (Source)
- Reduce oxidative damage (Source)
And may potentially contribute to a healthier immune system. (Source)
Effect Of Green Powders On Immune Function
Although research into the effect of green powders on immune function is limited, there is evidence to suggest that fruit and vegetable powders may contribute to a healthy immune system.
Another study investigating the effects of fruit and vegetable supplements on immune function found that immunity and antioxidant capacity was enhanced. (Source)
This is in line with research that concluded that using multi-nutrient supplements that contain optimum amounts of essential vitamins and minerals is likely to result in an enhanced immune response and a reduction in common infections. (Source)
I have taken Human Tonik Super Green for almost 2 months now. I sleep deep, have been through Flu/Cold bugs in my house which missed me. Energy Level is higher, which has motivated me to be more active.
Doug Morash, USA (February 2023)
Ingredients That May Contribute To Immune Function
Although individual foods cannot affect immune health by themselves, and it is the variety of nutrients that we get from including a range of foods in our diet and the way these nutrients work together that contributes to a healthy immune system, some foods are particularly dense in certain nutrients that have been seen to play a significant role in immune function.
A selection of ingredients commonly found in greens supplements that may have particular significance when it comes to healthy immune function include:
Kale And Spinach
Kale is a cruciferous vegetable and is a good source of vitamin A, vitamin C, vitamin K, and copper.
Spinach is another leafy green vegetable and is high in vitamin A, vitamin C, vitamin, selenium, and folate.
Both kale and spinach are high in vitamin A and vitamin C, which are well known to play critical roles in enhancing immune function, as is selenium which is found in spinach.
Kale and spinach also contain high amounts of carotenoids, which are phytochemicals with high anti-inflammatory and antioxidant effects that enhance immune cell function. (Source)
Spirulina And Chlorella
Spirulina and chlorella are two highly nutritious forms of algae, a kind of microscopic seaweed. They are rich in proteins, iron, folate, and vitamin B12, nutrients which are not generally present in plant-based foods.
Spirulina contains all essential amino acids and is a rich source of vitamins, minerals, pigments, chlorophyll, and essential fatty acids, as is similar in the case of chlorella.
A study investigating the effect of 90-day supplementation of vitamins and minerals alongside spirulina, chlorella, and other plant extracts, laminaria, and echinacea, found a significant reduction in the incidence of acute respiratory infections. (Source)
Moringa is a plant native to the tropical forests of India and is commonly used for its medicinal properties.
Moringa leaves are known as a very rich source of protein, amino acids, vitamin C, calcium, iron, and antioxidants such as carotenoids, flavonoids, and phenol. (Source)
Research suggests that moringa can eliminate pathogens, including bacteria, fungi, viruses, and parasites, and inhibit chronic inflammation.
Moringa has also been seen to attenuate physical and chemical irritation-induced immune disorders, such as metal intoxication, drug side effects, or even the adverse effect of food additives. Autoimmune diseases, like rheumatoid arthritis, atopic dermatitis, and multiple sclerosis, may also be inhibited by Moringa. (Source)
Barley grass is the leaf of the barley plant. It contains high amounts of vitamin A and vitamin C, which are essential for healthy immune function, as well as being rich in polyphenols and flavonoids. These antioxidants reduce inflammation and regulate the immune response. (Source)
Dried barley grass, in particular, is a great source of fiber. Fiber is important for gut health and good gut health goes hand in hand with a healthy immune system.
The presence of these nutrients in barley grass likely contributes to its immune-enhancing effects. (Source)
The health benefits of garlic have been proclaimed for centuries. Garlic contains high levels of potassium, phosphorus, zinc, and sulfur, moderate levels of selenium, calcium, magnesium, manganese, and iron, as well as bioactive compounds such as polyphenols and flavonoids. (Source)
Garlic has anti-inflammatory properties and has been seen to improve immune system functions. (Source)
Olive leaf extract comes from the leaves of the olive tree. Its active compound oleuropein, a polyphenol, is a potent antioxidant and has been seen to have anti-tumor and anti-inflammatory properties. (Source)
Oleuropein also possesses antimicrobial properties, showing beneficial effects in the treatment of human intestinal or respiratory tract infections. (Source)
And exhibits antiviral activity – seen in its efficacy against hepatitis B virus (HBV) and human immunodeficiency virus (HIV). (Source)
Take a look at the other Olive leaf extract benefits here.
Choosing A Greens Supplement
It is important to highlight that the potential for a greens supplement to provide benefits is highly dependent on its quality.
Many greens supplements out there are low-grade, contain questionable ingredients, are unlikely to provide any benefit, and may even be dangerous.
At the same time, there are many good quality options too.
Here are some things to keep an eye out for to ensure you’re opting for a safe and worthwhile powder.
“Getting my daily energy dose from SuperGreen Tonik”
I’m getting my daily energy dose from SuperGreen Tonik and It helped me improve my sleep/ recovery. it’s simply delicious!
Max Filippov, USA (February 2023)
One of the most important factors to consider when choosing a supplement is whether the product is transparent with its ingredients and dosages.
By choosing a product that clearly displays each ingredient and its quantity, you know exactly what you are getting with each serving.
This may seem obvious – but some manufacturers are very crafty at concealing their ingredients. A lot of supplement companies mask the ingredients in their powder and the quantities of ingredients by labeling their products as proprietary blends. This makes it very hard for the consumer to decipher what exactly is in the product.
Avoid proprietary blends.
Steer clear of products that contain high amounts of added sugars or filling agents.
Some brands may include added sugars to their powders to make them more palatable. If you’re avoiding added sugar for any reason, such as monitoring your blood sugar, opt for a product that uses a natural sweetener such as stevia or monk fruit instead.
There are also manufacturers that add filling agents to their products to bulk them up, without providing any nutritional benefit – another reason to always choose a product that lists all of its ingredients.
Products that are third-party tested are likely to be safer.
A major concern with greens powder supplements is their potential to contain heavy metals. A greens powder that is third-party tested is sent to an outside organization that tests it to ensure it contains what the label says and does not contain unsafe amounts of heavy metals or other contaminants.
Look for third-party certifications from the National Sanitation Foundation (NSF), United States Pharmacopeia (USP), Eurofins, and ConsumerLab.
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Human Tonik’s Supergreen Tonik meets the criteria when it comes to transparency of formula – never relying on proprietary blends and providing a clear ingredients list with dosages so you know exactly what you’re getting with each serving.
The Supergreen Tonik is also third-party tested and doesn’t contain any fillers.
When it comes to supporting immune function, the Supergreen Tonik contains all of the immune-supportive ingredients discussed in this article and has a strong micronutrient profile, including all the vitamins and minerals that are essential to immune function.
We often don’t appreciate the importance of our immune system until we get sick. From fighting off colds and flu to destroying cancer cells – our health depends on our immune function.
So it’s important we support it as best we can.
What we put into our body through our diet has a huge effect on our immune function. Our immune system needs a nutritious well-balanced diet in order to work at its best.
Whole foods are always the best way to feed our bodies the nutrients they need, but sometimes when getting the recommended amounts of certain nutrients can be challenging, a supplement can be helpful.
High-quality greens powders like the Supergreen Tonik provide a high dose of a wide range of vitamins and minerals that contribute to healthy immune function, as well as other plant-derived immune-supportive ingredients.
While diet is a very important contributing factor to immune health, it is not the be-all and end-all.
Some other habits that play an important part in supporting the immune system are:
- Getting enough sleep
- Managing stress
- Taking part in regular physical activity
- Maintaining good hygiene
- Limiting alcohol intake
- Avoiding smoking
Lucy Brennan is a registered associate nutritionist (ANutr) and freelance writer specializing in health, nutrition and wellness content. She holds a BSc. (First Class Hons) in Public Health Nutrition and has over 4 years’ experience working in health communication, which is where her passion lies.
She has worked in roles with The Irish Food Board and FleishmanHillard PR, on their healthcare team, working with national and international health companies. Using this experience, Lucy now writes content in a freelance capacity. Lucy is dedicated to providing evidence-based content that is both engaging and accessible and inspires readers to make informed choices regarding their health.