Dissecting the XY Wellness Diet - Part 3: How Do Foods Affect Your Immune System?

The ancient Greek doctor Hippocrates told his patients, “Let medicine be your food, and food be your medicine.” We agree. A good diet is not just about providing your body with the right kind of energy at the right time and in the right amount; it’s also about preventing disease. But how does eating food prevent disease?

In one sense it is intuitive. Everything that you swallow enters your stomach, and from there, everything digestible enters your bloodstream and affects your cells. Vaccines and drugs have their effects by entering the bloodstream as well, albeit much more directly and with extreme potency. When we remember that everything besides light and heat is a chemical just the same, it should be no surprise that Hippocrates identified medicine so closely with food. They work in the same way.

There are thousands of articles that identify ways in which specific foods affect the immune system. Recent articles such as Kwak, Cho, Noh and Om (2014) rave about the probiotic and chemopreventive power of kimchi, a fermented cabbage consumed regularly in Korea. Another article just published online last week in the Journal of Medicinal Food reported that garlic extract not only stifled cancer cell growth, but also induced cell death (Bagul, Kakmanu & Wilson, 2015). In Serbia, researchers found that the minimum dose of tetracycline (a drug used to treat bacterial infections) was significantly lower when the drug was paired with thyme oil extract (Miladinovic, Ilic, Kocic, Ciric, & Nikolic, 2015). These findings only scratch the surface of contemporary research that blurs the line between medicine and food. Hippocrates would be proud.

In light of the immense body of research that confirms food’s medicinal power, we have carefully crafted the XY Wellness diet to include foods and dietary supplements that supercharge your immune system. Here are some practical recommendations:
  • Load up on foods that are rich in anti-oxidants like berries, leafy greens, almonds, green and rooibos tea, and blue-green algae.
  • Eat more mushrooms and seaweed.
  • Avoid crap and seek out natural, whole foods. (E.g., literally anything in the produce section.)
  • Make garlic and onions staple flavors in your personal cuisine, and try Kimchi if you haven’t yet. We love it. 

Putting the right foods in your body is one of nature’s most effective preventative medicines. For more information about foods that boost your immune system, take a look at the following posts from our archive:
XYW Diet Part 3: Immune System Boosting Foods
Anti-oxidants: What You Need to Know
How Can I Strengthen My Immune System?

Keep an eye out for next week’s post, which will provide the latest information on foods that promote healthy cell growth. In the meantime, fight disease with your fork.


Kwak, S.-H., Cho, Y.-M., Noh, G.-M., & Om, A.-S. (2014). Cancer Preventive Potential of Kimchi Lactic Acid Bacteria (Weissella cibaria, Lactobacillus plantarum). Journal of Cancer Prevention, 19(4), 253–258. doi:10.15430/JCP.2014.19.4.253

Bagul, M., Kakumanu, S., & Wilson, T. A. (2015). Crude Garlic Extract Inhibits Cell Proliferation and Induces Cell Cycle Arrest and Apoptosis of Cancer Cells In Vitro. J Med Food. doi: 10.1089/jmf.2014.0064

Miladinovic, D. L., Ilic, B. S., Kocic, B. D., Ciric, V. M., & Nikolic, D. M. (2015). Antibacterial Investigation of Thyme Essential Oil and Its Main Constituents in Combination with Tetracycline. J Med Food. doi: 10.1089/jmf.2014.0132