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Super Immunity by Joel Fuhrman MD (2011): What to eat and foods to avoid

Super Immunity - diet and healthy eating book by Joel Fuhrman MDSuper Immunity (2011) describes a “nutritarian” diet to help build your immune system and make you less likely to get sick or chronically sick

  • Vegan/near vegan, unprocessed foods – concentrate on green vegetables, onions, mushrooms, berries, beans, seeds
  • High nutrient density, high ANDI scores

See below on this page for a description of the food recommendations in the diet.  What to eat  |  Foods to limit or avoid  |  Autoimmune disease protocol.  There’s a lot more in the book.

Get a copy of Super Immunity for details of why this diet can help your immunity, advice on what to do for colds and flu, recipes and more

The reasoning behind Super Immunity

Dr. Furhman argues that the combination of high-nutrient intake and low-caloric intake promotes disease resistance and longevity. His health equation is Health = Nutrients/Calories. Unprocessed plant foods have a high nutrient density and should make up the majority what you eat, and processed foods have a very low nutrient density and should be avoided.

Super Immunity plan – food list

What to eat  |  Foods to limit or avoid  |  Autoimmune disease protocol

Foods to eat in Super Immunity

  • Foods with high aggregate nutrient density (ANDI) food scores
  • Vegetables
    • ½ raw and ½ cooked
    • Eat a large salad every day
    • Eat at least one large (double-size) serving of green vegetables daily, either raw, steamed, or in soups and stews
    • Vegetables with descending ANDI scores: Kale, watercress, collard greens, swiss chard, bok choy, spinach, arugula, romaine lettuce, brussels sprouts, carrots/carrot juice, cabbage, broccoli, cauliflower, red bell peppers, mushrooms, asparagus, tomatoes, leeks, onions, cucumbers, green peas
    • Cruciferous vegetables are powerful anticancer agents. The ITC compounds in these foods should be made available by chopping, chewing, blending, and juicing. Arugula, bok choy, broccoli, broccoli rabe, broccolini, brussels sprouts, cabbage, cauliflower, collard greens, horseradish, kale, kohlrabi, mustard greens, radishes, red cabbage, turnip greens, watercress
    • Sprouted vegetables
    • White, cremini, portobello, oyster, maitake, and reishi mushrooms have all been shown to have anticancer effects. Their immune-strengthening ability is further enhanced when the diet contains mushrooms, onions, and green vegetables simultanously
    • Starchy vegetables e.g. corn, peas, squashes, tomatoes
    • 30-60% of calories
  • Fruits
    • Eat at least three fresh fruits a day, especially berries, pomegranate seeds, cherries, plums, oranges
    • Fruits with descending ANDI scores: strawberries, blackberries, raspberries, blueberries, pomegranates/pomegranate juice, grapes, cantaloupe, plums, oranges, apples, bananas. Also acai berries, elderberries, goji berries
    • Fresh fruits or fresh juices
    • 10-40% of calories
  • Beans/legumes
    • Eat at least a half-cup serving of beans/legumes in soup, salad, or another dish once daily
    • Beans, e.g. black beans, kidney beans, soybeans
    • Chickpeas/garbanzos
    • Peas e.g. black-eyed peas, split peas
    • Lentils
    • Tofu, silken tofu, tempeh
    • A healthy diet should include a variety of beans, all of which have beneficial anticancer compounds, and not a disproportionate share of calories from soy
    • 10-40% of calories
  • Seeds, nuts, and avocados
    • Eat at least one ounce of raw nuts and seeds a day – can use nut/seed butters
    • Chia seeds, flax seeds, hemp seeds, sesame seeds (unhulled) / tahini, sunflower seeds
    • Almonds, cashews, coconut, peanuts, pecans, pine nuts, pistachio, walnuts
    • 10-40% of calories
  • Whole grain & potatoes
    • 20% or less of calories
    • Whole grain e.g. barley, steel-cut oats / old-fashioned oatmeal, air-popped popcorn, quinoa, wheat berries, wild rice
  • Herbs and spices
    • Herbs e.g. basil, bay leaf, cilantro, dill, marjoram, oregano, parsley, thyme
    • Spices e.g. chili powder, cinnamon, cloves, cumin, curry powder, garlic powder, no-salt Italian seasoning, nutmeg, onion powder, paprika, pepper, crushed red pepper, vanilla extract
  • Beverages
    • Water
    • Green tea
    • Unsweetened soy, hemp, or almond milk
  • Unprocessed condiments and pantry
    • Vinegars, mustards (unsweetened), Bragg Liquid Aminos, low-sodium soy sauce, low-sodium vegetable broth, low-sodium ketchup, nutritional yeast, nondairy “cheese”, agar flakes, natural nonalkalized cocoa powder
  • Most of your carbohydrate intake should come from low-GL sources such as beans, vegetables, and berries
  • Plant protein is best; soy is the most “complete”; having a diet filled with plant proteins will provide sufficient protein
  • Anti-angiogenic foods that stop the growth of body fat and cancer: vegetables in the onion family (onions, garlic, leeks, shallots, chives, scallions), all types of berries, black rice, cinnamon, citrus fruits, cruciferous vegetables, flax seeds, ginger, grapes, green tea, mushrooms, omega-3 fats, peppers, pomegranate, quince, resveratrol (from grapes and red wine), soybeans, spinach, tomatoes, turmeric
  • 70% of the immune system is located in the gastrointestinal (GI) tract, so you should protect your intestinal microflora. When you eat a micronutrient-rich, plant-based diet with plenty of raw vegetables, mushrooms, and beans, you promote the growth of good bacteria. It is not necessary to eat fermented foods such as yogurt and kefir to have beneficial bacteria in the digestive tract
  • Prefer organic foods. If you are concerned about pesticides and chemicals, keep in mind that animal products, such as dairy, fish, and beef, contain the most toxic chemical residues because of what they eat
  • Vegan vs. near-vegan – should you avoid animal products completely? Nobody knows for sure. A legitimate question is whether Dr. Fuhrman’s estimate of the 10% of calories from animal products as an upper limit is sufficiently restrictive to maximize lifespan if the diet is otherwise excellent

If you get the flu, stay home. Sip water all day, as opposed to guzzling a lot all at once. Eat as little as possible; if you’re hungry, stick to light food, mostly juicy fruits and salads. When you are ill, it is important not to overwork your body by making it digest heavy meals. Anorexia of infection (loss of appetite) is one way the body has of activating a more powerful immune response

Foods to avoid or limit with Super Immunity

  • If you are a female eating between 1,400 and 1,800 calories a day, only 150 calories a day should come from animal products and refined carbohydrates. The remainder of the food should come from natural plant foods such as green vegetables, beans, seeds, and nuts. If you are a male and eating between 1,800 and 2,400 calories a day, no more than 200 calories should be from these foods
  • Eggs
    • Eat rarely
    • Choose eggs from naturally raised, hormone-free poultry
  • Oil
    • Eat rarely
    • No oil should be considered a health food, including olive oil and nut oils
  • Fish
    • Eat rarely
    • Choose wild fish
  • Meats
    • Eat rarely
    • Choose chicken and poultry from naturally raised, hormone-free poultry
    • Choose grass-fed meats
    • Avoid barbecued/grilled/charred meat
    • Avoid processed meat, including luncheon meats, bacon, etc.
    • Avoid commercial red meat
  • Dairy
    • Limit fat-free dairy – eat rarely
    • Avoid full-fat dairy, including cheese, ice cream, butter, whole milk
  • Fats
    • Avoid fried foods
    • Avoid trans fats, including margarine
  • Salt
    • Limit to 1,000 milligrams total of sodium per day. That means not more than 200-400 mg over and above what is found in your natural foods
  • Sugars and sweeteners
    • Use dried or fresh fruit as a sweetening agent, e.g. currants, dates, dried apple, raisins
    • Avoid sugar, honey, maple syrup, any other “natural” sweeteners
    • Avoid artificial sweeteners, including corn syrup
  • Beverages
    • Coffee can be both good and bad, but its powerful addictive qualities, with the potential for withdrawal headaches and the potential to increase blood pressure, should make people cautious. If you choose to drink coffee, stick to water-processed (nonchemical) decaf
    • Avoid commercial fruit juices and fruit-juice-sweetened beverages
    • Avoid soft drinks/soda
  • Processed foods
    • Avoid heavily processed soy foods including tofu-turkey, soy burgers, soy ice cream, soy hotdogs, soy cheese, etc.
    • Avoid foods made with added sweeteners
    • Avoid foods made with white flour
    • Avoid white bread, bagels, chips, pasta, donuts, cakes, cupcakes, pancakes, croissants, cookies, breakfast bars, packaged cold cereals, pretzels
    • Avoid foods made with oils
    • Avoid condiments, premade salad dressings
    • Avoid foods made with additives, coloring agents, and preservatives
    • Avoid white rice
    • Avoid whole-grain pastry flour

Autoimmune disease protocol

  • Eat a high-nutrient vegan diet, rich in green vegetables
  • Eat blended salads and/or vegetable juices (utilizing leafy greens) to increase absorption of favorable phytochemical compounds
  • Supplement with EPA, DHA, beneficial bowel flora, natural anti-inflammatory substances (turmeric, ginger, quercetin, other bioflavonoids), multivitamin/multimineral, additional vitamin D6
  • Avoid salt and foods containing added salt
  • Avoid wheat and foods containing wheat
  • Avoid oils
  • Avoid concentrated sweet foods

Health benefits claimed in Super Immunity

The diet in this book claims to reduce the risks for: allergies, bacterial infections, bronchitis, cancer, colds, coughs flu/influenza, infections, sinus congestion, sinusitis, sore throat, upper-respiratory-tract infections, viral illnesses/viruses; also autoimmune diseases such as psoriasis, lupus, rheumatoid arthritis, connective tissue disease, inflammatory bowel disease IBD, Crohn’s disease, ulcerative colitis

As always, this is not intended to be a replacement for professional medical diagnosis or treatment for a medical condition. Consult your doctor before starting a new diet. This page describes what the authors of the diet recommend – Chewfo is describing the diet only, not endorsing it.

Get a copy of Super Immunity for details of why this diet can help your immunity, advice on what to do for colds and flu, recipes and more

Buy now from Amazon
Dr. Fuhrman’s website is http://www.drfuhrman.com/; you can also find him on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/drfuhrman, Twitter at https://twitter.com/drfuhrman, and his YouTube channel is http://www.youtube.com/drfuhrman.

How has this diet helped you? Please add a comment below.

{ 13 comments… add one }

  • Elizabeth Glynn May 21, 2014, 4:29 pm

    My cholestral went from 220 to 160 after 4 months using Dr. Fuhrman’s healthy eating suggested by Dr. Fuhrman. I am so much happier and relieved!

  • Jennifer Haseley August 17, 2014, 11:15 am

    I first saw Dr Fuhrman in the movie, “Fat, Sick, & Nearly Dead”, then I read his books, “Eat to Live” and “Super Immunity”. I started by green juicing, then follwed eat to live for the past 2.5 years. I have lost 152 pounds, cut my blood pressure meds down by 75%, and no longer walk with a cane. Now my husband is also eating to live, and has lost 75 pounds so far..

    • Penny Hammond August 17, 2014, 9:13 pm

      That’s great! I hope you both stay healthy.

  • Laurie Bradbury December 20, 2014, 10:09 am


    • Penny Hammond December 26, 2014, 1:35 pm

      Dr. Fuhrman doesn’t mention stevia in this book, and there’s no mention on his website or in the End of Diabetes book. In Eat to Live, he mentions stevia and says it can be labeled natural, but it appears he says that all low-calorie/no-calorie sweeteners (presumably including stevia) should be avoided, as “users of no-calorie sweeteners just seek more sweets to satisfy the body’s cravings, and that noncaloric sweeteners signal the body that sugar is on the way and stimulate the pancreas to secrete insulin, which is not favorable.” (p.311) For sweetness, he recommends that fresh fruit and occasionally a little date sugar or ground dates are the safest way to go. He recommends dropping colas, sodas, sweetened teas, and juices.

      Then there’s the separate question of coffee… he considers it a highly addictive drug, which reduces the depth of sleep and makes you think you’re hungry. He doesn’t think you should rely on coffee to protect against diabetes or cancer.
      And it looks like if you do decide to drink it in limited amounts, it should probably be unsweetened…

      Good luck,

  • Yusuf November 15, 2015, 3:59 pm

    My g.f is diagnosed with SLE 3 months back plz tell me which diet to follow and which book to buy, eat to live or super immunity???

    • Penny Hammond November 18, 2015, 8:21 pm

      Eat to Live lists lupus 5 times; Super Immunity mentions it 15 times. Super Immunity is also the more recent book. Just from those two pieces of information, Super Immunity may be more relevant.

  • Peggy Vetter May 25, 2016, 6:53 am

    I’m confused. I thought one was to eat 100 percent whole wheat but then I read to avoid wheat. Suppose to avoid white flour products as well. So what kind of bread are we to eat?

    • Penny Hammond May 30, 2016, 3:09 pm

      The book only says to avoid wheat if you have an auto-immune disease.
      If you don’t have an auto-immune disease, you can eat whole wheat.
      If you do have an auto-immune disease, you should look for a whole grain gluten-free bread.

  • bill day June 2, 2016, 7:56 pm

    Please email “The 10 Best Foods for Longevity”
    Bill Day

    • Penny Hammond June 3, 2016, 12:58 pm

      Hi Bill,
      I don’t see any reference to that in the book.
      However, I did a search and found this article by Dr Fuhrman: The 10 Best Foods for Longevity. You can click on the link to see the article.

  • Christine Ardita May 3, 2017, 9:30 pm

    If I have CFS and related gut bacteria imbalance, and I am already taking Dr. Fuhrman’s probiotic, should I include any other prebiotic foods? (Kefir, Kimchi, ?) Also, raw vegetables seem to aggravate the condition, what then?

    • Penny Hammond June 20, 2017, 7:22 pm

      In this book, Dr. Fuhrman says “A healthy diet with plenty of raw vegetables, mushrooms, and beans, in the absence of antibiotics, will provide enough of the favorable bacteria in your gut to you keep you healthy and functioning at your highest levels. It is not necessary to eat fermented foods such as yogurt and kefir to have beneficial bacteria in the digestive tract” (p.153)
      If you can’t handle raw veggies right now, stick with cooked (as lightly as you can take them), and make sure you’re including greens if you can tolerate them.

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