Immune boosting foods

This winter people are keen to stay healthy: People are lining up for their flu jab like never before (trust me, I administer them!); vitamins are flying off the supermarket shelves; and online searches for immune boosting foods have surged around the globe. These elements alone will not magically protect you from all manner of winter bugs, or indeed COVID-19, yet, collectively they will support your immune system - your best defence against any unwanted bug invasion!

Foods that support your immune system include:

  • Citrus: eating an orange a day provides our body with a whole day’s worth of vitamin C, and it is slightly more filling then eating a few chewable vitamin C tablets. Eating the actual orange provides you with the added benefit of fibre. There is more citrus out there waiting to be devoured: mandarins are not just for kids lunchboxes; limes offer a fresh flavour addition to Mexican dishes; and is it even winter if you don’t sit back with a hot lemon and honey drink?
  • Berries and kiwifruit also provide vitamin C to your snack repertoire. Mix them with some Greek yoghurt, known to be a good source of vitamin D (as well as having immune boosting properties).
  • Grandma was onto something when she used garlic every single day; it produces an antibacterial compound, allicin, and is most effective when used as a preventative measure.
  • Orange Vegetables: pumpkin, sweet potato, and carrots are all good sources of vitamin A and an easy staple for winter stews, soups, and roasts.
  • Dark green vegetables like broccoli and spinach contain a range of essential vitamins and fibre that are needed to keep us healthy on the inside and out.
  • I would hate for red vegetables to feel left out after mentioning orange and green, capsicums and tomatoes are also super source of vitamin C.
  • Nuts and seeds: often forgotten but worth the mention. Brazil nuts and almonds add good fats to our diet along with selenium and zinc. When it comes to immune boosting foods vitamin C often dominates the conversation, but zinc should be right up there alongside it. I’ll leave the biochemistry for another day, but in a nutshell (Dad joke), zinc allows our immune system to do what it is designed to do.
  • Seafood, meat, legumes and beans are good sources of zinc, along with providing iron and other vitamins, and should be included to some extent in our diet, every day.
  • Can an immune boosting foods article be posted in the year 2020 and not mention fermented foods? There is a lot of new research that shows the benefits fermented foods have on gut health (which links back to our immune system). Drinking freshly brewed kombucha might not be your cup of tea, but if you include yoghurt, raw and cooked veggies, good quality whole grains, legumes, and naturally fermented sauerkraut or pickled vegetables in your diet you will glean the benefits offered by fermented foods.   

Eating a diet rich in variety, colour, flavour, and loads of fruit and vegetables alone won’t keep the coughs, colds, and COVID-19 at bay. Be sure to: exercise regularly; limit sugary or highly processed fatty foods; minimise stress; get enough sleep; and … are you ready for it …. wash your hands!

Naomi Blines,
Qualified Nutritionist & Registered Nurse
Helping people is Naomi’s thing, which is what drew her to nursing.  Over the years she learnt that food is more than just fuel for our bodies; it’s the centrepiece for community, it’s medicinal, it can be simple, healthy and delicious. Wanting to share this discovery, she completed a Medical Science (Nutrition) degree. Naomi knows how busy this thing called life is and loves to share tips and tricks that make eating (& living) well, easy and enjoyable.