I don't really need to say why we need to boost our immunity right now, because it's top of mind for all of us. Here's a reminder of the best immune-boosting foods and the tastiest ways to incorporate them into your week.
1. Kiwi Fruit
It's got twice as much vitamin C as oranges and lemons. Just one cup gives you 273% of your daily requirement. Plus it's a winter fruit so it's in season now. It's also got potassium, vitamin K and folate and there is a study which shows kiwi supports immune function and may also reduce the severity of cold/flu symptoms. Eat fresh, chucked in a smoothie, or frozen.
Increasing good bacteria in your gut is one of the best ways to prevent getting sick. If you've ever had an overabundance of bad bacteria for a time (I have) you'll know that it's impossible not to get sick all the time. Good bacteria helps balance your gut and increase your immunity so you get sick less often. So eating yoghurt high in good bacteria really works.
Ditch high sugar yoghurt though. Go natural, full fat, and stick to yoghurts that have less than 7grams of sugar per 100grams. Barimbah Organics is a great tasting yoghurt that does this.
3. Fermented veg
Still on good bacteria for your gut, give it another boost with some kind of fermented veg like kimchi or sauerkraut. They basically taste like excellent pickles and give everything a flavour boost. Add to veggie bowls, salads or just as a quick side on your dinner plate.
Now that we can dine out, these are back on the menu. Oysters are particularly high in zinc which helps activate your white blood cell count to fight viruses, and they also have high levels of vitamin D, vitamin C and protein, all of which contribute to better immunity. Zinc plus vitamin C is the best combo for an immune boost - you'll often find them together in a supplement.
This has been a home remedy for centuries and now we know why: thanks to the sulphur compounds like allicin that form when garlic is chopped, crushed or chewed. There have been numerous studies showing that high doses of garlic can reduce the length and severity of cold and flu symptoms.
Add it to pasta sauces, stir fries, even crush a raw clove into your salad dressing for extra bite.
This powerhouse of a vegetable is high in vitamins C, K, folate, magnesium and other antioxidants. It's tasty steamed or lightly roasted with extra virgin olive oil Squeeze a lemon on afterwards for flavour.
7. Red capsicum
Another vegetable high in vitamin C, these are my preferred afternoon snack - either raw on their own or dipped into something healthy like hummous (made without vegetable oil) or labne.
8. Dark chocolate/cacao
It's not a misprint. You can eat dark chocolate. It contains an antioxidant called theobromine which can help boost the immune system by protecting against free radicals. Being chocolate, of course you can only eat a little. You're better off going for straight cacao in something like these chocolate brownie bliss balls so you get all the goodness without the guilt.
These are high in a flavanoid called anthocyanin, which play an essential role in the respiratory tract’s immune defense system. Researchers found that people who ate foods rich in flavonoids were less likely to get an upper respiratory tract infection, or common cold, than those who did not.
I add organic frozen blueberries to my daily green smoothie for a sweet hit of goodness.
The potent compound curcumin is why turmeric has such great antioxidant and anti-inflammatory benefits. It's been touted as everything from an immunity booster to helping people with cancer.
It's a natural with roasted vegetables, stir-fries and curries or you can get fancy and make your own DIY turmeric latte.
It's the other root worth mentioning, thanks to gingerol, shoagols and paradols in ginger. Gingerol helps fight infection and the other compounds contribute to anti-inflammatory and antioxidant benefits.
It's also a flavour hero in smoothies, juices, stir-fries and curries.
One of my favourite vegetables, it's high in flavanoids, carotenoids, vitamin C and E - all of which help strengthen the immune system.
Throw spinach into a green smoothie, make it a base for your veggie bowl, or do a spinach and white bean soup for winter.
13. Sweet potato
Yes! Something starchy! Sweet potato is high in vitamin A which is a potent antioxidant and good for immunity.
Mash it, roast it, made noodles with it. It's a great winter vegetable.
14. Almonds/sunflower seeds
These are both high in vitamin E which is an antioxidant. It needs to be paired with fat to be absorbed so it's handy that both of these are high in good fat and can deliver the vitamin E to your system.
Almonds are great as a snack, while sunflower seeds is what tahini is made from and you can make lots with that - hummous, desserts, a salad dressing just for starters.