Foods to Support a Healthy Immune System

The cold and flu season is approaching and we are also facing a viral pandemic with the spread of the new coronavirus. If you are worried about the spread or you need more information regarding the virus please speak with your health professional or refer to the information provided by the NSW Department of Health.

Now more than ever is the time to be focusing on our health and making sure we are supporting our bodies with the right nutrients for a healthy and strong immune system. While there is not currently a vaccination for the virus we can set our bodies up to be as healthy as possible to try to reduce the severity if we do contract the virus.

Eating a diet that focuses on ‘whole foods’ and avoiding or limiting fast-foods and processed foods is a great place to start. ‘Whole foods’ refers to those foods that you mostly find in the fresh food section of the supermarket. Think fruits and vegetables, but also whole grains, such as brown rice and quinoa, legumes, such as beans and lentils, full fat dairy products which are free from added sugar, nuts and seeds, and plenty of water.

There are also some specific foods that can help to give your immune system added support due to their immune boosting actions within the body. Try adding these to your meal plan in the coming weeks to help support your health:

Garlic - garlic is at the top of the list as it is well known for its antimicrobial action. Garlic has antibacterial, anti-fungal and antiviral properties and is commonly used in traditional medicine in the treatment of cold and flu. Add it to your stir-fries, curries, pasta sauce and as a seasoning for your roast veggies... and don’t be afraid to add extra cloves!

Kiwi fruit - kiwi fruits are a food that is significantly high in vitamin C. One kiwi fruit contains over your daily intake of vitamin C and almost 2 x as much vitamin C than one orange. Vitamin C contributes to immune defence by supporting various cellular functions of both the innate and adaptive immune system.

Green leafy vegetables - like kiwi fruit, and other citrus fruits, green leafy vegetables are also a great source of vitamin C as well as beta-carotene, the precursor to vitamin A. Vitamin A is a vitamin which is needed for healthy mucous membranes, which means it plays a crucial role in keeping the lining of our respiratory tract healthy. Our mucus membrane lining acts as one of our first-line immune defences.

Orange coloured vegetables - like green leafy vegetables, orange coloured vegetables, such as sweet potatoes and carrots, are another good source of vitamin A.

Turmeric - turmeric has been used in traditional medicine to support the immune system as well as for it’s anti-inflammatory action in the body. Absorption of turmeric has been shown to increase when it is also consumed with pepper and a bit of fat, so adding it to your curries and stir-fries is a great place to include it.

About the Author

Casey is a clinical naturopath and nutritionist and the founder of The Natural Path Health. She has a passion for identifying and treating the root cause of disease to achieve long-lasting health goals with her clients. "I love helping my clients regain their energy and vitality for life."