Foods to support your immune system

While eating a healthy, balanced diet with a good variety and colour of foods is ideal for keeping us well, there are some foods with particular immune supporting properties. As well as the listed benefits, the foods below are high in vitamins and minerals needed for staying healthy over the winter months.

Add the following foods into your diet during the winter months to gain the benefits, and increase your intake when you feel a cold coming on. For more ways to support your immune system, continue reading here.

Root Ginger

Ginger is antimicrobial, anti fungal, antiviral, and anti inflammatory.

Add a chunk to smoothies, soups, and stews, or simply have it in a mug with warm water with a squeeze of lemon.


Garlic is antibiotic, anti- viral, and an expectorant, making it effective for use as a preventative and as a treatment against cold and flu viruses.

Chop or crush your fresh garlic to activate the enzymes that hold the benefits, before adding to your meals.


Turmeric has anti-inflammatory, anti microbial, and anti viral properties, and is a good spice to include in your diet as both a preventative and treatment against viruses.

Add it to curries, soups, or as a turmeric latte with warm milk and a tsp of honey. For best absorption of turmeric, make sure to have it with a little fat and black pepper.


Our bodies require protein to make immune cells which fight off infections, and protein deficiency has been found to increase our susceptibility to infection. Protein is also needed for repair and recovery, which is essential after illness.

To ensure you’re eating adequate protein, aim for a palm size serving with every meal. Protein powders can be used in porridge, smoothies, soups or stews.

Fruit and veg

Increase your intake of vitamins, minerals and other immune-supporting nutrients, by eating a variety and plenty of fruit and vegetables. Fruit and vegetables are also good sources of fibre, which will support your gut bacteria and in turn your immune system.  The following are just a few nutrients essential for immune health.

Vitamin C rich foods: pineapple, oranges, kiwis, tomatoes, bell peppers and broccoli.

Vitamin A rich foods: carrots, sweet potato, butternut squash and pumpkin.

Selenium rich foods: seafoods, pork, beef, tofu, and brazil nuts.

Zinc rich foods: beef, chicken, lentils, chickpeas, edamame beans, pumpkin seeds, cashews and hemp seeds.

Supplements for immune health

There are many supplements that can benefit immune health, but these are my top 4 go tos. As always, check with your doctor before starting any supplements if you have any pre-existing conditions or are on any medications.

1. Elderberry

Elderberries are highly nutritious, containing high amounts of antioxidants, vitamin c,  and fibre. They have been found to have anti viral properties, with some studies showing that they may help in prevention, reduction of symptoms and duration of colds. 

You can either pick and make your own elderberry syrup or buy one, and take when you’re feeling run down or at the first sign of a cold.

2. Vitamin D

Adequate vitamin D levels are essential for immune health, and supplementation may reduce the risk of respiratory infections. 

During the months of October to April, it is recommended that everyone supplements with vitamin D. Read more on vitamin D here.

3. Vitamin C

Vitamin C works both as an antioxidant and in aiding functions of our immune defence system. Low vitamin C levels are associated with a higher risk to infection, while supplementation of the vitamin has been found to aid recovery from viruses.

Vitamin C is water-soluble meaning we can’t store it and need a daily supply. It is also easily destroyed when foods are cut or cooked which is why we may need additional supplementation through winter or when fighting a virus.

4. Zinc

Another powerful nutrient that supports our immune system is zinc. It is needed by our white blood cells to fight off infections and when we are ill, our bodies need for zinc is increased.

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