Foods to boost your immune system

Short of hibernating from May through to October, there is little we can do to avoid the chill of winter.

Winter brings with it many good things; the satisfaction of building a good fire, the excitement of watching a sports game while rugged up against the cold, gumboots and hearty comfort food. But winter can also mean colds, sore throats and the flu.

The best way to combat the onset of these common illnesses is to boost your immune system, by providing your body with the best kinds of food to fend off infection and viruses.

The following are a suggestion of foods which are particularly helpful in boosting your immune system. Try to incorporate a wide variety of all fruits and vegetables into your diet.

Though in winter we often eat less fresh vegetables and fruit than other seasons, this is the time which we need our ‘5+ a day’ the most.


Widely known for its medicinal properties, garlic contains allicin, an active ingredient which has been to shown the aid the body in fighting infection and bacteria. Try adding garlic to soups, roasting it and incorporating it in a warm roast vegetable salad (a great dish to include other winter seasonal treats such as pumpkin and parsnip).

Chicken soup

The idea that chicken soup aids the sick and weary is no old wive’s tale. Not only is the dish packed with helpful vitamins, the steam from the broth helps the thin mucus in the same way an inhalation or cough medicines do.

Vitamin C

Vitamin C, a vitamin which helps to build muscle tissue and boost immunity, can be sourced from a myriad of fruits and vegetables. The most obvious source is citrus fruits, which as an additional bonus, are in season in winter. But if you’re looking for sources beyond the oranges and lemons, consider capsicums (ideally raw), broccoli and kiwifruit, which all have high levels of vitamin C.


Recent studies have suggested mushrooms may help in the body’s production of white blood cells, the cells in the immune system which are responsible for defending the body against infection. Include a few sauteed mushrooms in a breakfast omelette, or incorporate some into evening meals with pasta.


Yoghurt is a good source of ‘healthy’ bacteria and is another food known for its immunity boosting properties. Make a special effort to up your yoghurt intake if you are taking antibiotics, as the healthy bacteria can ease an upset caused by the antibiotics.


Like garlic, ginger has long been known for its healing powers. Ginger can help ease the nasal congestion that goes with common colds and the flu. Consider making ginger tea, by slicing a little root ginger with boiling water, and a slice of lemon.

As well as including the above foods in your diet to boost immunity, remember to consume extra liquids, ideally water, when you are fighting an infection.

Stay warm, and eat healthy!