• Ann Taylor

Let's food-boost our immune systems

Boosting our immune resilience is something proactive we should be doing anytime, but especially now with our susceptibility to this highly contagious novel coronavirus. Let's help ourselves and people we care for have a healthy immune response to deal with this infection robustly. Here's a few key nutrients we can include MORE of in our food and a non-nutritious ingredient we should have LESS of and ingredients we need ENOUGH of. Read on.

MORE of:

Vitamins A and C and the mineral zinc are key nutrients that are essential for normal immune function. They

  • help cells produce mucus that provides a barrier to infections that we inhale or ingest;

  • promote balanced production of our infection-fighting white blood cells in the thymus gland and antibodies produced by our liver; and

  • help protect our cells from oxidative damage.

We can increase our intake of these nutrients with whole foods and drinks that include e.g. fresh kale, spinach, beetroots (deep colours are good), pumpkin (more vitamin A than carrots) WITH pumpkin seeds (great source of zinc), tomato, celery, green and red capsicums (higher in Vitamin C than citrus fruits!), watermelon, strawberries, kiwi fruit and pineapple.

LESS of:

We can reduce our susceptibility to illness by keeping our intake of sugars low:

  • sugar is very acidifying

  • excess sugars feeds cancerous cells

  • undigested sugars promotes growth of pathogenic (aka disease-causing) gut bacteria.


We also need adequate dietary protein for our liver to be able to make blood borne transport proteins that deliver nutrients to our cells and the natural antibodies that identify and neutralise potentially harmful infective agents, including viruses and bacteria. Chicken is perfect protein for this. Think how much we feel nourished by a lovingly prepared chicken soup! (not the tinned variety). If you're a vegetarian or vegan, combine your food ingredients (grains, legumes, nuts) to get complete protein i.e. ALL of the amino acid building blocks to make protein.

Other medicinal food ingredients include onions, garlic, chilli, turmeric for their mucolytic, antiviral, antimicrobial and anti-inflammatory properties. They can be included in soups and casseroles and made into tonics and cough remedies. Also introduce yourself to Tulsi (the herb Holy Basil), which is a lovely herbal tea to drink. There is good evidence of beneficial treatment of bronchial asthma i.e. improvement of pulmonary function, which I will write more about soon.

And if you do catch this corona virus (or any other infection), understand that fighting infections is energy depleting! You need to be well nourished, well hydrated and rested to improve your resilience against dis-ease.

Now while I am more of a food fan than a juicing fan for most of the time, juicing is very useful to help us absorb valuable minerals and vitamins quickly, which might just be what your body needs to boost your immune system. Here are two juices to try from Michael Murray's book The Complete Book of Juicing using readily available ingredients; and a smoothie for those with a blender:

Immune power vegetable juice

  • 2 cloves garlic

  • ½ cm slice of ginger

  • Handful of parsley

  • 4 carrots

  • 1 apple, cut into wedges

Place the garlic and ginger in the centre of the parsley and push through the juicer with a carrot. Then alternate the remaining ingredients.

High Vitamin C

  • ½ cup broccoli florets with stems

  • 1 green bell pepper

  • 1 sweet red bell pepper

  • 2 apples, cut into wedges

Juice in this order: Broccoli, then peppers, then apples

Super C immune boosting smoothie

  • 1 whole carrot – washed but not peeled

  • 1 whole orange, peeled (OR mandarin or pineapple)

  • ½ lemon

  • 1 cup ice

  • 1 small slither ginger

  • 1 cup filtered water OR coconut water

  • 1 teaspoon chia seed

  • 1 teaspoon turmeric – ground or fresh

  • Optional: pinch of cayenne pepper to boost anti – inflammatory properties

Blend all the ingredients until combined.

Enjoy! Stay well! Be resilient!