Foods to boost immunity

Holly HornerDietitian Blog, Health InformationLeave a Comment

  1. Lemons and other citrus fruit – high in Vitamin C

Vitamin C helps the body to produce white blood cells as well as antibodies – both help the immune system fight invading viruses. For best results, keep your body stocked up with Vitamin C before winter arrives.

  • Try squeezing lemon or lime into hot water for a refreshing and warming immune boosting drink. Lemon juice can also help to lower the GI (glycaemic index, or ‘filling’ power) of meals, so is great squeezed over vegies etc.
  1. Eggs – source of Vitamin A

Vitamin A is an important antioxidant which helps cells fight bacteria and viruses. Dairy products, oily fish and liver are also rich sources of Vitamin A.

  • Use up your leftover vegies and get some eggs in by combining the two to make mini frittatas (see recipe). These are perfect for the lunch box, or a protein filled, low carb after work snack.
  • Add boiled eggs to your lunch box.
  1. Lean red meat – incredible source of iron

Iron helps to keep the immune system working at its best.

  • If you don’t eat meat, be sure to include plenty of nuts, eggs, beans, lentils, green leafy vegetables and cereals with added iron.
  1. Oats and other grains – B vitamins

B vitamins help the body to fight off bacteria and viruses, and can help your immune system to ‘fight back’ when you are unwell. B vitamins need to be eaten daily as they are not stored in the body.

  • Oats can help to lower cholesterol too, so include them in your breakfast every day for best results.
  • Use brown rice instead of white for a powerful B vitamin hit.
  1. Seafood – shellfish, oysters, mussels, scallops – great sources of zinc

Squid, prawns and salmon also have some zinc, as does red meat, low fat dairy products, wholegrains, beans and nuts. Zinc is vital when it comes to immunity. Zinc helps to ensure the white blood cells work at their best.

  • Mussels are inexpensive, tasty, low in fat and high in protein. Perfect for a snack and they also pack a powerful iron punch!
  • Try to have seafood at least twice a week.
  1. Nuts – Zinc, Iron, B vitamins

Different nuts have different benefits, for example, brazil nuts are rich in selenium; almonds and peanuts are rich in Vitamin E. To get the best from nuts, choose a variety.

  • Add chopped nuts to salads and vegetable dishes to add a delicious crunchy texture.
  • Have a quarter of a cup of nuts per day as a snack.

Thinking of supplementing? Do your best to get your immune boosting vitamins and minerals through the foods that you eat. If however you are looking at supplements, don’t go overboard, they can be very expensive for little added benefit. It is best to discuss supplementation with your dietitian/nutritionist or GP before starting. Be extra careful if self-supplementing iron and zinc, as too much of these vitamins can be harmful to the body.


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