by Lucienne Steel – Naturopath

This autumn and winter, get stuck into a rainbow of fruit and vegetables to boost immunity and gut health. Autumn brings so many delicious fruits: the sweet citrus, the crunchy apples, passion fruit, persimmon, kiwi… all so colourful and so full of antioxidants, vitamins and minerals that nourish your immune system and reduce inflammation. For vegetables we’re looking at beetroots, carrot, turnip, parsnip, sweet potato… perfect for a roast rainbow salad on a bed of sauteed greens! Check out this recipe link for the beautiful Roasted Vegetable Salad with Chimichurri for inspo, it’s infinitely variable to whatever you have on hand.

As well as antioxidants, fruit and vegetables are a crucial source of prebiotic fibre, which feeds the beneficial bacteria (probiotics) in your gut. After the probiotics eat the prebiotics, they produce short chain fatty acids (SCFAs), which have been shown to directly boost immune cell production and activity, as well as maintain the gut lining, decrease inflammation and more.

The other concept to consider is the gut-lung microbiome, and the role that plays in preventing/treating respiratory tract infections, asthma, COPD and other lung issues. For feeding up that lung microbiome, prioritise the prebiotic inulin, found in foods like alliums (garlic, onion, leek etc), asparagus, wheat bran, banana, chicory and Jerusalem artichoke.

Remember, we’re aiming for 2 fruit and 5 veg each day, where 1 serve might be:

  • ½ cup cooked green or orange veg
  • 1 cup green leaves/salad
  • ½ corn cob
  • 1 medium apple
  • 2 kiwi
  • ½ mango
  • ½ bowl cut fruit
  • 1 cup berries etc

For kids, try for 1.5 serves of fruit and 4.5 serves of veg. If you’re up for a fun challenge, try assigning one colour to each day of the week. Or maybe lunchtime on Saturday becomes the rainbow meal, and each week has a different colour focus? Think green pea pasta with green veg and green herby sauce – yum! How about a chargrilled chicken salad with yellow corn, yellow capsicum and yellow squash? Pink is easy, just mix in roast beetroot and it’ll dye absolutely everything. Get kids keen by letting them pick something completely new from the shop, or get them growing or cooking it. Get creative, have a load of fun, broaden your tastebuds and boost your health. Winning all round!