Dr Lydia Altini – Health Coach

At this time of the year “boosting” your immune system to protect yourself from winter viruses is often top of mind, but before you reach for a supplement consider this – there really is no “silver bullet” that can improve your immune health better than the food you choose to eat on a regular basis.

We want our immune system to be robust and balanced every day of the year because it has many other important functions besides simply protecting you from infectious microbes. It is also responsible for detecting and clearing out damaged cells and reducing inflammation. Incredibly complex and active everywhere, it should work with beautiful precision and harmony all the time!

So, how do you harness the power of nutrition to enhance your immune health? As I ponder this question I realise that the tasty, warm vegetable salad I have just enjoyed for lunch at a local café ticked all the boxes! To begin with, the greens including kale and broccolini and the bright orange pumpkin are full of vitamin A precursors called carotenoids as well as vitamin C – specific micronutrients essential for your immune system to function as effectively as possible.

By lightly steaming them you can retain this vitamin content. The spicy dukkah sprinkled on top made up of nuts and seeds is an excellent source of zinc, selenium and vitamin E which all have positive effects on immune heath. Spices such as turmeric and ginger are anti-inflammatory.

Most significantly though, the colourful, whole plant foods high in fibre and phytonutrients are the ideal food for your gut microbiota and a healthy gut is critical for the healthy functioning of your immune cells.

So, this winter, I encourage you to build your immunity by experimenting with the many delicious, whole food ingredients available and reap the benefits all year long