Immune Boosting Foods

26th July 2022


We can all benefit (particularly now) from increasing foods in our diet that help boost immune function.

Our good gut bacteria makes up close to 70% of our immune system, and includes many different strains that are fed and strengthened by different coloured polyphenol and fibre rich foods. To ensure we have a wide variety and high amounts of our good gut bacteria in our digestive tracts, it is important to make sure we are eating a variety of the below polyphenol/ fibre rich foods:

  • Orange foods – sweet potato, carrots, apricots, orange lentils, pumpkin, fresh turmeric
  • Brown foods – mushrooms, brown lentils, almonds with skin on, chickpeas, ground flaxseeds
  • White foods – garlic, onion, cooked and cooled white potatoes, traditional rolled oats
  • Green foods – brussle sprouts, asparagus, celery, green leafy veg, broccoli, spilt peas, green tea
  • Red foods – raspberries, tomato, strawberries, cherries, red kidney beans, red capsicum
  • Purple foods – purple carrot, purple potato, purple cabbage, acai berries, plums

While eating foods that feed and strengthen our good gut bacteria is very important to our immune health, there are also other specific foods and nutrients that have strong immune boosting properties. Over this up and coming winter try adding in more of the below specific foods into your diet:

  • Vegetables
    • Asparagus – high in vitamin C and A. Is one of the best vegetables for feeding your good gut bacteria
    • Brussel sprouts and broccoli – both are very high in Vitamin C and K. Have been found to help prevent and fight cancer & high in antioxidants. Broccoli is very high in protein for a vegetable and brussel sprouts are exceptionally good at feeding our good gut bacteria. Cook brussel sprouts with some grass-fed butter and garlic - delicious!
    • Garlic – contains an immune boosting compound called allicin which helps prevent and reduce the severity of illness. Allicin has been found effective against the common cold and flu as well as well as stomach viruses and candida yeast infections. To get maximum nutrition benefits from garlic add it in the last 3-5 mins of cooking, over cooked garlic looses it’s immune supportive properties. 
    • Onion – a great source of vitamin C, packed full of vitamins, minerals and antioxidants and have been found to inhibit the growth of bad bacteria and diseases
    • Parsley – very high in iron, vitamin C and antioxidants and has been found to help reduce the growth and development of cancer cells
    • Red capsicum – very high in Vitamin C, much higher than any citrus fruit!! Stir-frying or roasting red capsicums preserve the nutrients in them better than boiling or steaming them do
    • Shiitake Mushrooms – these are very high in a range of vitamins and minerals that support immune health and the have been found to help fight infectious diseases. Add shitake mushrooms into your next stir-fry dish!
    • Spinach – high in Vitamin C, A and E and in particular flavonoids that have been found to help fight the common cold
    • Sweet Potato and carrots – both are very high in in Vitamin A and Vitamin C which are vital for optimal immune function
  • Fruits:

    • Berries (fresh or frozen) – are all very high in vitamin C, they also contain a flavonoid called anthocynin which has antioxidant properties that help boost immune function and improve the respiratory tracts immune defence system
    • Kiwi – high in vitamin C, and are found to support the respiratory tract immune defence system
    • Lemon (fresh) – high in vitamin C and has antiviral and antibacterial properties – excellent in hot water with fresh ginger, turmeric & raw honey – a delicious warming immune boosting tea
  • Other foods:

    • Fresh ginger & turmeric – both help reduce inflammation, have high levels of antioxidants and the curcumin in turmeric has anti-viral properties
    • Raw honey – contains high levels of antioxidants and flavonoids that function as antibacterial and anti-viral properties and protect the body from a range infections and diseases
    • Coloured rice and legumes – both are high in fibre and polyphenols that feed your good gut bacteria, plus both contain protein which is needed for optimal immune function
    • Raw cacao powder or raw cacao nibs – contain very high amounts of flavonoids that have anti-cancer properties, as well as containing many compounds that have antibacterial, anti-enzymatic and immune-stimulating properties
    • Raw pumpkin seeds – are high in zinc and antioxidants that feed good gut bacteria. Zinc is involved in the production of many immune cells and low zinc intake is connect to poor immune function

With all this in mind, the below immune boosting dahl is a great winter warming immune boosting recipe to try! It is delicious (one of my favourite recipes) and freezes really well so is great to make in advance!

Immune boosting Dahl

  • Ingredients:
    • 2 brown onions, finely chopped
    • 3 cloves minced garlic
    • 1 tsp coconut oil or grass feed butter
    • 2 tsps turmeric
    • 1-2 tsps ginger
    • 1 tsp mustard powder
    • 1 tsp curry powder
    • 1⁄2 tsp cinnamon
    • 1⁄2 tsp cayenne
    • 1 cup un-cooked green or brown lentils
    • 1 1⁄2 cups vegetable or chicken stock (Maggie Beer is a good brand)
    • 1 400ml can organic pure coconut milk
    • 1 bunch asparagu
    • 1 whole broccoli
    • 8 brussel sprouts
    • 1 red capsicum
    • Black or brown rice
  • Method:

    • Cook the onion in oil/butter in a large pot over medium heat
    • Add spices and cook for 3 more minutes, then add the lentils, stock and coconut milk
    • Bring to boil, then reduce to low heat & simmer uncovered for 60-70mins (until stock is absorbed)
    • Cook rice according to package instructions
    • 10 mins before serving, stir-fry the veggies quickly with a little grass-fed butter
    • Turn off heat under the pot, add the garlic and stir for 1 minute.
    • Serve dahl with veggies & some black, brown or cauliflower rice and top with some Greek yoghurt.


By Bec Stone, Clinical Nutritionist

Available for consultations in-studio at Evado Studios Hawthorn or via Zoom.