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Top Five Foods To Boost Your Immunity

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On the JJ Barnes Blog, I learn how to take on flu season with the top five foods to boost your immunity.

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As January settles in for the long haul, the winter chill is in the air, we’re all layering on the thermals, and my children are bringing home cold and flu germs from the petri dish that is primary school. As we huddle under blankets, reach for tissues, and nurse hot drinks, I can’t help but wonder what I can do to boost our immunity so we can get through this snotty sneezy time as smoothly as possible.


To help me out, Abi Roberts, Sports Nutritionist from Bulk.com, has sent over her advice for the top five foods to boost our immunity, and explains why we should all be consuming Vitamin C and Zinc during the winter months.

Vitamin C paired with Zinc is also essential for flu season, as Abi explains: “Both vitamin C and Zinc are vital for a robust immune system.   

Consuming these supplements during winter can help support your body’s defences against common winter ailments. Vitamin C is also important to maintain healthy skin, bones, and encourages wound healing. 

-Abi Roberts, Sports Nutritionist from Bulk.com

Top Five Foods To Boost Your Immunity

  1. Vitamin D  
  2. Turmeric 
  3. Echinacea  
  4. Citrus Fruits  
  5. Fermented Foods  

Vitamin D – to combat reduced natural sunlight  

  • Immune System Booster: Vitamin D acts as a trainer for your immune cells, making them stronger and more vigilant against invaders like viruses and bacteria. This translates to fewer sniffles, less flu, and a happier, healthier you.
  • Mood Master: Ever feel grumpy when the sun disappears? Vitamin D plays a crucial role in regulating mood-boosting chemicals in your brain, helping you combat the winter blues and maintain a sunny disposition (even when the sun is nowhere to be seen).
  • Bone Builder: This superhero strengthens your bones, preventing osteoporosis and ensuring you can dance through the snow with confidence.
  • Muscle Mender: Vitamin D helps your muscles recover from exercise faster, making those winter workouts even more rewarding.

Where to get Vitamin D:

  • Sun exposure: Grab your coat and catch some rays, even if it’s just for 15-20 minutes a day. Remember, even cloudy days offer a Vitamin D boost.
  • Food friends: Salmon, tuna, eggs, and mushrooms are all champions of Vitamin D. Make them your allies in the fight against the winter blahs.
  • Fortify your fortress: Look for fortified foods like milk, yogurt, and cereal – they’re like Trojan horses delivering Vitamin D goodness.
  • Supplement savvy: If you’re still struggling, consider a Vitamin D supplement after consulting your doctor.

Turmeric – has anti-inflammatory properties   

  • Inflammation Fighter: Colds and flu often bring with them the uncomfortable troops of inflammation – sore throats, achy muscles, and that general “blah” feeling. Turmeric’s star ingredient, curcumin, acts like a tiny firefighter, dousing the flames of inflammation and bringing relief. This translates to potentially less pain, quicker recovery, and a happier, healthier you.
  • Immune System Booster: Curcumin also gives your immune system a much-needed pep talk. It helps your white blood cells, the frontline defenders, become more alert and efficient at battling invaders. This means you’re more likely to intercept those pesky viruses before they take hold and turn your nose into a waterfall.
  • Antioxidant Champion: While battling the bad guys, turmeric also wields its antioxidant shield. These warriors scavenge free radicals, those mischievous molecules that can damage your cells and weaken your defenses. With turmeric on your side, your cells have a better chance of staying strong and resilient.

Where to get Tumeric:

  • Warm Spiced Latte: Ditch the sugary coffee and sip on a comforting turmeric latte – warm milk, honey, a dash of cinnamon, and your golden champion.
  • Golden Stir-Fry: Infuse your winter veggies with a turmeric glow and reap the flavor and health benefits in one delicious bite.
  • Honey, My Hero: Mix turmeric with honey to create a soothing syrup for those scratchy throats.

Echinacea – protects against winter illnesses  

  • The Spiky Symphony: Echinacea isn’t a single herb, but a whole orchestra of prickly plants. Each species brings its own unique blend of bioactive compounds, but the star of the show is echinacea purpurea. This purple warrior contains a diverse range of chemicals, including alkamides, chicoric acid, and polysaccharides, all working together to boost your defenses.
  • Immune System Booster: Imagine echinacea as a boot camp for your white blood cells, those frontline defenders against viruses and bacteria. This botanical badass helps these cells work more efficiently, recognizing and attacking invaders with greater zeal. The result? Potentially a shorter fight against those wintery foes.
  • Inflammation Foe: Not only does echinacea help your body fight the enemy, it also helps clean up the battlefield. By reducing inflammation, echinacea can ease those aches and pains that often accompany a cold or flu. This translates to feeling better, faster, and getting back to enjoying the season’s festivities.

Where to get Echinacea:

  • Dried herb: Steep it in hot water for a warming tea or add it to soups and stews. Remember, heat reduces its potency, so consider adding it after cooking.
  • Tinctures: Concentrated liquid extracts in alcohol or glycerol. Follow dosage instructions carefully, as they can be potent.
  • Supplements: Convenient and pre-measured supplements, but check the label for fillers and additives.
  • Lozenges: Soothe scratchy throats while potentially boosting your defenses. Opt for sugar-free options.

Citrus fruits – a good source of vitamin C  

  • Vitamin C Champs: The crown jewel of citrus fruits is, of course, vitamin C. This potent antioxidant is like a tireless soldier in your immune system’s army, helping your white blood cells fight off invaders and repair your body’s defenses. Just one juicy orange packs enough vitamin C to meet your daily needs, making citrus fruits your ultimate shield against winter woes.
  • Antioxidant All-Stars: But vitamin C isn’t alone. Citrus fruits are bursting with other antioxidant warriors, like flavonoids and phenolic acids. These tireless soldiers scavenge free radicals, those mischievous molecules that damage your cells and weaken your defenses. With citrus on your side, your cells have a better chance of staying strong and resilient, ready to repel any viral attack.
  • Hydration Heroes: Let’s face it, winter air can be unforgivingly dry. This can parch your throat and weaken your immune system. Enter citrus fruits, nature’s hydration heroes. Packed with water and electrolytes, these juicy wonders replenish your fluids, keeping your body and defenses functioning at their peak.
  • Beyond the Orange: While oranges might be the poster child of citrus, don’t underestimate the power of variety! Grapefruits offer a sweeter-tart punch, lemons and limes bring their zesty kick, and mandarins provide a delightful burst of flavor. Explore the rainbow of citrus options and discover your personal immunity-boosting favorites.

Where to get Vitamin C:

  • Citrus Fruits: The classic champions! Oranges, grapefruits, mandarins, lemons, limes – they’re all bursting with vitamin C. Aim for at least one serving per day.
  • Berries: Strawberries, blueberries, raspberries, and kiwis are nature’s candy, packed with vitamin C and antioxidants. Enjoy them fresh, frozen, or in smoothies.
  • Bell Peppers: Red, yellow, and orange bell peppers are vitamin C powerhouses. Add them to salads, stir-fries, or enjoy them raw with hummus.
  • Broccoli: This cruciferous wonder is not only delicious but also rich in vitamin C. Roast it, steam it, or toss it into soups and stir-fries.
  • Tomatoes: Fresh or cooked, tomatoes are a versatile source of vitamin C. Enjoy them in salads, pasta sauces, or even on toast with avocado.
  • Other Fruits and Vegetables: Don’t forget melons, pineapple, papaya, mango, leafy greens like kale and spinach, and even potatoes – they all contribute to your daily vitamin C intake.
  • Sprouted grains and seeds: Chia seeds, hemp seeds, and sprouted lentils offer a good dose of vitamin C alongside other nutrients.
  • Fortified foods: Some plant-based milk, yogurt, and breakfast cereals are fortified with vitamin C, making them convenient options.
  • Herbal teas: Rosehip and hibiscus teas are naturally high in vitamin C and offer a warming winter beverage.

Fermented foods – promotes a healthy gut   

  • The Gut Garden: Imagine your gut as a lush garden, teeming with microorganisms. Good bacteria, also known as probiotics, are the hardworking gardeners, keeping bad bacteria at bay and nurturing your overall health. Fermented foods are like fertilizer for this garden, providing probiotics a delicious place to thrive and multiply.
  • Immune System Shield: A healthy gut garden translates to a stronger immune system. By giving your good bacteria a boost, fermented foods help your body build its defenses against viruses and bacteria that might cause those winter sniffles and sneezes. It’s like training an army of tiny soldiers within your own body, ready to fight off the invaders.
  • Inflammation Foe: Chronic inflammation is a sneaky enemy, linked to various health issues, including some winter woes. Fermented foods can help tame this internal fire by reducing inflammatory markers and promoting a calmer gut environment. This translates to potentially less aches and pains, leaving you feeling energized and ready to conquer the day.

Where to get Fermented Foods:

  • Kimchi: This spicy Korean wonder is packed with probiotics and vitamins. Enjoy it with rice, soups, or even scrambled eggs.
  • Sauerkraut: Tangy and versatile, sauerkraut is a fermented cabbage dish perfect for salads, sandwiches, or as a side dish.
  • Yogurt: Choose plain, unsweetened yogurt with live and active cultures. It’s a great source of probiotics and calcium, perfect for breakfast or a healthy snack.
  • Kefir: This effervescent fermented milk drink is packed with probiotics and nutrients. Enjoy it plain, blended into smoothies, or used in baking.
  • Miso: This savory fermented soybean paste adds umami depth to soups, stews, and marinades.
  • Kombucha: This bubbly fermented tea drink offers probiotics and antioxidants. Choose from various flavors to satisfy your taste buds.
  • Pickled vegetables: Cucumbers, carrots, and other vegetables fermented with spices and herbs offer probiotics and a tangy snack.


So, there you have it! The top five food warriors to keep you healthy and happy all winter long. From citrus sunshine to fermented feasts, each bite is an investment in your body’s natural defenses. Remember, a strong immune system isn’t built in a day. It’s a journey of healthy choices, vibrant flavors, and a sprinkle of culinary curiosity.

Embrace these delicious allies, but don’t forget the other pillars of winter wellness: adequate sleep, regular exercise, and a healthy dose of laughter. Together, they’ll create an impenetrable fortress against the sniffles and sneezes, leaving you free to enjoy the cozy nights, snowy adventures, and all the joys that winter brings.

So, ditch the tissues, grab your fork, and embark on a delicious journey to an immune-boosted you. Let your plate be your battlefield, and these top five foods your loyal companions. Remember, a healthy body and a happy heart are the ultimate weapons against any winter woe.

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