Unfortunately, there is no single food that can boost your immunity but there are lots of nutrients that can help you keep the bugs at bay this autumn.

Dietitians Association of Australia spokesman Trent Watson says nutrients, including iron, zinc, vitamin C and antioxidants, play a key role in immune function.

Go for these top 10 immunity boosters as part of a balanced diet to give your immune system the best support.


Most of us think to reach for the garlic when we are coming down with a cold and for good reason. “Garlic has antibacterial properties to help fight against infections, ” explains Positive Lifestyle Training co-owner Ceinwen Roberts.


Swap fatty meat cuts for lean red meat, fish and poultry. “These foods contain zinc, which is beneficial in reducing the severity and duration of the common cold, ” Dr Watson says.


They say an apple a day keeps the doctor away. Dietitian Margaret Hays says apples (and pears) are at their best in autumn and, like all fruit, are high in vitamin C, which supports immunity.


Lentils are great in an autumn curry or soup — and they’re a good source of non-haem iron which, Dr Watson says, is important for immune function.


Like it hot? Good news — a hint of chilli with sauteed vegetables or in a curry can help stimulate digestion and clear congestion, Ms Roberts says. “Just two teaspoons of red chilli peppers provide about 6 per cent of the daily value for vitamin C.”


Dr Watson says dark leafy greens are good sources of non-haem iron. Ms Hays says although kale is very “in” right now, also remember other notable dark leafy greens are just as good — such as spinach and broccoli, lightly steamed or stir-fried.


Feeling a bit nutty? You’re spoilt for choice, with sunflower seeds, sesame seeds, cashews, pecan and brazil nuts, Ms Hays says. “Nuts and seeds are rich in vitamins and essential fatty acids — and to get these benefits, the more variety, the better, ” she says. Dr Watson also notes nuts are a great source of zinc, so they get the thumbs up as a great snack choice.


Dr Watson says another good source of zinc is reduced-fat dairy, and Ms Hays says yoghurt has various health benefits. “Yoghurt boosts the good probiotics in your gut, ” she says. “In addition, yoghurt and other low-fat dairy are good sources of calcium, which is important to overall health.”


Many of us eat oranges or squeeze lemon into a hot cup of tea to get our vitamin C. However, although vitamin C is important for immunity, it’s not a magic cure, Dr Watson says. “While human and animal studies have shown that vitamin C does significantly improve immune function, more than 40 years of research suggest that vitamin C does not prevent the common cold or decrease the severity of symptoms, ” he says.


Unfortunately, you can’t get all your antioxidants from dark chocolate and wine, Dr Watson says. Luckily, berries are a great choice. “Berries are rich in colour and antioxidants and, with a good supply of frozen harvest, are available all year round, ” Ms Hayes says.


Australia’s premium dietitians’ industry group, the Dietitians Association of Australia says these tips are sure to help your health this autumn.

• Enjoy fruit and vegetables. Aim for two to three serves of fruit and five serves of veg each day.

• Eat zinc. Choose lean red meat, fish and poultry, as well as wholegrain cereals, legumes, reduced-fat dairy foods and nuts.

• Drink plenty of water. Have a glass, bottle or jug of water close by at all times.

• Exercise regularly. Exercise is a known immune-system booster.

Exercise = immunity

“Studies show that regular, moderate exercise — such as a daily 30-minute walk — increases the level of leukocytes, an immune-system cell that fights infection. When you’re a non-exerciser, your risk of infections — such as colds — increases compared with those who exercise, ” Trent Watson says.

Eat breakfast

Research shows eating breakfast may help fight off the cold and flu. It’s thought that this is because people who skip breakfast are more likely to miss out on key nutrients during the day. Dietitians Association of Australia.


© The West Australian

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