I recently wrote about some supplements I recommend for boosting your defences against viruses. Now, while I believe that taking supplements is a completely appropriate thing to do at this time, I want to help you double down on that by looking some of the best foods to incorporate into your diet to support your immune system’s fight against viruses.

Foods to boost your immune system

1. Ginger & turmeric

Both part of the Zingiberaceae family, the rhizomes (modified root) of these plants have shown antiviral activity (ginger by blocking viral attachment; turmeric by inhibiting viral activity). They are beautiful anti-inflammatory foods and are naturally warming. I recommend steeping thick slices of both in hot water and sipping throughout the day (along with some other additions, listed below). You can also easily add both to all sorts of recipes, from soups and curries, to stir fries and salad dressings, even desserts.

2. Allium foods

Garlic, onion, shallots, and scallions – all have immune strengthening, antioxidant and anti-inflammatory effects, to varying degrees. Garlic is by far the most valuable of these in terms of antiviral activity. Throw them in all your food. In the case of garlic, if you can tolerate it, chomp on a couple of raw cloves (or pop them in a salad dressing, for example).

3. Thyme and oregano

Thyme and oregano have shown antiviral activity and are easy to add to your diet – either fresh or dried in foods, or as a tea. In naturopathy, these two herbs are also specifically indicated in upper and lower respiratory conditions. Making them perfect for our current situation. Tea is a double win, because increasing our fluid intake is another important factor for combating viral attachment.

4. Coconut Oil

In recent research, coconut oil was found to be a safe and effective antiviral compound. It is also super easy to incorporate into your diet. Whether it’s just taking it off a teaspoon or using it in cooking, adding to smoothies, protein balls, etc.

5. Vitamin C rich foods

These are a must every winter for their immune strengthening and antiviral benefits, not just during the pandemic. The lucky thing is that there are so many foods rich in vitamin C, that you’re able to consume some at every meal without getting tired of the taste. Consider the following C rich sources: broccoli, cauliflower, kale, capsicum, chilli peppers, snow peas, citrus fruits (esp orange), berries (esp strawberries), tomato, thyme & garlic (rich source, but you don’t consume much), kiwifruit, and papaya.

And the bonus with these foods is that, like all-natural foods, they are complexes of macro and micronutrients as well as an array of beneficial plant compounds. So by adopting a “food as medicine” approach, you will get so much more than the health benefits we have listed. For example, the gingerols and shogaols in ginger are soothing to the digestive tract and antiemetic (hence its use for travel sickness). While turmeric is a good source of iron – among many other nutrients. So, when looking for foods to boost your immune system, they are a win, win, win!

Looking for recipe inspiration? We’re loving these vegan cookbooks from our friends at Booktopia

Our writers independently select all products featured on The Vegan Company. We only recommend products and services we love – and think you’ll love too. Just letting you know that when you buy something through our retail links, we may earn an affiliate commission.

Main photo by Floragraphica

About the Author

mm

Elise is a naturopath with a Bachelor of Health Science (Naturopathy) and a Master of Public Health (Professional Practice) from the University of Sydney. She works as a photographer specialising in botanical photography and as a freelance writer. Elise works closely with the environmental charity Planet Ark, shooting and writing for them and has a fortnightly column called Everyday Enviro with Elise. She is also a mum of two.

You can find out more about Elise at Floragraphica.com.au or follow her on Instagram/thisisfloragrahica – and Facebook/Floragraphica.

Our writers independently select all products featured on The Vegan Company. We only recommend products and services we love – and think you’ll love too. Just letting you know that when you buy something through our retail links, we may earn an affiliate commission.