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5 Evidence-Based Immune-Boosting Foods

By Filipa Bellette
from Chris & Filly Functional Medicine

Winter is coming – and that also means a higher rate of colds & flus! Here are 5 immune-boosting evidence-based foods that can help speed up your recovery from viral infections, including COVID – most of which are probably already sitting in your kitchen.

  1. Increase vegetable intakeThis study found that COVID severity decreased by a whopping 73% in participants who ate 40% more vegetables and other plant-based foods, while diets high in protein and low in carbs (yes – low in carbs – surprising, I know!) was linked with moderate to severe COVID. If you contract COVID, increase your vegetable and plant-food intake (up the vegetable and fruit juices!). This can be used as a preventative measure also.
  2. Nigella Seeds.There are a bunch of antiviral, immune-modulating foods that can also help prevent and improve recovery from viral infections. Nigella seeds have been used in ancient times to treat illnesses, including asthma, hypertension, diabetes, inflammation, cough, bronchitis, headache, eczema, fever, dizziness, and influenza.  This study found that nigella seeds boost the humoral immune system and induce the expression of cytokines, which lead to early viral clearance. Nigella seeds can be purchased at some health food stores or online (sometimes under the name of black cumin), and can be added to salads, smoothies, yogurt, wholefood treats, or whatever tickles your fancy! We’re lucky enough to have nigella flowers growing like crazy in our garden.
  3. Cinnamon has also been shown to be antiviral and immune-modulating – the best part: it’s usually a staple in all cupboards. At least it is in ours! I LOVE putting cinnamon in and on everything. My littlest even sprinkles it over her scrambled eggs – cuteness factor! Cinnamon has been shown to fight against many viruses, including HIV, Dengue fever, and is showing antiviral mechanisms against RNA viruses like coronavirus and other super-flus. Add heaped tsp’s (even tbsp’s!) on everything – smoothies, curries, eggs, mashed veggies, soups, hot drinks.
  4. Your antiviral fungi friend! According to this study, approximately 700 species of medicinal mushrooms with pharmacological properties have been documented. Mushrooms contain compounds that can directly inhibit viral enzymes, viral nucleic acid synthesis, and adsorption and uptake of viruses into cells. Some of the most potent antiviral mushrooms to look out for are cauliflower mushrooms and Reishi, Ling Zhi mushrooms. These mushrooms can be difficult to find in shops, but they can be easily purchased as a superfood – usually in the form of powders or tablets. Be careful of mushrooms if you have an active case of SIBO (small intestinal bacterial overgrowth).
  5. Most people know that yogurt is a healthy fermented food, containing live good bacteria. Some studies have shown that yogurt increases cytokine production, antibody production, phagocytic activity and T cell function, and natural killer (NK) cell activity, which ultimately boosts up the immune system. Another study has linked improved gut microflora as having a significant role in preventing COVID. Consuming yogurt can be part of your gut-enhancing foods to prevent against colds and flus. When purchasing yogurt, make sure you get one that doesn’t have added sugars and nasties. Plain yogurt is best, or one that is slightly sweetened with vanilla or fruit juice. Be careful of yogurt if you have histamine intolerance. If you’re allergic to dairy or dairy intolerant, or if you’re avoiding dairy as part of your healing diet protocol, sub for coconut yogurt.

Need Personalised Immune Support, or Body Systems Work To Resolve Chronic Issues? 

In our practice, Chris & Filly Functional Medicine, we are big believers in healing body systems that have burned out or become imbalanced as the BEST method for creating a robust and resilient immune system. If you’re struggling with low immunity, autoimmunity, energy, mood, or gut issues, these are strong signs that your immune system is not quite up to scratch. On the other hand, if you’ve had COVID, or even long-term problematic viruses like Glandular Fever, and are struggling with long-haul problems, please reach out. It is highly likely your body systems such as the mitochondria, brain, and/or detox pathways have become compromised. You might be feeling a bit helpless now, but know that all of these things can be reversed when we identify where the imbalances lie and treat the root causes. To start your journey, book in for a “Connect The Dots” Initial Consult HERE.

P.s. If you’re struggling with healthy eating that supports the immune system, especially if it’s showing up as emotional eating, I’m running a Root Cause of Emotional Eating Webclass on Mon 22 May 7pm for Natural Medicine Week. It’s free! And you can sign up here.

More about the author

Filipa Bellette
Filipa Bellette
– Chris & Filly Functional Medicine

Filipa Bellette is Co-Founder of multi award-winning health practice Chris & Filly Functional Medicine. She is an accredited Nutritional Medicine Practitioner, specialising in Functional Medicine. She is also a PhD Scholar, writer & regularly featured in the media, such as, Forbes and Body+Soul.

Together with her husband Chris Bellette, Filipa has worked with over 2,000+ busy, burned-out clients in the past combined 20+ years. Their practice is best known for helping high-achieving parents with energy, mood and gut issues, end their body burnout…for good! They were recently awarded as Winner in the Australian Women’s Small Business Champion Awards 2022, Tasmanian State Winner & National Finalist for the Telstra Best of Business Awards 2022, and Highly Commended in the ATMS Natural Medicine Clinic of the Year Awards 2021.

Filipa’s own passion for helping parents, especially mums in their late 30’s & 40’s, have more energy, productivity and connection, came from her own personal experience of burnout, after juggling the demands of business, family, and her failing health.