How to boost your immune system naturally


No one likes to be ill, but there’s lots you can do to support your immune system to keep you healthy.

Your immune system is a network of cells, organs, proteins and antibodies that work to protect you against bacteria, viruses and parasites. Whilst we usually only think of our immune system when we feel ill, it’s actually working every day to keep us healthy.

What are the best ways to keep your immune system healthy?

Your immune system is made up of lots of individual parts, which all work together to protect you from infection. Due to its complexity, even scientists don’t fully understand how it all works, but they do know that following a healthy lifestyle will help support each function of your immune system.

The best vitamins and minerals for your immune system

There are a few key vitamins and minerals that are known to help support your immune system. If you eat a healthy, varied diet with lots of fruits and vegetables, you should be able to get all the nutrients you need.

Vitamin A – this supports the normal functioning of the immune system as it’s thought to help develop a type of white blood cell that produces antibodies. Some sources of vitamin A include eggs, dark green leafy vegetables and cod liver oil.

Vitamin C – this can help support cellular functions needed by the immune system. Oranges, orange juice, broccoli, tomatoes, strawberries and red/green peppers are your best source.

Vitamin D – this will help to keep your immune system strong, with the ability to fight off infections quickly. As most vitamin D is received from sunlight, the UK Government recommends a daily supplement between October and March.

Zinc – this contributes to the normal function of the immune system and can be found in seafood, red meat, chickpeas, eggs, pumpkin and sunflower seeds. Be careful not to consume more than the recommended daily allowance, which is 25mg.

What are the best foods to boost your immune system?

Whilst eating a healthy, balanced diet is vital in supporting your immune health, there are several foods that are thought to give it that extra little kick.

Cinnamon – can reduce bacteria’s ability to multiply, and if you do end up suffering from a cold, it should help it to clear up quicker. Sprinkle some over hot chocolate or a cup of tea, or try mixing it with raw honey, which has similar properties.

Citrus fruits – are great for vitamin C, which can help to fight off infections. Vitamin C can’t be stored by your body, so you need to try and incorporate foods that are rich in vitamin C every day. Try oranges, lemons and limes.

Watermelon – these contain citrulline, which helps keep your heart healthy, and they’re rich in vitamins A, C and B6 too. Their red flesh supplies your body with lycopene, which helps keep your immune system balanced.

Broccoli – when it comes to choosing your five-a-day, make sure broccoli becomes a firm favourite as it’s bursting with nutrients like vitamins A, C and E and contains choline which is good for your gut. Instead of cooking your broccoli, try to eat it raw if you can, as it’s more nutritious this way. Similar vegetables that are classed as super foods when it comes to your immune system include sprouts, kale and cauliflower.

Garlic – raw garlic is brilliant at giving your body’s immune system a helping hand. It has natural antibacterial and anti-inflammatory properties, helping you ward off illness and recover quicker. Raw garlic can increase the number of t-cells in your blood, which in turn fight viruses. Crush or slice garlic cloves and add to salad dressings as garlic’s health powers are best when it’s raw.

Yoghurt – instead of pouring milk on your cereal in the morning, why not add a dollop of yoghurt instead? You need to choose a yoghurt that contains live cultures or ‘friendly bacteria’ as these help your immune system fight against bad bacteria in the gut. They can also encourage your body to produce more white blood cells.

Mushrooms – these are an interesting food ingredient, because – just like us – they synthesise Vitamin D when they are exposed to UV light. You should therefore choose wild mushrooms or mushrooms grown in UV light. They are the only plant source of vitamin D, which supports your immune system.

Bell peppers – these contain lots of vitamin A, which can help repair your body’s mucosal barriers (easily damaged by infection).

Chillies – fresh red and green chillies are incredible health boosters. They contain lots of vitamin A and C (nutrients which can boost the immune system) and capsaicin which can help clear congestion and phlegm.

Elderberries – these are full of flavonoids and they can help stop viruses in their tracks. Even if you do develop a cold or flu, you may find that your body recovers much more quickly if you’ve been eating elderberries.

Top Tips:

When you go shopping, the easiest way is to pick a wide range of fruits and vegetables that are lots of different colours. Not only will your plate look more tempting, but you’ll be getting all your immune-boosting nutrients as well. I'm not a big fan of frozen anything but there is quite a bit of evidence showing that frozen frutis and vegeteables have a higher nutrient content that fresh ones simply because they're quite litteraly frozen in time before they naturally start detorieting/oxidise. Frozen fruits and vegs can help you reduce waste too by allowing you to keep them for a very long period of time. Give it a go.

What are the best herbs for your immune system?

As is often the case, herbs rarely do just one thing. Some herbs that have antiviral activity can also modulate or boost the immune system. That’s really cool! Because really, when we talk about any type of infection, it’s your immune system that is the biggest and baddest player on the field and you want to support it and rely on it as much as you can. Using herbs to ward off a viral attack is just one way to use herbs for a viral infection. 

Let's take a look at some of my favourite herbs.

Elderflower is one of the best herbal medicines for supporting a healthy fever process, especially when someone is hot, restless, and not sweating. Elderflower relaxes and opens the capillaries and allows for heat to escape. It's also commonly taken at the onset of an illness to shorten the duration. Herbalist Maude Grieve wrote in the 1930s that elderflowers are an “almost infallible cure for an attack of influenza in its first stage.”

Mint tea also brings welcome relief to the symptoms of colds and influenza. Hot mint tea can support a healthy fever process while also relieving tension and mild aches and pains and supporting the digestion during the viral infection.

While fresh rose hips are famous for being high in vitamin C, dried rose hips are also filled with antioxidants that help to modulate inflammation. The soothing demulcent qualities of rose hips can also soothe an irritated and dry throat. Plus, they taste really good!

Taken as a hot tea, yarrow can make you sweat. It promotes circulation to the periphery, dilating capillaries and letting heat escape through the skin. Used in this way, it can be a powerful treatment supporting the fever process when someone is hot, restless, and not sweating. Yarrow is very similar to elderflower in this action, but based on their taste and my experience, it feels like they work in different ways. From modern science, in vitro studies show that yarrow may also have the ability to inhibit viral replication. Note: Yarrow is not recommended during pregnancy.

Shop cold & immune herbal support

immune boosting herbal tea      man flu natural herbal cold remedy     natural herbal remedy to relieve nasal congestion    healthy lung natural herbal cough remedy

Exercise to support your immune system

Whilst exercise is known to improve your overall fitness levels and feelings of wellbeing, there is some scientific thinking that regular, moderate exertion could also give your immune system a boost. One theory is that exercise could help remove bacteria from your lungs, whilst another considers whether a rise in body temperature (during and after physical activity) could prevent bacteria from growing. 

So the old basics (and the good bases) - eat well, move more and spread the love! :) 


Sign up to stay tuned with my latest herbal recipes, tips and exclusive offers!  


Leave a comment

Please note, comments must be approved before they are published



Sold Out