With the kids back to school this week, it’s more important than ever to look at your family’s immune health. How our bodies respond or react to the bugs and viruses our kids will be exposed to at school will depend on the health and strength of our immune systems. While the adults in the house will be aware of the benefits of healthy eating, exercise, and nutritional supplements as ways to support immune health, sometimes it’s hard to get that message through to the children.

The good news is that your pantry or kitchen cupboards could be a source of much immune boosting properties through the foods your family eats. Some can be even be added without the kids realising! 

Here are our top 5 ingredients for boosting your immune system:

This spice can help to support every system within the body. Asian cultures have benefited from Turmeric for thousands of years. Turmeric contains a powerful antioxidant called curcumin that protects cells from free radical harm. Its antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties make it an effective tool to help ward off viruses and keep your immune system strong.

Traditional Indian cooking often uses black pepper with turmeric as a medicine.

Fresh or ground turmeric can be added to curries, soups, smoothies, stir fries, or even pancakes if you’d like a golden glow!

TIP: Always use black pepper when cooking with turmeric as taking black pepper with turmeric can help your body to absorb those powerful anti-inflammatory properties and benefit from the antioxidants contained within.

Often thought of for its benefits in digestive health, ginger is also a potent antioxidant with anti-inflammatory and antimicrobial properties. It can help to boost immune function and is a tasty addition to any meal!

Ginger can be used dried or fresh, though the fresh root has much more flavour and taste than dried ginger and is more potent.

Once peeled and grated, ginger can easily be thrown into various sauces, glazes, and marinades to brighten up the dish. Often associated with Asian cooking, ginger is commonly used in stir-fries, but its spicy, zesty taste is also delicious in beverages, baked goods, marinades and on fruit and vegetables.

An immune system warrior, garlic is a powerful food to help protect the body from infections and illness. Garlic contains allicin, a potent phytonutrient that is fantastic for fighting off germs and has also been indicated as being beneficial to cardiac health, fighting foot fungus and even improving your skin.

To get the most health benefits from garlic, always choose fresh over bottled as the allicin is most potent in fresh cloves. Another important tip is to let the garlic sit after you mince it, crush it or chop it. This is because the enzymes from the allicin need a few minutes to start working.

Garlic is a tasty addition to any meal and can be taken whole by those brave enough!

While not a staple in every house, the humble pineapple can be used to help boost the immunity and fight off bugs and viruses because it’s high in the bioflavonoid, bromelain. Bromelain breaks down mucus to help keep your airways clear.

Add pineapple to smoothies, fruit salad, homemade pizzas, stir fry dishes or even cocktails for those 18+. It can also be made into a juice, used in baking, grilled on its own, used as a marinade, or the perfect accompaniment to your favourite meats.

The use of oregano goes back to ancient Greek times when Hippocrates used it as an antiseptic. Oregano oil contains an essential compound called carvacrol, which has antimicrobial properties. The herb has shown antimicrobial activity in a number of studies.

Unlike most herbs, oregano is mostly commonly sold and used in its dry form, as the aromas of fresh oregano are highly pungent and can easily overpower a dish.

Oregano is a great addition to a wide variety of dishes, from light salads to hefty Italian sauces. Oregano is commonly used in pizza and pasta sauces, combined with olive oil to create flavourful oregano oil, Italian vinaigrettes, and marinades for lamb, chicken, and beef dishes. Other ingredients that pair well with oregano include garlic, basil, onion, and thyme.

Keeping these ingredients available in your kitchen and adding in to your family’s meals could benefit your overall immunity to viruses and illness.

Check to see how many are on your shopping list!