Foods to eat to help you stay healthy

Having a healthy immune system and looking after your physical and mental health is important at year round, but it can feel even more important to do so over the winter months. 

It's that time of year when everyone around us seems to be going down with one virus or ailment or another. Jonathan Hourihane, from the RCSI University of Medicine and Health Sciences in Dublin, Ireland, the increases in eczema, asthma, hay fever, and food allergies over the past 30 years have likely resulted from decreased exposure to infections as well.


Role of the immune system

According to Hopkins Medicine, the immune system protects your body from outside invaders, such as bacteria, viruses, fungi, and toxins (chemicals produced by microbes). It is made up of different organs, cells, and proteins that work together. But with our bodies a little out of practice fighting these outside invaders what can we consume to help us get our defences back up?

There are a few immune-boosting foods that are understood to support the proper function of our internal defences. We’ll explore some of them below:

Immune-boosting foods


A nutrient-dense superfood, blueberries are great for your immune system and contain 4 grams of fibre, vitamin K and C plus Manganese. And, they’re lightly sweet, so they work great as a flavouring for other, more bland foods like oats. Keep them in pre-portioned baggies in the fridge for a healthy snack anytime.


Now widely popular for its health benefits, turmeric contains Curcumin. According to Healthline, “Due to its many positive health effects, such as the potential to prevent heart disease, Alzheimer’s, and cancer, curcumin may aid longevity.”


Steam it, boil it or grind it up into a smoothie; spinach is as good for you as they say. According to the Mayo Clinic, “Spinach is high in vitamins A and C and folate. It's also a good source of magnesium. The plant compounds in spinach may boost your immune system. The carotenoids found in spinach — beta carotene, lutein and zeaxanthin — also are protective against age-related vision diseases, such as macular degeneration, as well as heart disease and some types of cancer.”


Ginger actually helps you kill germs. That’s right. According to Web MD, “Certain chemical compounds in fresh ginger help your body ward off germs. They’re especially good at halting [the growth] of bacteria like E.coli and Shigella, and they may also keep viruses like RSV at bay.” That is better than a squirt or two of hand sanitiser for sure.

Oily fish

According to Science Daily, “Fish oil rich in DHA and EPA is widely believed to help prevent disease by reducing inflammation, but until now, scientists were not entirely sure about its [immune-enhancing] effects.” Previously, oily fish wasn’t recommended for people with compromised immune systems but now it looks like it actually enhances your white blood cells.


In recent years, there has been a renewed focus on the importance of good gut health, with several studies now shining a light on its importance to our overall health and wellbeing. Beyond its impact on our digestive health, research shows that good gut health can have a profound impact on both our physical and mental health too. From taking a toll our mood, sleep, energy levels, and even brain function, to supporting our immune systems and influencing the likelihood of diseases inflammation, diabetes, and cardiovascular diseases – the bacteria in our gut has a lot to answer for.

While a balanced, nutritious diet is key to living healthily, some foods are better than others at helping more of the ‘good’ bacteria in your gut to flourish. Studies show that plenty of fibrous vegetables, fruits, legumes, natural yoghurts, fermented foods, and whole grains, as well as foods rich in prebiotics and polyphenols, are ideal for encouraging better overall gut health.

This is because foods such as these are often less easily digested by the human body. As a result, they travel further in the digestive tract and lead to the growth of healthier bacteria in your gut, such as bifidobacterial and lactobacilli, to break them down...

Weights in hands during a fitness class

Other things you can do

In addition to eating well, exercise can help to boost your immune system. If you’re over 55 and looking to get started with a wellness routine, visit one of our Audley Club locations. Our team of Personal Trainers can help devise a fitness plan to take full advantage of a good diet and exercise for a better-functioning immune system.

Browse more health and wellbeing stories from our Audley Club and Audley Care teams.