Winter Immunity – My Top 5 Tips

Did you know our immunity begins in our gut? That’s right, the gut is where it’s all happening! 80% of our immune cells are made in our gut. (So are our happy hormones, by the way, such as dopamine and serotonin.)

So, if you start with good gut health, you’ll have good immunity too.

How do you know if your immunity is low? Well, if you’re catching lots of infections – and not just colds and flus, but also tummy bugs and persistent cold sores, tinea or fungal nail infections. All of these conditions can be treated and prevented with better immunity.

So, how do we heal our gut and boost our immunity?

  • Heal leaky gut with foods
  • Add good gut bacteria
  • Feed your good gut bacteria
  • Add immune supporting nutrients
  • Get enough sleep, and manage your stress

Heal leaky gut

One way to do this is with bone broths, which contain collagen, glutamine, gelatine, glycine that help to repair weakened gut lining.

When the lining of your gut is weak, food leaks out into bloodstream, making you react.

Proteins from foods that appear in the blood are attacked by the immune system. This over-reactive immune system means you have less immune cells to fight off infections.

Heal your gut – stop foods leaking out – make you less reactive – allow you to make more immune cells – decrease your chances of getting every cold or flu – increase your resilience!

Try this recipe for bone broth and pumpkin soup:

Vegetarian? A great gut healing alternative is cabbage juice. It’s as easy to make as it sounds. Drink this regularly to heal your gut.

If you don’t like bone broth, but are ok with animal products, you can make jellies from good quality gelatine and fruit juice/pulp – recipes online, such as this one:


Probiotics are good gut bacteria, and can be taken as a supplement or a fermented food. Your nutritionist can prescribe a specific strain to treat your health complaint or condition, so it’s worth getting some professional advice on this one.

Fermented foods are great for your health – but careful if you’re sensitive to food chemicals or glutamates or citric acid. Start slowly, too much of a good thing can be not so good for your sensitive gut. Some popular probiotic foods include the drinks kombucha and kefir, natural yoghurt, sauerkraut, kimchi, miso (from the fridge) and tempeh.


Prebiotics are the food that good bacteria feed on, and they are fibres. So bump up your daily fibre intake to feed your good bugs and keep them happy. Some simple additions include high fibre, wholegrain breads, vegetables and whole fruit, seeds, especially flax and chia, quinoa and buckwheat. More specifically, prebiotics include garlic, leek, onion, Jerusalem artichokes (make these into a soup with your bone broth!), asparagus, unripe (or just ripe) bananas, chicory root (coffee substitute) and dandelion greens.

Add immune supporting nutrients

Keep up your fresh fruit and veggies, but in times of need, some extra nutrients might be required.

Vitamin C is essential as an antioxidant and to fight off infections – if you can’t have salicylates or citric acid, try cabbage or broccoli, or a good quality supplement.

Zinc is also key to fighting off colds and flu. You’ll get this from seafood (especially oysters), meat, nuts and seeds, or again, a supplement may be beneficial. Your nutritionist can test if you’re deficient.

Manuka honey is great for niggling sore throats, as it’s anti-microbial. You can also try a throat spray with liquorice, zinc and Manuka honey, which your nutritionist or naturopath can prescribe.

Get enough sleep! Manage stress!

Sleep is so crucial to our health. When you’re asleep your body resets everything.

When you’re asleep, you:

  • fight infections,
  • digest food,
  • reset hormones,
  • produce what you need for the day ahead and
  • process all the inputs from the day past

Immunity and all body systems stop functioning properly if we are stressed or lacking sleep. So, look after these aspects of your health with plenty of rest and relaxation, and time with your friends and loved ones. Balance is key.

Book in to see your local nutritionist or naturopath today, to get a tailored plan to boost your immunity. Nutritionist and author of this article, Kate Gray, is practicing at Health Space Hornsby on Mondays and Wednesdays, call 94824877 or email

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