Winter immune support for the family

It seems that so many people are suffering with nasty colds and viruses at the moment. Here are some nutrition and product tips to support you and your family to keep you healthy and recover quickly.

Food-wise try to limit processed and junk foods and include colourful fruits and veg which contain antioxidants. Carrots, butternut squash and sweet potato contain beta carotene which is converted to vitamin A -an important antioxidant to support the immune system. Vitamin A itself is found in egg yolk, meat and dairy products. Vitamin C helps speed recovery of colds and is high in citrus fruits (like oranges and satsumas), kiwis, peppers, sprouts, broccoli and parsley. Try to avoid shop-bought fruit juice and smoothies as the natural sugar and heat-process cancels out the goodness.

Other food-based remedies include herbs like sage and thyme for sore throats. Infuse in hot water and drink or add to foods like soup. Garlic contains allicin which is antimicrobial and anti-viral. Turmeric and ginger have anti-inflammatory properties and can be added to soups, curries, homemade smoothies and homemade juices. Turmeric supports respiratory infections and needs to be used with fats and black pepper to aid absorption. Raw honey has anti-viral and anti-septic properties. It needs to be raw honey or genuine Manuka honey to have the health benefits. A warming drink of honey and organic lemon using raw honey, garlic with added bee propolis, can be very powerful. Bee propolis is a resin-like substance made by honeybees. It has many healing and anti-viral properties. You can get it as drops like theseor in capsules like these from Cytoplan.

Some of you may know that I’m a big fan of herbal teas and use them therapeutically. You may not know about Tulsi, tea. Tulsi, otherwise known as Holy Basil, is a herb with many health benefits including supporting blood glucose, blood pressure, stress and the adrenals and respiratory health. Tulsi has been shown in the research to have anti-inflammatory and anti-viral properties and may support respiratory infections and asthma. I like Pukka’s Tulsi Clarity tea, available from most supermarkets and The Natural Dispensary.

I’m always recommending elderberry as it has been shown in research to be effective against viruses. I like Lamberts Imuno-strength which contains elderberry, rosehip and zinc. Or Sambucol elderberry products such as drops for baby, chewable teddies for 4-12 year olds, or  Immuno Forte, which contains zinc and added vitamin C. Zinc is important for immune health and good long-term gut health. It is found in meat, fish, seafood, pumpkin seeds and chickpeas. Vitamin D3 is essential for the immune system. It is only available through sun exposure and supplementation and should be supplemented by children and adults, especially in winter. Your multi vitamin might contain vitamin D3 -usually about 10µg- but adults can take a higher dose. I like vitamin D3 and K2 drops as a boost like these here from Nutri Advanced. If you are not sure on the levels of nutrients you are taking, please ask.

Another approach is to use medicinal mushrooms for immune support. They are backed by much research. Hifas da Terra is a reputable company who produce immune supporting products for adults and children. This product,  Dr Immune Five, is a syrup for children that contains mushrooms and vitamins for immune support. Or Hifas da Terra have this product, Bio-defense, for adults which contains mushrooms and vitamins C and D. There’s a nice organic mushroom coffee by Kiki Health (also available as decaf). It’s a really nice coffee -and I am someone who prefers proper coffee to instant. Alternatively, you can add a little mushroom powder to your own coffee. I like good all-rounder, chagamushroom powder.

You might be wondering why, as a nutritional therapist specialising in gut health and IBS, I haven’t recommended a probiotic. That’s because I tend to only use them very specifically in my clinic. If you’re wondering about probiotics, you can safely take them unless severely immunocompromised. If taking them makes you feel good -then great. If they don’t suit you or you don’t notice improvement, then stop. You can nurture your gut bacteria by feeling them plenty of fibre from veg, salads, onions, garlic, fruit, etc. Or include fermented foods into the diet. Examples of fermented food are green olives, sauerkraut, kimchi, kefir (live cultured yoghurt), parmesan cheese, miso, tempeh and kombucha.

All products can be purchased from the Natural Dispensary with your subscriber/client 10% discount code if desired. Please subscribe via my website or email for your discount code. As always, this does not replace the advice of your doctor. And if on medication please seek advice before taking supplements and herbs.

Hope you found something useful in there and hope you stay well during the holiday season

Here’s an immune-supporting recipe that I shared on Instagram (@katedimmernutrition) and Facebook this week. My facebook page is new (thanks to being hacked) and is called ‘Kate Dimmer Nutrition-new page’.


Immune Boosting Carrot, Ginger and Turmeric soup



  • 1 large onion
  • 5 medium carrots (about 330g)
  • 2 stalks of celery
  • A knob of fresh ginger (20g), grated
  • 2 garlic cloves, crushed
  • Juice of 1 lime
  • Sprinkle of chilli flakes
  • 1/2 to 1 teaspoon ground turmeric
  • Good grind of black pepper
  • Punch of sea salt
  • 1 litre good quality stock
  • Fresh coriander leaves to garnish
  • Coconut oil



•Peel and dice the onion, carrot and celery .

•Sweat the veg in coconut oil and a pinch of sea salt in a sauté pan over a low to medium heat until softening.

•Add the garlic, ginger, turmeric, pepper and chilli flakes and stir.

•Add half the stock to the pan and simmer until the veg is soft. About 10 mins.

•Add the remaining stock and simmer for a few minutes.

•Use a blender or stick blender to blend taking caution as it is hot liquid.

•Add fresh lime juice, stir and serve with fresh coriander leaves.