The importance of filling our body with nutrient-rich, immune boosting foods by Dr Jen, Chef

photo1 1024x682 The importance of filling our body with nutrient rich, immune boosting foods by Dr Jen, Chef

There is a big difference between diet and nutrition. Diet is what we put into our mouths, nutrition is what is actually absorbed by our body from the food we consume.

Apparently between 70-80% of your immune system operates from our digestive system and although good nutrition starts with a healthy diet, good digestion and absorption of nutrients are the essential next steps.

It is so important to fill our body with healthy, nutrient-rich, power-packed nutrition. Eating good food is vital. But the food you eat can’t nourish your body until it’s in a form your body can use. Good digestion changes the food you eat into tiny molecules for nutrients absorption into your bloodstream.

Your blood can then carry nourishment to all the cells of your body.

With good food, good digestion and absorption of nutrients and good blood circulation, you’ll be able to build and nourish all your cells that provide you with energy. These are necessary steps for cellular nutrition.

Healthy Digestion and Absorption of Nutrients:

The saying “You are what you eat” really should be “You are what you eat and absorb.” Because nutrient absorption is essential to good health.

Here are some immune booster foods:

Here’s some foods that are reported to boost the immune system:

Most people turn to vitamin C after they’ve caught a cold but did you know it tops the charts of foods that keep your immune system running at 100%? Vitamin C helps increase the production of white blood cells, key to fighting infections. Because your body doesn’t produce or store it, daily intake of vitamin C is essential for continued health. Almost all citrus fruits are high in vitamin C and with such a variety to choose from it’s easy to add a squeeze of C to any meal.

Vitamin C not only boosts immune systems but it helps maintain healthy skin, which is the frontline in our war on colds. Think citrus fruits have the most vitamin C of any fruit or vegetable? Think again. Ounce for ounce, red bell peppers have twice as much flu-fighting vitamin C, as well as being a rich source of beta carotenes.

Broccoli is super-charged with an arsenal of vitamins and minerals ready to do battle with any germ or infection. Packed with vitamins A, C, and E, as well as numerous antioxidants, broccoli is one of the healthiest vegetables you can put on your table. The key to keeping its power intact is to cook it as little as possible, or better yet, not at all.

Found in almost every cuisine around the world, garlic not only adds a little zing to foods, it’s definitely a must-have for your health. Early civilizations recognized its value for fighting infections and modern science has shown that garlic helps to lower cholesterol and prevent hardening of arteries. Its immune-boosting properties seem to come from a heavy concentration of sulphur-containing compounds, such as allicin.

Ginger is another ingredient many turn to after they’ve caught a cold. But like vitamin C, ginger can also help you prevent that cold from taking hold in the first place. While it’s used in many sweet desserts, ginger packs some heat in the form of gingerol, a relative of capsaicin, which gives chili peppers their distinctive heat. Ginger may help decrease chronic pain and may possess cholesterol-lowering properties.

Spinach made our list not just because it’s rich in vitamin C but because it’s packed with numerous antioxidants and beta-carotene, which have been proven to increase the infection-fighting cells of our immune systems. Similar to broccoli, it is best cooked as little as possible so that its nutrients are retained.

When selecting yogurt look for ones that have “live and active cultures” printed on the label. Recent studies suggest these cultures help stimulate your immune system to help fight diseases. Additional studies also suggest a link between low vitamin D levels and an increased risk of catching a cold, so select brands fortified with vitamin D.

A key ingredient in many curries, this bright-yellow, bitter spice has been used for years as an anti-inflammatory in treating both osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis. High concentrations of curcumin, which gives turmeric its distinct color, have been shown to contain strong flu and cold fighting properties.

As one of the most popular beverages in the world, green tea’s health benefits have been studied for centuries. Packed with flavonoids, a type of antioxidant, both green and black teas have 150 to 200 mg per cup. Where green tea really shines is in its levels of epigallocatechin gallate, or EGCG, another powerful antioxidant. The fermentation process black tea goes through destroys a lot of the EGCG. Green tea, on the other hand, is steamed and not fermented, preserving that EGCG. If that wasn’t enough, it’s also a good source of the amino acid L-theanine, which aids in the production of germ-fighting compounds from your T-cells.

Leafy greens, especially dark greens, are a great source of vitamins A, C and K. Vegans and those who are lactose intolerant, the leafy green family is traditionally a good source of calcium and iron. Packed with fiber, the leafy green vegetable group is a versatile addition to a healthy diet. Mustard greens, collard greens, and kale are all in the greens family. Collard greens, common in the southern United States, are mild and rich in vitamins A, C, K and folate. Mustard greens are a bit more peppery and have the same nutritional qualities as collard greens. Kale is also rich in vitamins A, C and K, although quite bitter. I have left Jen to discuss the incredible benefits of cabbage with you.

When it comes to preventing and fighting off colds, vitamin E tends to take a backseat to the more commonly mentioned vitamin C, but vitamin E is also key to a healthy immune system. Vitamin E is a fat-soluble vitamin, meaning it requires the presence of fat to be absorbed properly. Nuts (especially almonds) are packed with vitamin E and a half cup serving provides nearly 100% of the daily recommended amount.

Knowing all the best foods to eat for health is really important.

To look, feel great and to have great health, it’s also important to know which unhealthy foods to avoid. We will discuss this in a later blog.

Until next week, live, loving life and eat well! Love Therese xxx

Here’s what Dr Jen has to say:

What Therese says makes a lot of sense. Imagine if all the fish in a lake were found to have deformities and cancerous tumours; how would biologists and wildlife experts tackle this issue?

Do you think they would simply cut out the tumours and prescribe ongoing medication for the fish? No, that would be illogical. Instead they would ask why are all of these fish so sick?

They would look at the ecosystem, the environment and consider the factors that have created the ill health of the fish. They would look at what had happened in the food chain and set about eradicating these factors and creating solutions that offer future protection.

If we become sick does it not make sense then to look at our environment and see what may be impacting our health?

Is it too many lifeless foods, too many additives, too many colours, toxins, a lack of water or lack on anti-oxidants?

These are great questions. I believe the quality of our life can be determined by the quality of questions we ask. For so many of us – poor nutrition is fundamental to our current level of health. If you or your child are chronically unwell, ask why? If your child’s bowels aren’t regular, ask why? If your child can’t concentrate, ask why?

When an animal needs certain vitamins and minerals it naturally extends its diet, it doesn’t search for a prescription. We seem to have lost the awareness that good food, regularly eaten can be medicine for the body.

I am not suggesting we do away with all drugs what I am saying is that collectively we are sicker then ever before and the compromised foods most of us eat – have contributed significantly to the decline of our health.

We are not so different to animals. Scientists have found that the number of bacterial cells in our body outweigh the number of human cells that we have by ten-to-one. We have roughly 30,000 human cells compared to over 3 million bacterial cells. What this means is that we often think that as humans beings we are far superior to other animals, that we are far more evolved and yet when we look at the neuroscience of the gut– we are far less human then we think.

What we know is that an imbalance in the good and bad bacteria in our body affects not only our digestive health and our immunity but research now shows that gut microbes somehow (they are still yet to identify exactly how) also influence our mental health.

Food is more than just a filler, food provides the required nourishment of our cells and we are only as healthy as the cells we keep.


With Therese’s list of immune boosting foods remember to buy certified organic wherever possible or at least farm fresh but confirm the non use of chemicals. Certified organic food is nutritional dynamite. Not only is organic produce free of toxins but because these fruits and vegetables are forced to grow under natural conditions, this type of stress affords them higher levels of phyto-nutrients. These nutrients help our cells communicate better with each other, help prevent mutations at a cellular level, some are anti-inflammatory, others are potent anti- oxidants (scavenge for damaging free radicals), and many have functions we are only beginning to understand. What we do know from countless studies is that these nutrients help prevent cancer, heart disease and most chronic diseases in general. They are anti-aging, boost the immune system and generally promote health.

Surprisingly, cabbage is probably one of the most important vegetables in the world when considering nutritional benefits and cancer-fghting ability. Its phyto-chemicals have been demonstrated to alter oestrogen metabolism in favourable ways (IMPORTANT FOR ALL WOMEN) and are being shown to help reduce cancer risks. Fresh cabbage is an excellent source of calcium, vitamin C and B vitamins.

When possible, buy certified organic fruit and vegetables and leave the peel on, or purchase a fruit and vegetable wash for commercial fruits so you can leave the peel on and benefit from phytonutrients. If buying certified organic produce is not always feasible then look at Environmental Working Groups Guide for Pesticide levels – http://www.ewg.org This is such a valuable resource. Here you will find peaches, apples, capsicums, celery and strawberries are some of the most sprayed fruits and vegetables. This list helps if we need to prioritise which items to purchase certified organic.

The fermented foods Therese mentions are a great source of good bacteria for the body. As a practitioner I regularly recommend that adults and children alike consume supplementary probiotics and fermented foods throughout their week to help boost digestive health and immune strength.

Remember there is a direct relationship between what you eat and the quality of your health and only you have the power to choose what is acceptable of your body and what is not and your choice should start now. See you next week.

Jen x

Here’s one of Kate’s incredibly healthy and favourite recipes. All of our incredible recipes can be found in Lunchbox Solutions:

Beef, Chicken or Prawn and Veggie Curry with Immune Boosting Foods

 The importance of filling our body with nutrient rich, immune boosting foods by Dr Jen, Chef

This flavorful curry has several healthy immune boosting ingredients, and it’s really easy to make once you have everything prepped. You can add about a 2 cup mixture of any of your favourite veggies including carrots, zucchini, spinach, capsicum (red bell pepper), broccoli, snow peas, pumpkin or sweet potato pieces, green beans and cauliflower to the recipe. You can also add 1 – 2 cups cooked chicken or prawns pieces if you like. Serve a delicious cup of Green Tea after the meal and you have your full boost for the day!

Here’s a list of some of our favorite immune boosting foods: Citrus, Capsicum (Red Bell Peppers), Broccoli, Garlic, Ginger, Spinach, Yoghurt, Almonds, Tumeric and Green Tea

PREP TIME 15 – 20 minutes

COOKING TIME 15 – 20 minutes


2 tbsp coconut oil or olive oil

1 medium onion, finely chopped

2 – 3 cups veggies of choice (chopped)

2 cups of pumpkin (cooked and mashed)

2 tsp ginger (peeled and grated or finely minced)

1 -2 garlic cloves (peeled and grated or finely minced)

1 tbsp finely minced jalapeno or hot chilli pepper (optional)

1- 2 tbsp curry powder (mild or spicy to taste)

¼ – ½ tsp turmeric (to taste)

1 – 2 tsp sea salt (to taste)

Pepper (to taste)

2 cans coconut cream or milk (about 3 cups/750ml)

1 – 2 tbsp honey or agave syrup (to taste)

1 tbsp fresh lime or lemon juice

¼ tsp lime or lemon zest (rind)

1 – 2 cups cooked chicken, beef or prawns (cut in bite size pieces…optional)

½ cup chopped almonds (for serving)

Yoghurt (for serving)

Fresh coriander (cilantro) and mint (for serving)


TIP: Open the coconut cream, prep the veggies and measure the spices and set aside until you are ready to use. Also cook chicken or seafood before starting or use leftovers. This makes the cooking process much easier and the recipes cooks very quickly once you get started.

1. Place the oil in a medium large sauce pan on medium high heat. Add the onions, ginger, garlic, hot chillies, 2 – 3 cups chopped of choice veggies and cook while stirring for 1 – 2 minutes. Then add the curry powder, turmeric, salt and pepper and continue cooking while stirring for 1 minute longer.

2. Then add the coconut cream or milk, honey, lime juice and zest, gently stir well and reduce the heat to medium and continue cooking while stirring often for about 10 – 15 minutes or until the veggies are tender.

NOTE: If you are adding chicken or prawns add them at the last 5 minutes of cooking and heat through.

3. Check for seasoning and add a little more salt and pepper if desired and serve immediately with a dollop of yoghurt and sprinkle with chopped almonds and, coriander (cilantro) and mint leaves. Its great served with quinoa or brown rice.

You can also cool the curry and then refrigerate and gently reheat later when ready to serve. The curry will keep for 3 days refrigerated.

Sending the flavour of joy


Kate xx

If you are interested in knowing how to make these easy, simple, healthy and delicious recipes, click on the below link to order your copy of Lunchbox Solutions. If you have already purchased our book, we would love to hear your thoughts.

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