It’s never been more important to look after your immune system. Our functional nutritionist Vinka Wong teams with Ginny Grant to give you recipes that not only taste good but do you good, too.

As I’m sure you’ve all noticed, our immune systems have been the hottest topic around many a dinner table or kitchen bar this past year. I have had lots of enquiries from clients as they start to question how they can improve and fortify their natural immunity and defence networks.

While these discussions get me super-excited, it’s not lost on me that these times can be terribly stressful for many. But, there is a silver lining to the COVID-19 pandemic; we are developing a deeper understanding of how important it is to be personally responsible for our health, and in particular to take care of our immune systems.

The first thing to know about your immune system is that it is not simple at all. I think of it like an orchestral composition, with many instruments all working in sync to produce an incredible concert. At our concert there are two important sets.

The first set is the innate immune response. Innate immunity is immunity that we are all born with. This type of immunity is written in your genes, offering lifelong protection. The innate immune response is fast acting and non-specific, meaning it does not respond differently based on the specific virus or bacteria that it detects.

If the innate immune system can’t get rid of an infection, the second part of the concert begins: the adaptive immune system. It has a vast array of instruments, each tuned to a specific task. There are dendritic cells, which act as messengers from the innate immune system and tell the adaptive immune system which viral proteins it should seek out and destroy. There are killer T-cells, which hunt down and kill cells that have been infected. There are helper T-cells, which stimulate killer T-cells and recruit yet another class of cells called macrophages to gobble up infected cells, and they also stimulate B-cells, which bring this whole immunity concert to a crescendo.

Despite the complexity of your immune system, it’s not difficult to keep it operating at its best. In fact, one of the easiest ways to support your immune health is with the thing a lot of us love: food. I’m quite happy to eat myself healthy.

When it comes to foods that support your immunity, think nourishing whole foods – vegetables, fruit, nuts and seeds, good sources of animal protein and foods that are sources of probiotics (fermented products). Some of these whole foods pack more of a punch than others, so to help I have collected a few of my favourites that not only provide key elements for strong immune systems but also taste delicious.

If you are interested in seeing more of my recipes you can also check out my website VINKA WONG