It is that time of the year when people start to experience those summer sniffles. Now this could be due to hayfever or it could be a ‘summer cold’.

Colds and allergies have very similar symptoms such as sneezing, runny nose and sore throat. The main difference is that a cold comes from a virus whereas hayfever is an allergy to various pollens or spores in the air. Yes even in summer there are many cold viruses around and easily spread through things like air-conditioning.

Whatever the cause of your summer sniffles, boosting your immune system will help your body fight infections.

Here are 12 foods that help keep your immune system topped up!


This super food is a powerful antioxidant, fighting harmful ‘free radicals’ in the body. It’s great for helping clear sinuses.

Anise Seeds

This spice with a distinctive smell and sweet liquorice flavour is native to the Middle East. It’s said to be beneficial to those with respiratory conditions by taking an infusion of seeds in hot water.

Citrus fruits

Well known for their high vitamin C content, citrus fruis are excellent for supporting the immune system. Oranges, grapefruit, lemons and limes are all in abundance at this time of year so consume freely* on their own, in salads and dressings and in fruit salads


Like Anise Seeds, Fennel has a distinct liquorice flavour. It is high in Vitamin C, with antioxidant properties. Fennel is also known as an anti-microbe, fighting off the cold microorganisms.

Yogurt and kefir

Much of our immune system is actually in our gut wall, where billions of friendly bacteria live. Yogurt and kefir are superior probiotics, meaning they are excellent sources of the good bacteria.


Who doesn’t love a cuppa? Tea is thought to be a strong antioxidant particularly white tea. A cup of tea is also hydrating so very useful when you need to keep your fluids up. Herbal teas will also have anti-fungal, anti-bacterial and anti-viral properties, depending on their constituents.


Not often seen as a fashionable ‘super’ food, yet mushrooms contain vitamin A, B complex and vitamin C. They contain a powerful amino acid called ergothioneine which acts as an antioxidant, together with selenium.

Leafy greens

Not only rich in vitamin C, many leafy greens also contain iron and are key in the production of immune cells. Get your boost from kale, chard, spinach and watercress.


One of the best sources of antioxidants that you can have in your diet. Blueberries contain compounds called polyphenols which are often regarded as antioxidant powerhouses, fighting free radicals in the body.

Brazil nuts

Brazil nuts are a fantastic source of selenium which boosts cytokine production in the body. These cytokines help immune cells respond and move quickly towards sites of inflammation.

Carrots and sweet potatoes

Carrots and sweet potatoes contain beta-carotene which is converted in the body to Vitamin A. It is an antioxidant and helps the body fight infection.

Sunflower seeds

These little seeds not only make a great snack but are also great immune boosters due to their Vitamin E and selenium content.




* – do check that any medication you’re on is ok to be taken alongside grapefruit