Findings uncovered by research from Australian Eggs showed that a third of Australians (33%) are not concerned about immunity despite expert warnings that influenza and respiratory infection rates are likely to rise this cold and flu season.

Dr Joanna McMillan, Nutrition Scientist and Dietitian, says, “nearly one in four (23%) Australian adults were found to have a vitamin D deficiency which may lead to an insufficient immune system response to fight off influenza and respiratory infections. Having a healthy immune system, which relies on sufficient intakes of vitamin D, is crucial.”

Dr Joanna’s top 5 supermarket staples for strengthening your immune system

1. Eggs

Egg yolks are one of the highest natural food sources of vitamin D. An average serve of two eggs has 82% of the daily recommended vitamin D intake for adults making it the easiest way to top your body up.

There are vitamin D receptors on your immune cells, so we know vitamin D can regulate the immune system. A lack of vitamin D increases susceptibility to infection and having sufficient vitamin D has been shown to reduce the ‘cytokine storm’ of inflammation, lessoning the severity of the disease.

It’s important to understand several vitamins and minerals are essential for a healthy immune system and while that may not necessarily prevent you from catching a cold, it may reduce the severity and duration of your illness.

Scrambled eggs, anyone? Egg yolks are one of the highest natural food sources of vitamin D.

2. Citrus fruit 

Don’t go past oranges, mandarins and red grapefruit as they are amongst the best sources of vitamin C. We need vitamin C every day as it is water soluble and can’t be stored in the body. Vitamin C also helps you to absorb the type of iron that is in plant foods and so it is invaluable for vegetarians and vegans to boost their iron, also required by the immune system.

3. Canned sardines or salmon 

These are oily fish that are rich in long chain omega-3 fats. These have an anti-inflammatory effect in the body and may help to dampen an over-reactive immune system to a respiratory infection. These fats also have the potential to calm symptoms of auto-immune conditions such as rheumatoid arthritis. Oily fish also provides some vitamin D.

Oranges contain vitamin C, which well help boost iron levels and your immunity.

 4. Lean red meat

Lean red meat is a key contributor to both our zinc and iron intakes. Both are essential for the immune system. Meat is so often labelled unhealthy when in fact it is rich in many nutrients. Eat it with lots of vegies and other plant foods and you have a balanced nutrient dense meal.

5. Canned beans, lentil and chickpeas 

These foods are rich sources of prebiotics that fuel a healthy microbiome. The gut microbiome is intricately involved with the immune system and the products of fermentation produce anti-inflammatory and antioxidant effects that help protect the body from damage.