Nutrition Experts Reveal What to Eat to Help Protect Yourself from Coronavirus

Australian nutrition coach and chef Lee Holmes (pictured) has revealed the best tricks to boost your immunity ahead of winter

As the coronavirus outbreak sweeps across the globe, people are stockpiling disinfectant, preparing to self-isolate and cancelling their travel plans to affected countries.

And while there is no one way to avoid infection entirely, strengthening your immune system with particular food ingredients can go a long way to reduce your risk of contamination.

Australian nutritionists and health professionals have shared how antioxidant-rich live bacteria supplements, garlic, eggs and turmeric can help boost your health fast.


Antioxidant-rich foods including berries, garlic and onion are essential for building up the immune system, which fights off viruses, nutritionist Lee Holmes wrote in a blog post.

They contain Vitamins C, B and E which help reduce the risk of disease and help fight off infections.

According to Lee, antioxidant-rich foods, which also include eggplants, pumpkins and carrots, should be eaten at least once a day.


‘Now that we’ve fought off oxidative damage, it’s time to look at controlling inflammation,’ Lee said.

‘Consuming anti-inflammatory rich foods is essential when it comes to the immune system. To ensure you’re eating enough anti-inflammatory rich foods, up your intake of vegetables and fruits.’

Eating at least five vegetables each day can help fight inflammation and ingredients such as turmeric have additional benefits.

‘One of my favourite anti-inflammatory ingredients is turmeric. I add it to everything. Seriously. The compound in turmeric known as curcumin holds a plethora of benefits,’ Lee said.


Zinc can be found in a range of foodstuffs including grass-fed beef, lamb, spinach and oysters – and Lee describes it as ‘the absolute underdog of the immune system pyramid’.

It helps skin and bones and is particularly useful for fighting the flu as it attacks the infected cells.

‘Eating foods rich in zinc is vital when it comes to looking after your immune system, as well as your gut,’ she explained.

You can include zinc in your diet by incorporating more fish and seafood into your day.


Nutritional therapist Hannah Braye said most people are aware of how bacteria supplements can benefit your digestion, but many others don’t realise how good they can be at supporting the immune system.

‘Over 70 per cent of the immune system resides in the lining of the gut and is supported by a diverse community of bacteria,’ Ms Braye told FEMAIL.

‘Beneficial species of gut bacteria have been shown to influence both the innate and acquired immune systems. Taken over the winter months, they have been shown to significantly shorten common colds and reduce the severity of symptoms.’

Ms Braye recommends multi-strain products like Bio-Kult Multi-Strain Advanced Formula, which contains 14 different strains, as they are believed to have more positive benefits overall.


Eggs are an extremely nutritious food containing more than 20 essential vitamins and minerals including good quality protein, good fats and vitamins A and E, nutritionist Susie Burrell wrote on her website.

You can get many of these vitamins and minerals from other foods, but the one exception is selenium, a ‘powerful antioxidant that plays a key role in cell health and is found in very few foods including eggs and Brazil nuts’.

A single egg, for example, provides a quarter of your daily selenium requirement.

As well as infertility, muscle weakness, hair loss and mental fog, depleted selenium can lead to a weakened immune system.

What cooking ingredients will help to boost immunity?


They are a powerhouse for supporting the immune system and have been acknowledged by eastern medics for thousands of years for their superpowers. The therapeutic component in these wonderful fungi act as antibacterial, anti-inflammatory and cell-regenerating agents.


These ingredients provide antibacterial, antioxidant and anti-inflammatory action to relieve the unfavourable symptoms of flu.

Garlic, chilli and onion

Supporting your body’s natural defence system. Allicin, a compound in garlic, is known to boost the white blood cell’s response to illness. Onions also have multiple immunity-supporting compounds, whilst green chillies are rich in vitamin C to boost resistance to infection.


A herb that blooms in the cool, high-altitude regions of the continent, Rhodiola Rosea is widely acknowledged for its ability to assist in managing stress and anxiety in humans.

A study by Appalachian State University Human Performance Laboratory at the North Carolina Research Campus also suggests this super herb can help decrease the infection rate of viruses.

In this study, marathon runners who took 600 milligrams of Rhodiola Rosea one month before their race had a higher chance of protection against viral infection after the marathon.

This is significant because runners (and other athletes) often become extremely prone to viral sickness after exerting their bodies for an extended period.

Rhodiola Rosea can be consumed in tea or tablet form as found in Clariti supplements by Australian company, Xootro.


Green tea contains flavonoids that are believed to help block the production of virus-spreading enzymes in the body.

Beyond this, it is extremely high in antioxidants and can give our bodies a much-needed boost to help fight viral symptoms when we become infected by a virus.

It is also listed as a metabolism booster which is vital to maintaining a healthy, well-flushed body.

Lee Holmes’s immune-boosting roasted garlic bisque recipe


Serves four 

4 garlic bulbs, unpeeled

60 ml (2 fl oz/14 cup) extra virgin olive or coconut

1 brown onion, roughly chopped

1 leek, white part only, washed well and roughly chopped

1 litre (35 fl oz/4 cups) good-quality chicken stock or bone broth

3 parsnips, peeled and roughly chopped

3 free-range egg yolks

2 pinches of ground nutmeg, or to taste 100 g (312 oz) macadamia nuts, dry-roasted and roughly chopped or crushed

2 tablespoons chopped flat-leaf (Italian) parsley, to serve


Preheat the oven to 200°C (400°F)

Cut about 5 mm (1/4 inch) off the tops of the garlic bulbs to expose the cloves

Place the garlic bulbs in a small baking dish, add 1 tablespoon of the oil and toss to coat

Turn the garlic cut side up, then cover the dish tightly with foil

Bake for 30–35 minutes, or until the garlic skins are golden brown and tender

Leave to cool, then squeeze the garlic out of the skins

Heat the remaining olive oil in a large saucepan over medium heat. Sauté the onion and leek for 3–4 minutes, or until softened

Add the roasted garlic, stock and parsnip. Reduce the heat to low, then cover and simmer for about 30–35 minutes, or until the vegetables are tender

Leave to cool slightly, then purée the soup using a food processor or hand-held stick blender

In a small bowl, whisk the egg yolks. While the soup is still warm, and with the food processor or blender still running, add the egg yolks and whiz until combined

Season to taste with the nutmeg, and sea salt and freshly ground black pepper

If you need to warm the soup to serve, stir gently over low heat until heated through, but no longer than 1–2 minutes, or the yolks will curdle

Ladle into bowls, top with the macadamias and parsley and serve



January 25 

Three men aged 43, 53, and 35 who had recently travelled to China contracted the disease.

Two flew in from Wuhan while the other arrived in Sydney from Shenzhen, south China.

They were treated in isolation at Westmead Hospital.

January 27  

A 21-year-old woman is identified as the fourth person to test positive for the illness in NSW.

The woman, a student at UNSW, flew into Sydney International Airport on flight MU749 on January 23 and presented to the emergency department 24 hours later after developing flu-like symptoms.

March 1 

A man in his 40s is confirmed as the fifth coronavirus case in the state and a woman in her 50s as the sixth. Both returned to Sydney from Iran. 

March 2 

The 41-year-old sister of a man who had returned from Iran with the disease was one of three confirmed cases. The second locally-acquired case was a 53-year-old male health worker who hadn’t travelled for many months.

The other new case is a 31-year-old man who flew into Sydney on Saturday from Iran and developed symptoms 24 hours later.

March 3

Six more cases are confirmed in NSW. They included a 39-year-old man who had flown in from Iran and a 53-year-old man who arrived from Singapore last Friday.

Two women aged in their 60s who arrived in Sydney from South Korea and Japan respectively were also confirmed.

A man in his 30s who returned from Malaysia to Sydney on Malindo Air flight OD171 on March 1 was also confirmed infected.

A 50-year-old woman is diagnosed with coronavirus. The woman is a carer at a nursing home in Macquarie Park in Sydney’s north. She had not been overseas and contracted the virus in Australia.

March 4

A 95-year-old woman died at a Sydney hospital on Wednesday night after developing a respiratory illness from the coronavirus, bringing the death toll to two.

A Macquarie University lecturer tested positive for coronavirus on Wednesday after returning from Iran.

A further six cases confirmed on Wednesday evening. They included an 82-year-old aged care resident from the Dorothy Henderson Lodge, where the 95-year-old woman was staying.

The new cases include a female doctor who works at Liverpool hospital, a female patient from the Northern Beaches, a male from Cronulla, a woman who returned from the Phillippines and a woman in her 70s.

March 5

A health care worker, who attended the same conference as the doctor from Ryde Hospital, also tests positive.

A boy from Epping Boys High School is diagnosed with COVID-19 forcing the school to temporarily close.


January 25  

A Chinese national aged in his 50s becomes the first confirmed case of the coronavirus in Australia.

The man flew to Melbourne on China Southern flight CZ321 from Wuhan via Guangzhou on January 19.

He was quarantined at Monash Hospital in Clayton in Melbourne’s east.

January 29   

A Victorian man in his 60s is diagnosed with the coronavirus.

He became unwell on January 23 – two days after returning from the Chinese city of Wuhan, the epicentre of the outbreak.

The man was confirmed as positive on January 29 and was subsequently seen by doctors at the Monash Medical Centre.

January 30 

 A woman in her 40s is found to have coronavirus.

She was visiting from China and mostly spent time with her family.

She is being treated at Royal Melbourne Hospital.

February 1 

A woman in her 20s in Melbourne is found to have the virus.

February 22

Two passengers taken off the Diamond Princess cruise ship test positive.

February 25

Another passenger taken off the cruise ship tests positive.

March 1

Victorian man confirmed to have coronavirus after the 78-year-old was evacuated to Melbourne from a Darwin quarantine centre.

It is confirmed a Victorian woman in her 30s has tested positive for coronavirus after flying from Malaysia to Melbourne via Indonesia.

March 4

Victorian man in his 30s confirmed to have coronavirus after returning from Iran. Health Minister Jenny Mikakos said the man was ‘almost symptom-free’ after self-isolating


January 29

Queensland confirms its first case after a 44-year-old Chinese national was diagnosed with the virus. He is being treated at Gold Coast University Hospital.

January 30

A 42-year-old Chinese woman who was travelling in the same Wuhan tour group as the 44-year-old man tests positive. She is in Gold Coast University Hospital in stable condition.

February 4

An eight-year-old boy was diagnosed with coronavirus. He is also from the tour group where the other Queensland cases came from.

February 5

A 37-year-old man, who was a member of a group of nine Chinese tourists in quarantine on the Gold Coast, also tested positive.

February 6  

A 37-year-old woman was diagnosed with coronavirus from the same travel group that flew to Queensland from Melbourne on January 27.

February 21 

Two Queensland women, aged 54 and 55, tested positive for COVID-19 and will be flown to Brisbane for further treatment.

A 57-year-old woman from Queensland also tested positive for the virus.

February 28

A 63-year-old woman was confirmed to have the virus after returning to the Gold Coast from Iran.

March 3

A 20-year-old man from China was confirmed as the tenth person to be infected by the coronavirus in Queensland. The man had travelled to Dubai for at least 14 days before entering Australia, via Brisbane on February 23.

March 4

A 26-year-old man from Logan in Brisbane is diagnosed with coronavirus. He arrived back in Australia from Iran.

March 5 

An 81-year-old man who had returned to Brisbane from Thailand and a 29-year-old woman who had come via Singapore from London are diagnosed with coronavirus.


February 1  

A Chinese couple in their 60s who arrived in Adelaide from Wuhan to visit relatives are confirmed to have coronavirus.

A 24-year-old woman from South Australia was transferred to Royal Adelaide Hospital.

March 4

Mother, 40, is diagnosed after flying to Australia from Iran via Kuala Lumpur.

Another 24-year-old woman, not related to the previous woman, was in a stable condition in Adelaide hospital after falling ill following overseas travel.

March 5

The eight-month-old child of the 40-year-woman, diagnosed on March 4, is also diagnosed with coronavirus.

A 58-year-old man who travelled to SA on March 3 from Taiwan also tests positive


February 21 

A 78-year-old man from Western Australia was transferred to Sir Charles Gairdner Hospital in Perth. On February 28, he was taken into intensive care in a ‘serious’ condition and later died. His wife was also diagnosed with coronavirus.

March 1 

The elderly man died in the early hours of the morning from the virus at Sir Charles Gairdner Hospital.

March 5

A woman in Perth is diagnosed with the virus after flying into the city from the UK, via Dubai 


March 2

The man who travelled from Iran to Australia on Saturday tested positive for COVID-19.


March 4

A tourist in Darwin has tested positive for coronavirus in what is the first confirmed case in the Northern Territory.

NT Health confirmed the 52-year-old man as the first case of COVID-19 in the community on Wednesday evening.

The man recently arrived in Darwin via Sydney and has had limited contact with the local community, NT Health said in a statement.

SOURCE: Daily Mail, Matilda Rudd and Mary Mrad