Immune Boosting Foods

During this unprecedented pandemic, it is imperative to try and remain as calm and informed as possible, mind yourself and others, by following instructions by the Health Authorities and your local Government, and above all protect yourself by staying healthy. Mitigation is a community effort, and by being mindful, and not fearful, we can get over this health crisis together, as collective conscious beings. 

Self care is important during a health crisis, and the best natural defense for fighting any virus is strengthening our very own immune system. The most efficient way to support our immune system is to eat nutrient dense food, full of fresh fruits and vegetables, to exclude greasy, fried food, processed, foods, as well as avoiding processed sugar the best we can. Three other important components of being healthy and boosting your immune system are to stay active and fit, learning to manage stress levels, and getting enough quality of sleep.

Hippocrates, Greek Father of Medicine, always said health starts from the gut, so it is important to get our gastrointestinal health in check, so as to strengthen our over all immune system. Hippocrates also stressed the state of our mind is as important as the body, and that our thoughts play a role in influencing the body’s health. I cannot say it enough, being stress free, and thinking positive is equivalent as what you eat. 

Hydration is also an integral part of health, an abundance of liquids should be ingested, 8-10 glasses of water and even more- daily. This will help hydrate your body, and remove toxins. 

Understanding Viruses

Some simple facts about the new COVID19 virus, is that little information is yet known. What has been determine is that it is a single-stranded RNA virus belonging to the Coronaviridae family. The CoV family consists of several strains that cause upper respiratory tract and gastrointestinal infections in mammals and birds, and in humans, it mainly causes symptoms similar to a common cold and flu, however it has shown to be more severe, aggressive and contagious, including complications such as pneumonia and shortness of breath can occur, amongst other reported symptoms. 

In contrast to bacterial infectious diseases, viral diseases cannot be treated by common antibiotics, because they are not living cells as bacteria are. Additionally, there are no drugs to date that can prevent, treat, or cure COVID-19, that have been approved by the FDA. Fortunately, the FDA has recently fast tracked many drug trials to be explored during the pandemic that seem to be working, while a vaccine is in the works. For more detailed information about the virus and for updates, refer to the Centre for Disease Control and Prevention site:

What’s important to note, is that we can be aware of the epidemic seasons, so as to be on our toes and to build protection for our bodies. Infectious diseases usually are contracted throughout the year, however there seems to be a cycle seen in the Northern Hemisphere, that shows wintertime seasonality of the Flu in the months of January-February, and March and April peaks of Varicell (Chickenpox, Shingles, etc.) infections. Although we are not clear about this new viral infection (COVID19), it may show to react to theses patterns.

Tips on how natural remedies may help;

Nature has never let us down, and some herbal support to assist in boosting the immune system and to ease the symptoms can be found through nature. Nature has been designed to provide us with a variety of Plants with astonishing therapeutic properties, and herbs used in traditional medicine in many cultures since antiquity, and have become greatly popular once again thanks to integrative medicine, as a source for natural remedies found right in your kitchen. 

Phytochemicals have been used throughout history to fight against ailments, and pharmaceuticals were based on phytochemicals since the inception of pharmaceutical drugs. Natural Herbs and supplements can truly assist because unfortunately many people are not getting enough nutrients from their diet because of the way food is manufactured today, and also because eating habits sometimes do not include enough vegetables and fruits.

So here are a few tips to help you get through the unseen enemies that sometimes invade our bodies:

Supplements Shown to Inhibit Viral Attachments

Research has shown that many natural compounds suggests to have pharmacological effects, including antiviral, immunity and anti-inflammation. Saikosaponins, Polysaccharides, and Xanthines, particularly have shown to have antiviral activity and inhibitory effect on viral attachment and penetration: 

Used for ages in traditional ancient cultures including Greek, Chinese, Hindu, and Native American medicine, but particularly studied, Chinese Medicine and Teas, consist of compounds proven to be effective as natural remedies through use over the ages.

It is important that before using herbs, please consult with your healthcare professional and also make sure you don’t have allergies to the herb of choice. As with all natural products, natural remedies need more research for their potency and effect, however nothing in excess is always the safe way to go and ask your doctor before attempting self remedies. Most importantly, herbal dosages will depend on people’s health and age, so be sure to follow the instructions on the labels and ask your health care professional.

Here is a compilation of some of the best Immune Boosters and Antiviral Quality Herbs:

Garlic: Enhances immune system, has high anti-viral activities to fight viruses, especially respiratory and influenza

Golden Seal: Native Americans used this plant in tea to fight colds and respiratory illnesses, amongst other ailments, today it is also used as an astringent, antibacterial remedy.

Astragalus: Antiviral- immune stimulator

Licorice Root: Used in Chinese Medicine, studies show that Licorice root has powerful anti-viral properties 

Oregano: Exhibits antiviral activity against respiratory infections

Mushrooms (Reishi, Shitake, and more): Studies have found mushrooms have immune stimulating polysaccharides that cause inhibition of viral enzymes, synthesis of viral nucleic acids or adsorption and uptake of viruses into mammalian cells. 

Aloe: The polysaccharides extracted from Aloe Vera  leaves have been studied and show evident effects on the therapy of virus infections. 

Holy BasilTulsi: Known to increase immune system to help fight viruses

Fennel: Boosts immune system helps fight viral infections

Echinacia: Widely used and very popular, favorite of Native Americans to fight infections

Elderberry: Variety of Sambucus, the elderberry tree and berries are one of the most used plants in the world, used to fight colds and virus infections, studies have shown it suppresses viral replication and boosts immune response because they contain: high antioxidants, Vitamic C, Pheonolic Acids, & Flavonols.

Sage: May fight against human immunodeficiency viruses.

Onions: Boost your immune system, have Quercetin which has antiviral properties.

Lemons (Citrus Fruits)High inVitamin C and Flavinoids, infectious fighting agents, anti-inflammatory, fight free radicals, a must have, especially during flu season.

Ginger: This root has been used for ages in Chinese and Ayurvedic medicine, it has high antibacterial compounds, assists in fighting the flu and common cold, as well ad aids in digestion.

Saikosaponins- Supplements

VITAMIN A: Maintains normal immune system of the body

VITAMIN B2: Riboflavin, plays a vital role in breaking down the body’s nutrients from food for energy production, and an important part of the Vitamin B complex.

VITAMIN C: High antioxidant that protects cells from free radical damage

VITAMIN D: Helps stimulate intestines and absorb calcium, destroys free radicals, helps with growth of bones and teeth, helps maintain a strong immune system.

Glutathione: Supports Immune system when body is under stress, and is considered a “master” antioxidant.

ZINC- Ionic Zinc- Essential trace element, body can absorb 100% of ionic (better over gluconate), assists the immune system in fighting off invaders such as bacteria and viruses.

PROBIOTICS- Very important to keep our intestines microbiomes balanced and flora healthy so that you can absorb nutrients and maintain a strong immune system. Make sure they have multiple strains, high CFU count and contain prebiotics.

Chest Coughs:

Productive chest coughs: May produce white, yellow, green phlegm

Unproductive chest coughs: Dry irritant, takes long time to clear.

Good Old Home Remedies: Teas, Teas, Teas

Herbs to soothe in Teas: 2-3 cups of infusions daily 

Garlic, Ginger Lemon: Antiviral and loads of Vitamin C

Elderberry: Antiviral and stimulates sweating, reduces mucus

Recipe: Crush a clove of garlic (take out the center pulp),slice a piece of fresh ginger (use powder if not available) Juice from one lemon, 1tp honey. Mix all ingredients into one cup of hot water. Enjoy at least one a day until symptoms subside.

Elderberry extract can be mixed with lemon in cup of hot water, drink 3 times daily.

Thyme and Licorice Tea: 3 times a day

Respiratory tract problems: Thyme, is an effective Anticeptic

                                                 Licorice,soothing for persistent coughs

                                                 Garlic: effective antiviral

Its also a good time to eat healthy soups, such as “grandma’s chicken soup, vegetable soup, butternut squash soup, etc. Stay healthy and informed, and if you have the major symptoms – monitor them and call you doctor immediately.


Encyclopedia of Herbal Medicine, Andrew Chevallier, FNIMH, Pengion Random House, 3rdEdition 2016


  • Yanna Darilis

    TV Host, Lifestyle Reporter, Producer, Director, Fitness Expert, Nutrition & Health Coach, Peace & Health Advocate

    Yanna Darilis has been in the broadcast industry for over 25 years having worked on major Greek and American television channels as an on camera talent, producer, writer and director. Having worked predominately on live morning shows, her specialty is in live broadcasts and reporting on lifestyle, travel, fitness & health. Yanna is currently the President & CEO of the 30 year Greek American Television Channel New Greek Television on Spectrum-Time Warner, RCN & Bell Fibe, Canada, where besides a media executive, she produces, directs and hosts many shows. Highlights of Yanna’s career include Master of Ceremony for the opening and closing Ceremonies of the 2004 Olympic Games, guest segment host on NBC’s TODAY show, and guest segment host on E Entertainment’s Tara Reid’s Travel Adventures. Her extensive career includes hosting, writing and directing over 80 travel and cooking features on Greece. Yanna shares her travel experience on her blog for the and health topics on Her latest appearance as Host of, “Mediterranean Blue” aired nationwide on various PBS affiliates and History Channel, Greece As a peace and health advocate Yanna also devotes her time to organize and moderate panels for the United Nations Recreational Council, Salus. She is on the Executive Committee Board of the Foreign Press Association, where she advocates and supports  journalists. Yanna also specializes in exercise science and was trained under some of the founding fathers of Exercise Science at her alma mater C.U.N.Y, Queens College. She is a published author with the first exercise Book for Greece, “Love your Body”. Yanna recently joined the ambassador team at the Integrative Nutrition Institute and is a Certified Integrative Nutritionist & Health Coach.