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Struggling post-COVID? This might help

Foods to eat to recover from COVID, according to a clinical nutritionist 

By Brooke Kelly

I want to emphasise that as far as modern medicine and nutritional science goes, we can’t cure COVID. However, there is a lot we can do to support the immune system in both prevention, during and post infection, lowering our overall risk of potential complications. 


Rest, rest, and more rest! The current advice for COVID is to steer clear from any kind of exercise for a minimum of 10 days. COVID is an inflammatory virus, meaning exercise will not only contribute to creating more inflammation, it will also place unnecessary strain on your body, making it harder to fight infection and put you at risk of slower recovery. 

Taking adequate rest is not just reserved for COVID, we should all be aiming for 8-9 hours of quality sleep per night. Sleep is such a simple tool that is often neglected in our wellness routine. Deep sleep promotes cellular clean up in the body to reduce inflammation and helps to balance our stress hormones. Ensuring that you are not only resting during the infection, but also taking those recovery days from the gym or finding time for stress relieving activities, will help to reduce cortisol levels in the body and improve your immunity. Remember, having COVID is not the time to be trying any kind of at home workouts, your body needs all the nurturing available!


Time and time again, an anti-inflammatory style diet has been associated with good health, better immunity and longevity. Research has found that an individual’s nutritional status can directly influence the severity of the disease. Any diet that includes plenty of colourful plant foods, healthy fats, lean protein and less inflammatory or processed foods, is going to be rich in antioxidants, polyphenols, omega-3’s and prebiotic fibre – aka the perfect cocktail for a healthy immune system!

Here are some foods to focus on for a healthy immune system:

Orange and red foods:

Pumpkin, sweet potato, citrus, cooked tomatoes, strawberries, capsicum and carrots are rich in immune boosting vitamins C, A and lycopene. 


Kale, spinach, rocket, swiss chard, watercress, kiwi, broccoli, apples and pears contain nutrients such as Vitamin K, folate and quercetin which help to balance immune responses. 

Purple foods:

Blueberries, red cabbage, beetroot and cherries are an excellent source of anthocyanins which have been shown to help to slow airway inflammation and inhibit the expression of proinflammatory cytokines. 

Healthy fats & Omega-3’s: 

Walnuts, hemp seeds, chia seeds, olive oil, fatty fish (salmon, sardines, anchovies) and avocado contain beneficial fatty acids which may increase the number of T-cells and white blood cells needed to fight off infection. 


We can’t forget the importance of ensuring you are getting enough highly bioavailable sources of protein in your diet. Lean sources of meat, seafood or plant based options such as legumes, nuts and seeds, should be included at every meal. A recent study found that protein is crucial for optimal production of immune antibodies. This is because the building blocks of protein, also known as amino acids, play an important role in increasing the response of immune cell numbers. Those with adequate amino acid levels had a normal immune cell function after infection, compared to those who did not, suggesting a role in prolonged infection, reinfection or continuing fatigued states post COVID. 

Gut healthy foods:

Did you know that 70 per cent of our immune system is actually located in an area of the gut called the ‘Gut Associated Lymphoid Tissue’ (GALT)?  Plenty of vegetables, wholegrains, spices such as turmeric and ginger, bone broth and probiotic foods such as kimchi, sauerkraut or miso can all help to support a healthy gut microbiome, protect the gut lining and lower intestinal inflammation needed for a strong immune system. 

Foods to avoid (for now):

Dairy, may worsen congestion or mucus

Excessive caffeine,  is dehydrating to the body

Gluten – may contribute to gastrointestinal inflammation

Alcohol – will not only impair your immunity, but also place extra stress on your gut and liver 

Excess sugar – small amounts of raw honey and healthy treats are fine to keep your energy levels up but steer clear of the white refined kind


For those who are struggling to get enough immune fighting nutrients through their diet, or are dealing with the lingering symptoms associated with what experts are calling ‘long COVID’, the good news is there are a few supplements that may be of benefit. Before supplementing, it is important you speak with a reputable and accredited practitioner to ensure the right treatment path for you.

To boost general immune function and accelerate recovery:

Vitamin C, Zinc, Reishi mushroom

To help reduce inflammation and chest congestion:

Quercetin, N-Acetyl Cysteine 

To improve energy post infection:

B12 complex

Remember, when it comes to immunity, the most important tools are often the ones we neglect first. Although there is no miracle cure or prevention, employing simple strategies in your day to day life will not only improve your overall immune health, but also give your body the best chance of fighting fit against COVID. 


A delicious salad using anti-inflammatory turmeric and buckwheat in place of traditional couscous – Buckwheat is rich in the antioxidant quercetin, that can improve inflammation in the body. 

(Serves 2 | GF / SF)

Roast cauliflower and buckwheat tabbouleh


1/2 cup cooked and cooled buckwheat

1/2 head cauliflower chopped into florets

1 cucumber, seeds removed / sliced finely

1 large handful chopped parsley

1 large handful chopped mint

1/3 cup pickled red onion

1/4 cup crumbled feta or vegan feta

1/2 zest lemon

1/4 cup pomegranate seeds

1/4 cup toasted pistachios

2 tbsp olive oil

1 tbsp pomegranate molasses

1 tsp cold water

1/2 tsp ground turmeric

1/2 tsp crushed fennel seeds

1/2 tsp crushed cumin seeds

Salt & pepper

Turmeric Tahini Drizzle:

1/4 cup tahini

1/4 tsp ground turmeric

1/4 tsp ground ginger

2 tbsp lemon juice

1 tbsp maple syrup

Splash of cold water

Pinch of salt & pepper


  1. Preheat your oven to 220 degrees celsius. Place the cauliflower onto a lined tray with the spices, salt, pepper and 1 tbsp olive oil. Toss to coat and roast until golden and soft, then set aside to cool.
  2. Mix pomegranate molasses and cold water together to make a glaze. Pour over the top of your cauliflower as it cools.
  3. Place the buckwheat, cucumber, herbs, pickled onion, feta, lemon zest, pomegranate and pistachios into a large bowl. Add the remaining olive oil, salt and pepper to taste, then toss.
  4. Make the tahini drizzle by adding all ingredients into a blender and blitz until you reach a creamy consistency.
  5. Add the cauliflower to the tabbouleh mix and toss everything together.
  6. Serve your salad on a platter and top with extra feta, herbs, pomegranate seeds and lashings of your tahini drizzle.

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