You know when you may be getting sick—you feel tired, achy and cold. Despite getting enough rest, staying warm and drinking lots of water, those faint symptoms still might be lingering. Sometimes your body's immune system just needs an extra boost; you know, that natural defense that recognizes, attacks and eliminates harmful viruses and bacteria.
You can keep your immune system at peak fighting form and increase its effectiveness by eating certain foods. Smoothies and juices contain a variety of vitamins, minerals, and other nutrients your body needs, particularly vitamins A, B2, B6, C, D, E, zinc, and selenium. Vary the ingredients in your smoothies so you are sure to get a wide variety of these nutrients every day.
Another great way to boost your immune system is by adding certain ingredients to those healthy smoothies and juices. Here are some special add-ins and how they are good for you.
Probiotics are good bacteria that live in your intestines and help digest your food. Research shows they may also work to improve your immune system, and allergy and autoimmune disease symptoms. Besides using a supplement, here are some foods that are good sources of probiotics you can throw into your smoothie.
Yogurt—Live-cultured yogurt or that made of goat's milk have higher amounts of lactobacillus and acidophilus probiotics. Kefir, a dairy product, is a combination of goat's milk and fermented grain, is high in bifidus bacteria and rich in antioxidants to boot. Yogurt and kefir will add a creamy texture to your smoothie.
Kombucha tea—Made of tea, sugar, water, and SCOBY, a symbiotic culture of yeasts and bacteria, kombucha tea works to control e.Coli and Staph bacteria in food. It is also anti-cancerous and increases energy and metabolism. While the tea tastes tart and slightly sweet, like vinegar soda, it blends smoothly into juices.
Dark chocolate—Dark chocolate does not naturally contain probiotics, but is a very effective carrier for probiotics by helping them survive the high pH levels in the digestive tract on the way to the colon. Probiotics can be added to high-quality dark chocolate. Raw, dark chocolate also contains up to 8 times the number of antioxidants found in strawberries, helping protect your body from free radicals.
Many berries like cranberries, currants, and blackberries are known to contain antioxidants, but here are some berries boasting even more.
Blueberries—Just like dark chocolate, blueberries are full of antioxidants that help prevent ageing and boost your immune system. They also contain polyphenols, which give the berry its tartness, as well as zinc and selenium. These small but powerful berries are delicious added to smoothies.
Acai—These reddish purple berries come from the acai palm tree and are even higher in antioxidants than blueberries. Whole berries add a rich, slightly bitter graininess to smoothies, but pure juice or frozen pulp can be used too.
Goji—Science is just beginning to find a connection between the goji berry and how it helps your immune system distinguish between your own cells and enemies. Also called the wolfberry, these small pink fruits taste slight bitter but with a sweet berry aftertaste. They contain germanium, a mineral responsible for protecting you against some cancers. Other compounds further boost your immune system.
Nuts and Seeds
Crunchy, sweet and addictive, nuts and seeds are good for snacking but also for tossing into a blender with other smoothie ingredients.
Almonds—Vitamin E is the key to a healthy immune system. This fat-soluble vitamin requires the presence of fat to be properly absorbed by the body. Fortunately, nuts like almonds already contain the right fat. A half cup of almonds provides nearly all the vitamin E you need each day. They add a yummy nuttiness to smoothies.
Sunflower seeds—Another source of vitamin E is sunflower seeds. These tiny little seeds give you magnesium and vitamin B6 as well.
If these immune boosting foods are added to your daily smoothies or juices, you can help give your body a boost and kick those early signs of sickness. For more information, contact services like Juice & Java Cafe at Equinox.