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The Daily Dirt

Fall in Love with Immune-boosting Smoothies!

14445526975_c2d4d5f1b2By Erin Shapiro Boatwright

Fall brings cozy thoughts of falling leaves, pumpkins, apple cider, holidays, and some not so fond memories of flu season. Most people have their own tips on avoiding the common cold; one way many people add extra nutrition to their diet is by drinking a fresh smoothie.

A smoothie is a tasty, nutritious food source for a number of reasons. They are quick and easy to make so they fit into the tightest schedule. You can take one with you on your morning drive to work, or blend it up for an afternoon snack. For adults and kids who may not like eating vegetables in abundance, it’s a great way to sneak in extra nutrition, much of the time without changing the flavor of the smoothie.

During flu season especially, smoothies can be a useful tool to pump up your immune system and keep it strong. Strong immune systems will be able to better fight off a cold. During peak flu season, fruits and vegetables with detox properties are great additions to your regular smoothie. Our bodies are natural detoxifiers, but adding additional detoxification through our nutrition is beneficial.

The good news is, if you eat organic you are already a step in the right direction. Studies identified by the Organic Trade Administration have shown organic produce to contain higher levels of Vitamin C, Iron, Magnesium and Phosphorus. In addition to benefits to the immune system, organic produce can contribute to better overall health. According to an analyses of 343 peer-reviewed publications in the British Journal of Nutrition, organic produce contains higher levels of anti-oxidants, which may protect against the development of cancer, disease and other health conditions.

All in all, organic produce provides a very beneficial boost to your immune system, but let’s go further to see what else can be done. The Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics has put together some useful information on increasing immunity.

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Protect Your Health with Immune-Boosting Nutrition

Good nutrition is essential to a strong immune system, which may offer protection from seasonal illness, such as the flu, as well as other health problems including arthritis, allergies, abnormal cell development and cancers.

Help protect yourself against infection and boost your immunity by including these nutrients in your eating plan.

  • Protein is part of the body’s defense mechanism. Eat a variety of protein foods, including seafood, lean meat, poultry, eggs, beans and peas, soy products, and unsalted nuts and seeds.
  • Vitamin A helps regulate the immune system and protects you from infections by keeping skin and tissues in your mouth, stomach, intestines and respiratory system healthy. Get this immune-boosting vitamin from foods such as sweet potatoes, carrots, kale, spinach, red bell peppers, apricots, eggs or foods labeled vitamin-A fortified, such as milk or cereal.
  • Vitamin C protects you from infection by stimulating the formation of antibodies and boosting immunity. Include more of this healthy vitamin in your diet with citrus fruits like oranges, grapefruit and tangerines, or red bell pepper, papaya, strawberries, tomato juice or foods fortified with vitamin C, such as some cereals.
  • Vitamin E works as an antioxidant, neutralizes free radicals and may improve immune function. Include vitamin E in your diet with fortified cereals, sunflower seeds, almonds, vegetable oils (such as sunflower or safflower oil), hazelnuts, peanut butter or spinach.
  • Zinc helps the immune system work properly and may help wounds heal. Zinc can be found in lean meat, poultry, seafood, milk, whole grain products, beans and nuts.
  • Other nutrients, including vitamin B6, folate, selenium, iron, as well as prebiotics and probiotics, also may influence immune response.”

Some good smoothie ingredients to consider:

  • Fall vegetables such as Kale and Spinach are great to add into smoothies. Kale and other cruciferous vegetables (bok choy, broccoli, radish, turnip, arugula in season now) are detoxifiers. To aid in immunity, both kale and spinach serve as an anti-oxidant and are high in Vitamins A,C,E. Both are nutrition powerhouses; these vegetables also provide other benefits to aid in a healthy cardiovascular system as well as anti-cancer and anti-inflammatory benefits.
  • Strawberries are a great source of Vitamin C, which is a well-known immunity booster. One serving (1/2 cup) provides half the daily requirement of Vitamin C.
  • Blueberries have the highest antioxidant capacity of all fresh fruit and are great immune boosters. They are rich in Vitamin C, B, E, A, and copper (an immune builder and anti-bacterial). Blueberries also contain selenium, zinc and iron (which promotes immunity by raising oxygen concentration in blood).
  • Lemon juice is another great source of Vitamin C and also helps the liver flush out toxins.
  • Pineapple and mango, while not fall fruits, can usually be found frozen and provide high amounts of fiber, Vitamin A and C.
  • Ginger root also has anti-oxidant and anti-inflammatory properties, and aids in digestion and natural detoxification. A large portion of immunity comes from the digestive tract, so keeping this system functioning well is a key player to a healthy immune system. Fresh Ginger root can be found at your local farmers market right now!

Kale, Spinach and ginger can be purchased locally this fall, however, if you didn’t freeze some local organic strawberries or blueberries this year, now you know why you should next year: for Fall smoothies! If you need to stock up now, buy organic, because the Environmental Working Group finds lots of pesticides on berries every year they update their Dirty Dozen list.

Here are some recipes for smoothies that can help with immune function (and remembe to use at least one frozen fruit to make smoothie cold, or add a few ice cubes):

Strawberry, Banana, Blueberry (Serves 2)
2 cups baby spinach (can substitute with kale)
3/4 cup water
3/4 cup orange juice (preferably fresh-check additives & sugar if juice if purchased)
1 cup strawberries
1 cup blueberries
2 bananas

  1. Blend spinach, orange juice and water until smooth.
  2. Add the remaining ingredients, and blend until smooth.

Tip: Thanks to the blueberries, this green smoothie is more like a purple smoothie, which is great for kids and those who are afraid of the “green” color.

Strawberry Ginger Zinger (Serves 2)
2 cups almond milk (can substitute with water or coconut, soy or cow’s milk)
2 cups baby spinach (can substitute with kale)
2 cups strawberries (Any berry can be substituted here – blackberries are particularly nice.)
1 banana
1 tablespoon grated ginger, to taste (Don’t like ginger? You can leave it out or add another favorite spice, like cinnamon.)

  1. Blend spinach and almond milk until smooth.
  2. Add the remaining ingredients, and blend until smooth.

 

 

Tropical Turmeric Cleanser Green Smoothie (Serves 2)
2 cups kale
2 cups coconut milk (can substitute with water, or almond, soy, cow’s milk)
2 cups pineapple
1 cup mango
Juice of 1/2 lemon
1 Tablespoon fresh ginger
1/4 to 1/2 teaspoon ground turmeric, to taste 

  1. Blend kale and coconut milk until smooth.
  2. Add the remaining ingredients, and blend until smooth.

 

References:

  • Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics. ”Protect Your Health with Immune-Boosting Nutrition”. Reviewed February 2013. (http://www.eatright.org/Public/content.aspx?id=6442475026
  • Smoothie Recipes:com
  • Marcin Barański, Dominika Średnicka-Tober, Nikolaos Volakakis, Chris Seal, Roy Sanderson, Gavin B. Stewart, Charles Benbrook, Bruno Biavati, Emilia Markellou, Charilaos Giotis, Joanna Gromadzka-Ostrowska, Ewa Rembiałkowska, Krystyna Skwarło-Sońta, Raija Tahvonen, Dagmar Janovská, Urs Niggli, Philippe Nicot and Carlo Leifert (2014). Higher antioxidant and lower cadmium concentrations and lower incidence of pesticide residues in organically grown crops: a systematic literature review and meta-analyses. British Journal of Nutrition, 112, pp 794-811. doi:10.1017/S0007114514001366.
  • Worthington, Virginia. “Nutritional Quality of Organic Versus Conventional Fruits, Vegetables, and Grains”. The Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine, Vol. 7, No. 2, 2001 (pp.

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