We are loving the cooler fall weather here in California. However, this time of year also signals the start of the cold and flu season. Flu season usually runs November through March and as many as 49 million Americans are affected by the flu each year. Along with receiving a flu shot, getting enough sleep and frequently washing your hands- another important step is boosting your immune system.
Over 70% of our immune system is located in our gut, so the proper balance of gut bacteria is crucial for optimal immunity. This can be achieved by taking probiotic supplements and incorporating probiotic foods into your diet. Foods rich in probiotics include yogurt, kombucha, pickles, miso, kimchi, tempeh, kefir and saurkraut.
Additionally, incorporating foods rich in antioxidants can help boost your immune system as well as shorten cold and flu symptoms. Foods high in vitamins, minerals and antioxidants work to minimize and repair cell damage in our bodies and can greatly improve our overall health.
We came up with a smoothie recipe that is packed with antioxidant rich foods to boost your immune system this cold and flu season. Smoothies are a quick and easy way to combine nutrient dense ingredients in a flavorful and kid-approved way.
Let’s take a look at our smoothie ingredient list:
Banana: Rich in potassium, vitamin B6, and manganese. Added bonus: bananas are a great source of prebiotic fiber (which feeds the healthy probiotics colonizing our gut)
Oranges: Very high in vitamin C (a potent antioxidant), along with the antioxidants carotenoids and phenolics. Oranges also provide an additional source of fiber.
Turmeric powder: This super powder has been linked to many health benefits: improving memory, preventing depression, and even fighting cancer to name a few. Additionally, turmeric is a natural way to bolster your immune system by improving the immunomodulating capacity of the body. Watch your serving size though. A small amount packs a powerful punch and too much in one serving can result in a very bitter taste.
Mango: This tropical stone fruit is an excellent source of vitamins C and A. Lower in natural sugars than other fruits, but high in fiber and antioxidants. Mangoes contain the phytochemicals gallotannins and mangiferin which have been shown to have anti-inflammatory responses in the body.
Carrot: This vegetable is also rich in the antioxidants vitamin C and beta carotene which help boost the immune system, while also providing fiber and being low in calories. The orange color and sweet flavor of the carrot blends right in with the fruits in the smoothie.
Chia seeds: These little super foods are another examples of the prebiotics mentioned earlier. They promote the increase of the good bacteria in the gut as well as help with digestion. Chia seeds also contain omega 3 fatty acids which work to reduce overall inflammation in the body. Again, this ingredient provides a filling source of fiber.
Elderberry syrup: Elderberry is a dark purple berry from the European elder tree, with twice the natural antioxidant capability of blueberries. Studies have shown that extracts from the berry have antiviral properties and may reduce the severity and duration of flu symptoms. It also is high in antioxidants, providing a preventative measure against contracting the cold and flu virus by optimizing the immune system. It should be noted that the actual elderberry plant (seeds, leaves, roots) are poisonous. Only use the processed version in the form of a syrup to be safe. We like the brand Sambucol, as it has been published in multiple scientific studies to show it’s safety and efficacy. Sambucol can guarantee consistent, immune supporting properties in every serving. Be sure to check dosage recommendation on the label and there is also a kid’s version of the syrup safe for children 2 and above. *If you are serving this smoothie to kids younger than 2, just omit the elderberry syrup ingredient.
We hope you and your kids love this smoothie as much as ours! It makes for a quick breakfast (add in some plain greek yogurt for extra protein to make it a complete mea,) and it’s the perfect after-school snack.
Immune boosting smoothie
Tastes like a tropical treat, works wonders for your immunity
- 1 banana fresh or frozen
- 1 c frozen mango chunks
- 3 oranges (or 1 cup 100% orange juice) peeled
- 1 carrot peeled
- 1 tsp turmeric powder
- 1 tbsp chia seeds
- 4 tsp elderberry syrup optional
Blend all ingredients thoroughly.