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Whether you’re one of those people who seems to catch everything, or you just want to fend off a cold or the flu, your diet can make a big difference. Every day, your body relies on key nutrients to fortify its immune soldiers so they can quickly pounce on illness-causing intruders.
But in the real world, it can sometimes be tricky to get all the powerhouse nutrients we need to stay strong. If you’d like to (fingers crossed) stay off the couch and out of the doctor’s office, try whipping up these immune-enhancing drinks. They’re loaded with protective nutrition to bolster your defenses. And they take just minutes to make!
Your gut is a huge immune organ, charged with filtering out viruses, bacteria, fungi, and more. Keep yours in top shape with this smoothie. Each glass delivers a cocktail of gut-fortifying nutrients. In addition to plenty of probiotics from kefir, you’ll also get a double dose of prebiotics from sweet potato and maple syrup. As a bonus, you’ll net more than a day’s worth of vitamin A, which is essential for healthy skin and cells lining your airways and gut, which are the body’s first line of defense against infection.
Make it. In a blender, blend ½ cup unsweetened kefir, ¼ cup low fat milk, ½ cup mashed sweet potato, ½ diced, cored apple, 1 teaspoon maple syrup, 2 ice cubes, and a dash of cinnamon until smooth.
Per serving: 280 calories, 2 g total fat, 1 g saturated fat, 10 mg cholesterol, 120 mg sodium, 58 g carbs, 6 g fiber, 34 g total sugars, 4 g added sugars, 9 g protein
Each year, upper respiratory tract infections (or URTIs) like the cold, flu, and viruses send 10 million Americans to the doctor. Now, a growing body of research finds that simple ingredients in this tea, like turmeric and ginger, might keep you from getting infected in the first place. And while honey won’t prevent a URTI, a new British Medical Journal study finds it’s more effective for cough relief than cough medicine, antihistamines, or painkillers.
Make it. In a small saucepan, combine 1 cup water, ¼-inch sliced ginger root, ¼-inch sliced turmeric root, and ¼ diced lemon. Bring to a boil. Lower heat and simmer for 5 to 10 minutes. Remove from heat and pour liquid through a strainer, discarding ginger, turmeric, and lemon. Stir in 2 teaspoons honey and 1 tablespoon lemon juice.
Per serving: 45 calories, 0 g total fat, 0 g saturated fat, 0 mg cholesterol, 0 mg sodium, 13 g carbs, 0 g fiber, 12 g total sugars, 11 g added sugars, 0 g protein
You could love this elixir for its cold-busting vitamin C (nearly twice your daily dose). But that’s not the only reason to drink up. Each serving packs a full cup of spinach, which is chock full of antioxidants that keep immune cells strong and healthy. Leafy green spinach is so powerful that its extract has been shown to protect against harmful bacteria like E. coli and S. aureus.
Make it. In a blender, puree 1 peeled kiwi, ¼ English cucumber (it’s less bitter than traditional cukes), 1 cup baby spinach, ¼ cup parsley sprigs, ½ cup 100 percent orange juice, and 1 pinch cayenne pepper until liquified. Serve as is (you’ll rack up 4 grams of filling fiber). Or, if you prefer pulp-free juice, pour through a strainer or cheesecloth.
Per serving (including pulp): 120 calories, 1 g total fat, 0 g saturated fat, 0 mg cholesterol, 30 mg sodium, 26 g carbs, 4 g fiber, 18 g total sugars, 0 g added sugars, 3 g protein
This information is for educational purposes only and is not intended as a substitute for medical diagnosis or treatment. You should not use this information to diagnose or treat a health problem or condition. Always check with your doctor before changing your diet, altering your sleep habits, taking supplements, or starting a new fitness routine.