Smoothies can be nothing more than glorified milkshakes, but with the right ingredients, they can become powerful medicine.
"Choose low-sugar fruits such as apples, bananas, and especially berries, which have powerful polyphenol compounds offering immunity benefits," says Dr. Eliaz. For a protein punch, try un-denatured whey, he says. "It's shown to increase immunity and support detoxification by increasing a key antioxidant, glutathione."
Omega-3 fats found in flax and chia seeds nourish immune cells and restore vital energy. Give this boosting blend a try:
Blueberry Chia Smoothie
2½ cups almond, coconut or rice milk 1 cup blueberries (fresh or frozen) 1 scoop of concentrated, non-denatured whey powder 1/4 cup soaked chia seeds 1/2 banana 1 ounce coconut kiefer
Tip: To maximize the nutrients in chia seeds, soak 1/3 cup in 2 cups of water overnight. If you're short on time, even 15 minutes will make a difference.
Up for something a bit fruitier? Vitamin C powder can increase white blood cells and reduce inflammation, says Dr. Eliaz. And berry powders, frozen pulp, or extracts can pack in even more antioxidants and nutrients. Another booster: Adaptogenic herbs, such as astragalus, which can help offset the effects of stress and support long-term immunity, he says. Give this smoothie a whirl:
Super-C smoothie with astragalus
2½ cups almond, coconut or rice milk 1 packet frozen acai berry pulp 500 mg vitamin C powder (available at health food stores) 1 scoop concentrated, non-denatured whey powder 500 mg astragalus extract or powder 1/2 banana
Game, Set, Matcha!
Matcha is a powdered form of green tea, and has the same immune-pumping ingredients but in 10 times the concentration. The antioxidants and medicinal compounds in matcha tea can help you fight off viruses and bacteria, and even abnormal cells, says Dr. Eliaz.
"They also help reduce inflammation, support cardiovascular health, improve energy and focus, and balance hormones," he says. You can find matcha at health food stores and specialty tea stores.
"Studies show that mushrooms increase the production and activity of white blood cells, making them more aggressive—this is a good thing when you have an infection," says Douglas Schar, DipPhyt, MCPP, MNIMH, director of the Institute of Herbal Medicine in Washington, DC.
You can make the most of mushroom power with a powdered blend of medicinal mushrooms mixed with hot water. Dr. Eliaz suggests MycoPhyto Complex powder, which is made with six species of medicinal mushrooms grown with immune-enhancing herbs.
More from Prevention: