Whether you find yourself frequently taken down by colds and other viruses or are simply eager to give your body a fighting chance at fending off germs when you return to the office and other indoor activities this winter, there are plenty of reasons you might want to improve your immune health. While eating a healthy and balanced diet, getting plenty of sleep, exercising regularly, and taking certain supplements can help bolster your immune response, those aren't the only ways to improve your immune health in a hurry. In fact, according to registered dietitian Sophie Lauver, MS, RD, LDN, NBC-HWC of Plant-Based Perspective, there's yet another means by which you can ensure a robust immune response: drinking smoothies.
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"Whole fruit smoothies can be a great choice for immune health," says Lauver. "With about 70% of our immune system in our gut, we can best increase our immune response by focusing on what we're eating and drinking. If we increase our fruit, vegetable, and whole-grain intake, we're providing more nourishment for our good gut bacteria."
"In addition to providing fuel for our immune system, by including vegetables like kale in your smoothies, you can increase your antibody production and arm your body to better fight off foreign invaders," says Lauver.
Which fruits can improve your immune health?
It's not vegetables alone that you should be adding to your smoothies to help give your immune system a leg up, however. A 2018 study published in Nutrition Reviews found that consumption of berries had a beneficial effect on the immune system in terms of both gastrointestinal and immune health issues.
Similarly, a 2014 study published in the Journal of Nutrition and Metabolism found that, among a group of 98 school-aged children, those who ate either 140 or 280 grams of canned pineapple over a nine-week period had lower rates of both bacterial and viral infections than members of a control group who did not consume any pineapple.
The same goes for practically any fruit rich in vitamin C, like papaya, guava, oranges, cherries, kiwis, and lychees: a meta-analysis published in Frontiers in Immunology reveals that increasing your intake of vitamin C may help reduce the duration of upper respiratory tract infection symptoms if infected and can contribute to the healthy function of natural killer cells, which can help fend off infection.
What other smoothie ingredients can benefit your immune health?
If you're looking for more great ingredients to add to your smoothie, probiotic-enhanced yogurt is a great place to start.
A 2017 study published in Nutrients found that individuals who consumed yogurt enhanced with probiotic bacteria had enhanced immune function, including increased efficacy of natural killer cells.
For more great ways to improve your health, check out these Popular Foods That Boost Your Immune System, Says Dietitian, and for the latest immune-boosting tips delivered to your inbox, sign up for our newsletter!
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