With winter vacation plans on the horizon, the last thing you’d want is to get sick. Keep your family’s immune system strong this December with these natural remedies that have been proven to work for my family, friends and clients year after year.

The first line of defense against the common cold is sleep. Sleep is vastly overlooked as a natural immune booster. Studies have shown that when sleep deprived, our T-cell (natural cold killers) production is lower and circulating pro-inflammatory cytokines are higher. One study even gave 153 participants, ages 21 to 55 years old, nasal drops of the rhinovirus for 14 consecutive days while reporting their sleep duration and quality. Results found that those who slept less than seven hours per night were 3x more likely to develop the cold, when compared to those who slept at least 8 hours per night (1).

In addition to sleeping, we also need to nourish our ever replicating and evolving cells with effective nutrition. What we put in our body can directly impact our body’s ability to prevent and/or recover from a cold. Some of the best sources of immune boosting nutrition can be blended together in my immune boosting smoothie recipe, found below.

The first ingredient is filtered water because fluids are essential for flushing out your body of your illness and loosening mucus. 100% pure lemon juice is added because although acidic in taste, lemons are actually very alkalizing to the body and helps clean the liver so that the liver can function optimally as the premiere detoxifying organ and clean the body of toxins and waste products. Lemons are also rich in vitamin C, a powerful antioxidant.

The next ingredient is cucumber. The water content in cucumbers are also packed with enzymes that naturally hydrate the body and increase the rate and effectiveness of healthy bodily functions such as detoxification and cleansing. Cucumbers also contain caffeic acid, which lowers inflammation and thus reduces irritation. I then love to add organic celery. Celery is also a natural laxative and helps support kidney and liver function that helps to remove waste and toxins from the body. Celery also contains polyacetylene, which is a compound with strong anti-inflammatory properties.

Additionally, the more greens the better, which is why I try to consume as many as possible when fighting and preventing a cold. Greens, including kale, collard greens and romaine lettuce, are extremely high in vitamin A, C, E, chlorophyll, magnesium, and B vitamins, which promote clean blood, removal of toxins and waste, and improved circulation. They also contains high amounts of manganese, iron, copper and calcium essential for supporting blood flow to tissues. Greens are also rich in chlorophyll and magnesium, which can ease stress and improve mood when you are feeling blue.

Cilantro and parsley not only contain the positive attributes of green vegetables mentioned above, but they have been shown to chelate mercury and help excrete mercury out of the body through urine. Cilantro also has this effect on other toxic metals such as lead and aluminum. This can help prevent flu-like illnesses because bacteria and viruses are attracted to organs saturated with heavy metals, which can build up in the body when eating a diet high in processed foods.

The last nutrient powerhouses I try to incorporate into my immune boosting smoothies is Turmeric and ginger. These ingredients have been long studied and used for centuries for their anti-inflammatory properties.

In addition to adequate rest, fluids, and immune boosting smoothies, I also highly recommend lots of rooibos tea which is naturally caffeine-free (as to not interrupt your rest) and packed with wonderous polyphenols and antioxidants such as aspalathin and nothofagin, which protect the body from free radicals, and chysoeriol, which promotes circulation. And lastly my favorite snack when under the weather is ripe bananas. They are perfectly soft as to not scratch or sting your throat and contain potassium and magnesium, which can relax muscles. Bananas also contain the amino acid L-tryptophan that later gets converted to melatonin and serotonin, a relaxing neurotransmitter so you can rest and recover happily and healthily.

ILANA’S IMMUNE-BOOSTING SMOOTHIE

Recipe makes approximately 2- 16 oz. servings
Ingredients
10 ounces of filtered water
1 medium cucumber
3-4 stalks celery *
1 head of romaine lettuce *
1 cup chopped kale *
1 chopped apple *
2-4 medjool dates
2 tablespoons of 100% pure lemon juice
1 thumb-size worth of fresh ginger
Approximately 2 tablespoons of fresh parsley or cilantro
¼ to ½ teaspoon ground turmeric, to taste

Directions:
Blend all together until smooth with 3-4 ice cubes in a high powered blender. Enjoy!