Cold comfort: immune-boosting smoothie

Nutritionist Kathleen Alleaume creates a spicy, icy winter smoothie to keep your immune system fighting fit for flu season.

As the weather cools, your chance of picking up pesky germs increases. While it’s impossible to escape all bugs, you can build a more robust immune system to lower your risk and decrease your recovery time ­— and what you eat plays a huge role. Include these defensive players in your smoothie arsenal to kick the common cold and flu to the curb.

Greek yoghurt packs a probiotic punch. These gut-friendly microbes help prevent bacteria taking hold and causing an infection. You’ll also get a good dose of protein, which helps build and repair body tissue. Look for yoghurts with “live and active cultures” and avoid sweetened varieties. You can also try kefir, a fermented milk drink full of probiotics, calcium and protein.

Bananas have slow-burning carbohydrates, B vitamins and potassium — a balanced blend of goodness ideal for restoring tired, aching muscles.

Spinach and other green, leafy vegetables are rich in the immune-boosting vitamins A and C — powerful antioxidants proven to help quell inflammation and protect from viral invaders. They also contain iron, which is important for white blood cell production, carrying oxygen around the body and fighting fatigue.

Ginger is fantastic for your immunity, due to its antioxidant, anti-inflammatory and antimicrobial properties. This spice helps stimulate circulation and destroy free radicals that damage cells.

Citrus fruits are excellent sources of vitamin C, which helps defend against bacterial infections and shortens the duration of a cold and flu if you do get sick. Just one lemon contains your daily dose of vitamin C.

Turmeric is the best source of curcumin, a polyphenol with strong antibacterial and anti-inflammatory qualities. This spice will help defend against colds, coughs and congestion while reducing inflammation.

Manuka honey is unique, as this special sweet contains methylglyoxal, a healing compound with antibacterial properties shown to help ward off bugs and provide instant relief from a sore throat.

Banana Spice Smoothie

  •  1 cup Greek yoghurt
  •  1 banana, frozen
  •  1 handful baby spinach
  •  ½ tsp fresh ginger, grated
  •  Juice of ½ lemon
  •  1 tsp ground turmeric
  •  1 tbsp Manuka honey
  •  1 cup ice

Place all ingredients in a high-speed blender and process until smooth. Sprinkle with blueberries for extra antioxidants if you like. Drink immediately.

Kathleen Alleaume is a nutritionist and exercise scientist who is passionate about making sense of conflicting health buzz.