The Top 7 Drinks to Boost Immune System
At the time of this writing, fall is rapidly approaching in the side view mirror. And as we know, objects are closer than they appear.
Once fall hits, winter is not far behind.
We all know what that means.
Yep, cold and flu season. With yet another virus in the mix.
Naturally, we look toward ways to support our immune systems.
Maybe we purchase supplements… Maybe we look to specific foods… Maybe we look for drinks as well.
All of the above are excellent categories to research further!
Today, we’ll be taking a deep dive into drinks to boost immune system function.
How Can a Drink Boost your Immune Function?
The truth is, like many things… It depends.
More specifically, it depends on the ingredients.
Some things are obvious. We know that soda, alcohol, and pumpkin spice lattes are not going to give us a superhuman immune system.
Other beverages seem great on the surface… But are actually not helpful for supporting immunity.
Orange juice is an example that comes to mind. It’s been drilled into most of us since childhood that orange juice is a rich source of vitamin C. Therefore, orange juice will keep that nasty cold at bay.
While there is vitamin C in orange juice… That doesn’t necessarily make it the best choice.
A couple reasons.
First and foremost, sugar.
Why Orange Juice is Not the Silver Bullet for Immunity
Yes. Sugar, sugar, sugar.
I know what you may be thinking… “But it’s fruit sugar, it must be healthy!”
While it’s not as detrimental as refined sugar, the truth is… Sugar is sugar.
And sugar sabotages immunity.
It’s been proven that an intake of 100g of sugar each day (20 tsp) is enough to suppress your immune function for up to five hours! You can check out the abstract to that study here.
This may seem like a lot of sugar, but let’s put that 100g number into perspective.
A single can of coke contains 39g of sugar. To top that, a single can of Mountain Dew contains 46g of sugar.
That’s crazy, right?
If you had two cans of mountain dew, you would pretty much hit that 100g number without any food!
Even if you’re not a soda drinker, the average American consumes around 71g of added sugar each day.
Now, how does this relate to orange juice?
Well, orange juice has quite a bit of sugar in it!
An 8 ounce glass of orange juice contains 22g of sugar. It’s not as much as soda, of course, but still a lot!
Especially when you factor in how much orange juice you actually drink. When sick, most of us are drinking way more than 8 oz! So the sugar scale can easily tip in an immune-sabotaging direction.
You’ll note I mentioned there are a couple reasons why orange juice isn’t the best choice for immune boosting.
What’s the other?
Trouble in Pasteurization Paradise
Unless you’re making your OJ fresh-squeezed… There’s a 99% chance the juice you are buying is pasteurized.
As we know, pasteurization kills bacteria that may be harmful to our health.
However, pasteurization also kills beneficial enzymes and vitamins we need!
Good ol’ vitamin C.
Vitamin C is incredibly susceptible to damage from heat and oxidation. Even the brief heating from the pasteurization process can be enough to destroy most of the vitamin C in your juice.
And since vitamin C is the main reason you’re drinking OJ… That kinda defeats the purpose!
So what is a health-conscious individual such as yourself to do?
Virtually every store-bought immune boosting drink is laden with sugar and devoid of nutrients.
Well, that’s why I have compiled this handy list for you!
Let’s dive in.
Note: I’ll be mentioning multiple brands below, so know that I am not a sponsor of any of them. No bias here!
This Switchel will Awaken your Senses
You ever heard of switchel?
If you’re from New England, you may be familiar with this drink as it originated there.
Traditional switchel is a combo of water, vinegar, ginger, and molasses.
It was commonly made as a refreshing beverage for farmers during the hay harvest. So to some, switchel is known as haymaker’s punch!
You can think of switchel like nature’s gatorade. This combo of ingredients are excellent to keep you hydrated when you’ve come down with a cold… Or as a preventative measure.
However… You may be scratching your head at molasses as I was just railing on the detriment of sugar!
I’m not being hypocritical, I promise!
The problem is the amount of sugar you’re consuming as a whole. The daily recommended threshold of added sugar is around 25g a day.
So as long as there’s not much sugar being used, you’ll be okay. In fact, small amounts of glucose actually help keep us hydrated!
But key word here… Small.
Back to switchel.
You could use a traditional switchel recipe for immune health… But there’s actually a way to boost the benefit even more.
Use fire cider as your switchel base.
You may already be familiar with fire cider. It has been surging in popularity the last few years as a natural way to boost immunity.
And for good reason!
Fire cider is jam-packed with potent herbs and vegetables that are highly effective in fighting off viral invaders. Things like onion, garlic, horseradish, black pepper, turmeric, lemon, and hot peppers.
All of these herbs and veggies are covered in apple cider vinegar and left to steep for a month.
Normally, you would take a shot of fire cider each day for preventative immune support.
Some absolutely love the potency… And let me tell you, it is fiery!!!
You may prefer to enjoy the benefits of fire cider over the course of the day rather than in a single nostril-flaring shot.
Enter Fire Cider Switchel.
Here’s how to make it:
4 Cups Water
1 tsp Fresh, Grated Ginger
Raw Honey to Taste (If your fire cider is unsweetened)
That’s it! Pretty simple, right?
Now you have a tasty, hydrating, immune boosting beverage to keep you in tip top shape during the cooler months.
Perhaps zesty spice isn’t your preferred flavor profile. If that’s the case, you will love this next drink to boost immune system!
A Fruity Seltzer to Boost Immunity and Prevent Viral Replication
Who doesn’t love a good seltzer?
They’re refreshing, crisp, and quite satisfying.
What if your seltzer could also give you an immune boost?
It can, with the power of elderberries!
These berries are the classic cold & flu remedy of yore. They’re as popular as ever… Because they work!
A few ways! For one, elderberries are a great source of vitamin C. But their benefit extends way beyond vitamins and minerals.
Elderberries are highly antimicrobial and antiviral, so they are able to fight off pathogens when we are exposed.
But it gets better.
Elderberries actually inhibit replication of influenza viruses. You can find that study here.
This makes elderberry an excellent food to keep in your arsenal preventatively and when you come down with something. If you come down with a flu and you act quickly, the use of elderberry can drastically reduce the severity and duration of your illness.
Most of us turn to elderberry syrup as the preferred method. And why not, it’s tasty!
However, we can take that elderberry syrup and transform it into a delicious seltzer drink!
It couldn’t be more simple either. All you need is seltzer water, elderberry syrup, and fresh lime juice. I followed Live Simply’s recipe which you can find here.
What about sourcing elderberry syrup? There are a ton of versions and recipes out there, it can be tough to know which is best.
For homemade, Live Simply has an excellent recipe here.
For pre-made, Mountain Rose Herbs is my go-to.
Now, maybe seltzers aren’t your thing. You may prefer a nice, warm mug of hot chocolate to cozy up to!
This Hot Chocolate will Allow you to Adapt to Immune Challenges
I’m sure you weren’t expecting hot chocolate to be on this list!
At first, I didn’t either.
But I realized that one of my favorite beverages could be adapted to provide great benefit to boost your immune system.
It’s not really the cacao that provides benefit here, but what else we are adding.
That said, cacao isn’t totally useless for immune support!
Pure cacao in the absence of sugar is incredibly rich in antioxidants and polyphenols. These compounds combat free radical damage and oxidative stress… Protecting our bodies on a cellular level.
This ends up having a potent anti-inflammatory effect on the body. And a less inflamed body = better functioning immune system.
So cacao can indirectly support a healthy immune system.
What’s the main immune boosting ingredient, you ask?
Chaga is another trendy ingredient that has surged in popularity recently. While often classed as a medicinal mushroom, technically speaking it is a parasitic fungus. Tom-AY-to, tom-AH-to, am I right?
What you need to know is how incredible chaga is for boosting the immune system.
Medicinal mushrooms such as chaga have a wonderful immune-modulating effect. This means they can stimulate or inhibit your immune system based off of what is needed in the moment. They do the same thing to our stress response, which is why medicinal mushrooms are classed as adaptogens. They help us adapt!
Pretty cool, right?
Chaga also possesses antiviral properties. So if we happen to come in contact with a viral pathogen, chaga will help us fight it off.
In fact, there is some research suggesting that chaga’s antiviral properties also extend to COVID-19. You can check that study out here.
Finally, chaga and other medicinal mushrooms contain beta-glucans. These are polysaccharides (fancy name for a carb) that stimulate the immune system and make it more efficient.
Needless to say, chaga is amazing and we all need more of it in our lives.
In my opinion, the best way to do that is through a steaming mug of hot chocolate.
And just like the elderberry seltzer, this recipe is as simple as it gets. All you need is raw cacao powder, chaga powder, coconut milk (full-fat please!), and a touch of raw honey. Ascension Kitchen has the full recipe here.
Now, where can you find chaga powder?
It’s important to stick with a brand you can trust. Highly sought after herbs or mushrooms can be adulterated or subject to unethical harvesting practices. Once again, I love Mountain Rose Herbs and the standard they set for their products. I’ve also had good success with wildcrafted chaga from My Berry Organics.
As much as I love hot chocolate… Sometimes I’m not in the mood for that rich, chocolatey flavor.
A light, refreshing juice may be what I reach for!
A Juice Recipe to Keep your Immune System in Tip Top Shape
As I mentioned earlier with OJ, juices aren’t always the best thing for immunity.
However, that all changes when you make it yourself!
You don’t have to worry about pasteurization or time degrading the volatile nutrients in fresh-squeezed juice.
Further, you can control exactly what goes into your juice. That means minimizing sugar and maximizing nutrition.
Plus, it just tastes way better!
So what does this immune boosting juice contain?
Not only is this green juice refreshing and revitalizing… It’s excellent for immune support.
Both kale and lemon are rich in vitamin C, which supports the function of our adaptive immune systems. They also contain a broad spectrum of antioxidants to fight free radicals.
Cucumber is rich in minerals and vitamins we need for proper immune function. A few examples are potassium, manganese, copper, and vitamin C.
Celery and fresh ginger have antimicrobial and antiviral properties, respectively. So these ingredients are excellent to help you fight off an infection if you become exposed.
To make this juice, check out the recipe at Elizabeth Rider. The only modification I suggest is cutting that apple in half to reduce sugar content! If it’s too bitter, you can always add a touch of stevia or monk fruit extract.
But maybe a fresh, cooling juice isn’t what your body is calling for. You may be looking for a light, soothing herbal tea...
This Herbal Tea will Soothe the Mind and Keep Immunity Strong
Many of us intuitively reach for tea when we’re feeling under the weather.
It’s easy on the stomach, soothing to the throat, and more interesting than plain water.
When we’re sick isn’t the only time to drink tea, though! Certain blends can serve a wonderful purpose preventatively as well.
Take for example… A blend of rosehip, chamomile, lemon balm, and sage.
All are flavors you may find in an ordinary tea! However, there’s more than meets the eye here.
Take rosehip for example. It is one of the most dense sources of Vitamin C of any edible plant! That’s not where the benefits end, though.
Rosehips are also incredibly high in antioxidants. These are compounds with highly anti inflammatory properties in the human body. This anti-inflammatory function strengthens and protects our immune system. Think of them like little bodyguards keeping your cells safe.
While known for its more sedative and relaxing effects… Chamomile is also excellent for immune support! It does contain some antiviral properties that can help you fight off a pathogen. Further, the relaxing properties of chamomile will ensure you have a good night’s sleep. And better sleep = better immune function.
Lemon balm brings its own antiviral properties to the fore as well. In fact, there is a long history of using lemon balm to inhibit the effects of herpes viruses. So on the same token, it can help inhibit the replication of flu viruses.
Last is sage. Sage contains a wide array of anti-inflammatory compounds which end up supporting immune function. And if you were to become sick… Sage is excellent for soothing a sore throat.
So how do you make this miracle tea? Check out the recipe at Vegetarian Times.
While I love a nice, steaming cup of tea… It isn’t always what tickles my fancy.
How about a delicious fermented beverage?
A Fermented Beverage to Nourish the Microbiome and Immune System
With kombucha taking the world by storm… Many of us are now familiar with the concept of a live fermented probiotic beverage.
And they are totally delicious!
But you’re probably wondering… How are fermented beverages immunity boosting?
Well, let’s take a bit of a detour.
We know that kombucha and other fermented beverages are rich in live probiotics. These probiotics are incredibly beneficial for the microbiome.
But what does that actually mean?
Well… To be honest… A lot more than the scope of what can be covered here!
In terms of immune support… The key thing you have to know is that 70% of our immune system resides in the gut.
That’s a big deal!
That means gut health is a huge driver of how your immune system as a whole is functioning. If digestion and the microbiome are off… There’s almost certainly some level of immune compromise happening as well.
Therefore, anything that helps the microbiome invariably assists with immune support as well.
Enter the ginger bug.
No, it’s not a literal bug! It’s a fermented beverage that contains a sizable dose of probiotics to support our own ‘gut buddies’.
Think of it like a traditional ginger ale. It’s a delicious, effervescent, gingery beverage. The ginger bug is especially great for those who like the idea of kombucha… But can’t tolerate caffeine from the tea.
It’s not just the live probiotics that will provide you with an immune boost. It’s also the ginger! As established earlier, ginger contains antiviral properties. So you’re getting potent immune support and prevention all in one package.
So, how is it done?
You can read the entire process at Nourished Kitchen. It does take a little babysitting, but I assure you… It is worth it!
A couple years ago, I actually used this recipe for the base of a naturally fermented root beer made from wild foraged sassafras. But that’s a story for another day!
For now, give that ginger bug a try!
If you’re not into ferments… You may love the last of the drinks to boost immune system!
This Trendy Tea will Modulate your Immune Function
Matcha is everywhere. Matcha lattes, matcha ice cream, matcha macarons… Everyone and their great aunt Tessie raves about the stuff!
I must admit… I am part of the fan club too!
There’s just so much to love about matcha. The rich, grassy flavor… The focus and mood boost… And the health benefits are incredible!
Of course, these health benefits extend to immune health as well. That’s what this article is all about, after all!
There’s one compound in particular that gives matcha a distinct edge when it comes to immune health: epigallocatechin-3-gallate.
Yes, it’s a mouthful! For short, it’s called EGCG. Now, there are a TON of benefits to this compound. But in context to immunity… EGCG is immuno-modulating.
Similar to the medicinal mushrooms we discussed earlier… This EGCG in matcha can upregulate or downregulate your immune system based on what is needed at the time.
This makes matcha an excellent immune boosting candidate for not only prevention… But for symptomatic infection as well.
What about regular old green tea?
Yes, regular green tea does contain EGCG as well! There is a difference though. That difference is in processing.
Regular green tea leaves are picked, quickly heated, then dried. When we use it, the tea leaves are steeped in water. So we’re drinking the extraction.
Matcha is a bit different.
It’s not heated. Once picked, the tea leaves are promptly dried and ground into a fine powder. You add this powder to hot water and whisk. So here, you’re drinking the entire leaf rather than an extraction!
In terms of nutrition, this means you’re getting a much stronger benefit from matcha. It’s less processed and you’re consuming the entire leaf. Therefore, you are getting a much higher concentration of all the beneficial compounds… Including EGCG.
Aside from EGCG… Matcha is chock full of other nutrients that fortify your immune system. Plus, the caffeine is balanced out by amino acid l-theanine. L-theanine reduces stress and anxiety which makes it a great foil to the ‘ramping up’ effects of caffeine.
Now that I’ve given you the entire sales pitch on matcha… What’s the best way to drink it?
Well, it’s up to your preference! I personally like matcha plain and in latte form. Here, I’ll be sharing a few variations on how to make a bulletproof matcha latte.
Well, regular matcha lattes you get at coffee shops are typically loaded with sugar and other additives. As we’ve discussed, this is a killer to your immune function! Bulletproof lattes are high-fat and low-carb… Which naturally eliminates the sugar high. Plus, they’re super rich and delicious!
To make your bulletproof matcha latte, check out the drink recipes from Low Carb Maven. Depending on the variation you choose… You’ll need matcha powder, coconut milk, almond milk, grass-fed butter, MCT oil, vanilla extract and/or cacao butter.
Now a quick word of caution on sourcing matcha. Not all matcha powders are created equal!
In fact, I used to think that I hated matcha… But it’s only because I never had a good quality matcha.
When sourcing, look for ceremonial grade matcha. This matcha is crafted from the youngest and best tasting tea leaves. It’s also fresher.
You want your matcha to have a beautiful, bold, emerald green color to it. The flavor should be grassy, slightly bitter, and pleasant.
Poor quality matcha will have a dingy, moss or olive color. It also will simply taste awful! To me, a poor quality matcha tastes a lot like fish… Yuck!
So for my matcha needs, I turn to the folks at The Synergy Company.
Their matcha is organic and ceremonial grade… Plus they do regular third party testing for contaminants. Quality is the top priority!
And for the taste?
Looking for More Information?
That’s all, folks! The top 7 drinks to boost immune system.
This is an excellent starting point for boosting immune function… But what if you want more?
There’s a ton more to learn about nutrition and how you can leverage it to support immunity.
Perhaps you’re looking for some targeted support for immunity.
As we all know, there is a ton of conflicting information out there!
So how do you know what works best for you?
Sometimes you need a guide to help you navigate the vast oceans of nutrition information.
We hear your call!
It’s because of all this ever-confusing and ever-changing information that we have created an immune support consultation package.
We work one on one with you to create the tailored immune support you need… Plus the education to keep it going.
If this concept resonates with you, we’d love to tell you more about it!
You can give us a call at (603) 526-6687, email at email@example.com, or click here to schedule a complimentary 15 minute discovery call!
Distance is no hindrance either, we work with clients all around the globe.
We look forward to hearing from you!
Gabrielle and Kristen