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
1 fl oz Fire Cider (For homemade, I love this recipe from Mountain Rose Herbs. They also offer it pre-made here if you’re short on time).
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 qui