When flu season rolls around, you might well rush to stock up on anything and everything that can boost your immune system. A healthy immune system is a great way to sidestep the seasonal illness - and the dreaded coronavirus.
However, there's an easier way to stay healthy than loading up on vitamin supplements. Certain drinks can nourish the immune system, and they're often delicious, too!
In this case, it's good to focus on prevention rather than treatment. Herbal teas won't necessarily fight off the flu, but they can strengthen your body and immune health so that you don't fall sick in the first place. Whether you prefer a cup of tea, a smoothie, or an old-fashioned glass of juice, there's something for everyone. Let's take a look at a few easy, natural drinks you can make at home to boost your immune system.
The Importance of Good Hydration
Aside from boosting your immunity, these drinks also keep you hydrated. It's recommended for women to drink around 2.7 liters (11.5 cups) and men to drink 3.7 (15.5 cups) of fluid a day. At once time, it was commonly believed that only water could contribute to a person's daily fluid intake. Drinks such as teas, coffees, milk, or even cold juices "didn't count". Of course, we now know that isn't quite true. Juices, teas, coffee, smoothies, or even water in our food count towards our daily fluid intake. For example, watermelon contains a lot of fluid.
While sodas and coffee do count towards your fluid intake, it's worth noting that sweet drinks contain calories and a lot of sugar.
You should be drinking around eight glasses of fluid a day. Some people might need to drink more; others less. Juices and smoothies are a great way to get vitamins into our bodies. 1 cup of a well-made smoothie can contain two to three of your five fruit and veg a day.
Staying properly hydrated keeps our body healthy in countless ways. It can help us sleep better, aids digestion, eases inflammation, and flushes toxins from our bodies. Hydration indirectly keeps our immune system going, and allows us to fight off any viruses or bacteria we might contract.
Drinks to Boost Immunity
Immunity boosting drinks are often delicious. Ranging from hot, tasty herbal teas to fresh smoothies, it's easy to find a recipe that you love. Smoothies in particular are delicious and healthy, being packed full of nutrients. If you follow your own smoothie recipe at home, you can be sure of what's going into your drink - and what isn't.
Additives, artificial preservatives, and refined sugars may all be added to commercial smoothies and juices. While these may make your drink taste good, they also add calories and reduce the health benefits of your drink. All of the drinks recipe options listed here count towards your daily fluid intake, meaning you can stay hydrated while you nourish your immune system.
You might be surprised to see humble H20 on this list. However, drinking plenty of water has so many health benefits. Even 1 cup of water can regulate our internal temperature, cushions and lubricates our joints, nourishes tissues, and gets rid of waste. It helps us sleep better, and gives us more energy. All of this contributes to a healthy body, which bolsters our immune system for any infections that could come our way.
When you're stocking up on all your new teas for the immune system, don't forget to include a simple glass of water! A glass of water before a meal can aid digestion and helps you realize when you're full. Hot water in lemon, ginger, or honey teas also count!
2. Lemon and Ginger Tea (with or without honey)
Few things are more comforting than settling into an armchair on a winter's evening, with a steaming cup of lemon and ginger tea.
The beauty of this immune-boosting tea is that it's also easy to make. While you can buy the pre-packaged stuff, all it takes is a piece of ginger, a slice of lemon, and a cup of hot water to make at home - no fancy recipe required! Pour the hot water into 1 cup with your chosen ingredients, and allow it to stew for a few minutes. If you prefer a milder cup, you can always strain the larger ingredients out.
Commonly used as a remedy for the common cold, lemon is high in vitamin C, and ginger has powerful antioxidant properties. Ginger is also good for treating nausea and digestive issues.
Honey can make a delicious sweetener to your tea, but it's a powerful ingredient in its own right. Honey is also an antioxidant and is capable of counteracting free radicals. It's also a known immunity booster. If you have a sore throat, honey can be soothing. Feel free to experiment! A stick of cinnamon or even a couple of cloves can take your teas to the next level.
3. Tumeric Tea
Tumeric is another substance that's great for the immune system, largely due to its main ingredient, curcumin. An anti-inflammatory, anti-viral ingredient, tumeric can help ease the symptoms of IBS and soothes digestive issues. It's also an antioxidant, nourishing heart and brain health. Of course, tumeric is also a fantastic way to nourish your immune system.
4. Orange Juice (and other citrus juices)
We've already mentioned that lemon juice is high in vitamin C. However, you probably don't feel like swigging a glass of the stuff. Fortunately, its milder cousin, orange juice, is here to help. Packed with vitamin C, citrus juices like orange and grapefruit are age-old methods of fighting off colds.
However, if you've already succumbed to a nasty dose of flu, vitamin C-rich foods and drinks can help to ease your symptoms and help you to fight it off more quickly.
5. Carrots and Apple Juice (with or without orange)
Apple fruits provide a rich source of vitamin C, ideal for fighting off all kinds of infections and illnesses. Carrots contain antioxidants and are a good source of vitamin B6. For an extra dose of vitamin C and a sweet taste, orange fruits make a great addition.
The beauty of this juice is that it's sweet, refreshing, and full of energy. Using tangy apple to offset sweet oranges and carrots can create an invigorating juice drink that's perfect to get your morning going. That's an inventive way to get your apple a day!
6. Tomato Juice
Tomato juice isn't for everyone, but if you're looking for a healthy, easy DIY juice drink, there's no better place to start. Tomato fruits contain nutrients like vitamin B9 and magnesium and have anti-inflammatory properties. This boosts your immune system and can help you fight off infections. Tomato juice also makes a delicious savory juice to have along with meals.
7. Blueberry and Kale Smoothie
Smoothies are a fantastic way of getting vitamin-packed fruits and vegetables into your body - and, as you guessed, these are fantastic for boosting the immune system. Since both blueberries and kale are known as "superfoods", when you mix them together, you're left with one of the best smoothie recipes to boost your health. Blueberries are powerful antioxidants, and kale is rich in nutrients like iron (like most deep green veggies) and fiber. As a plus, this a delicious drink that's easy to make in a blender. Chances are, once you've tried a blueberry and kale smoothie recipe, you'll want to add it to your list of favorites!
8. Mango and Spinach Green Smoothie (with or without strawberries)
Mango is another delicious superfruit. Sweet, tasty, and packed with vitamin E, this fruit is a healthy world favorite for a reason. The spinach in this green smoothie adds iron and fiber, giving the drink a healthy-looking green tint. Adding strawberries to your recipe also enhances the vitamin C content, and adds more taste. Don't forget, fruits and vegetables in your smoothie recipes count towards your five a day.
9. Strawberry and Kiwi Smoothie
Another healthy, refreshing summer favorite, strawberry and kiwi smoothies are also packed with vitamin C. For an extra antioxidant boost, try using almond milk in your smoothie recipes. Bananas are a popular fruit to use alongside your other ingredients, as a thickening agent.
It's often simpler to use a blender to mix your fruits into smoothies instead of trying to make traditional juice. Homemade fruit juices (like strawberries or blueberries) take a lot of fresh fruits for a single serving. This can be expensive and time-consuming. On the other hand, buying frozen fruits and processing them in a blender with bananas and the mixer of your choice (milk, water, and coconut milk are popular) is cheaper. It also means that your fruit will last much longer.
10. Watermelon (with or without mint)
Last but not least, watermelon juices and smoothies are definitely a great drink for boosting the immune system. Eating watermelon is a good way of staying hydrated, due to the fruit's high water content, and it also contains plenty of vitamin C and arginine. Adding a hint of mint to your juice or smoothie is a great way to add extra zip to your drink. Of course, it's optional!
If you prefer juices over smoothies, watermelon is easier to juice than some other fruits, due to its high water content.
11. Immunity-Boosting Beverages and Teas
If you're not sure you'll have time to make yourself teas, juices, and smoothies, most stores sell commercial herbal teas and juices, designed to nourish your immune system and ward off infection.
While these beverages are fine, natural is definitely better for your health. Making your own juices and smoothies is a sure-fire way to make sure you're getting your fruits, veggies, and vitamins.
Additionally, some commercial juices may not be as healthy as you think. For example, tomato juice often has extra ingredients added to it. It may contain high levels of sugar, or even additives or other artificial ingredients. On the other hand, homemade tomato juice is easy to make, and that way, you know what's in it!
Commercial juices are particularly prone to adding extra sugar. Extra sugar means extra calories, and your juice may not be as healthy as you imagine. Diabetics, in particular, should be careful about buying commercial juices, due to the sugar content.
When to Drink Immune Boosting Drinks
Drinking teas, smoothies, and juices isn't a guarantee against catching any virus or infection - even if they're a treat for the immune system. However, filling your body with the right vitamins and nutrients is a step in the right direction.
In this case, prevention rather than treatment is your best option. Beverages designed for the immune system can help strengthen your body to fight off infections. While drinks for the immune system aren't a cure for colds and flu, they can ease the symptoms. For example, ginger is good for nausea and digestive issues, and honey soothes irritated throats and may even help to fight off fevers.
One of the simplest immune-boosting beverages is also one of the best for immune health - hot water with lemon. If you're ill, you may not feel like making and drinking a smoothie that contains cold milk, fruits and green veggies - and you probably don't fancy operating a blender, either. This beverage (possibly with ginger and honey) is a calming, soothing drink that can leave you feeling refreshed, and takes less than 5 minutes to make.
Of course, your personal preference will play a role here. Regardless of your drink of choice, there's something for everybody. Drink up!