Drinking fluids is the best way to support your body in the face of viral infections. This approach is backed by medical practitioners from the most diverse areas of expertise. Water is instrumental in bringing more oxygen into our blood and removal of toxins, which makes it indispensable when it comes to our immune system’s functioning. Keeping your body hydrated, or drinking fluids, is the most important prescription when it comes to respiratory illnesses.
This advice is as great as a preventative measure, so why wait until you get sick? We recommend some of the active ingredients which can be added to water to enhance its impact on our immune system to create your very own healthy cocktail.
Everyone knows that citrus fruits are rich sources of vitamin C. But what is the correct way of using them? How to make a perfect citrusy drink? Most recipes suggest using the peels or zest but they actually contain less vitamin C than the juice. Vitamin C is also highly unstable when heated, meaning that by submerging zest or pieces of citrus fruits in boiling water most of it will get destroyed in just 2-3 minutes. The best method is to mix half the amount of water with half the amount of freshly squeezed juice with bits (a great source of fibre). A great way to have less sugar and more benefits.
Researchers have shown that echinacea is a leading plant for immune support. Many studies highlight its effectiveness in fighting colds and viral infections. Due to its high contents of essential oils, antioxidants, organic acids, and vitamins A, C and E, an echinacea-based drink improves immunity and helps our bodies fight viruses. It can also be effective against flus, herpes and other viruses. Echinacea is rich in microelements such as iron, calcium and selenium, which provide healing benefits for our circulation, musculoskeletal system and connective tissues.
Echinacea extract is the best form to go for as it contains a high concentration of active ingredients. To create an immunity boosting drink, add several drops to warm water with a few slices of citrus fruits like lemon, orange or grapefruit. Use a stevia syrup or powder to sweeten. When taking echinacea, remember that it is a potent ingredient. If you suffer from any autoimmune disorders or plant allergies, make sure to consult your doctor first.
A fan of hot drinks? The best ingredient you can use with boiling water, without losing its immunity supporting benefits, is green tea. Its polyphenols preserve well during the heating process, increase immunity and have powerful antiviral and antibacterial properties. These substances also speed up metabolism, slow down ageing and prevent the development of malignant tumours. You can always add other herbs with gentle calming properties to the brew such as spearmint or motherwort, chamomile and sage. If stress is one of the negative factors which impacts our immunity, fighting it is extremely important for our physical and mental health.
This berry is a well-studied herbal antifungal, antibacterial and antimicrobial ingredient. Evidence suggests that elderberry can provide a positive effect in treating the flu. It is a common component of sweet syrups used for making lemonades but we suggest that you use dry berries instead, if you can. They can be brewed in a thermos in boiling water for up to 8-10 hours and consumed throughout the day (no more than 1-2 cups a day). If you struggle to find dry berries, you can always go for an alcohol-free extract, which can be added to a tea or lemonade. It has a more subtle taste than echinacea, so can even be given to children.
Ginger and turmeric
Evidence suggests that natural ginger juice is great at stimulating the immune system. A few drops of freshly squeezed juice are enough to supercharge your drink with these beneficial qualities. If the astringent taste of ginger juice puts you off, only use the freshest pieces. The longer you store ginger, the stronger its flavour becomes. To prepare, peel the root and grate it finely, then squeeze out the juice to get rid of the fibres (it is fibres that hold the most tartness). Ginger juice should be stores in the fridge for up to ten days.
Freshly squeezed turmeric root juice is a close second when it comes to its benefits. It is great when paired with plant milk and such natural sweeteners as honey and stevia. Turmeric juice boosts the immune system and provides a positive overall impact on the body. It is great for the heart and blood vessels and is effective as a treatment against arthritis and gastrointestinal diseases. Both ginger and turmeric can also be used in powder form to create warming drinks but freshly squeezed juice is always best.
A probiotic cocktail
What does sauerkraut brine, Korean kimchi and marinated apples and berries have in common? All of them contain a high amount of lactic acid, ferments and vitamins. They are also jam packed with probiotics, a nourishing environment for our body’s beneficial microbiome to grow in. The microbiome’s influence on our immune system has been the subject of many studies. Most scientists now agree that its importance cannot be praised enough.
It is best to consume brines with the least amount of salt and sugar and ones which contain the most natural juice from their original ingredients. Even the smallest amount of these liquids will do wonders for your body, pouring in beneficial nutrients into your morning smoothie. Try to include as many greens and vegetables as possible such as spinach, kale and sweet peppers. They will be a great source of fibre, which is key for maintaining the gut microbiome and immunity.
Immune support is a complex and versatile job, which cannot be solved via a single quick fix. All of the ingredients in these immunity stimulating drinks and supplements can only work in conjunction with other measures such as a healthy balanced diet, sufficient exercise, walks in nature and mental health hygiene.