Two Drinks To Support Your Natural Defenses
Winter is upon us and that means flu season. But being exposed to various obnoxious viruses doesn’t necessarily mean we have to get sick. There are things we can do to shore-up our defenses and boost our immune system naturally. Drinking soothing winter tonics and adding other foods known to support the immune system to your daily diet is one way to actively increase your odds of not falling pray to the dreaded flu.
How To Naturally Support Your Immune System
Eating lots of fresh fruits and vegetables, getting enough sleep and regular exercise, as well as actively choosing to include foods with high amounts of antioxidants and anti-inflammatory properties to your daily diet are all measures that will all help to keep your body well balanced, properly nourished, and hence better able to fight off pathogens that come your way.
These soothing drinks, full of those all important anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties, is one way to keep your immune system in tip-top shape through winter.
To make these soothing winter tonics not only good at supporting the immune system but also yummy, I have mixed together ingredients with known health promoting properties as well as great flavor. I’m sure they will all be familiar to you but maybe not in these combinations.
The base is the same for both tonics: orange, lemon, lemongrass, ginger, turmeric and black pepper. Tonic #1 then has juniper berries and fresh rosemary added, while Tonic #2 has cinnamon, cardamom and cloves added.
Why these ingredients?
Because they are all loaded to the rafters with antioxidants and anti-inflammatory properties, which is just what you need during flu season.
Citrus fruits: Vitamin C is an essential micronutrient for humans. It is also a powerful antioxidant which contributes to the strengthening of our immune defense. Oranges and lemons are all loaded with vitamin C so they are a good base on which to build a drink aimed to keep the immune system top-tuned.
Lemongrass: Lemongrass contains quercetin, a flavonoid known for having anti-inflammatory and antioxidant effect. Many more traditional societies use lemongrass as a pain reliever and fever reducer. Throughout the Caribbean, for example, they call lemongrass for Fever Grass for that same reason. So apart from adding nice flavor to the tonic, lemongrass may also help sooth a slight fever.
Ginger: Ginger has a very long history of use in various forms of traditional and alternative medicines across the globe. It is famous for reducing nausea, it is a powerful digestive aid, and it can help alleviate the symptoms of the common cold and the flu. The main bioactive compound in ginger is gingerol, a natural essential oil. Gingerol has powerful anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties, making this root a natural addition to any immune boosting drink.
Turmeric: Like ginger (and actually a cousin of the ginger), turmeric also has a very long history of use as a traditional medicinal remedy. Curcumin, the bioactive compound in turmeric responsible for its health benefits, is a very powerful anti-inflammatory and antioxidant.
Black pepper: The absorption of the bioactive compounds in turmeric is greatly enhanced when taken together with black pepper, hence the addition of pepper to this tonic.
Additions To Tonic #1:
Rosemary: This Mediterranean herb is another rich source of antioxidants and anti-inflammatory plant compounds. And it adds nice flavor to this tonic. You can substitute with 1/2 a teaspoon of dried rosemary if you don’t have access to the fresh herb.
Juniper berries: These little berries with a tart, pine-like flavor are perhaps best know for giving gin its distinct flavor. But juniper berries can do more than that. Like all berries they are rich in both vitamin C and flavonoids which act as powerful antioxidant and anti-inflammatory agents. Mostly, though, I love the slight earthy flavor they add to this drink.
Additions To Tonic #2:
Cinnamon: Again, this is another spice which contains high amounts of antioxidants. Because of this, cinnamon is believed to have potent anti-inflammatory properties. It also tastes great and adds some lovely sweetness to the tonic, balancing the tartness of the lemon.
Cardamom: Once again, high levels of antioxidants are believed to be responsible for this spice’s anti-inflammatory properties. Cardamom may also improve breathing and oxygen use, something which will help relieve the symptoms of the common cold and the flu.
Cloves: This sweet and aromatic spice is yet another powerful antioxidant which add warmth to this version of the tonic.
The above combinations makes for soothing yet freshly flavored tonics that will do your body a whole lot of good this winter.
The tonics are equally good enjoyed hot or cold – and even mixed with some sparkling water.
If you find the taste too tart feel free to add a bit of honey – which by the way also has antimicrobial properties.
Soothing Winter Tonics
- 1 organic orange, sliced
- 1 organic lemon, sliced
- 1 stalk lemongrass
- 1 thumb-length piece of fresh ginger, peeled and grated
- 1/2 teaspoon dried turmeric
- 4 cups water
Version #1. Earthy & Mild. To be added to the above base ingredients.
- 6 dried juniper berries, mashed a little
- 2 -4 stalks fresh rosemary
- A little raw honey, optional
Version #2. Spicy. To be added to the above base ingredients.
- 1 cinnamon stick
- 5 cardamom pods, bashed a bit
- 4 whole cloves
- A little raw honey, optional
- Add all the basic ingredients to a large pot and then add the ingredients for either version #1 or #2 depending on which version you'd like to make. Bring to a slow simmer.
- Simmer, partially covered, for 10 minutes.
- Strain the liquid into another container, pushing down on the solids to get as much of the flavor into your drink as possible, and let it cool down a bit before pouring it into a clean glass bottle. Store in the fridge for up to one weeks.
- Enjoy as is, cold or hot, or add a little honey to sweeten it up if you prefer.
For another super healthy immune boosting recipe try this Spicy Red Lentil & Pumpkin Soup.