The 4 Best Things to Drink When You’re Sick with the Flu

Staying hydrated is the most important thing to do when you have a cold or the flu. But opting for sugar-laden, artificially-colored sports drinks can leave your immune system feeling worse in the long run.

The best things to drink when you’re sick should give you a healthy dose of electrolytes, immune-boosting nutrients, and soothing phytonutrients. And for an added dose of nutrition, many of the best drinks when you’re sick also contain nutrients like vitamin C and antioxidants.

Cold + Flu: What to Drink to Get Better Faster

Drinks with electrolytes, like bone broth provide healing amino acids and electrolytes, helping to keep you better hydrated than regular water. An antioxidant-rich elderberry tonic promotes a healthy immune system and can support your body’s natural healing process.

In Ayurveda, golden milk is a traditional soothing remedy with anti-inflammatory properties, plus digestive support to calm an angry tummy.

You can use these great drinks throughout the year, but they’re especially helpful when you’re feeling like you need a boost or a soothing drink. Plus, these drinks also support:

  • Inflammation
  • Digestive health
  • Stress management

Find your favorite, gather your ingredients, and save this list the next time you need a soothing drink to warm your body and soul.

Golden Milk

Turmeric, which gives this drink its rich, golden hue, is a great help if you’re battling the flu. The main ingredients in golden milk have been used in everything from immune-boosting tonics, to beauty elixirs, and much more.

Dating back thousands of years, this Eastern healing remedy combines the adaptogenic powers of turmeric, and the soothing spice of ginger to support healthy immune and digestive function, and calm inflammation. Bonus: golden milk can also help you relax, and is a great drink to have in the evening.

How to Make Golden Milk

Ingredients:Drinks for when you're sick
½ tsp ground turmeric
1 tsp of freshly grated or sliced ginger (substitute ¼ tsp ground if not available)
¼ tsp whole cloves, or a dash of ground cloves
1 tsp honey
¼ cup milk of choice (coconut, almond, cashew, or dairy work well)
Optional: cinnamon, maple syrup, cardamom

Bring 1 cup water to a boil. Reduce heat to simmer, and add ginger, turmeric, clove, and any other optional spices. Let steep for 4 minutes. Then, pour into a mug and add honey and milk to taste.

Feel free to adjust your golden milk to your taste. If you prefer more or less milk, or maple syrup instead of honey–make your golden milk your own!

Why You Should Use Turmeric if You Have the Flu

Golden milk contains turmeric, which has an array of well-studied anti-inflammatory and immune supportive powers. Curcumin, the active compound in turmeric, has been shown to have positive effects on intestinal permeability (or leaky gut), the microbiome, and gut inflammation, all of which support your body’s natural healing powers (1). During cold and flu season, I regularly add a cup of golden milk with turmeric to my family’s routine.

Ginger also calms the stomach, and promotes relaxation. Cloves might have a strong flavor, but they also have potent antimicrobial and anti-bacterial properties, which can help your immune system and microbiome do their job to fight off any unwanted pathogens (2).

Honey helps coat your throat, soothing irritation, and also contains immune-boosting phytonutrients (3).

For immune support all year long, I use these ingredients to promote a healthy immune system.

Collagen Bone Broth

What to drink when you're sickBone broth is an amazing source of collagen, trace minerals, and amino acids that help your gut and immune system heal. Bone broth is made from the parts of an animal we don’t typically use, such as the marrow, cartilage, ligaments, and tendon, but they make a nutrient-dense addition to your diet when simmered to release their stored nutrients.

This is why you’ll find collagen in Belly Fix, my newest comprehensive gut wellness formula.

Infusing your broth with herbs like thyme or rosemary not only provides a rich flavor, but an array of flavonoids, phenols, and other healing compounds.

How to Make Bone Broth

Bone broth is normally simmered slowly over many hours, combined with veggies, fresh herbs or spices, and an acid (such as vinegar) to release all the stored nutrients and amino acids.

All you need is a large stock pot, plus ingredients, and a healthy serving of patience while you wait for your bone broth to slowly boil.

When you make bone broth, it’s beneficial to freeze a portion of it to use later, saving you time and energy when you need it quickly.

You can find my easy, basic bone broth recipe by watching this video.

Benefits of Bone Broth

Benefits of bone broth include stronger immunity to common colds and allergies, healthy digestion, and even more youthful-looking skin thanks to amino acids and collagen.

Bone broth is also rich in glycine, an amino acid we usually don’t get enough of in our diet, but that is crucial for immune health and collagen production which protects the gut (4).

Bone broth also provides a higher intake of critical minerals like calcium, potassium, and magnesium.

Elderberry Echinacea Tea

Want to boost your immune system and shorten the duration of your cold? Then this elderberry echinacea tea is perfect for you.Drinking tea when you're sick

Elderberry has been used medicinally for centuries to boost immunity, fight infections, and even clear complexions. Studies show that sipping elderberry and echinacea at the first sign of a cold or flu is most beneficial, and can help shorten the duration and severity of symptoms.

You can find dried elderberries in most health food stores to make this tea. While the most common parts of the echinacea plant used to boost immune function are the colorful purple flowers and roots. You’ll want to steep these ingredients together for 6-8 minutes, and because elderberries are normally slightly sweet, you may find this immune-boosting tea quite delicious!

Benefits of Elderberry + Echinacea

Elderberry extract possesses antimicrobial activity which can make it more difficult for a cold virus to replicate within your body (5). This effect is likely responsible for less severe symptoms and a quicker return to health.

Echinacea may be beneficial not only while you’re sick, but studies show it can also reduce the likelihood of a cold returning as well. Echinacea has been shown to benefit both innate and adaptive immune function, boosting the body’s response to an unwanted pathogen (6).

Green Tea with Honey

One of the most beneficial and antioxidant-rich drinks in the world, green tea is easy to find and super simple to prepare. Green tea contains a potent antioxidant called EGCG, which stops free radicals from damaging your cells (7). This antioxidant power is part of what gives green tea it’s cold-fighting powers.

Green tea has also been shown to have antiviral properties, and when paired with the immune-boosting phytonutrients in honey, this drink is a soothing superstar.

You can find green tea in most grocery stores, and you’ll want to prioritize local honey, preferably as raw or unprocessed as possible to retain all the immune supportive phytonutrients.

Steep your tea, sweeten to taste, and sip away!

Drinks to Avoid When You’re Sick

When you’re sick, you’ll want to drink liquids that keep you hydrated, support your immune system, and soothe your gut. To allow your body to heal, minimize or omit excessive caffeine, drinks that contain alcohol, and sugary energy drinks (yes, this includes soda too!).

  • Anything with alcohol: Alcohol is a toxin, which accounts for its inebriating effects on our central nervous system. Your liver and other detoxificationWhat not to drink when you're sick
    pathways work hard to eliminate alcohol from your system, so if you’re battling an illness–it’s not a good time to place extra stress on your liver and detox function.
  • Energy drinks: Often masquerading as “healthy”, energy drinks are loaded with way too much sugar and artificial sweetener and preservatives to truly justify the low-quality B vitamins which supposedly boost energy. Some of the most popular energy drinks contain ingredients which can interfere with a healthy microbiome and cause excess inflammation, which is not a good idea while you’re sick.

If you’re experiencing fatigue during an illness, it’s because your body needs to rest, and ignoring these cues can actually significantly delay getting over your cold or flu.

  • Excessive caffeine: If a cup of coffee is part of your normal morning routine, abruptly omitting it may not be realistic–and that’s okay. But if you’re the type to drink coffee into the afternoon, or need more caffeine to get through the day, you’ll want to curb your caffeine intake until you kick your cold.

Caffeine can alter your body’s stress response, placing more stress on your adrenals and hindering your immune system from doing its job.

Recover from the Flu Fast

Staying hydrated when you have a cold or the flu is key, and these drinks also provide nutrients your immune system needs to keep doing its job.

Ingredients like turmeric help calm inflammation if you have the flu, while bone broth calms the gut and provides much needed electrolytes. Other botanicals and antioxidants from green tea and elderberry help support immune function.

So if you feel any sickness coming on, snuggle up, sip one of these drinks, and you’ll be feeling better soon.

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