Healthy hot beverages to boost your immunity this winter

December 1, 2017 Providence Health Team

Winter is in full swing and brings with it a whole host of unsavory companions. Allergies, cold and flu are prevalent during this time of year, so keeping your immune system strong is crucial. Your immune system plays a huge part in protecting your body against not only seasonal sickness but cancer as well. So, if your immune system is looking for a little extra help fending off illnesses, try these healthy hot beverages to keep you fully functioning so you can get back to enjoying the beauty of the changing season.

Chai tea

A flavorful alternative to coffee, chai tea boasts a wide scope of health benefits that stem from spices such as cardamom, black pepper, fennel and star anise. Used for centuries to preserve health in India, it’s no wonder that the beverage appears on coffee shop menus around the world. Each spice increases the others’ efficacy and when consumed in moderation can improve digestion as well as boost the immune system. Cardamom is said to alleviate allergies, while fennel and black pepper are known as powerful antioxidants. Chai tea is a wonderful addition to your winter beverage lineup; however, it does contain caffeine and when taken in copious amounts can lead to dizziness, nausea and increased blood pressure. Prepare chai tea at home, but remember to limit your intake.

Ginger tea

As far as keeping your immune system healthy, ginger tea is a top contender. Ginger itself contains high levels of vitamin C and when made into a tea, can help relieve congestion, improve digestion, help the body fight against cancer, eliminate inflammation and lower stress, among other benefits. Ginger tea also makes a great antidote to travel sickness as it prevents nausea and vomiting. Too much ginger can cause heartburn and bloating, so drink this cozy beverage in moderation. It may also interact with certain prescription medications, and you may want to avoid it if you are taking blood thinners. Here’s a super easy way to prepare your next batch of ginger tea.

Pumpkin spice latte

A crowd favorite, pumpkin spice lattes can be prepared in coffee or tea form. No matter what you choose, the benefits of this popular drink can be derived from the spices within it. Cinnamon helps protect the cells by acting as an antioxidant, and it also is said to help diabetics manage their blood sugar. Nutmeg contains fiber, while ginger and allspice can help regulate digestion. Bonus fact: pumpkins are similar to carrots as they can enhance your eyesight. Most prepared pumpkin spiced beverages use a pre-made syrup high in sugar to flavor tea or coffee, so you might prefer a homemade version. Instead of using white sugar, opt for agave nectar or stevia for a lower glucose factor.

Turmeric and honey milk

For nondairy loving folk, you can use coconut milk or almond milk to recreate this mildly spiced drink. Turmeric by itself contains anti-inflammatory, antioxidant and anti-bacterial properties that keep viral infections at bay and has been used as a natural cure for ailments for hundreds of years. Add honey to boost the anti-bacterial properties of the drink and to protect your immune system from the common cold. Use this recipe the next time you feel your throat start to tickle. Pregnant women be warned: consuming turmeric may promote a menstrual cycle that may put your pregnancy at risk, so consult your physician before incorporating any long-term changes in your diet.

Spiced apple cider

Warm up with a beverage that’s packed with flavonoids and antioxidants. The apples found in hot apple cider can protect the body against damage caused by free radicals and are also a great source of fiber – needed to help improve digestion and lower blood cholesterol. Depending on which spices you use, such as cinnamon, nutmeg and cloves, they offer health benefits that lower blood glucose levels, increase collagen production and inhibit skin, bone and stomach cancers, respectively. The real thing is always better for you than juice, since juice contains more sugar than the actual fruit. However, instead of heading to the supermarket to pick up a gallon, which can be packed with added sugars and other unhealthy preservatives, whip up your own at home using this recipe.

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