Immunity- Boosting Drinks

A robust immune system is essential for maintaining good health and preventing various illnesses. While a balanced diet and regular exercise contribute significantly to immune health, incorporating immunity-boosting drinks into your routine can provide an extra layer of defense.

Best Immunity-Boosting Drinks

Beyond smoothies, these 11 delicious drinks can help keep your immune system running its best.

This article is based on reporting that features expert sources.

Having breakfast at home



Your body’s natural defense mechanism.

The human body comes equipped with its own defense mechanism, the immune system, that can protect you from illness. But you have to treat it right for it to work optimally. That self-care starts with diet.

“Adequate nutrition is required for all cells to function properly, including our immune system cells,” says Kristine Dilley, a registered dietitian at the Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center in Columbus. “If the immune system is activated to respond to a pathogen (an organism that can cause disease), optimal nutrition is needed to provide the extra demand for energy and nutrients. Undernutrition or malnutrition can impair immune function if insufficient nutrients are present to help the immune system do its job.”

In discussions of using food and drink to boost immunity, smoothies are often recommended because they’re loaded with fruits and vegetables that are great sources of antioxidants. (Antioxidants are compounds that can support many aspects of health, including healthy immune system function.) But if you’re looking for a delicious, immune-system boosting drink that’s not a smoothie, check out the following 11 options:


Woman pouring water from bottle into the glass at a outdoor cafe




If you want to boost immunity, sticking with the basics is a great place to start.

“Of all the fluids that support a healthy immune system, water is the most important and should be our primary beverage of choice,” says Siera Holley, a registered dietitian nutritionist at the Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center. “Water is essential for absorbing certain nutrients, such as vitamin C, transporting nutrients throughout the body, maintaining body temperature and eliminating toxins.”

Adequate hydration also helps the lymphatic system move immune-boosting white blood cells through the body.

“However, the majority of people worldwide are not even reaching the lower ranges for adequate hydration,” notes Jennifer Hanway, a board-certified holistic nutritionist, certified personal trainer and health coach based in Boston, New York and London.

To determine your individual water needs, Holley recommends dividing your body weight in pounds by two. The resulting number is the minimum amount of water in ounces to aim to drink each day.

For example, if you weigh 150 pounds, you should drink at least 75 ounces of water daily.

If you want to jazz up your water, Holley recommends selecting sparkling or seltzer waters with no added sugar.

“Or, try experimenting with infusing water for more flavor by adding different combinations of sliced fruits, vegetables and/or herbs,” she suggests.


Sour-dairy drink or yoghurt in bottle that come from the kefir grains and milk on wooden background. Photographed with natural light.




Kailey Proctor, an oncology dietitian at City of Hope in Southern California, recommends drinking kefir, a creamy, yogurt-like beverage made from fermented cow or goat’s milk.

“Kefir is an excellent source of probiotics, like most fermented foods,” she says.

What distinguishes it is a specific type of bacteria called Lactobacillus kefiri, which has been shown to protect the body from infections, Proctor notes.

2021 study conducted at Stanford School of Medicine may explain why. The study found that a diet rich in fermented foods can enhance the diversity of microbes in the gut, which offers a boost to immune system function. In other words, a diverse microbiome is better able to fend off a variety of pathogens it may encounter.

In addition, the study noted that levels of 19 different inflammatory proteins in the blood also decreased among participants fed a diet high in fermented foods. One of those proteins, called interleukin 6 (IL-6), has been connected with several conditions, including rheumatoid arthritis, Type 2 diabetes and chronic stress, the study notes. Four types of immune cells were also found to be less active in the group that ate more fermented foods, suggesting improved immune system function related to increased intake of fermented foods.

Keeping your gut healthy is all part of boosting immunity, confirms Mary Mosquera Cochran, a registered dietitian with the Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center. The gut “is a site of major immune system activity,” she says, so drinking beverages that are rich in probiotics, such as kefir, can be beneficial.

But it’s not just the bacteria that makes kefir a good choice.

“An added benefit of drinking kefir over other fermented drinks, such as kombucha, is that kefir products are often fortified with vitamin D, which has been found to play an essential role in healthy immune system functioning,” Cochran says.

If you’re going to add kefir, Cochran recommends sticking with plain kefir for less added sugar or avoiding kefir products with more than 12 grams of added sugar per serving.

Matcha iced green tea with lime and fresh mint on a marble background. Top view.



Agua fresca

If you want to avoid dairy, why not reach for a refreshing glass of agua fresca?

“Popular in Mexico and Central America, agua fresca is a delicious blend of water, whole fruit and lime juice,” Cochran says.

Agua fresca is high in vitamin C, a key antioxidant that can support a healthy immune system.

Cochran offers the following simple recipe:

  • Add 1 cup of fruit (pineapples, oranges and strawberries are all rich in vitamin C), the juice of half a lime and 1 cup of water to a standard blender.
  • Blend on high, pour and enjoy.

If you’d like a little spritz of bubbles, you can also try using unsweetened sparkling water.

This article is based on reporting that features expert sources.




Fruity chia refresher

Zinc is another important mineral needed for healthy immune function, and chia seeds are an excellent source of the nutrient. In fact, just 2 tablespoons of chia seeds contain 12% of your daily value of zinc.

Although you can certainly add a handful of chia seeds to any smoothie for an instant boost of zinc, Cochran also recommends trying this delicious and refreshing non-smoothie drink:

  • Combine 1 cup of water with 3 tablespoons of chia seeds in a tall glass, cover and let soak for 15 to 20 minutes in your fridge. The chia seeds will swell and create a gel-like substance.
  • Thin the mixture with 1 cup of your favorite no-sugar-added juice. Cochran recommends 100% pomegranate or cherry juice, as “both are very rich in antioxidants for more immune system support.”
  • Stir to combine.

Even when using no-sugar-added juices, watch your serving sizes, as juices are typically high in natural sugars and calories. For example, a cup of pomegranate juice contains more than 30 grams of sugar and nearly 140 calories. Adding water can help stretch the juice with fewer calories.

This article is based on reporting that features expert sources.

mischief, milk mustache, humor, togetherness, childhood



Fortified cow’s milk

Kids are often given milk as their primary drink, and there’s a reason for that, Holley says. Fortified cow’s milk provides multiple nutrients that support the immune system, including:

  • Vitamin D, which helps bones absorb calcium and can support mood. Studies have shown that vitamin D helps to decrease inflammation and modulate immune response. However, the majority of Americans do not consume adequate levels of vitamin D. According to the Dietary Guidelines for Americans 2020-2025, people ages 2 to 70 should aim to get 600 international units of vitamin D each day, while people ages 71 and over should get 800 international units of vitamin D. One cup of milk that’s been fortified with vitamin D contains 25% of the daily value for vitamin D.
  • Protein, which is beneficial for muscle repair and recovery.
  • Vitamin A, which supports the immune system, internal organs and the eyes.
  • Zinc, which is especially helpful for wound healing.

Milk contains calories, fat and natural sugars from its lactose content, so be mindful of portion sizes if you’re trying to manage your weight. Holley recommends choosing fat-free skim or low-fat (1%) milk “to reap the benefits of milk without the higher saturated fat content.”

If you can’t tolerate or don’t like dairy milk, Holley suggests fortified plant-based options instead.

“Soy and almond beverages can also be good options for getting vitamin D through food,” she says. “The unsweetened or unflavored variety of these beverages would be recommended to eliminate the intake of any added sugar.”

She also recommends checking the label on both dairy and plant-based milks to be sure you know which nutrients have been added.

This article is based on reporting that features expert sources.

NEXT:Hemp or cashew milk
Strain the dense mass from hemp seeds through a napkin horizontal



Hemp or cashew milk

Cashews and hemp hearts, which are hulled hemp seeds that look a bit like wild rice, are both excellent sources of zinc.

You can buy pre-made versions of both hemp and cashew milk. Cochran recommends choosing an unsweetened variety because “eating a diet high in added sugars can increase inflammation and wear down your immune system over time.”

She also suggests making a “cool and creamy summer beverage” with this simple recipe:

  • Measure 3 tablespoons of hemp hearts or ¼ cup cashews into a small bowl. Cover with hot water, and let soak for an hour. You can also cover with room temperature water and soak overnight until soft.
  • Once the hemp hearts or cashews have softened, drain and discard the water.
  • Add the seeds or nuts to a blender, and combine with 1 cup of water, ½ teaspoon of vanilla extract and ½ teaspoon of maple syrup if you want more sweetness.
  • Blend on high.

“You can drink it straight from the blender or strain it through a fine mesh sieve for a smoother texture,” Cochran says.

This article is based on reporting that features expert sources.

NEXT:Lemon ginger tea
A cup of lemon ginger honey tea on rustic wooden background. Negative space image.



Lemon ginger tea

The sharp and earthy flavors of lemon and ginger have always tasted great together, but this pairing can also go a long way in supporting your immune system.

“Lemon juice is very high in immunity-strengthening vitamin C, and fresh ginger root is rich in antioxidants that fight inflammation,” Cochran says.

Cochran offers an easy recipe for a delicious tea:

  • Add 1 cup of water to a saucepan and 1 to 2 nickel-sized slices of fresh ginger root. Bring to a boil, and simmer for 5 minutes (or longer for a more intense flavor). Let cool slightly.
  • In a mug, combine the juice of ½ a small lemon and the ginger water. You can keep the ginger slices in your mug if you like.
  • Drink as is, or add ½ teaspoon honey or maple syrup for a hint of sweetness.

“If you can’t bear drinking hot things in the summer, you can double the amount of ginger and lemon, cool the ginger water to room temperature and serve over ice,” Cochran says.

If you don’t want to go all in for the lemon ginger tea, try a simple cup of green tea.

Green tea is also high in antioxidants that can help immune function,” Hanway adds.

Just be aware that green tea also contains caffeine, so keep track of how much you’re consuming. The Food and Drug Administration advises that healthy adults should keep caffeine consumption at or below 400 milligrams per day. An 8-ounce cup of coffee typically has about 100 milligrams of caffeine.

NEXT:Tomato juice
Top view of a rustic wooden table with two glasses of tomato juice and ripe tomatoes. A wooden cutting board with tomato halves is at the bottom-right of the frame. Low key DSRL studio photo taken with Canon EOS 5D Mk II and Canon EF 100mm f/2.8L Macro IS USM.



Tomato juice

Vegetable-based drinks provide lots of nutrients that can support the immune system.

“One cup of tomato juice is rich in vitamin C and is also a great source of vitamin A, a nutrient necessary for the health of protective barriers, like the respiratory system,” Holley notes.

In addition, tomatoes contain the antioxidant lycopene, an anti-inflammatory that can protect cells from damage.

When choosing a tomato juice, pick a brand that contains no added sugar and that’s lower in sodium. Ready-to-drink gazpacho beverages are also a good way to add more tomato juice to your diet.

NEXT:Citrus juices
Child squeezing orange and making juice at home



Citrus juices

Traditionally, orange juice has been thought of as being particularly good for immunity because of its vitamin C content. And this reputation holds water.

“Citrus juices, like orange juice and grapefruit juice, are commonly associated with preventing illness,” Holley explains. “Both orange and grapefruit juices contain 100% of the daily value for vitamin C, an antioxidant that helps support the immune system through antibody formation, in one cup.”

Getting adequate vitamin C can be a helpful preventive measure to stop a cold before you catch it.

“Research varies on whether vitamin C can improve the symptoms and duration of the common cold when taken after onset,” Holley says.

If you’re drinking juice, just be mindful of portion size and sugar content.

“It is important to be cautious of ingredients as most juices are predominantly fruit and can result in blood sugar spikes that do not help the immune system,” explains Megan Wroe, wellness manager with Providence St. Jude Medical Center in Southern California.

Wroe recommends juices that are made mostly with greens and vegetable, plus one to two fruits for flavor.

“This is a great way to infuse your system with fast phytonutrients (a compound found in plants) to boost your immune health.”

If you’re short on time, you can also select 100% juices that are not from concentrate and contain no added sugars.

NEXT:Bone broth
Broth in a pan



Bone broth

For an easy to digest source of a host of micronutrients and protein, look no further than bone broth.

Bone broth results when you simmer animal bones and connective tissue in water for a long period of time. Some broth broths can take up to 24 hours to simmer, allowing plenty of time for the many nutrients in the bones and bone marrow to seep into the liquid where they can be simply consumed for health benefits.

“They are ideal for quick boosts to the immune system,” Wroe says. “They are also ideal for those already feeling a bit under the weather who may not have much of an appetite otherwise.”

NEXT:Turmeric milk (golden milk)



Turmeric milk (golden milk)

Also known as golden milk, turmeric milk is a mix of cow’s or plant-based milk and turmeric and other spices. The key ingredient is the bright yellow-orange spice turmeric, which is widely used in various Asian cuisines.

Turmeric contains curcumin, which is known for its anti-inflammatory and potential immune-modulating effects,” says Mary Sabat, an ACE-certified personal trainer and nutritionist and owner of BodyDesigns in Alpharetta, Georgia.

Turmeric has also long been part of Ayurvedic medicine because of its healing properties.

To make this beverage, warm ½ cup of your favorite unsweetened milk, add a teaspoon of turmeric, ½ teaspoon each of ginger and cinnamon and a pinch of ground black pepper. You can sweeten to taste with honey or maple syrup, but avoid adding too much sugar or risk losing some of the health benefits of this warming drink.