Nothing feels more comforting than sipping something soothing while tucked up in bed battling a pounding head and sore throat. But hot drinks to fight colds, viruses and flu don’t only improve your mood when you’re unwell – they could also be helping your body fight back against illness.
how hot drinks fight colds
Indeed, the ancient Egyptian and Chinese learned the benefits of herbal infusions thousands of years ago. In recent years, dozens of studies have uncovered some unexpected benefits of hot drinks to fight colds, viruses and flu. There’s even evidence that good hydration can prevent you from catching a winter bug in the first place. Breathing in the steam stimulates the cilia – the tiny hairs in the nose – to displace germs more efficiently while drinking a hot drink raises your body’s internal temperature, activating the endocrine system to flush harmful toxins out through your lymph nodes and sweat glands.
drink it better
Hot fruit drinks, for example, ease sore throats as well as reducing shivering and tiredness according to a 2008 study. And hot chocolate is packed full of enough antioxidants and essential minerals to boost your immune system, neutralise free radicals and aid circulation to help you on the way to a full recovery.
- Find fabulous fruity recipes for hot drinks to fight colds here.
- Click here for the ultimate hot choc recipe that you can make in an instant with your BIBO Water Bar.
However, perhaps the best known therapeutic drink is herbal tea. In China, if your nose is bunged up, you’ll be handed a cup of ginger tea which is thought to relieve headaches, fight viruses and ease congestion. But there are dozens of tea flavours that have medicinal benefits.
10 ways hot herbal teas can help fight colds
1. Clear passages – Elder flower tea can help with a blocked nose, heavy coughs and reduce the symptoms of asthma.
2. Cure a cough – warm fluids loosen the mucus that cause irritating coughs and sooth the sore throat that often comes with spluttering. A spoonful of honey in any infusion does wonders, but brews such as marshmallow root, green tea and thyme have also been shown to reduce symptoms.
3. Fight a fever – elderflower, yarrow and lemon balm are all great for hydration and to strengthen your immune system as sufferers often lose their appetites. For children, a more gentle choice is catnip.
4. Improve digestion – infusions such as chamomile, cinnamon and peppermint break down fats and speed up the emptying of the stomach of any excess mucus.
5. Boost immunity – try echinacea, elderberry or liquorice to protect against oxidative stress and build up immunity to viruses. Remember the BIBO Water Bar uses UV light to filter water, killing any micro-organisms.
6. Reduce inflammation – ginger is one of the best teas to treat soreness, joint pain and swelling due to its main component, gingerol. Rosehip, meanwhile is packed with vitamin C, which can be depleted by a cold.
7. Slow cell ageing – when we’re unwell our whole body can suffer, but the antioxidants in many infusions such as sage or lemon balm prevent free radical damage and can even help make your hair and body look and feel younger.
8. Relieve anxiety – chamomile has a calming effect, and can act as a mild anti-depressant for those feeling stressed. It also helps those afflicted with insomnia, which is more prevalent when you are sick.
9. Lower blood pressure – the natural chemicals in hibiscus can reduce pressure on the heart and kidneys with no negative side effects.
10. Improve skin health – when you’re stuck in a dark bedroom with little sunlight and a lack of airflow, your skin can become sallow and prone to acne. Teas like Roobibos, spearmint and chamomile have antibacterial properties so can help either through drinking them normally, or applying them as a compress to the skin.
can coffee help too?
But it’s not just teas that help fight colds – coffee is rich in antioxidants so boosts your immune system. According to a study by researchers at Bristol University, coffee can also make you feel less groggy when you are struck down with a cold.
- Find some delicious coffee recipes here.
what about a hot toddy?
Fancy a traditional hot toddy to help ward off or fight colds? Well, ingredients such as hot water (set your BIBO Water Bar to around 90 degrees), lemon juice and honey can all ease symptoms, and while there’s no proof that a wee dram of whisky has a tangible health benefit, it might make the long hours in isolation a bit more bearable! Try adding a cinnamon stick or infusing the mixture with a little fresh grated ginger for extra flavour. For a non-alcoholic alternative, use green or black tea instead of the whisky.
- Try this delicious hot toddy recipe (plus nine other warming drink recipes!)