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Sad fact: There’s no cure for viral illnesses like a cold or the flu. Happy fact: Getting the right nutrients might help bolster your immune system so it can fight back as hard as it can — and hopefully get you back on your feet a little faster.
And juice can be a top-notch delivery system. Fruits and veggies are powerhouses when it comes to immune-supporting nutrients, but you might not feel like noshing on a bowl of berries or a kale salad when you’re sick.
Juices give you access to the good stuff in a form that’s (literally) easier to swallow. And they’ll help you stay hydrated — another key component to a speedy recovery.
So, which sippers will do the most good? You’ve come to the right place. Here are 13 of the best juices to drink when you’re sick.
1. Orange juice
You knew this one was coming, right? Just 3/4 cup of OJ delivers an entire day’s worth of vitamin C, which provides key immune system support by signaling the body to produce protective antibodies.
Pick the carton or fresh-squeezed, pulp or no pulp. They all do the job.
2. Carrot-apple juice
This classic combo doesn’t just win on flavor. Carrots are crammed with vitamin A, an antioxidant that regulates immune function and helps guard against infections by keeping tissue healthy in your mouth, stomach, gut, and lungs.
As for the apples? Keep the skin on — it’s rich in the flavonoid quercetin, a known inflammation-fighter and immune system modulator.
3. Kale juice
The leafy green is loaded with vitamins C and A, but that’s not all. Kale is also rich in other nutrients that are critical to immune function, like vitamin B-6. It’s also one of the few juice-able sources of vitamin E (mostly found in nuts and seeds), which works as an antioxidant to keep infections in check.
4. Honey-ginger juice
Both are potent germ fighters, and they taste even better together. Honey contains compounds that activate the body’s immune response and thwart harmful cell proliferation, while ginger has anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties thanks to compounds like gingerol.
As an added bonus, honey will coat and soothe a scratchy throat.
5. Ginger-turmeric juice
For a double dose of inflammation fighters, mix ginger juice with turmeric. The golden-yellow root is rich in curcuminoids, antioxidant compounds with powerful anti-inflammatory properties.
6. Grapefruit juice
Like orange juice, it’s a good way to get lots of vitamin C — just 3/4 cup has nearly 80 percent of what you need for the day. And thanks to its tart, slightly bitter flavor, it can be a good option when you’re not in the mood for OJ’s intense sweetness.
7. Spinach juice
Don’t have any kale on hand? Spinach contains many of the same immune-boosting nutrients, making it a good alternative. You might be able to chug a little more of it, too, since the flavor is milder.
8. Strawberry-kiwi-lime juice
The sweet-sour combo isn’t just delicious — all three fruits are chock-a-block with vitamin C. If you’re not in the mood to sip, try pouring the juice into molds and making popsicles instead.
9. Watermelon-cantaloupe juice
These two melons work better together. Watermelon is rich in lycopene and vitamin B-6, which both help the body launch a strong immune response to unwelcome germs. And cantaloupe has lots of vitamins C and A.
10. Tomato juice
The savory sipper’s a good way to load up on lycopene and vitamin A. It’s got copper too, a mineral that experts agree plays an important role in immune function, though the exact mechanism isn’t fully understood.
FYI: Just in case you had the urge to upgrade that ‘mater juice into a Bloody Mary, don’t do it. Booze can suppress your immune system, so you definitely want to steer clear when you’re sick.
11. Beet-orange juice
Beets are one of the few juice-able sources of iron, which the body needs to build immune fighter cells and launch attacks on invading germs. Orange juice amps up the flavor, but that’s not all. It delivers vitamin C, which makes it easier for your body to absorb the beets’ iron.
12. Mango-papaya juice
Here’s another vitamin C powerhouse. A serving of each of these tropical fruits has a day’s worth of the vitamin. And there’s no arguing that they taste awesome together.
13. Pumpkin seed “juice”
OK, so blending pumpkin seeds with water gives you more of a creamy milk than a juice. But we’re putting it on here because pumpkin seeds are one of the best sources of zinc aside from meat, which you can’t, um, juice.
The mineral plays a key role in the formation of immune cells, which your body needs in order to fight harmful germs effectively. And not getting enough has been shown to make you more susceptible to serious infections, including pneumonia.