Immune shots help support your immune system health

Immune Shot Recipe: DIY

By: Mia Syn, MS, RD

Scientifically Reviewed By: Holli Ryan, RD, LD/N

Immune shot drinks are hot, especially this time of year when we tend to find ourselves in the winter doldrums. But…do they work?

While eating a high-fiber, plant-rich diet, low in processed foods is the key to supporting immune health, shots of immune-supporting nutrients indeed may help give you a leg up.

Here is everything to know about immune shot drinks and how to make them at home.

What is an immune shot?

Immune shots, often commonly referred to as "wellness shots," are small, concentrated juices made from ingredients known to have beneficial vitamins, minerals and nutrients. They are usually made with certain herbs, spices, fruits and vegetables. Commercially processed shots are typically sold in 1- to 3-ounce bottles and come in a variety of flavors, such as orange, pineapple and ginger.

Immune shots differ from smoothies. Smoothies are made from whole fruits and vegetables and often plant-based milk such as almond milk. This means that smoothies retain fiber.

Juices, like these shots, on the other hand, extract the liquid from fruits and vegetables, removing the fiber. While fiber is an important nutrient for digestive health that juices lack, that doesn't mean juices are without nutritional value because they offer higher concentrations of vitamins, minerals and antioxidants and polyphenols.

What do immune shots do for you? Do they work?

Manufacturers claim that immune shots can support your immune system among other benefits, such as giving you energy. The ingredients used to make these shots have different health benefits, such as supporting immune function and promoting overall health.

  • Turmeric

    : Turmeric contains a compound called curcumin that is known for its ability to support a healthy inflammatory response. However, research suggests it may also support immune system health and the function of T-cells. Some studies suggest that coupling turmeric with black pepper may enhance its healthy benefits.
  • Elderberry

    : People often turn to antioxidant-rich elderberry for immune support, especially during the winter season. Elderberry is rich in vitamin C, and studies indicate that elderberry supplementation may lessen duration and response to immune challenges.
  • Citrus fruits like lemon, orange

    : Citrus fruits are known for being vitamin C powerhouses. Vitamin C is a powerful antioxidant that helps fight free radicals and supports immune function.
  • Carrot juice

    : Carrots have vitamin C, and they are rich in beta-carotene, an antioxidant that the body converts to vitamin A. Vitamin A helps support healthy immune system function and response.
  • Wheatgrass

    : Green juice drinks are typically made with wheatgrass, a nutrient-dense vegetable. Wheatgrass is rich in key nutrients including vitamin C, vitamin E, zinc and folate.
  • Green tea

    : Green tea is rich in antioxidants and polyphenols, including epigallocatechin gallate (EGCG), which has been studied extensively for its immune-promoting abilities.
  • Probiotics

    : Some store-bought immune shots may contain probiotics, those beneficial bacteria that support digestive and whole-body health. Studies suggest that these microorganisms may support immune system response.
  • Tomato juice

    : Tomato juice may be a smart addition to these shots because of its high vitamin C and lycopene content. Lycopene is a powerful antioxidant that encourages immune function.
  • Adaptogens

    : Some store-bought immune health shots may contain adaptogens, which are herbs that help your body adapt to the effects of stress. They may have immune-supporting capabilities as well.

When should you drink an immune shot?

This drink is a good idea whenever you feel you could benefit from boosting your nutrition. These shots may be particularly beneficial for people whose diets are limited or consist of primarily processed foods, since whole foods deliver more immune-supporting nutrition. After all, a balanced, mostly plant-based diet is the key to supporting your immune system.

Other lifestyle choices can benefit your immune system as well, such as regular exercise, plenty of restful sleep, managing your stress and maintaining a healthy weight. Practicing good hygiene such as hand-washing and home disinfecting is also key to keeping your immune system in top shape.

How often should you drink immune shots?

The benefit of these drinks is that they are a concentrated source of nutrients such as vitamin C and other immune-supporting nutrients. However, you shouldn't rely on wellness juice shots to meet your nutrient needs. Incorporating whole fruits, vegetables and spices into a healthy, well-balanced diet is more important and effective for health.

Immune shots are generally safe to consume but you should speak to a healthcare provider before adding immune shots to your diet. Some herbs and ingredients such as ginger, turmeric and grapefruit juice can interact with certain medications.

Pro tip: Avoid premade juices with added sugar.

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How to make an immune shot at home

Making these shots at home is simple if you have the right ingredients—fruit, vegetables, herbs and spices—and tools such as a juicer or blender.

Turmeric Immune Shot Drink

Serves: 10 shots
Prep time: 5 minutes

Ingredients

2 lemons, juiced
2 oranges, juiced
1-inch piece of turmeric
1 teaspoon raw honey
⅓ cup water (optional)

Preparation

  • Add all ingredients to a blender and blend for 30 seconds or until the turmeric is finely chopped.
  • Use a nut milk bag or cheese cloth to strain into a bowl or large cup.
  • Transfer to an airtight container and measure out 1.5 ounces to drink when you are ready to enjoy.

Nutritional Values

Calories: 19
Carbohydrates: 5 g
Fat: 0 g
Protein: 0 g

Green Immune Shot Drink

Serves: 10 shots
Prep time: 5 minutes

Ingredients

½ teaspoon wheatgrass powder
2 oranges
¼ cup water

Preparation

  • Add all ingredients to a blender and blend for 30 seconds or until combined.
  • Use a nut milk bag or cheese cloth to strain into a bowl or large cup.
  • Transfer to an airtight container and measure out 1.5 ounces to drink when you are ready to enjoy.

Nutritional Values

Calories: 16
Carbohydrates: 4 g
Fat: 0 g
Protein: 0 g

Ginger Beet Immune Shot Drink

Serves: 10 shots
Prep time: 5 minutes

Ingredients

2 beets, peeled
½ apple
2 tbsp apple cider vinegar
½-inch piece of ginger

Preparation

  • Add all ingredients to a blender and blend for 30 seconds or until combined.
  • Use a nut milk bag or cheese cloth to strain into a bowl or large cup.
  • Transfer to an airtight container and measure out 1.5 ounces to drink when you are ready to enjoy.

Nutritional Values

Calories: 18
Carbohydrates: 4 g
Fat: 0 g
Protein: 0 g

Tips for Success

While having a juicer on hand is best for making homemade immune shot drinks with fresh ingredients, you can also make them in a blender and strain the mixture with a nut milk bag or cheese cloth.

Immune health supplements to consider

While certain foods, including immune shots, can provide the body with key nutrients that help support the immune system, supplements may also help. In fact, some immune health supplements may be particularly beneficial such as the blend of vitamin C, vitamin D, zinc and probiotics in Life Extension's Immune Packs. This easy, once-a-day collection offers comprehensive immune system support.

Research suggests N-Acetyl-L-Cysteine (or NAC) also offers antioxidant and immune system support. Another formula, Advanced Curcumin Elite™ Turmeric Extract, Ginger & Turmerones, is ideal for those who want to reap the benefits of turmeric and ginger, but can't stomach the spices in their foods or drinks. This formula helps promote a healthy inflammatory response, cardiovascular health, brain health and immune response.

Not sure what you need? Life Extension's Immune Health Quiz can help you determine which immune health supplements are right for you.

About the Author: Mia Syn, MS, RD is a national on-air nutrition expert, host of Good Food Friday on ABC Charleston and one of the most recognized and trusted young dietitians in the media. With a master's degree in human nutrition from Columbia University and over 500 TV appearances, she has helped millions of viewers, readers and clients learn and implement healthier, sustainable eating habits.

Website: www.NutritionbyMia.com

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