Now that it’s January we’d all do well to prepare for the inevitable cold. Not just the temperature, but also the achy, runny nose, I-don’t-want-to-get-out-of-bed kind. One of the oldest remedies around is the hot toddy. Nowadays if you do a search online or even in most cookbooks for a recipe you’ll find that scotch or whiskey is the key ingredient for most toddys. The claim is that the alcohol will soothe your throat, help you sleep, and even help clear up your runny nose. I don’t buy it. I’ve never had a scotch that made my throat feel better, at least not until the third or fourth. Alcohol in small quantities can help you sleep, but it can also disrupt sleep patterns and, over the long run, cause problems with sleep deprivation. Finally, alcohol actually makes congestion worse. The real health benefits of a good toddy come from the other ingredients, with only the initial alcoholic sedative effect making the whiskey seem like a good idea.
So, how do you make a good toddy to fight your cold and why does it work? There are only four ingredients in our toddys at the Juice Bar, and each ingredient plays an important role in reducing the symptoms of the common cold.
First, here’s our recipe:
1 cup hot water (not warm, hot)
Roughly 1 inch of ginger, juiced
1/2 lemon, juiced
3 Tbs. honey
Now, here’s why it works: The most important thing to remember when you’re sick is to stay hydrated but to avoid drinking beverages containing caffeine, refined sugars, carbonation, and alcohol. These items will actually dehydrate you since they are diuretics. Our drink contains none of these. Additionally, the hotter the water the more steam—which helps with those pesky sinuses.
Ginger is widely used to fight colds for a variety of reasons. It helps suppress coughs by stimulating circulation. This can help clear up congestion and mucus, making what coughing you do more productive, acting much like a really spicy pepper. It also helps with feelings of nausea and upset stomach. While the saying is “feed a fever, starve a cold,” you really want to feed both. A sick body needs its nutrients.
Lemon is a fantastic source of vitamin C in addition to being a mighty tasty drink flavor. Vitamin C helps improve immunity and decrease toxicity in the body. It also acts to loosen congestion and help with that upset stomach.
Honey is the main reason a toddy makes your throat feel better. It coats your throat, soothing that irritating tickle and helping you get rid of the cough that’s keeping you up all night. Honey also has antibacterial properties which once again calm your stomach.
Warming and comforting
Just as important as the above reasons, in my book, is that a hot toddy is good for your soul. It warms you up in the dead of winter, calms you down, and makes you feel restful and peaceful—all good things when you’re under the weather.