Switchel: The Fermented Drink that Benefits Your Gut
Before there were sports drinks to rehydrate after intense physical labor or sugary drinks designed to boost energy levels, there was switchel, an all-natural drink similar to lemonade that’s experiencing a resurgence in popularity.
Currently a favorite in markets and upscale cocktail bars, thanks to its numerous health benefits and great taste, this centuries-old beverage is primed to become the next kombuchaor kvass. Get ahead of the curve, and start sipping on switchel today.
Made from apple cider vinegar, fresh ginger, maple syrup and then cut with water, switchel’s arrival to America is hazy. Some say it came from the West Indies, where molasses was used instead of maple syrup. Others say it’s derived from oxymel, an ancient Greek medicinal elixir made from vinegar, honey and water. Wherever its origins, by the 18th century, “haymaker’s punch” was being guzzled down by American farmers during long work days to keep cool and stay hydrated in the heat.
At the time, people thought throwing back warm drinks during hot days was better for the body, as it supposedly maintained the body’s equilibrium with the weather. And because farmers couldn’t drink alcohol while working on the fields, benefit-rich gingerwas a safe second bet, as it produced a similar feeling to alcohol’s burn while going down.
While their reasoning might not have been totally sound, it turns out these farmers were onto something. Here’s why switchel should be your new favorite drink.
5 Benefits of Switchel
1. Ease inflammation
The ginger that makes up a key part of switchel is a natural inflammation reducer. Inflammation, which is at the root of most diseases, causes physical symptoms like skin problems and digestive issues. So keeping inflammation at bay with the ginger found in switchel can have other unexpected, welcome side effects, like clearing up acne.
Additionally, because it reduces inflammation, which also counts pain as a side effect, ginger is also a powerful pain fighter. In fact, one study found that consuming a small amount ofginger is more effective at reducing pain symptoms and inflammation than painkillers. Next time you feel a headache coming on, skip that painkiller and reach for switchel instead.
2. Get an electrolyte boost
Electrolytes are nutrients or chemicals in your body that help it perform specific functions, like regulating your heart beat or telling your legs it’s time to get moving. But after undergoing intense physical exertion (like running a marathon), getting sick, eating a poor diet or even taking certain medications, electrolytes imbalance can occur. Signs that your electrolytes need some replenishing include constantly feeling thirsty, frequent headaches, fatigue andnausea.
But because of the maple syrup and apple cider vinegar found in switchel, potassium-richelectrolytes, particularly potassium, are replenished, making it an excellent alternative to sugary drinks like Gatorade. Pour a glass after a tough workout on a hot day to feel refreshed and give help your body restore its electrolyte balance.
3. Enjoy a dose of apple cider vinegar
By regularly drinking switchel, you’ll get all the terrific benefits of apple cider vinegar,including healing compounds, like potassium, magnesium and probiotics.
Thanks to the many uses of apple cider vinegar, it’s one of my favorite natural remedies. It balances your body’s pH levels and, as a liver and lymphatic tonic, detoxes your body. Not bad for one of the most common household items!
4. Go gaga for ginger
This root is packed with health benefits. Ginger is a fantastic digestive aid, soothing upset tummies and easing bloating symptoms. It also boosts your body’s immune system, helping it fight off disease. Additionally, ginger root benefits include breaking down the accumulation of toxins in the body, another way it boosts immunity.