If you're a regular at the juice bar, you might recognize the 4-oz bottles of wellness shots offered alongside their full-size counterparts.
These shots are essentially concentrated versions of healthful juices, and are meant to provide a burst of nutrients in a very small dose. The superfoods, spices, and other ingredients in the shots are meant to boost immunity, aid digestion, or fight off colds; many have long been used as treatments in traditional medicine and have scientific evidence that proves their benefits (although further research is needed for some).
Many wellness shots do contain beneficial ingredients, but, nothing replaces a well-balanced diet. For example, a shot of apple cider vinegar will have some health benefits and could help with short-term heartburn, but it doesn't make up for the processed foods and sugary drinks you consume that day. Eating healthy, nutrient-rich foods is of primary importance, but these easy-to-make wellness shots can help add some extra vitamins, antioxidants, and minerals to your diet.
1. Ginger + Lemon Immunity Booster
Ginger and lemon tea is a common cold remedy, and for good reason. Vitamin C – which is present in lemons – has been shown to reduce both the duration and severity of the common cold. Ginger also contains vitamin C, along with other antioxidants, and Gingerol – a plant compound found in ginger – has anti-inflammatory properties.
In a juicer, combine half an apple, a lemon (peeled and seeded), 1 teaspoon each of ginger and turmeric powder (or a small knob of each if you're using fresh), and a pinch each of cayenne powder and black pepper. The apple adds some sweetness (and of course, some fruit to your diet), but if you don't have a juicer, skip it and add a little water instead.
2. Apple Cider Vinegar + Honey
Further research is needed about the benefits of apple cider vinegar, but many people find it effective as a home remedy for alleviating acid reflux and heartburn symptoms. The vinegar, made from crushed apples with added yeast and bacteria, helps balance stomach acids, although it should be diluted with water before consuming to relieve burning sensations when swallowed.
Acetic acid – the main substance in vinegar that gives it it's strong smell and flavor – can also kill bacteria, which is why it's commonly used in cleaning. Because this acid can damage enamel on teeth, drink apple cider vinegar through a straw when possible, along with diluting it.
This simple shot only requires 2 tablespoons of apple cider vinegar, 1 teaspoon of manuka honey (for sweetness), and an ounce of hot water. Sip this warm, tea-like shot instead of tossing it back all at once. The warmth of the water – like all warm drinks – is good for digestion, making this a very stomach-friendly remedy all around.
3. Apple Cider Vinegar + Lemon + Turmeric + Black Pepper
This combination combines the benefits of apple cider vinegar and lemon with turmeric: a spice with deep medicinal roots, and was used in many traditional Indian medical systems – particularly Ayurveda.
Turmeric also has anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties, but unfortunately doesn't absorb into the bloodstream well. Piperine – a compound found in black pepper – helps make turmeric more "bioavailable" and more easily used by the body, so many wellness concoctions with turmeric also include pepper. Some studies have found that curcumin (the main active ingredient in turmeric) may prevent or help treat a number of ailments including heart disease, arthritis, Alzheimer's disease, diabetes, and depression.
Combine 1 teaspoon apple cider vinegar with 1 teaspoon fresh lemon juice, ½ teaspoon turmeric, a pinch of black pepper, and water to make this shot.
4. Wheatgrass + Coconut
Unlike some trendy nutritional supplements, many benefits of wheatgrass are backed by strong scientific evidence. Wheatgrass is a superfood, containing vitamins A, C, E, K, and B complex, as well as iron, calcium, chlorophyll, and magnesium. It also contains enzymes that help with digestion, gas, and bloating.
Mix 1 cup of wheatgrass (juiced) with an ounce of coconut water for sweetness; drink to get an extra dose of nutrients and help with digestive issues.
Since wheatgrass comes from the leaves of a common wheat plant, those with gluten sensitivities should consult with their doctor before consuming, although most wheatgrass is considered safe for people with sensitivities to gluten or celiac disease.
5. Tart Cherry Juice
Research has shown that tart cherries are beneficial to health, and has even been recommended for athletes looking to enhance their performance. In a 2019 study, tart cherry juice was also found to improve both the duration and quality of sleep; Montmorency tart cherries contain melatonin, although further studies must be conducted to confirm whether the fruit is helpful as a supplement. One study found improvement in sleep when participants drank two 8-oz glasses of tart cherry juice each day.
Make sure to look for tart cherry juice specifically, as opposed to other sugary cherry juice "cocktails" you might find on the grocery shelves.
6. Pineapple + Kraut
This unlikely combination of pineapple and sauerkraut is a gut-friendly remedy to start your day.
The bromelain – a group of digestive enzymes – found in pineapple is good for digestion and fighting inflammation; the fruit also provides 131% of your daily vitamin C, which boosts the immune system and helps the body absorb iron. Some studies have even shown that bromelain can help speed up recovery from surgery or very strenuous exercise, making pineapple an attractive wellness-shot option for post-op patients and athletes.
Sauerkraut also contains probiotics produced during the fermentation process, and is a good source of potassium, calcium, and vitamins C and K.
Combine 1 cup of fresh pineapple, juiced, with an ounce of brine from your favorite kraut, and a bit of water.
Linnea graduated from Skidmore College in 2019 with a Bachelor's degree in English and Environmental Studies, and now lives in Brooklyn, New York. Along with her most recent position at Hunger Free America, she has interned with the Sierra Club in Washington, DC., Saratoga Living Magazine, and Philadelphia's NPR Member Station, WHYY.