Whats the Deal with Switchel?

You may or may not have heard that there’s a new drink in town which goes by the name of Switchel. Well, it’s new in terms of appearing in our supermarket and health food fridges – but it’s been around a very long time.  In fact, you could consider it to be one of the very first sports drinks. 

Due to its hydrating qualities, it was popular in the hot tropical climates of the Caribbean and this appears to be where it originated from back in the 17thcentury. However, a bit like the arguments over whether Crowded House is a New Zealand or Australian band, Colonial America also claimed rights to its creation. Otherwise known as “Haymakers Punch,” it was commonly stored in a stone jug and placed in the shade, ready to quench the thirst of the parched American haymakers.

So how is it different to other lifestyle drinks?

The main ingredient in switchel is Apple Cider Vinegar (ACV). Now, that might cause your face to screw up a tad, but don’t despair. While there is a distinct vinegary taste to the drink, it’s so much more than that. It’s tart, tangy, and totally refreshing. And let’s be honest, ACV is so good for us in so many ways. It is a wonderful natural remedy to balance our body’s PH levels and therefore a great detoxifier.

If you are one of many who struggle to drink two litres of water a day (or even one for that matter), you will find switchel of great help. Being dehydrated is so damaging and we often don’t even realise we are thirsty until it’s too late, particularly in the winter months. Switchel is a great tonic for replacing those much-needed electrolytes to get us functioning and hydrated again.

In comparison to all the other drinks available on the market, we like to think of it as the Marie Kondo of good-for-your-gut drinks. With only 4-5 ingredients, it’s simple and uncomplicated, which gets a big tick in our books.

Providing energy (calories), water (hydration) and vinegar (a digestion aid), this drink is sure to gain in popularity.

Let’s take a closer look at the ingredients and their benefits. A simple, at home recipe would look something like this:-

  • Water (2 cups) – for hydration
  • Apple Cider Vinegar (ACV) (2 teaspoons) – lowers blood sugar, reduces cholesterol, aids in weight loss and helps with digestion.
  • Pure Maple Syrup (2 teaspoons) – high in antioxidants and includes nutrients such as riboflavin, magnesium, zinc, potassium and calcium. 
  • Salt (a pinch) – important for electrolytes to help with fluid balance and muscle function. 
  • Ice (2 cups) – again, water.

Just stir it all together in a large glass to enjoy its hydrating benefits. Of course, you can always add a few different ingredients to zhush things up. Like:-

  • Ginger – this is a great alternative and one of the healthiest spices on earth! It aids in digestion, keeps nausea at bay and can even help combat the common cold.
  • Lemon – a FAB source of Vitamin C, great at helping with digestion and promoting hydration.
  • Mint – a soothing herb which does wonders for indigestion and stomach upsets.
  • Honey – rich in antioxidants, it can improve cholesterol levels and is a healthier alternative to refined sugar.

Just remember, given the fact that there are less ingredients it is important to choose the purest ingredients when making switchel. So – if you are tempted to use plain maple syrup, or golden syrup, DON’T. You will not get the benefits of this drink if you cheat.

If you want to, instead of using plain water you can use a soda or lemonade, to make it a fizzy drink. Or you could add alcohol to it, for a ‘slightly’ healthier cocktail. Speaking of alcohol, if you are one of the many people trying to reduce how much you drink, or abstain altogether, switchel is a wonderful replacement. Perfect for those currently preparing for Dry July.

So, the next time you feel like a refreshing pick-me-up, something which will hydrate you in a hurry and provide a tastier alternative to water – do your body a favour and reach for a switchel.