Nature’s energy drink: Switchel, the fermented health tonic
06/04/2021 / By Rose Lidell / Comments
Nature’s energy drink: Switchel, the fermented health tonic

There’s no shortage of health drinks to try, like kefir, kombucha, or various teas. You might have even heard of switchel, a beverage often called “nature’s Gatorade.”

Try drinking switchel if you’re looking for a natural energy drink that doesn’t contain any harmful chemicals and added sugars.

What is switchel?

Switchel is a sweet and tart beverage made with simple ingredients: Apple cider vinegar, water, ginger, and a natural sweetener like honey, maple syrup, or molasses. It can also include other ingredients like lemon and spices like turmeric.


Switchel has recently become more popular among health enthusiasts, but the drink has been around for a long time. The slightly acidic beverage is traditionally used as a natural thirst-quencher.

Back in the day, colonial farmers enjoyed switchel when they needed to rehydrate while haying the fields. Because of this, switchel is also called “haymaker’s punch.”

The beverage was a popular alternative to ice water, which was very difficult to obtain before iceboxes and freezers were invented. At the time, physicians also warned against drinking ice water because they believed that consuming cold drinks on hot days would cause indigestion.

While switchel was originally made with apple cider vinegar, water, and honey, maple syrup, or molasses, ginger was eventually added to the drink to help prevent bloating. The new recipe for the drink allowed people to drink more of it without worrying about getting upset stomachs.

If you haven’t tried switchel yet, the health tonic combines the tartness of apple cider vinegar, the sweetness of maple syrup (or your preferred sweetener) and a spicy kick from the ginger.

Health benefits of switchel

Since switchel is made with incredible superfoods like apple cider vinegar and ginger, the drink offers many benefits like boosting your digestive health and relieving pain and inflammation.

Apple cider vinegar helps boost your digestive health

Apple cider vinegar (ACV) isn’t easy to consume on its own, but drinking switchel makes it easier to reap the benefits of this very tart superfood.

Apple cider vinegar offers various benefits, such as:

  • Replenishing your electrolytes.
  • Balancing your body’s pH levels.
  • Protecting your heart health.
  • Keeping your blood sugar levels balanced.
  • Boosting digestive health by fostering the growth of “good” gut bacteria.
  • Promoting weight loss.

Ginger boosts your brain and digestive health

Like ACV, ginger also offers various health benefits:

  • Ginger helps relieve the symptoms of indigestion like bloating, heartburn and nausea.
  • It helps lower cholesterol.
  • It boosts blood circulation.
  • It reduces blood sugar levels.

Ginger contains gingerol, a beneficial antioxidant that boosts your brain health by improving mental processing, working memory, attention span and reaction time.

Maple syrup contains essential minerals

Unlike artificial sweeteners, maple syrup is good for you because it contains trace amounts of essential minerals like calcium, manganese, potassium, riboflavin and zinc.

Since maple syrup is a plant-based sweetener, it also contains at least 63 different antioxidants like catechins, gallic acid and quercetin.

Switchel boosts your electrolyte levels

Energy drinks contain electrolytes or minerals present in bodily fluids, like blood and urine. Electrolytes carry an electrical charge and you need these positively or negatively charged ions in your body as they transmit the voltage needed for different bodily functions like muscle contractions and nerve signaling.

It’s normal to lose electrolytes when you sweat, like when you’re exercising, or when you go to the bathroom.

Electrolyte imbalance usually occurs when you’re dehydrated, like when you lose fluids through rigorous physical activity.

Common signs of an electrolyte imbalance may include:

  • Anxiety
  • Dizziness
  • Fatigue
  • Headaches
  • Heart palpitations
  • Joint pain
  • Muscle aches
  • Stomach cramps
  • Trouble concentrating

Thankfully, you can replenish your electrolyte levels by consuming foods or beverages that contain electrically charged minerals like calcium, chloride, potassium, magnesium and sodium.

Switchel contains superfoods that can help boost your electrolytes, like ACV, which contains potassium and pure maple syrup, which also contains potassium, along with other nutrients like calcium, magnesium and sodium.

The next time you’re done with an exhausting workout, drink some homemade switchel, a healthy and delicious alternative to sugary sports drinks that will help maintain your electrolyte levels.

Switchel can help relieve pain and inflammation

Switchel is a beneficial post-workout drink because ginger helps relieve pain and inflammation so you can recover faster.

The ginger in switchel helps suppress pro-inflammatory enzymes that cause the aches and pains that you often feel after intense exercise. These enzymes can also help with other expressions of inflammation like acne, arthritis, eczema and the physical signs of aging.

Did you know that gingerol, the active constituent of ginger, is a natural pain reliever? The compound is just as effective as over-the-counter medications used to relieve pain, but without any negative side effects.

Homemade switchel recipe

Instead of buying switchel made with added chemicals and artificial sweeteners, make a fresh batch at home to ensure that your drink only contains fresh and natural ingredients.


  • 4 cups of water or club soda
  • 1/2 cup of apple cider vinegar
  • 3 tablespoons of pure maple syrup
  • 6 ounces of fresh ginger root


  1. Start by grating the ginger or using a juicer until you have about half a cup of ginger.
  2. Combine the apple cider vinegar, ginger, maple syrup and water in a pitcher. Stir until the maple syrup has completely dissolved. If you grated the ginger, it will sink to the bottom of the container, which is fine.
  3. Pour over ice if serving immediately. You can also refrigerate the switchel for 24 hours and stir again before serving.


  • Add berries, mint leaves and a tablespoon of fresh lemon or lime juice if you want a minty and fruity beverage infused with more flavor.
  • You can also add a pinch of powdered spices like cardamom, cinnamon, or turmeric.
  • When using turmeric, add a pinch of black pepper, which can help boost the bioavailability of curcumin, the active component in turmeric.

Drink a refreshing glass of switchel made with nutritious ingredients after a tiring workout to boost your electrolyte levels and improve your digestive health.


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