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Should you drink pineapple juice when you’re sick?

When you’re feeling under the weather, you may wonder if drinking pineapple juice could help you feel better faster. Pineapple juice contains nutrients like vitamin C, manganese, and bromelain that provide potential health benefits. However, it’s unclear if pineapple juice is an effective remedy when you’re sick.

What is pineapple juice?

Pineapple juice is extracted from pineapples, which are the fruit of the tropical plant Ananas comosus. Besides water, pineapple juice contains:

  • Vitamin C: An antioxidant that supports immune health.
  • Manganese: A mineral that aids bone development, metabolism, and wound healing.
  • Bromelain: An enzyme with anti-inflammatory properties.
  • Potassium: An electrolyte that regulates fluid balance.
  • Fiber: Which promotes healthy digestion.

Pineapple juice has a sweet, tropical taste and is available as a 100% juice or blended juice drink with added sugars and flavors. It can be purchased refrigerated or shelf-stable.

Potential benefits when you’re sick

There are a few ways that drinking pineapple juice when you’re under the weather may help:

Supply vitamin C

Pineapple juice is high in vitamin C, providing over 130% of the daily value in one cup (240 ml) (1). Vitamin C is crucial for immune defense and acts as an antioxidant to protect your cells against damage.

When you’re sick, vitamin C requirements increase. Supplementing with pineapple juice may help meet this increased need for vitamin C and support your immune system (2).

Provide manganese

Pineapple juice is one of the richest dietary sources of manganese, delivering over 70% of the daily value in a single cup (240 ml) (1).

Manganese activates enzymes needed for antioxidant protection. It also plays essential roles in development, metabolism, and wound healing (3).

Getting enough manganese when you’re under the weather may help boost immunity and expedite recovery.

Reduce inflammation

The enzyme bromelain in pineapple juice has anti-inflammatory properties. Studies show bromelain can reduce swelling, bruising, pain, and recovery time following injuries and surgery (4).

Drinking pineapple juice when you’re sick may help decrease inflammation associated with infections and speed up healing.

Stay hydrated

When sick, it’s crucial to stay hydrated. Dehydration can worsen symptoms and make you feel much worse.

Pineapple juice provides fluids along with electrolytes like potassium that are lost through fever, vomiting, diarrhea, and sweating.

Drinking ample pineapple juice when sick may help you meet increased fluid needs and prevent dehydration.

Potential downsides

While pineapple juice provides some benefits when sick, there are a few potential downsides to consider:

High natural sugar content

Although pineapple juice contains some vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants, it’s also very high in natural sugar.

One cup (240 ml) of pineapple juice contains over 25 grams of sugar (1). The American Heart Association recommends limiting added sugar intake to 25 grams per day for women and 36 grams for men (5).

Consuming high amounts of juice instead of whole fruit may lead to excess sugar intake, contributing to weight gain, blood sugar spikes, and dental issues.

May irritate mouth and throat

The bromelain enzyme in pineapple juice may aggravate existing sores, ulcers, and inflammation in your mouth and throat when you’re sick.

If you have a respiratory infection, pineapple juice’s acidity could also irritate your throat and trigger coughing.

Potential medication interactions

The bromelain in pineapple juice may interact with certain medications, including antibiotics like amoxicillin and blood thinners. It’s best to speak with your healthcare provider about possible interactions (6).

Additionally, the high vitamin C content could interfere with drugs that are eliminated through urine acidification, like aspirin (7).

Lacks protein and nutrients

While pineapple juice contains some vitamins and minerals, it lacks protein, gut-healthy fiber, and a wide range of vitamins and minerals found in whole pineapple and other solid foods.

Drinking juice alone when sick may not provide comprehensive nutrition to help you recover.

Recommended intake when sick

Here are some tips for safely incorporating pineapple juice when sick:

  • Limit intake to a small glass (around 120–180 ml) per day.
  • Drink diluted juice or alternate with other fluids like water.
  • Avoid “gulping” and swish gently before swallowing to reduce throat irritation.
  • Wait at least 2 hours after taking oral medications before consuming.
  • Avoid drinking juice near mealtimes and with food.
  • Pair juice with nutritious solids like yogurt, oatmeal, and eggs.

Other juices to try

Pineapple juice has some benefits when sick, but other juices may be easier to tolerate or provide additional perks. Some alternatives to try include:

Cranberry juice

Contains antioxidants and may help prevent or treat urinary tract infections.

Orange juice

High in vitamin C and electrolytes. May be better tolerated than pineapple juice.

Apple juice

Provides fluids and energy from natural sugars. Lower in acid than pineapple juice.

Vegetable juice

Made from low-sugar veggies like tomatoes and carrots. Packed with antioxidants and nutrients.

Bone broth

Rich in protein, minerals, and amino acids to help heal your gut and fight infection.

Should you drink pineapple juice when sick?

Here is a summary of the potential benefits and downsides of drinking pineapple juice when you’re under the weather:

Potential benefits Potential downsides
  • Provides immune-supporting vitamin C
  • Contains manganese for antioxidant protection
  • Bromelain may decrease inflammation
  • Helps you stay hydrated
  • High in natural sugar
  • May irritate mouth and throat
  • Potential medication interactions
  • Lacks protein and some nutrients

Drinking a small amount of pineapple juice when sick may help provide vitamin C, manganese, fluids, and electrolytes. However, it’s best to limit intake and alternate with other healthy fluids to avoid too much sugar.

Pineapple juice shouldn’t replace prescribed medications or a balanced diet when unwell. But alongside proper rest, hydration, nutrition, and medicine, it may provide additional immune-supporting nutrients to help you recover.

Given the potential benefits and downsides, pineapple juice in moderation could be part of an overall healthy regimen when you’re feeling under the weather.

The bottom line

Pineapple juice provides vitamin C, manganese, and bromelain that may help reduce inflammation and support your immune system when sick. However, it also contains a lot of natural sugar. Drinking more than about 4–6 ounces (120–180 ml) per day is not recommended.

To use pineapple juice most effectively when sick, limit your intake, dilute it with water, wait at least 2 hours after taking oral medications before drinking it, and pair it with nutritious foods like yogurt, eggs, and vegetables. Under a doctor’s supervision, a small daily serving may provide additional immune-boosting nutrients.