With the pandemic still spreading and causing panic, it’s easy to feel like our health and wellness are out of our control. But we still have significant agency over our personal health, and the decisions we make about what to eat and drink, and how much time we devote to sleep and exercise, contribute in a big way to building a more robust immune system — the best defense we have against everything from the novel coronavirus, to stress, obesity, the common cold, and depleted energy levels.
This is not the time to give up on your healthy commitments, says Yanni Hufnagel, founder and CEO of healthy beverage company Lemon Perfect. It’s time to double down.
Hufnagel’s own beverage brand is an easy place to start — a USDA-certified lemon water drink made from cold-pressed California lemons and provides antioxidants, electrolytes, and flavor with zero added sugar and just five calories per bottle. Hufnagel conceived of the drink because he was looking for an alternative to sugary sports drinks packed with colorings and artificial ingredients. He’d learned first-hand about the benefits of lemon water for health and hydration (as had numerous athletes and celebrities, including Tom Brady, Beyoncé, and Jennifer Aniston), but he wanted a drink he didn’t have to squeeze by hand every morning.
Hufnagel is a former basketball player and university-level men’s basketball coach at schools like the University of Nevada Reno, University of California Berkeley, Vanderbilt University, and Harvard University. He knew a better option for healthy hydration was needed for both athletes and health-conscious consumers.
Lemon Perfect was launched in 2017, with beverages available in four refreshing flavors — Just Lemon, Blueberry Acai, Dragon Fruit Mango, and Peach-Raspberry. Each Lemon Perfect drink provides as much Vitamin C as a glass of orange juice — 100% of the Food & Drug Administration’s recommended daily dose. Vitamin C is a key antioxidant needed to fight off illness and helps the body to recover from illness faster.
Researchers say that people should look to two key factors in defending against illness – immunity, and inflammation. Along with eating fresh fruits and vegetables, cutting back on alcohol, uninterrupted sleep, and regular, vigorous exercise, they stress the importance of Vitamin C, which counters inflammation and boosts immunity. One review of 29 various studies looking at the health benefits of daily Vitamin C found that people who took a daily dose of Vitamin C had significantly shorter colds compared to people taking a placebo.
Hufnagel recognized when he first launched Lemon Perfect — which would go on to win “Best New Product” from BevNet in 2019 — that people needed healthy beverage options that were easy to access. He envisioned a drink that could replace morning orange juice, sports drinks, and energy drinks, and provide rehydrating electrolytes and immune-boosting antioxidants, that was readily available. For health-conscious consumers looking to avoid in-person trips during the pandemic, Lemon Perfect can be purchased by the case on Amazon. It’s also sold at Whole Foods and Target.
In addition to regular Vitamin C, in order to maintain a healthy immune system, experts also advise people to cut down on excess sugar. A recent article in the NY Times related to staying healthy during the COVID-19 pandemic noted that gaining weight and eating excess sugar can make a person more susceptible to the virus. “Excess weight weakens the immune system,” the author notes, “and abdominal fat, in particular, enhances damaging inflammation.”
One study found that it takes just 75 grams of sugar to weaken the body’s immune response — in other words, the ability of a person’s white blood cells to fight off a virus or infection. That’s equivalent to just two cans of soda. U.S health experts recommend that no more than 10% of our daily calories come from sugar — or that we limit our daily sugar intake to no more than 6 teaspoons or 25 grams total. It’s easy for sugar to sneak into our diets — particularly in drinks — from added sugar in coffee drinks, to juices, sodas, and sports drinks. Replacing these beverages with low- or no-sugar-added options is an easy place in our diet to make a meaningful change that can have a big impact on overall health and wellness.
And it doesn’t mean giving up sweetness. Instead of sugar, Lemon Perfect beverages are sweetened with erythritol — a sugar alcohol that occurs naturally in grapes, mushrooms, pears, and watermelon, as well as stevia leaf extract — a zero-calorie sweetener extracted from the leaves of the stevia plant. Unlike sugar, these sweeteners do not cause a spike in blood sugar and erythritol is even proven to contribute to oral health — inhibiting a bacteria that contributes to cavities.
If you do get sick, one of the most important recommendations is to stay hydrated. That’s made easier with a drink like Lemon Perfect which contains the electrolyte-boosting power of lemons. Electrolytes are minerals that balance the amount of water in the body and maintain the body’s acid-to-base or pH level. They help move nutrients into and waste out of cells, they keep organs and nerves functioning properly, and they are especially important to maintain in times when the body is losing water, such as during vigorous training or fevers and illness.
Staying healthy has never been more crucial. Taking easier steps, like replacing sugary drinks, can bring real benefits and lead in time to other healthy decisions. While we can’t control the pandemic, Hufnagel notes, we can take this opportunity to shift our diets and lifestyles in a healthier direction.
About Lemon Perfect
Lemon Perfect is a naturally refreshing, zero sugar cold-pressed lemon water with antioxidants and electrolytes. Certified organic and full of flavor, Lemon Perfect is widely considered by industry insiders to be one of the most scalable, exciting, and innovative emerging beverage concepts in the marketplace.
About Yanni Hufnagel
Yanni Hufnagel is the Founder & CEO of Lemon Perfect, a naturally refreshing, zero sugar cold-pressed lemon water with essential antioxidants and hydrating electrolytes. Certified organic and full of flavor, Lemon Perfect – named “Best New Product” at BevNET’s Best of 2019 Awards – is widely considered by industry insiders to be one of the most scalable, exciting and innovative emerging beverage concepts in the marketplace.
Founded in 2017 and backed by an extraordinary team of investors, the company’s mission is to democratize drinkable wellness by making Lemon Perfect accessible for anyone, anytime, anywhere.
Before starting Lemon Perfect, Hufnagel served as an assistant men’s college basketball coach, with stops at Nevada, California, Vanderbilt, Harvard, and Oklahoma. Hufnagel earned the reputation as one of the most dogged recruiters in America, consistently lauded for signing nationally-ranked recruiting classes. In Hufnagel’s 10 years coaching college basketball, his teams reached the NCAA Tournament six times.