Chronic inflammatory diseases are now considered the most significant cause of death worldwide. What is the fastest way to reduce inflammation in the body? Many experts believe the answer is improving your diet, specifically by including a wide variety of anti-inflammatory foods and anti-inflammatory drinks.
Anti-inflammatory drinks — such as teas, coffee and bone broth — have been included in nutrient-dense, traditional diets for centuries. These beverages were, and still are, considered to be tonics that support liver, heart, brain and digestive functions.
What Are Anti-Inflammatory Drinks?
Anti-inflammatory drinks are those made with healing ingredients that help to decrease chronic inflammation, which is considered slow, long-term inflammation lasting for prolonged periods of several months to years.
Inflammation is defined as “a localized physical condition in which part of the body becomes reddened, swollen, hot, and often painful, especially as a reaction to injury or infection.”
Acute/short-term inflammatory responses are normal and usually not harmful, but they can become problematic if they are ongoing and left untreated.
What causes chronic inflammation? It can be triggered by causes such as oxidative stress, mitochondrial dysfunction, increased production of free radicals, and high levels of uric acid crystals, lipoproteins and homocysteine.
Many of these causes can be traced back to eating a poor diet that’s lacking in key nutrients.
Research tells us that benefits of including anti-inflammatory drinks in your diet include:
- Decreased oxidative stress/free radical damage that leads to destruction of healthy cells
- Protection against heart disease, diabetes, metabolic syndrome and pulmonary diseases
- Improved digestion and gut health
- Protection against memory loss and cognitive decline
- Improved mood
- Decreased joint pain and flare-ups of rheumatoid and osteoarthritis symptoms
- Enhanced skin and eye health
- Reduced allergies
Best Anti-Inflammatory Drinks
Based on what we know from decades of research, a diet that helps fight disease is one that includes lots of whole and unprocessed anti-inflammatory foods— especially fresh vegetables, fruits, herbs, spices, seeds, nuts, teas, coffee and other plants, as well as quality proteins and oils.
While many adults struggle to find time to cook healthy, homemade meals each day, the good news is that you can reap the benefits of nutrient-rich foods by regularly drinking certain beverages, such as the following.
1. Fresh Green Juices and “Herbal Infusions”
Short on time but in need of a real nutrient boost? Try consuming freshly made, cold-pressed juices daily, which are some of the most antioxidant-packed, anti-inflammatory tonics you can consume — not to mention that they keep you hydrated thanks to their high water content.
Proponents of fresh-squeezed juices say these drinks give them more energy, help with digestion, supply essential vitamins and minerals, and even assist in curbing sugar cravings. When it comes to reducing various effects of aging, studies have found that anti-inflammatory juice drinks may help protect your vision, keep your skin healthy and promote cardiovascular health thanks to their supply of phytonutrients.
Some of the healthiest ingredients to look for in juices include greens like kale and spinach, celery, tart cherry and pomegranate juices, herbs such as parsley and turmeric, fresh ginger, beets, citrus fruits like oranges and lemons, and apple cider vinegar.
For the most benefits and least risk of spiking your blood sugar, stick to small servings of about four to eight ounces of fresh, unsweetened juice daily.
2. Fruit and Vegetable Smoothies (No Sugar Added)
Are fruits commonly found in smoothies, like berries and bananas, anti-inflammatory? Yes, considering they provide antioxidants including flavonoids, essential vitamins and minerals, fiber, and more.
One of the most compelling reasons to regularly enjoy smoothies as opposed to juices is that they provide more dietary fiber, which is important for gut health, balancing blood sugar and maintaining healthy cholesterol levels. Studies suggest that people who regularly include more high-fiber foods such as fresh fruits and veggies in their diets benefit from enhanced protection against certain chronic diseases, such as heart disease and metabolic syndrome.
Omega-3 fatty acids, monounsaturated fats, magnesium, vitamin E, vitamin C, vitamin A and polyphenol antioxidants are among those that top the list of anti-inflammatory compounds. You’ll find the greatest amounts of these nutrients in fruits/vegetables including avocado, berries, carrots, cocoa, flax and hemp seeds, and almonds, as well as superfood powders like spirulina, acai and camu camu powders.
Is coffee nutrition actually anti-inflammatory? Experts relay that drinking “moderate amounts” of coffee daily — about two to three cups for most adults — can help to protect the brain, heart and other organs from inflammation and oxidative stress.
A 2017 meta-analyses focused on multiple health outcomes found that adults who regularly consumed caffeine from coffee experienced reduced risk of developing certain cancers and neurological, metabolic and liver conditions.
If you’re someone who suffers from mood-related issues, the addition of nutritious drinks and foods to your diet can be an effective way to help manage symptoms like fatigue and lack of motivation due to how inflammation can affect brain function.
Researchers credit antioxidants in coffee — such as theophylline, theobromine, chlorogenic acid (a powerful phenol), quinic acid, cafestol and kahweol — with these protective effects. While drinking coffee is not only acceptable, but encouraged for your health, it’s important not to go overboard so you avoid caffeine overdose. You also want to avoid adding lots of sugar and creamer, which can cause calories to add up quickly.
4. Traditional Teas
A large body of research demonstrates that compounds present in white, black and green tea leaves — such as polyphenols, catechins, theaflavins and EGCG — can lessen inflammation in the gastrointestinal tract and cardiovascular system, resulting in decreased risk for conditions like cardiovascular diseases such as atherosclerosis, as well as diabetes.
5. Herbal Teas (Caffeine-Free)
We know that therapeutic compounds and volatile oils found in herbal teas — such as peppermint, chamomile, ginger, turmeric, guayusa and others — can offer benefits such as decreasing nausea, reducing bloating, controlling your appetite and calming your mind.
When you make herbal tea at home using therapeutic-grade essential oils, these drinks may help protect against formation of certain chronic diseases, too, such as those linked to cellular damage and inflammation in the gut.
6. Bone Broth
Want to know how to reduce inflammation in your gut? You may want to start by consuming more bone broth, a traditional stock-like beverage made by simmering bones and connective tissues of animals with herbs and vegetables.
Bone broth is a great source of difficult-to-get amino acids like glycine, proline and arginine, which support gut, skin and joint health. Bone broth also supplies you with collagen and many important minerals.
Researchers from Harvard Health Publishing state, “Chicken soup may reduce inflammation. Laboratory tests of chicken soup determined that chicken soup inhibits the activity of neutrophils—white blood cells that are the ‘first responders’ of inflammation.”
There’s also evidence that bone broth helps increase the flow of mucus significantly better than other hot beverages, helping fight respiratory infections.
How much bone broth should you drink daily? Experts recommend aiming to have about eight to 16 ounces daily, any time of day that works best for you.
7. Apple Cider Vinegar Tonics
Consumption of fermented, raw apple cider vinegar might help decrease occurrence of gastrointestinal complications like constipation, diarrhea and acid reflux, as well as help control your appetite and potentially reducing weight gain and high cholesterol.
How should you drink ACV? Work your way up to consuming one to two tablespoons per day, diluted with water or juice, before your biggest meals. To improve the taste and nutrient content, try combining it with a bit of raw honey and lemon juice or adding it to green smoothies.
8. Ginger Shots
Made with ginger and turmeric root, cayenne pepper, lemon juice, apple cider vinegar, and coconut water, ginger shots combine anti-inflammatory ingredients to provide a big boost to health. This immune-boosting drink can be made in a matter of minutes, giving you a nutrient boost that’s sure to give you an energy boost as well.
Risks, Side Effects and Drug Interactions
Now that you know which drinks to seek out, what about those you should avoid?
The same dietary advice you’re accustomed to hearing about applies to both foods and beverages in your diet: avoid bottled, processed, sugary drinks and those made with difficult-to-pronounce chemicals and artificial sweeteners.
It’s especially wise to replace high-calorie drinks made with refined sugar with the beverages above, as frequent intake of sweetened beverages is associated with higher production of pro-inflammatory molecules and increased risk of diabetes, weight gain and even cancer.
While anti-inflammatory drinks offer many benefits for most adults, and children ,too (depending on the kind), there are some beverages to avoid if you’re taking certain medications. One example is juices/smoothies that include grapefruit juice or very high amounts of vitamin C from certain powdered fruits, which can potentially cause interactions with a number of drugs. Some examples include Warfarin, certain allergy medications, gastrointestinal meds, antidepressants, anti-cancer drugs, and those used to manage kidney stones.
Coffee and caffeinated teas should also be avoided by most people with anxiety and heart palpitations, and consumed in limited amounts by pregnant women.
- Consuming anti-inflammatory drinks and foods is an effective way to help promote digestive, heart, brain and liver health.
- Some of the best natural anti-inflammatory tonics to regularly include your diet are: green juices and smoothies, coffee, traditional and herbal (caffeine-free) teas, bone broth, and apple cider vinegar drinks.
- Downing a homemade smoothie daily (as opposed to sugary, bottled types) is a convenient way to add more fruit, veggies and fiber to your diet, but fresh-pressed green juices supply you with antioxidants too.
- Stick to about 4 to 8 ounces of juice daily, several cups of tea, and 3-4 cups of coffee or less.