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The Best 5 Anti-Inflammatory Drinks, According to Dietitians

January 23, 2023

Experts usually stress whole foods as the most important way to combat inflammation, and they certainly play a vital role in keeping your system happy and calm, but sometimes you just want to sip something gentle instead. Whether you’re experiencing digestive issues or you just aren’t looking for a snack, sometimes anti-inflammatory drinks are an easier choice.

Several natural ingredients have been shown in medical studies to reduce systemic inflammation. Here, we break down the best anti-inflammatory drinks recommended by dietitians, so you can sip wisely.

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Why opt for anti-inflammatory drinks?

Sometimes it can be beneficial to drink something anti-inflammatory, rather than eating it.

“Beverages may deliver nutrients quicker and be more convenient to consume than meals,” says Amy Davis, RD, LDN. “Including a variety of anti-inflammatory foods and drinks that fit your lifestyle and preferences is the ultimate goal.”

Johane M. Filemon, MS, RDN, in-house dietitian for Splendid Spoon, agrees. “Some anti-inflammatory compounds in foods require a high consumption of the food to get the benefits.”

That can make drinks a better option because a beverage may have high amounts of that compound extracted as a main ingredient, leading to a more concentrated amount of a vital chemical for reducing inflammation.

Read next: I’m an MD, And This Is My Anti-Inflammatory Morning Routine

drinking a warm cup of coffee cozy on the couch


Which anti-inflammatory drinks work the best?

1. Bone broth

From improving immunity to its gelatin content helping with collagen synthesis, bone broth took the wellness world by storm years ago, and for great reasons. Personally, it turned me away from decades of vegetarianism and inspired my first book, which was a deep dive into the simple drink I saw transform countless clients’ lives.

“Bone broth serves as an excellent anti-inflammatory beverage for many reasons,” Davis says. “First off, it helps balance blood sugar, since it’s a nice source of protein and has no added sugar. Bone broth is also rich in the amino acid glycine, which combats inflammation and prevents the formation of free radicals.”

Additionally, she notes that bone broth is often available with additional ingredients to combat inflammation, such as turmeric and ginger.

2. Turmeric

No surprise here: Turmeric is well known for reducing pain and inflammation as well as over-the-counter remedies like aspirin.

“Turmeric should always be prepared with a little black pepper and a fat to increase absorption of the compound curcumin found in turmeric,” Filemon says.

Curcumin is believed to be the chief component for all that turmeric does — but often the main component works as well as it does because of its relationship to other compounds in the plant, so you may as well enjoy turmeric instead of taking curcumin on its own.

Read next: 25 Healthy Ways to Fight Inflammation

Turmeric can be added to food, of course, but it’s especially quick to consume in the form of a juice shot. Many brands cold-pressure process the little bottles so they keep for months refrigerated. If you want a slower beverage, the root can be sliced and boiled into tea, just like you would do with ginger.

3. Ginger

Similar to turmeric, ginger is also a common ingredient in food; you’ve likely had it in everything from cookies to curries. It’s known for its anti-inflammatory and antioxidant qualities and its ability to mitigate nausea, in addition to its flavor. Similar to turmeric, you’ll find it in juice shots, or you can slice it and boil it into a tea. Filemon recommends boiling ginger with the skin to extract as many nutrients as possible.

Ginger has held up well to studies for its various benefits. According to the authors of one study review, ginger has “promising antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, and anti-gout properties” and “might be used as a potential natural drug against oxidative stress and inflammatory-related diseases.”

4. Kombucha and kefir

Dietitian Melissa Macher favors probiotic beverages to handle inflammation.

Probiotics offer a good bit of protection by contributing beneficial bacteria to the gut microbiome,” she says. “They are also considered anti-inflammatory — why isn’t yet completely understood — but all in all, there are many benefits to including probiotics in one’s diet. Probiotic beverages are a great option for that; my preferred probiotic beverages are kefir, kombucha, and probiotic juices.”

Read next: 8 New Ways to Eat More Kefir

5. Green juice

Perhaps you’ve seen people carrying around 16-ounce bottles of green juice, or you’ve spotted the bottles in gym cafes and airports. This brightly hued juice is not the cure-all that devotees claim it is, but it can help to reduce inflammation.

You may have noticed that green juice doesn’t come cheap. These little bottles can range in price from $5 to $10 or higher, depending on where you purchase them and what ingredients they contain.

The bright spot about that? Making it yourself from a powder is actually effective, too. Davis points out that moderation is key here, noting that juice is fine once in a while, but a juice cleanse is never the answer.

How to best enjoy anti-inflammatory drinks (and how often)

When looking at beverages to reduce inflammation, all of the above choices have plenty to offer. But choosing wisely is key.

“The most important factor to consider is limiting the added sugar in these beverages,” Davis says. “Excessive sugar intake leads to increased blood sugar and insulin levels, which drive inflammation and even contribute to chronic conditions such as heart disease, diabetes, and chronic inflammation. So keeping the sugar low in these drinks is key.”

Filemon agrees, noting that beverages that have whole ingredients in them and little to no added sugar are fine. “Those who are managing conditions where high sugar content can be problematic should of course pay attention to both natural and added sugars,” she notes.

As for frequency, Davis believes that one of these drinks per day on an empty stomach for optimal absorption is a good rule of thumb to combat inflammation. However, she notes that overall diet is important, too — you can’t rely on anti-inflammatory drinks to do everything for you.

The takeaway

However you swig or sip them, drinks such as bone broth, turmeric juice, ginger tea, and green juice can give you a great boost if you’re already focusing on reducing systemic inflammation. And if you aren’t, they offer a convenient and quick way to start.

Read next: 4 Anti-Inflammatory Supplements The Clean Plates Team Actually Takes

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