The Best 5 Anti-Inflammatory Drinks, According to Dietitians
Whole foods are always stressed as the most important way to combat inflammation, and they certainly play a vital role in keeping your system as happy and calm as possible, 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.
So many natural ingredients have been shown in medical studies to reduce systemic inflammation. Here, we break down the best anti-inflammatory drinks so you can make your daily cuppa even better for you.
Why opt for anti-inflammatory drinks?
Is there an advantage to drinking 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.
So 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. Beyond immunity and joint health, it’s a great beverage for aiding inflammation issues.
“Bone broth serves as an excellent anti-inflammatory beverage for many reasons,” David 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 — which leads us to our next anti-inflammatory hero.
No surprise here: Turmeric is notorious 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.
It’s believed that curcumin is the chief component for all that turmeric does, but there are so many compounds in it that studies are still underway, so you may as well enjoy the whole plant.
Read next: 25 Healthy Ways to Fight Inflammation
Turmeric can of course be added to food, 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 for ginger, which is our next star on the list.
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, and just like turmeric, it can be consumed as juice shots or sliced and boiled into tea. Filemon recommends boiling it with the skin to extract as many nutrients from the root 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
Melissa Macher, RD, chooses probiotic beverages over any others 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
If you haven’t seen anyone young carrying a 16-ounce bottle of green juice around, you probably haven’t spent much time on Instagram in recent years. It’s not by any means the cure-all that devotees claim it is, but the juice of green vegetables can indeed 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 in moderation, 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. That said, purity 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.
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.
Good food brings people together. So do good emails.