5 Anti-Inflammatory Drinks for a Hydrating Health Boost
Many major diseases and autoimmune conditions, including Alzheimer’s, cancer, depression, diabetes, and psoriasis, have been linked to chronic inflammation. That’s when the body’s natural healing process against invaders (like infections and toxins) goes into overdrive, having a negative impact on tissues and organs.
Luckily, there are lots of things you can modify to help control your body’s inflammatory response, and that includes what you drink. Here are five beverages you might want to add to your anti-inflammatory diet.
Turmeric milk, also called golden milk, is a blend of milk, some type of sweetener (such as honey or maple syrup), turmeric, and other spices like cinnamon, ginger, vanilla, and black pepper. Turmeric is known for its anti-inflammatory properties due to its active ingredient and the polyphenol, curcumin, explains New York-based dietitian nutritionist Tanya Freirich.
Studies have shown that turmeric has a beneficial effect on inflammatory skin diseases. A study from the Journal of the American Academy of Dermatology demonstrated that high doses of curcumin, when taken daily, may be helpful for some people with psoriasis.
Freirich recommends adding a dash of black pepper and a drop of olive or coconut oil to increase your absorption of the curcumin to further reap its anti-inflammatory effects.
“Turmeric milk is great before bed, or in the morning to start your day in place of coffee, or in a turmeric latte,” Freirich adds. “Because it's naturally caffeine-free, you can enjoy it anytime of day without worrying about interfering with your sleep.”
However, try to go easy on the added sugars, even those from natural sources, warns Seattle-based registered dietitian nutritionist Ginger Hultin, author of Anti-Inflammatory Diet Meal Prep. She suggests experimenting to see how you can boost the spices in your turmeric milk while reducing the amount of added sweetener.
If you're more of a savory-flavor person, bone broth might be up your alley. This broth is made by simmering animal bones and connective tissue in water and something acidic (like lemon or apple cider vinegar) for 12-plus hours. “Bone broth contains amino acids and minerals, such as phosphorus and calcium, and it's known to be soothing to the gut, supporting digestion,” says Hultin.
Many chronic diseases, including psoriasis, have been associated with “leaky gut,” where the barrier between the gut and the bloodstream is damaged. As a result, substances that the body wouldn’t typically allow into the bloodstream leak through, causing inflammation and other health issues. That’s where bone broth may help—it’s a great source of gelatin, which contains an amino acid called glutamine that helps preserve the intestinal wall.
Other health benefits of bone broth include promoting healthy gut bacteria and microbiome, which can boost the immune system and healthy digestion, Freirich says.
“Ginger is an amazing anti-inflammatory agent—it inhibits nausea and vomiting, oxidative damage, and platelet aggregation, as well as inflammation,” Freirich says. “It also helps to lower blood sugars and reduce cholesterol.”
A review of 16 clinical trials that used ginger supplements as a preventive or treatment for inflammatory conditions, including arthritis, Type 2 diabetes, cancer, menstrual cramps, and respiratory conditions, found that it had powerful anti-inflammatory properties.
Gingerol (the phenol phytochemical compound) is most abundant in fresh ginger, so ginger shots with the fresh ginger root are the best bet. But you could also steep peeled and diced or chopped ginger in warm water and drink as a tea. Interestingly, gingerol shows a biologic activity profile similar to that of curcumin, which may help explain its benefit in reducing inflammation.
Green juice gets a lot of hype, but does it have anti-inflammatory properties? Yes—because it’s made of green veggies believed to help reduce inflammation in the body. You can add any you like, from celery and cucumber to spinach and chard, plus herbs like mint, basil, parsley, and cilantro.
Just know that both Freirich and Hultin say you’ll benefit more from eating those veggies whole, so that you get the fiber that’s lost during the juicing process.
“It's more satiating to eat the vegetables themselves in the form of a salad or sautéed, or in a soup, so you can get all of the anti-inflammatory benefits of the vegetables, as well as the digestive benefits of the fiber,” Freirich explains.
Green tea, which is made from unfermented tea leaves, has been used medicinally for centuries. “It’s a major source of plant compounds known as polyphenols, which are powerful antioxidants,” says Freirich. Their superpower? Fighting free radicals, which are compounds that can cause cell damage.
Research carried out by a team from the University of Michigan found evidence that EGCG (epigallocatechin 3-gallate), a type of polyphenol with particularly potent antioxidant effects, may have benefits for people with rheumatoid arthritis. In animal studies, topical application of EGCG has been shown to reduce disease in mice with flaky skin, suggesting that it may benefit psoriasis and similar conditions.
This one couldn’t be easier to prepare—simply boil water and let it cool slightly before pouring it over the green tea leaves, then let it steep for a few minutes before drinking.
Hultin recommends teas, in general, to help lower inflammation—if green tea doesn’t do it for you, try peppermint, ginger, fennel, lemon balm, rose hip, or even classic black tea.
“There are proven anti-inflammatory benefits to consuming tea regularly,” Hultin says. “Tea is also hydrating and can be soothing to help ease tension and stress.”
All these options are great additions to traditional prescription treatments prescribed by your physician. Remember, some foods or supplements may have interactions with medications, so it’s best to tell your physician all the alternative treatments you’re taking, so they can make sure they are safe for you.
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