Inflammation is a natural response by the immune system to infection or injury. It causes redness, swelling, heat, and pain as the body works to remove harmful stimuli and initiate healing. While acute inflammation is a normal part of the healing process, chronic inflammation can lead to various health issues. Fortunately, some drinks may help reduce inflammation in the body.
Certain beverages contain ingredients that have anti-inflammatory properties. Drinking these regularly may help decrease inflammation and provide other health benefits.
Green tea contains polyphenols, which are plant compounds that have antioxidant and anti-inflammatory effects. The most abundant and active polyphenol in green tea is epigallocatechin-3-gallate (EGCG). Research indicates EGCG may help reduce inflammation related to autoimmune diseases, heart disease, cancer, and more.
Turmeric contains the compound curcumin, which has potent anti-inflammatory properties. Drinking turmeric tea may help reduce inflammation related to arthritis, metabolic syndrome, and liver damage. Be sure to combine turmeric with black pepper, as piperine in black pepper enhances curcumin’s absorption.
Ginger contains compounds called gingerols that have demonstrated anti-inflammatory effects. Consuming ginger tea may help reduce muscle pain and soreness after exercise. It may also alleviate inflammation associated with osteoarthritis, cardiovascular disease, and other conditions.
Hibiscus tea is made from dried parts of the hibiscus plant. Studies suggest hibiscus may lower blood pressure, fight bacteria, and reduce inflammation. The anthocyanins and anthocyanidins found in hibiscus provide its anti-inflammatory capabilities.
Peppermint tea contains menthol, which has analgesic and anti-inflammatory properties. Drinking peppermint tea may help relieve inflammation related to respiratory conditions like asthma and allergic rhinitis. It may also reduce symptoms of gastrointestinal conditions like IBS.
Chamomile contains flavonoids that may provide anti-inflammatory effects. Consuming chamomile tea may reduce inflammation associated with diabetes, cancer, cardiovascular conditions, and neurodegenerative diseases. It may also help minimize muscle soreness after intense exercise.
Matcha Green Tea
Matcha is a concentrated powdered form of green tea. It contains high levels of EGCG and other polyphenols with anti-inflammatory activities. Matcha may help protect against inflammation related to metabolic syndrome, liver disease, neurodegenerative conditions, and more.
Rooibos is an herbal tea made from the leaves of the rooibos shrub. It contains polyphenols called flavonoids, which have anti-inflammatory, antiviral, and antioxidant effects. Drinking rooibos tea may help reduce inflammation caused by allergies, obesity, and cardiovascular disease.
Licorice Root Tea
Licorice root contains triterpenoids like glycyrrhizin that have anti-inflammatory properties. Consuming licorice root tea may help decrease inflammation associated with sore throat, skin conditions, stomach ulcers, and respiratory infections.
Foods That Reduce Inflammation
In addition to anti-inflammatory drinks, certain foods can also help fight inflammation:
|Fatty fish||Omega-3 fatty acids EPA and DHA|
|Walnuts||Alpha-linolenic acid (ALA)|
|Spinach||Lutein and zeaxanthin|
|Avocados||Lutein and zeaxanthin|
|Nuts||Vitamin E, magnesium|
|Leafy greens||Vitamin E|
Lifestyle Changes That Reduce Inflammation
Making certain lifestyle adjustments may also help decrease inflammation:
- Increase physical activity – Exercise helps reduce inflammation and promotes healthy body weight.
- Quit smoking – Smoking triggers inflammatory pathways in the body.
- Get adequate sleep – Poor sleep is linked to higher inflammation.
- Reduce stress – Chronic stress leads to elevated inflammation.
- Drink alcohol moderately – Excessive alcohol intake causes inflammation.
- Take anti-inflammatory supplements – Fish oil, curcumin, and ginger can reduce inflammation.
- Maintain healthy weight – Obesity leads to systemic inflammation.
Certain diets tailor food choices to fight inflammation:
This diet emphasizes produce, nuts, legumes, fish, whole grains, and healthy fats like olive oil. It limits red meat and processed foods. The Mediterranean diet is associated with lower CRP levels, an inflammation marker.
The DASH diet encourages fruits, vegetables, lean protein, low-fat dairy, and whole grains. It restricts foods high in saturated fat, cholesterol, and sodium. Following a DASH diet for 8 weeks can significantly reduce inflammation.
A vegetarian or vegan diet focused on produce, nuts, seeds, beans, and whole grains provides antioxidants that can decrease inflammatory markers.
This specific diet eliminates inflammatory foods like added sugars, refined carbs, alcohol, and processed meat. It emphasizes seafood, nuts, fruits, veggies, beans, spices, herbs, and tea.
Foods to Avoid with Inflammation
It’s also important to limit or avoid these pro-inflammatory foods:
- Refined carbohydrates – White bread, pastries, sodas, etc.
- Fried foods – French fries, doughnuts, etc.
- Sugar – Candy, baked goods, soft drinks
- Processed meat – Bacon, sausage, canned meat
- Excess alcohol – More than 1 drink per day for women or 2 for men
- Trans fats – Found in margarine, fast food, packaged baked goods
- Artificial additives – Preservatives, colorings, flavorings
- Gluten – Found in wheat, barley and rye (for those with sensitivities)
- Dairy – Milk, cheese, cream (for those with sensitivities)
When to See a Doctor
Occasional inflammation is normal, but chronic, severe inflammation may require medical attention. See your doctor if you experience:
- Joint pain that lasts more than a few days
- Shortness of breath or chest pain
- Abdominal pain that does not improve
- Skin redness or swelling that spreads or worsens
- Rash, blisters, or hives
- High fever
- Fatigue, malaise
- Blood in stool
- Blurry vision
- Headaches that don’t go away
Pay attention to when the inflammation occurs, what seems to trigger it, and how long it lasts. Alert your doctor about any severe, persistent, or recurring inflammation.
Inflammation is a double-edged sword – it is necessary for fighting infection and healing wounds, but chronic inflammation can lead to disease. Lifestyle measures like a healthy diet, exercise, adequate sleep, stress relief, and avoidance of smoking and excess alcohol can help reduce inflammation. Consuming anti-inflammatory drinks like green tea, turmeric tea, ginger tea, and chamomile tea may also help. See your doctor if you have any signs of severe or persistent inflammation.