What Can I Drink to Reduce Inflammation?

What Can I Drink to Reduce Inflammation?

Your Guide to Anti-Inflammatory Drinks

Key Takeaways

  • Your diet, including what you drink, is important when it comes to controlling inflammation.
  • Many drinks such as coffee, fruit and vegetable juices, green tea, hydrogen water, chlorella water, and milk have anti-inflammatory benefits.
  • Inflammation is a natural way for your body to protect itself. However, chronic inflammation underlies many chronic diseases and negative symptoms.

An anti-inflammatory diet is one of the most important and effective components of a healthy lifestyle or treatment plan. But in addition to what you eat, you might be wondering, “What can I drink to reduce inflammation?” Chronic inflammation is a key player in many of the negative symptoms and chronic diseases we face today. Wouldn’t it be great if there were one anti-inflammatory drink to protect us from out-of-control inflammation? 

It may not be that easy, but there are several drinks including coffee, green tea, fruit and vegetable juices, chlorella water extract, milk, and hydrogen water that have been shown to reduce inflammatory biomarkers. In addition, liquid fasting, such as water-only fasting, may be beneficial for reducing inflammation and oxidative stress. When it comes to plain water, there’s really no target amount for reducing inflammation levels, but we do know dehydration has a number of health consequences. 

In this article, I’ll discuss inflammation, why it’s important to keep it under control, and the benefits of an anti-inflammatory diet. We’ll also dive into the research on what you can drink to reduce inflammation, as well as the foods and drinks that may cause inflammation that you’ll want to limit or avoid. 

What Is Inflammation?

What can I drink to reduce inflammation: person with back pain

The word inflammation is thrown around quite a bit, but what is inflammation and is it always a bad thing? 

If you’ve ever sprained your ankle or cut yourself, you’ve seen inflammation in action. Swelling, pain, loss of function, redness, and warmness can all occur when you experience such a trauma. 

Inflammation is one way your body protects itself. When you have an infection or injury, chemical reactions and complex responses occur to fight off that infection and increase blood flow to the areas that need healing. In addition, pain is often increased to signal there’s a problem that needs to be addressed [1 Trusted SourcePubMedGo to source].

This type of acute inflammatory response, which usually sets in pretty rapidly and resolves in a few days, is critical for proper healing. 

While any physical trauma to the body can trigger the inflammatory response, other causes of inflammation can include: 

  • Exposure to toxic chemicals or environmental agents
  • Overuse, perhaps with exercise or manual labor
  • Infection, whether viral or bacterial

Is Inflammation Always Bad? 

Inflammation must be analyzed in context. The acute inflammatory response is especially beneficial when it comes to managing infections and healing wounds, but when this response is sustained and left unchecked, chronic inflammation can result.

Chronic inflammation is the low-grade inflammation that not only prevents your body from properly repairing itself, but over time it starts to negatively impact your healthy cells.

This type of inflammation is considered pathological in many chronic disease conditions, such as obesity, heart disease, rheumatoid arthritis, asthma, inflammatory bowel disease, type 2 diabetes, neurodegenerative diseases (like Alzheimer’s disease), and cancer [2 Trusted SourcePubMedGo to source]. But it’s not as easily identified since the typical signs and symptoms of acute inflammation may not be present.

What Can I Drink to Reduce Inflammation?

What can I drink to reduce inflammation: various fruit smoothies in jars with straws

There are several anti-inflammatory drinks to choose from based on your preference. Some beverages that have shown to reduce markers of inflammation include:

  • Coffee
  • Fruit/vegetable concentrates (100% orange juice, pomegranate juice, tomato juice, blackcurrant juice, tart cherry juice, cranberry juice, mandarin juice, red orange juice, 100% Concord grape juice, beet juice)
  • Green tea
  • Water
  • Chlorella water extract
  • Milk

You may be wondering about bone broth and kombucha, which are often touted to have a variety of health benefits. There’s currently no research to support either of these having a specific anti-inflammatory effect, but that doesn’t mean they can’t help to reduce inflammation. Bone broth is a nutritious drink that can be used as part of an anti-inflammatory fast, and kombucha is high in probiotics (which are anti-inflammatory).

Let’s take a look at some of the research on what you can drink to reduce inflammation. 

Is Coffee an Anti-Inflammatory Drink?

What can I drink to reduce inflammation: woman holding a cup of coffee

Coffee is a beloved beverage around the world, but the information surrounding coffee and health has been conflicting at times. When it comes to inflammation, coffee seems to have an anti-inflammatory effect overall. 

  • Heavy coffee drinkers tend to have lower levels of inflammatory markers when compared to non-coffee drinkers [3 Trusted SourcePubMedGo to source].
  • A 2019 observational study found those who drank at least four cups of coffee per day had 16.6% lower C-reactive protein (CRP) levels and 8.1% less interleukin (IL-6), along with 9.3% more adiponectin, which is a hormone that lowers inflammation. The researchers concluded the “data indicated that coffee consumption is associated with favorable profiles of numerous biomarkers in key metabolic and inflammatory pathways” [4 Trusted SourcePubMedGo to source].
  • In one 2016 randomized controlled trial, participants were randomized to drink four cups of regular coffee or four cups of a coffee-like placebo every day for 24 weeks. While the researchers found no significant effect on inflammation between the two groups, coffee consumption didn’t increase inflammation and participants in the coffee group experienced weight loss and positive changes in fat mass, which can affect inflammation levels [5 Trusted SourcePubMedGo to source].
  • In addition, coffee with its anti-inflammatory and antioxidant effects, is associated with less risk of type 2 diabetes [6 Trusted SourcePubMedGo to source].

Are Fruit and Vegetable Juices Anti-Inflammatory Drinks?

Glasses of different fruit juices

The information about fruit and vegetable juice is often conflicting. Many health professionals recommend avoiding these types of beverages due to their often-high sugar and added sugar content. But fruit and vegetable juices can be included in what you can drink to reduce inflammation.

You’ll want to choose 100% fruit or vegetable juices (without added sugar) to reap the most anti-inflammatory benefits. For example, one 2021 randomized controlled trial found the moderate consumption (defined as 75 to 224 mL) of 100% fruit juice daily is associated with health benefits such as improved vascular function, reduced blood pressure, nutrient adequacy, reduced risk of stroke, and potential cognitive benefits [7 Trusted SourcePubMedGo to source].

Just make sure to avoid packaged juice beverages with added sugar (which is inflammatory). Some other findings: 

Is Green Tea an Anti-Inflammatory Drink?

Person holding a cup of tea

Green tea has been consumed for centuries. It may have a number of health-promoting benefits related to the catechin polyphenol content. While research on green tea’s anti-inflammatory effects is mixed, there are a number of health benefits associated with green tea, so it’s probably a good choice. For example:

  • A 2019 systematic review and meta-analysis of randomized controlled trials found that drinking green tea didn’t significantly reduce inflammation levels. However, most of the studies were performed on healthy people, so the results may be different when studied in people with high levels of inflammation [15 Trusted SourcePubMedGo to source].
  • A 2019 systematic review and meta-analysis found green tea consumption (some of which was green tea extract) was associated with significant reductions in CRP in people with type 2 diabetes when compared to control groups [16 Trusted SourcePubMedGo to source].
  • A 2013 randomized controlled trial found people with type 2 diabetes who drank four cups of green tea per day had significant decreases in body weight, body mass index, waist circumference, and systolic blood pressure, which may help to lower levels of inflammation [17 Trusted SourcePubMedGo to source, 18 Trusted SourcePubMedGo to source].

Is Hydrogen Water an Anti-Inflammatory Drink?

Hydrogen water is water with added hydrogen molecules, which can act as antioxidants and provide some health-promoting benefits. Research is limited, but one 2020 randomized controlled trial found healthy people who drank 1.5 liters of hydrogen water or plain water for four weeks had significantly increased antioxidant potential and a significantly decreased marker of DNA damage. However, the participants over the age of 30 only experienced a significant increase in antioxidant potential with the hydrogen water. The hydrogen water group also had significantly reduced cell death and inflammatory responses when compared to the plain water group [19 Trusted SourcePubMedGo to source].

In another 2020 randomized controlled trial, adults with metabolic syndrome who consumed hydrogen water had significant reductions in CRP, TNF-ɑ, and IL-6 at the end of the study [20 Trusted SourcePubMedGo to source].

Is Chlorella Water an Anti-Inflammatory Drink?

Chlorella is considered a functional food related to its rich content of nutrients and plant compounds. A 2021 randomized controlled trial found healthy adults who drank chlorella water extract had significant increases in antioxidant markers, along with significant reductions of oxidative stress markers when compared to the control group [21 Trusted SourcePubMedGo to source].

Is Milk an Anti-Inflammatory Drink?

Person pouring milk into a glass

Cow’s milk is a common dietary intolerance. For those who are sensitive to either lactose (milk sugar) or casein (milk protein), milk can trigger inflammation. It’s best to listen to your body when it comes to determining how milk affects you personally. 

If you aren’t sensitive to milk, some research shows that it can have an anti-inflammatory effect. 

  • One 2019 systematic review of randomized controlled trials found milk and dairy product consumption had a weak anti-inflammatory effect in healthy people, those who are obese or overweight, or have metabolic syndrome or type 2 diabetes [22 Trusted SourcePubMedGo to source].
  • A 2011 randomized controlled trial found smokers who drank regular milk for six weeks had significantly reduced fasting IL-6, IL-1β, and TNF-ɑ over the course of the study [23 Trusted SourcePubMedGo to source].
  • A 2020 systematic review and meta-analysis found high consumption of dairy products was associated with a significant reduction in CRP, TNF-ɑ, and IL-6, but when the highest-quality studies were examined, no beneficial effects of dairy intake on inflammation were observed. However, this study included all dairy products, not just milk [24 Trusted SourcePubMedGo to source].

Does Water-Only Fasting Lower Inflammation?

Research on the effects of water-only fasting for inflammation is limited. One study found a five-day water fast increased regulatory T-cells, which are immune cells associated with anti-inflammatory effects. Other studies have found beneficial effects of water-only and juice-only fasts related to weight loss, body composition, blood pressure, asthma, and rheumatoid arthritis [25 Trusted SourcePubMedGo to source, 26 Trusted SourcePubMedGo to source, 27 Trusted SourcePubMedGo to source]. These types of fasts should be completed only under medical supervision.

Making Your Own Anti-Inflammatory Smoothies and Juices

What can I drink to reduce inflammation: fruits and different fruit smoothies

Sure, you can purchase pre-packaged smoothies and juices at your local grocery store, but you can also make your own! Making smoothies and fresh juices is a great way to increase your intake of anti-inflammatory foods that you may not otherwise eat during the day. But there are some possible pros and cons of smoothies and juices to consider.

Pros

  • Convenience: You can add many different types of fruits and vegetables to your blender and make a smoothie to be enjoyed throughout the day. For some, this will increase their overall servings of fruits and veggies, and thus their overall nutrient and phytonutrient intake.
  • Blenderizing fruits and vegetables may increase your ability to absorb certain antioxidants.

Cons

  • Decreased antioxidant density of certain fruits in juice form.
  • Decreased fiber consumption with juices.
  • Increased intake of FODMAPs, which could exacerbate abdominal symptoms in some people.
  • Increased intake of oxalates, which can increase the likelihood of kidney stone formation in some people.

Can You Fight Inflammation With Your Diet?

Top view of various healthy ingredients

What you eat and drink can have a powerful impact on your level of inflammation. An anti-inflammatory diet can reduce the likelihood of chronic inflammation, but it can also help to resolve inflammation that’s already occurring in the body.

Following an anti-inflammatory diet is one of the most important strategies for not only reducing your symptoms and healing your gut, but also controlling inflammation and improving your overall health.

Adding anti-inflammatory drinks to your plan can be a delicious way to boost your intake of anti-inflammatory compounds.

There’s no one perfect diet for reducing inflammation because people respond differently to foods. But there are some general principles to adhere to when trying to increase anti-inflammatory foods and anti-inflammatory drinks.

  • Eat plenty of colorful fruits and vegetables (especially leafy greens). These plant-based foods contain a myriad of compounds such as phenolics, triterpenoids, saponins, and indole-3 carbinol with anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties [28 Trusted SourcePubMedGo to source, 29 Trusted SourcePubMedGo to source, 30 Trusted SourcePubMedGo to source].
  • Increase your intake of the anti-inflammatory omega-3 fatty acids found in fatty fish like salmon, mackerel, trout, sardines, and tuna. If you don’t eat fish, you may want to speak with your doctor about a high-quality fish oil supplement.
  • Increase your healthy-fat intake. Extra-virgin olive oil is an excellent option because it contains plenty of beneficial phytochemicals that can lower inflammation.
  • Add in anti-inflammatory herbs and spices such as ginger, turmeric, cumin, cinnamon, cloves, and oregano.
  • Consume anti-inflammatory drinks like coffee, green tea, 100% fruit and vegetable juices, water, and milk (assuming you’re not sensitive to dairy).

What Foods and Drinks Can Increase Inflammation?

While increasing your intake of anti-inflammatory foods and anti-inflammatory drinks is important, it’s equally important to reduce the foods and drinks that can cause or worsen inflammation, which may include:

  • Foods or beverages you’re personally sensitive to, such as gluten, dairy, soy, eggs, artificial sweeteners or dyes, and corn
  • Refined seed vegetable oils, such as soybean, corn, sunflower, safflower, grapeseed, peanut, and cottonseed
  • Highly processed foods with hydrogenated fats and added sugar
  • Sugar-sweetened beverages, which are associated with weight gain, obesity, and type 2 diabetes risk [31]
  • Processed meats like deli meats, hot dogs, bacon, and sausage
  • Sweets like candies, cakes, cookies, and pies

The Bottom Line on Anti-Inflammatory Drinks

Your lifestyle and diet on the whole have a major impact on your level of inflammation. There’s no one anti-inflammatory drink that will improve your health and protect you from chronic inflammation. 

Adding anti-inflammatory foods and drinks can help improve your health, but avoiding inflammatory foods and beverages is equally important.

If you’d like to learn more about an anti-inflammatory lifestyle, my book, Healthy Gut, Healthy You is a comprehensive guide. If you have implemented the strategies but are still struggling with inflammation, contact us at the Ruscio Institute for Functional Medicine.

The Ruscio Institute has developed a range of high-quality formulations to help our patients and audience. If you’re interested in learning more about these products, please click here. Note that there are many other options available, and we encourage you to research which products may be right for you.

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