You might feel like you’re living a generally healthy life. You work out regularly, try not to house too many Taco Bell Pizzas, and drink enough water. Yet, the little things—that afternoon mocha habit, a bad night’s sleep, or stress—fuel low-grade inflammation. Left unresolved, chronic inflammation can contribute to everything from heart disease and arthritis, to a shorter healthspan and lifespan (1).
With so many triggers, it’s essential to take measures to reduce inflammation, like taking anti-inflammatory supplements and eating anti-inflammatory foods.
What you wash those foods down with matters too. “Choosing to drink anti-inflammatory drinks over inflammatory alternatives is a great place to start in the fight against inflammation,” says Imashi Fernando, MS, RD, a registered dietitian nutritionist who specializes in wellness and chronic disease management.
You can drink your way to less inflammation, according to Fernando. Here are the best anti-inflammatory drinks to sip on ASAP.
What Is an Anti-Inflammatory Drink?
Narrowing in on the basics of anti-inflammatory drinks can help you get a global view of what ingredients set inflammatory fires, and which help tame them. Fernando’s rules to live by when assembling anti-inflammatory beverages, below.
Cut back on processed foods and sugar
“Avoid inflammatory drinks that are high in sugar, and processed or refined ingredients,” says Fernando. Sugary beverages—including soda, sugary coffee drinks like lattes and macchiatos, juice, and sports drinks—are the biggest culprits.
Drink more antioxidants
“Aim to drink more antioxidants and polyphenols—which are known to reduce inflammation (2),” says Fernando. These compounds are found in fruits and vegetables like berries, citrus, and dark leafy greens, nuts and seeds like walnuts, pecans, and chia seeds, as well as coffee and certain types of tea.
Drink more pre- and probiotics
“Prioritize probiotics and prebiotics which boost gut health and improve the absorption of anti-inflammatory compounds like antioxidants, polyphenols, and healthy fats (3),” Fernando adds. Good sources include probiotic-rich yogurt and kefir—which are perfect for adding to smoothies—and fermented drinks like kombucha and probiotic soda.
12 Anti-Inflammatory Drinks
Here are Fernando’s favorite anti-inflammatory drinks that lean heavy on ingredients known to keep inflammation at bay. Whether you want something hot or iced, blended or smooth, savory or sweet, she proves you don’t have to be a barista to make healthy beverages that improve your body with every sip.
If your day doesn’t start without a hot cup of caffeine, you’re in luck. Coffee is loaded with polyphenols—a compound known to reduce inflammation (4, 5). However, “fancy lattes and flavored coffees are often loaded with a heavy dose of syrups and sauces made from high fructose corn syrup or other added sugars—which are known drivers of inflammation,” says Fernando.
To maximize its anti-inflammatory benefits, drink decaf or regular coffee black or with a splash of your preferred milk of choice. “If you really need some sweetness in your coffee, choose a natural sweetener like stevia,” she adds. “Or sprinkle some cinnamon for a touch of sweetness and an extra kick of anti-inflammatory benefits (6).”
2. Earl Grey Tea
Earl grey tea is steeped with health benefits. The black tea has a hint of citrus thanks to the bergamot oil, which can increase autophagy (7)—your body’s process of recycling old and damaged cells. Plus, it has a high content of theaflavin, a powerful antioxidant that has the ability to suppress inflammatory cytokines (8).
“To maximize the anti-inflammatory capacity of your earl grey tea, infuse it with ginger which is known to tame inflammation (9),” says Fernando. “Or, add a lemon slice for a boost of vitamin C—another potent antioxidant.”
Green tea is an anti-inflammatory classic. Because it’s harvested later than white or black tea, it has higher levels of catechins—specifically epigallocatechin gallate (EGCG), which might play a role in suppressing cytokines (10). Matcha has the highest levels of EGCG. One study found that matcha contains three times more EGCG than regular green tea (11).
“Many opt for ceremonial grade matcha. It’s made with younger tea leaves which lend a higher caffeine content and bolder flavor,” says Fernando. “However, since culinary grade matcha is made with older tea leaves it may actually have a higher concentration of catechins.”
4. Golden Milk Latte
Proof golden milk lattes do way more than look good on your Instagram feed: their main ingredient, turmeric, is one of the most powerful foods for fighting inflammation. Due to its high curcumin content (12), turmeric has been shown to improve a variety of inflammatory conditions including rheumatoid arthritis (13), lupus (14), pneumonia (15), and dementia (16).
To make a golden milk latte mix turmeric with your milk of choice. Fernando recommends coconut milk for a tropical flavor and added antioxidants (17). “Pro tip: add piperine (also known as black pepper) to increase curcumin’s bioavailability,” she says. She also likes to add a dash of spices like ginger, cardamom, or nutmeg for enhanced antioxidant capacity and flavor.
5. Bone Broth
“There aren’t many human studies confirming the anti-inflammatory effect of bone broth; however, it’s rich in known anti-inflammatory compounds like glutamine and collagen,” says Fernando. “Therefore, by association, bone broth may share the same anti-inflammatory properties.”
Glutamine has been shown to help repair damage in the intestinal wall, support your gut microbiome, and modulate inflammatory responses (18, 19, 20). While collagen suppresses the endotoxin lipopolysaccharide (LPS)—a powerful mediator of systemic inflammation (21). Collagen also contains glycine, a compound known to reduce inflammation and support the immune system (22).
6. Pomegranate Juice
Pomegranates are high in antioxidants, including high amounts of ellagitannin (23)—a compound that might decrease inflammation in the brain (24). To get your daily dose, Fernando recommends making a mocktail, as pomegranate juice can be high in natural sugars. “First, choose a pomegranate juice that says 100 percent juice on the label and has no added sugars,” she says, “Then, dilute it with sparkling water for a tasty mocktail.”
7. Chlorella Water
More of a green juice fanatic? Chlorella is a fresh water algae that contains protein, vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants. Thanks to the interaction between it’s multiple nutrient and antioxidant compounds, chlorella can help keep inflammation at bay (25). It’s particularly powerful in combatting asthma and other respiratory conditions (26).
It comes in liquid or powder form. “You can add it water, similar to electrolytes, or drop a scoop into a smoothie for an easy boost of antioxidants,” says Fernando.
8. Celery Juice
Sure, celery juice has plenty of buzzy benefits that aren’t backed by science. However, it can help reduce inflammation. Celery contains many beneficial plant compounds that act as antioxidants to combat oxidative stress (27).
“Choose an unstrained celery juice to make sure that you’re still getting the fiber, as many juices are strained to remove it,” Fernando explains. “If you’re not a fan of celery juice, add a few stalks of celery to your smoothie to reap the same benefits.”
9. Green Smoothie
“Dark, green, leafy veggies feed the bacteria that your digestive tract needs to maintain a diverse and healthy gut microbiome. In turn, this promotes improved digestive health, regular bowel function, and reduces inflammation,” says Fernando. To increase your intake, she recommends packing leafy greens like kale and spinach into your smoothies.
For her go-to green smoothie recipe to maximize anti-inflammatory benefits and flavor, add the following to a blender:
- A handful of your favorite leafy greens (kale, spinach, romaine, etc.)
- ½ granny smith apple
- 1 Tbsp ginger
- 1 stalk celery or ¼ cucumber, chopped into smaller pieces
- A handful of your favorite herb (parsley, mint, cilantro, etc.)
- A squeeze of fresh citrus
- Water as needed
10. Berry Smoothie
Berries—especially blueberries, raspberries, and strawberries—are high in antioxidants that can slow damage that happens to cells from stressors such as sun exposure, smoke, and air pollution. They’re also rich in anthocyanins (a flavonoid that lends a purple or red color to plant foods) that have been shown to reduce inflammation (28).
“The key components of any smoothie are fruit and veggies, protein, hydration, and healthy fats,” says Fernando. Her go-to blend delivers all four:
- 1 Cup of your favorite berries
- ½ cup plain greek yogurt or a scoop of protein powder
- Milk, dairy-free alternative, or water, to desired texture
- 1-2 Tbsp of flax seeds, chia seeds, or nut butter, or ½ of an avocado
- Optional: ½ banana for sweetness, a sprinkle of cocoa powder or cinnamon
Recent studies out of Stanford confirm the anti-inflammatory benefits of fermented drinks like kombucha, probiotic soda, and sauerkraut juices (29). The benefits come not only from the probiotics they contain but the postbiotics—components produced in response to probiotic activity in the gut, like fermentation. One study found postbiotics might play a role in calming inflammation (30).
“While kombucha and probiotic soda may help fight inflammation, many options on the market contain upwards of 10 grams of sugar per bottle or can,” warns Fernando. “Check nutrition labels for options with five grams of added sugar or less.”
TikTok’s healthy coke might be worth a shot after all. The active compound in vinegars like apple cider vinegar, and balsamic vinegar is acetic acid, which contains a strain of probiotics that aid digestion and overall immune function (31). Apple cider vinegar is also packed with polyphenols, which researchers believe may contribute to its anti-inflammatory properties (32).
“Start by mixing one tablespoon (or even less) of vinegar with one cup of water,” says Fernando. “Work your way up to two tablespoons as tolerated.” She also recommends trying shrubs, a drink made with infused vinegar syrup. “Shrubs are a fun and more tolerable way to drink vinegar. Just mix it with club soda or sparkling water and you have a tasty mocktail,” she suggests. “Just watch the added sugars.”