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Spilling the tea on fighting inflammation

Sip your way to lower inflammation

A quick Google search for “anti-inflammatory drinks” yields a lot of miracle cures claiming improved wellness and even increased longevity. And while some might be more valuable than others, there are easier — and less expensive — solutions out there for reducing inflammation.

Not all inflammation is created equal

As a quick refresher, not all inflammation is bad. It’s your body’s way of protecting and healing itself after an injury. The inflammatory response activates your immune system to create inflammatory cells that fight bacteria or heal damaged tissue. You can see that when you get a bruise or see swelling or redness on a wound.

In the case of chronic or systemic inflammation, however, the body will create the inflammatory cells when there is no need and those can attack an otherwise healthy body. Rheumatoid arthritis, for example, is when inflammation attacks healthy joint tissues and causes damage and pain. Chronic inflammation can also cause or is linked to:

Chronic inflammation can be caused by autoimmune disorders, exposure to pollution or chemicals, and some lifestyle factors including:

Sip your way to lower inflammation

If all that information has you feeling stressed, take a deep breath, followed by another deep breath.

*pauses for deep breathing exercise*

There are some delicious, healthy beverages you can enjoy that will actually help you aid your body in its inflammation response.

beverages that help inflammation

Tea

There’s a reason tea has been enjoyed for thousands of years External Site and across many cultures. High-quality teas are full of minerals, vitamins and amino acids. Research has found polyphenols, which are plant-based compounds, can aid in reducing inflammation. According to the research External Site, both black and green teas, when drank daily over the course of weeks, work to reduce some of the active inflammatory proteins found in the body.  

To see the greatest health benefits of tea, look to either black, oolong, green or white teas. These types are derived from plants, specifically the Camellia sinensis External Site, and have a greater concentration of antioxidants and polyphenols. Enjoy the tea as is — without milk, honey or added sugar — because some research indicates additives can reduce the antioxidants External Site.

Herbal teas are made from dried spices, herbs, fruits, and roots, and while tasty, don’t boast the same health benefits as those from tea leaves.

Low-sugar kombucha

You’ve likely seen this drink popping up at your local grocery store more and more over the years. Kombucha is a lightly carbonated, fermented tea External Site.  It’s created from yeast and bacteria (also called SCOBY) that once added to the tea creates a chemical reaction resulting in acetic acid bacteria and lactic acid bacteria. Studies have shown that kombucha, and other fermented foods External Site, can help the immune system.

To enjoy this drink safely, be sure to buy it from the grocery store where the product has most likely followed the standards set forth by U.S. Kombucha Brewers International. Also to note, some kombuchas can be high in sugar, so it’s best to check the nutritional facts to see if it is low sugar. In addition, those who are pregnant or breastfeeding should consult with their health care provider to see if it is safe to consume as some can have trace amounts of alcohol in the drink. 

Golden milk latte

Often touted as a superfood, turmeric is the main ingredient found in a golden milk latte. Turmeric is a bright yellow spice that contains an antioxidant called curcumin. This special spice dates back to as early as 2500 BCE when it was found near present day New Delhi, India.

There’s research that curcumin may be a safe and effective way to reduce inflammation External Site and also may even prevent or slow the spread of cancer External Site. Turmeric can be used in a number of dishes and can also be used in the warm, nutrition-filled beverage. Here's a recipe to make golden milk External Site.

Smoothies

One of the easiest and quickest ways to pack a number of anti-inflammatory foods into a healthy beverage? Smoothies! Anti-inflammatory foods that would be perfect in your next smoothie include:

  • Leafy greens, specifically spinach, kale and collard greens
  • Ginger
  • Walnuts
  • Berries

Smoothies are a great way for adults, and kids, to help get their daily recommended serving of fruits and vegetables. If you have a picky eater, no matter the age, smoothies are a great way to “hide” those greens that might not be their favorite. Smoothies can be simple. Just throw in a handful of leafy greens, berries, your milk of choice, ice and blend into a delicious, nutrient-dense drink. And remember, if fresh fruits and veggies are out of your budget, the frozen varieties have the same nutritional benefits as fresh.

Looking for something more specific? Try these smoothie and drink recipes out.  

Water

Staying hydrated is crucial for your overall health — especially fighting inflammation. When your body is dehydrated, your body can’t function properly and has to work extra hard to do its basic job. Those who have arthritis, which is often caused by inflammation, can help keep joints well lubricated. By getting the recommended eight 8-ounce glasses of water each day, you’re helping your body flush out toxins and feel its best.

Concerned about inflammation and your diet? Your doctor can help.

If you’re concerned about chronic inflammation or about your diet, talk to your personal doctor, also known as your primary care provider. Don’t have a primary care provider? Log in to or register for myWellmark® to find a doctor nearby who can get to know you Secure and your health history. Building this type of relationship can lead to greater satisfaction in care and better health outcomes.