If you live with an autoimmune disease, you’re well aware that food can relieve pain or make it worse.
That’s because of the role food plays in fighting or aiding inflammation.
“Inflammation that’s continued beyond the healthy, acute healing phase has been implicated in almost every chronic health condition and a number of autoimmune conditions, such as rheumatoid arthritis and multiple sclerosis,” says Michelle Simon, a licensed naturopathic doctor and president of the Institute for Natural Medicine.
But the foods you put in your body can help.
“Naturopathic medicine remedies, such as tonics and broths with natural, anti-inflammatory ingredients and immune-modulating agents, can help support the body’s natural healing process,” Simon adds.
Here are five research-backed drinks that can help fight inflammation in your body.
1. Baking soda + water
But be careful with this one: Some studies suggest there may be harmful side effects to ingesting baking soda regularly over time, like liver damage and bone loss. Even this new study capped intake at two weeks.
Use this tonic for short-term inflammation relief. But no longer than a month, Simon cautions.
Baking soda benefits
- easily accessible
- tells the body to calm its autoimmune response
- should only be consumed short term
Try it: Combine 1/4 tsp. baking soda with 8 to 12 oz. of water.
Drink a baking soda and water tonic after a meal twice a week, but for no more than four weeks.
2. Parsley + ginger green juice
Studies have found that parsley’s active ingredient, carnosol, targets inflammation caused by rheumatoid arthritis, Simon explains.
Ginger is a well-known anti-inflammatory. It prevents the production of inflammatory molecules like prostaglandin and leukotriene, as well pro-inflammatory cytokines. These are a type of protein found in cells, Simon says.
- contains gingerol, a powerful anti-inflammatory
- may help reduce muscle soreness and pain
- aids digestion
Try it: Make your own juice at home. Add to a juicer:
- 1 large handful of parsley
- 2 cups of spinach
- 1 green apple
- 1 lemon
- 1 small cucumber
- 2 to 3 celery stalks
- 1 to 2 inches of ginger
Drink parsley and ginger green juice once daily for 8 to 12 weeks.
3. Lemon + turmeric tonic
“Numerous studies have shown that curcumin, the active ingredient found in turmeric, can help reduce the body’s inflammatory response and provide relief for joint pain and inflammation caused by rheumatoid arthritis and multiple sclerosis,” Simon says.
In fact, a study analysis published earlier this year in Neurological Sciences found curcumin was a powerful anti-inflammatory and antioxidant substance. It could help control proteins, enzymes, and cytokines in central nervous system-related disorders, including multiple sclerosis.
A bonus of this tonic (which was modified from Minimalist Baker): The ginger and lemon will help aid in digestion, Simon adds.
- help with chronic inflammation
- provide antioxidant protection by neutralizing free radicals
- fight brain degeneration
Try it: In a small saucepan, combine:
- 1 tbsp. fresh grated turmeric
- 1 tbsp. fresh grated ginger
- the juice of 1 lemon
- the rind of that lemon
- 3 cups filtered water
Bring to a simmer over medium to medium-high heat, then turn off heat. Be careful not to let it fully boil.
Set a small strainer over serving glasses and divide liquid between two mugs.
Store strained leftovers in the fridge up to two to three days. When ready to eat, reheat on the stovetop until just warm.
Drink 1 to 1 2/3 cups of lemon and turmeric tonic every day for up to four weeks.
4. Bone broth
“Bone broth from chickens specifically, not beef or pork or fish, supports joint health through the chondroitin sulfate and glucosamine found in the cartilage, and it’s a good source of anti-inflammatory amino acids like proline, glycine, and arginine,” Simon says.
Bone broth benefits
- fights inflammation
- contains collagen, which helps support joint health
- may promote better sleep, mental function, and memory
Try it: In a 10-quart slow cooker, combine:
- 2 lbs. of chicken bones (preferably from free-range chickens)
- 2 chicken feet
- 1 onion
- 2 carrots
- 2 celery stalks
- 2 tbsp. apple cider vinegar
- 1 gallon of water
- 1 bunch of parsley
- 1 tbsp. or more of sea salt
- 1 tsp. peppercorns
- additional herbs of your liking
Simmer for 24 to 48 hours, skimming fat occasionally. Remove from heat and allow to cool slightly.
Discard solids and strain remainder in a bowl through a colander. Let stock cool to room temperature, then cover and chill.
Drink 1 to 2 cups of bone broth per day. You can also eat it as a soup. Use batch within a week, or freeze up to three months.
5. Functional food smoothie
Whole foods are always best, but there are a handful of functional food powders that help deliver a ton of antioxidants and anti-inflammatories into one drink, says Gabrielle Francis, a licensed naturopathic doctor and herbalist based in New York City.
Powders loaded with bioflavonoids and antioxidants from sources like ginger, rosemary, and turmeric can help boost your immune system and reduce inflammation in your body.
Other functional food powders can help heal leaky gut issues, allowing you to absorb more nutrients while keeping out the allergens and toxins that cause inflammation, Francis adds.
Her smoothie also includes vitamins A and D. Studies show that vitamin A and D deficiencies can contribute to chronic inflammation.
There are a handful of more pricey ingredients in this smoothie than the budget-friendly ones above. But if you’ve tried other alternative remedies and they didn’t work to reduce your inflammation, then this could be a great option.
Cod liver oil benefits
- contains vitamins A and D, both powerful antioxidants
- is a source of anti-inflammatory omega-3 fatty acids
- may help reduce joint pain in people with rheumatoid arthritis
Try it: In a blender, combine:
- 2 scoops of Metagenics Ultra-InflammX
- 1 tbsp. Designs for Health GI Revive
- 1/2 tsp. Designs for Health Probiotic Synergy
- 1 tbsp. arctic cod liver oil
- 1 scoop Designs for Health Paleo Greens
- 1 tbsp. Designs for Health Paleo Reds
- 12 to 16 oz. purified water
- 1/4 cup frozen, organic berries
- 1/2 cup rice, hemp, or coconut milk
Drink this food smoothie as a meal replacement for breakfast, or drink with your regular breakfast.
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Rachael Schultz is a freelance writer who focuses primarily on why our bodies and brains work the way they do and how we can optimize both (without losing our sanity). She’s worked on staff at Shape and Men’s Health and contributes regularly to a slew of national health and fitness publications. She’s most passionate about hiking, traveling, mindfulness, cooking, and really, really good coffee. You can find her work at rachael-schultz.com.