Beverages that Increase Inflammation in the Body

Aditi Shenai

December 6, 2022

Beverages are fluids other than water which are consumed by humans. They can be beneficial or detrimental based on quantities consumed. Some of these can be a good source of vitamins and minerals. But are they healthy? Trying to boost your health and performance with these drinks can do more harm than good.

Excessive consumption of health/energy drinks and sugary beverages can cause issues like diabetes and inflammation. In addition, drinks like sports drinks and energy drinks offer hydration and sweetness with a heavy dose of unnecessary calories that the body may find hard to balance. Some of them are caffeinated, and excess caffeine leads to anxiety, insomnia, restlessness, headaches, fast heart rate, and high blood pressure. You also should avoid sports or energy drinks and prepackaged protein shakes when not heavily active as they are not for sedentary lifestyles. They do provide instant energy and increase metabolism for athletes and sports persons which can be beneficial in measured amounts . 

Health Drink or Poison? 

One of the leading health problems health drinks and beverages can cause is inflammation. Inflammation can impact the organs and can lead to autoimmune diseases. Moreover, beverages with high sugar content like soda may cause inflammation because of their effects on insulin and also the risk of diabetes. 

Before moving on to details about the beverages that can cause inflammation, it’s essential to understand inflammation and how it affects the body.

Inflammation and its Effect on the Body 

Inflammation is how the body protects itself from the infection caused by a virus, bacteria or different toxic chemicals. Some common signs of inflammation in the body are redness, heat, swelling and pain. Inflammation can also affect the body system without symptoms. Altogether, inflammation is the body’s response to fight the bacteria that enter the body to keep infections and health complications away. 

Chronic inflammation can damage the body over the long term and lead to joint pain,  cardiovascular diseases, diabetes, Alzheimer’s, etc. Therefore, it is essential to eat the right food, get quality sleep, and exercise. 

Some Common Signs of Inflammation in the Body

Here are some of the common signs of inflammation in the body:

  • Fatigue
  • Headaches
  • Constipation
  • Joint pain
  • Weight gain
  • Memory loss
  • Feeling bloated
  • Gas

Please visit a health professional when you’re not feeling well and are experiencing any of the above over a period of time. 

Beverages that Can Cause Inflammation

Excessive consumption of certain beverages or drinks that are labelled as health drinks can cause inflammation, leading to various chronic inflammatory conditions. 

Some are listed below:

1. Sodas

Sodas are carbonated beverages concentrated in sugar, artificial colours, preservatives and flavours. Soda is said to cause inflammation in the body due to its high sugar content. In addition, a study proves that the excessive consumption of sugar-sweetened soda is associated with the risk of inflammatory diseases such as type 2 diabetes and heart-related issues. 

Diet soda may not contain sugar. So it may be safer than the regular soda, but it’s full of other chemicals so it is best if avoided. 

2. Sweet Tea

Tea is one of the most consumed beverages in the world. However, consume sugar-sweetened beverages like sweet tea in moderation because they can increase the risk of inflammation. 

A study shows that dietary sugar consumption contributes to increased inflammation in the body. According to this study, dietary sugar intake (more specifically, sugar-sweetened beverages) can cause subclinical inflammation. 

3. Sugary Coffees

Coffee might have beneficial effects on inflammation due to its plant compounds. Still, sugary lattes and cappuccinos are full of sugar syrups, caramel sauces, whipped creams etc. And excessive consumption of such sugary lattes can lead to jitteriness and inflammation. In addition, a study by Harvard shows that sugary beverages that contain sweeteners like syrups provide empty calories and no nutrients. Therefore, excessive consumption of such drinks can lead to chronic inflammatory diseases like type 2 diabetes and cardiovascular diseases.  

4. Energy Drinks

You may get a short bump in alertness from energy drinks, but they are full of sugar and artificial sweeteners. Energy drinks also tend to have too many calories that are equivalent to 4-5 cups of coffee. It may cause inflammation that can trigger stress, headache etc. A study suggests that excessive consumption of energy drinks can have adverse effects like cardiovascular effects, neurological effects, metabolic effects etc.

5. Alcoholic Beverages

Alcoholic beverages like beer, wine and hard liquors cause inflammation. Drinking excessive alcohol can increase inflammation in your body and disrupt your sleep and concentration.

A study proves that drinking excessive alcohol causes inflammation and weakens the body’s ability to regulate that inflammation.

As you can see from the drinks mentioned above, sugar is a major culprit in all and is the primary cause of inflammation in the body.  

Anti-Inflammatory Drinks 

Inflammation in the body can cause many health issues. Below are some food and drinks that have anti-inflammatory properties that fight inflammation: 

1. Green and Black Tea 

Green and black tea are excellent sources of antioxidants that help protect against oxidative damage, which can lead to chronic inflammation. A study shows that the major components present in green tea (epigallocatechin-3-gallate) have anti-inflammatory effects on diseases like diabetes, cancer, obesity etc. 

Have a couple of cups of tea a day whether it be green or black. Refrain from adding sugar though. 

2. Berry and Fruit Smoothies

Berries and fruit have high amounts of vitamins, minerals and fibres.  A study suggests they have antioxidants called anthocyanin that act as an anti-inflammatory against many diseases.  Consuming berries can lower the risk of specific inflammatory markers associated with cardiovascular diseases.

They can be made into a smoothie along with yogurt, which has anti inflammatory probiotics,  to make a healthy as well as delicious beverage. 

3. Turmeric Tea and Turmeric Milk

Studies show that turmeric has antioxidant properties that help manage inflammatory and oxidative conditions. In addition, curcumin (the bright yellow phenolic compound that is the main constituent of turmeric powder) is an anti-inflammatory compound. It reduces free radicals, pain and inflammation in the body. Having turmeric tea or milk can reduce flare-ups and other inflammatory diseases.

4. Green Juices

Green juices made from green leafy veggies like spinach, kale, coriander and celery are a powerhouse of antioxidants and anti-inflammatory compounds. Research suggests that eating these veggies daily, reduce inflammation, the risk of heart disease and reduce the age of mental decline while boosting your immunity. They can also include antioxidant rich fruits that will definitely help boost the taste of the drink. 

5. Apple Cider Vinegar-Tea tonic

The benefits of green tea on inflammation have been discussed above. Apple cider vinegar is anti-inflammatory as well. You can make a cup of green tea and add in a teaspoon of unfiltered apple cider vinegar.You can also have it with just water and not green tea.  

The Bottom Line

Beverages are an alternative fluid to water. Choosing the right beverage is of utmost importance. Excessive consumption of certain beverages i.e. mostly sugar sweetened colas and drinks can lead to inflammation which in turn leads to diseases such as type 2 diabetes, arthritis, cardiovascular diseases, pain, swelling, redness etc. 

Inflammation can slowly damage your body. And unfortunately it can be symptomatic or asymptomatic. Watching for warning signs is extremely important. 

Eating right and exercising well control inflammation but watching what you drink is important too. 

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) 

Q. What drinks can cause inflammation?

A. Beverages rich in sugar, artificial sugars and other chemicals can cause inflammation. Some examples are sweet tea, soda, alcoholic beverages, energy drinks and sugary coffees. 

Q. What is the fastest way to reduce inflammation in the body?

A. Inflammation can occur in the body due to various reasons. Therefore, it’s essential to know the cause of chronic inflammation to control it. It’s necessary to consult your doctor for proper treatment. But you can do certain things to reduce inflammation like staying hydrated, getting adequate sleep, and consuming food and drinks that reduce inflammation like green tea, dark chocolate, turmeric, berries etc. 

Q. Is coffee inflammatory?

A. If consumed in moderation, coffee is safe for health. And in most cases, coffee is considered anti-inflammatory. But some studies suggest coffee can be inflammatory for some people.  

Q. Is yoghurt inflammatory?

A. No yoghurt is not inflammatory as it is associated with decreased inflammation. Yoghurt contains probiotics which makes it anti-inflammatory, and it also helps prevent type 2 diabetes. 

Q. Does lemon water help inflammation?

A. Lemon water helps in keeping you hydrated, which prevents inflammation. In addition, lemon water has ascorbic acid and antioxidants, which reduces inflammation. 

Q. What are the strongest anti-inflammatory drugs?

A. There are many over-the-counter solid anti-inflammatory drugs or medicines. Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) help reduce inflammation and pain. 

Some of the common over-the-counter anti-inflammatory drugs are:

  • High-dose aspirin
  • Ibuprofen
  • Naproxen 

However, these medicines can have side effects, and it is essential to consult your doctor before taking them. 

Q. Is dark chocolate an anti-inflammatory?

A. Yes, dark chocolate is an anti-inflammatory. Dark chocolate has antioxidants like flavonoids and polyphenols that help reduce inflammation. However, it is best to consume dark chocolate in moderation. 

Q. How can I naturally reduce inflammation?

A. Diet and lifestyle changes can help you reduce inflammation naturally. However, chronic inflammation can badly affect your health, and to reduce the inflammation, you should:

  • Drink less sugary beverages
  • Eat anti-inflammatory foods
  • Exercise
  • Stay hydrated 

Q. Is an apple anti-inflammatory?

A. Apples can reduce inflammation in the body. That is because apples have antioxidants that are very beneficial for health. Apples are rich in polyphenols that help reduce inflammation and blood pressure and keep blood vessels flexible. Most fruits are anti-inflammatory in nature.

About the Author

M.Sc in: Dietetics and Applied Nutrition from Manipal University. Worked: All over India and have been involved in helping set up nutrition departments in start ups. Interested in lifestyle based nutrition. Mantra: A healthy lifestyle isn't a choice to be made or discarded, it's a way of life!

Related Articles


Add Your Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Your health is our priority. Talk to one of our experts and get the best plan for you today.
Chat With Us