The momentum behind functional foods and wellness elixirs is at an all-time high. Touted as having the power to do everything from restoring gut health to boosting immunity and fighting inflammation, their cure-all claims are often backed by little serious science.
In lieu of the pricy supplements, we're mixing up a more affordable antidote that is both healthy and homemade—our Anti-Inflammatory Golden Tonic. A tonic, by definition, is a concentrated combination of ingredients that have the potential to enhance or restore health. We'll skip the clever language and admit it's not a cure-all remedy; however, eating more anti-inflammatory foods over time can only not only ease current symptoms (such as fatigue, joint pain and chronic bloating), but it can also reduce the risk of future diseases and slow aging.
An Ode to the Mediterranean Diet
Statistics tell us that populations near the Mediterranean Sea are some of the healthiest, which is largely due to the anti-inflammatory effect of the foods spotlighted in the Mediterranean diet. The primary foods in the Mediterranean diet (fish, lean protein, nuts, olive oil, whole grains, fruits and vegetables) deliver a plethora of antioxidants and phytochemicals that do more than just combat inflammation. The Mediterranean diet has been credited with lowering blood pressure (keeping heart disease at bay), making weight loss easier (thanks to all the fiber), keeping blood sugar levels in a healthy range (warding off diabetes) and more.
The Components of an Anti-Inflammatory Tonic
A necessary step toward more anti-inflammatory eating is upping your intake of whole foods, and we love the use of plants, roots and herbs in this homemade tonic. Here's what you get:
While all teas offer antioxidants, the catechins in green tea are front-runners in preventing damage caused by free radicals. Just be careful not to boil the tea, which can deactivate those helpful antioxidants. Heat the water till steaming to reserve the most nutrients and give you a cleaner flavor. If you're enjoying it in the evening, opt for decaffeinated green tea bags so as to not disrupt sleep.
Many of ginger's anti-inflammatory benefits come from gingerol, a therapeutic compound that has a protective role against free radicals. Gingerol is shown to be effective in pain relief for some people with arthritic and joint pain, and may even improve markers of heart disease if consumed daily.
Curcumin, the bright yellow polyphenol compound (a type of phytochemical) found in turmeric, is praised for its anti-inflammatory and antioxidant effects. The healing properties of curcumin have shown promise in reducing arthritic-related pain, in particular.
Apple-Cider Vinegar (ACV)
Although ACV is not touted specifically for anti-inflammatory benefits, preliminary studies show it could help lower blood sugar, aid in weight loss and reduce blood cholesterol. Just be sure to go for unfiltered vinegar with "the mother."
Whether it's maple syrup, manuka honey or a squeeze of agave nectar, a touch of sweetness balances the bracing vinegar and keeps this sipper ultra smooth. While research is still limited on the health benefits of manuka honey, it does have higher levels of an antibacterial phytochemical (called methylglyoxal) compared to other honey varieties.
For a refreshing spritzer, mix equal parts tonic and sparkling water, or for a more soothing sipper, add ½ cup hot water and drink it like you would tea. Alternatively, take a 4-ounce shot of Golden Tonic and rinse it down with water or juice.
Get the Recipe: Anti-Inflammatory Golden Tonic
Serves: 4 | Serving size: 1 cup
Active: 10 min. Total: 1 hr. 25 min. (including chilling time)
The combination of green tea, herbs, honey, apple-cider vinegar and spices delivers the healthy ingredients to eat more of to help combat inflammation and chronic disease in the long run. Not to mention, this concoction also makes for a tasty and refreshing beverage. Enjoy!