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Inflammation. The word probably makes you think of a knee swollen from running, a sore throat or a rash. Or maybe you’ve tuned into the recent conversations about systemic inflammation that is the result of an immune response gone wild.

The first type of inflammation is good and will go away with rest and maybe an over-the-counter NSAID. The second form usually begins when our bodies’ defense system runs out of control, like a rebel army bent on destroying its own country. What few people understand is that systemic inflammation run amok is at the root of all chronic illness we experience — conditions like heart disease, obesity, demntia, depression, cancer, and even autism.

Thankfully, the list of things that cause inflammation is relatively short: poor diet, lack of exercise, stress, and hidden allergens or toxins.

I assume if you’re reading this blog, you are already making strides towards transforming your diet from French fries, soda, and burgers to one filled with fruits, veggies, beans, nuts/seeds, and whole grains. Sometimes though, you might want to give your body a little healing boost.

That’s where this anti-inflammatory chai tea comes in. It’s sugar free and has loads of inflammation-fighting foods:

Turmeric: This is the ingredient that gives curry its yellow color. It works in the body by helping to turn off a NF-kappa B, a protein that regulates the immune system and triggers the process of inflammation.

Ginger: This has been shown to suppress the pro-inflammatory compounds in the synovial lining of the joints, joint cartilage, and leukocytes (immune cells). Ginger also has a compound in it called 6-gingerol, which was shown to significantly inhibit free radical damage.

Cinnamon: Some lab studies suggest the natural compounds present in cinnamon can help combat inflammation, have antioxidant effects, and fight bacteria. (But it’s unclear what the implications are for people.)

Cardamom: According to Ayurveda, cardamom is good for muscle and joint pain. Recent experimental evidence suggests that cardamom possesses anti-inflammatory and anti-carcinogenic properties.

Almonds: Eating a small handful of almonds each day has been shown to reduce inflammation markers in Type 2 diabetics and inflammatory bowel disease. In addition, almonds have been shown to reduce levels of C-reactive protein, a common marker for inflammation in the blood.

But, enough about the science already, let’s make chai!


Anti-Inflammatory Chai Tea

Serves 2

2 cups almond milk (homemade is best)
1 tsp turmeric powder
1/2 tsp ginger powder
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp ground cardamom
2 pitted dates

Put the ingredients in a high-powered blender and blend until smooth. Gently heat the tea on the stove or in the microwave. Serve hot!

Photo by colourized, used with permission