Toss that vodka soda.
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woman standing in kitchen drinking red wine leaning on the counter
Credit: Justin Lambert

Whether you're watching your weight or simply keeping an eye on your sugar intake, you've likely heard that the best drink you can order from the bar—or make at home—is a vodka soda. We know you're skeptical—and you're right to be. Though it's one of the lower calorie options out there, it's not a fail-safe for those currently living with inflammation (in fact, that vodka is going to cause a slew of problems). If you are currently struggling with inflammation, you should know that the medical pendulum swings toward abstinence when it comes to alcohol use. But the next best thing? Experts say that red wine, when consumed in moderation, is the best drink for those suffering from chronic inflammatory diseases like arthritis.

Dr. Susan Blum, author of Healing Arthritis ($18.99, and founder of Blum Health MD says research shows that food, stress, gut, toxins, and infections can all be underlying causes of inflammation in the body. She advises her patients to approach healing inflammation in phases, first going through a one- to two-month restrictive phase to determine the root cause, followed by a six-month to two-year "Finish What You Started" phase. This likely comes as no surprise, but moderating alcohol use during all parts of the program is absolutely essential to both discovering the underlying causes of your ailments and treating them.

During the therapeutic restrictive phase, Dr. Blum recommends patients limit themselves to one glass of red wine per week if they can't commit to complete abstinence. After the initial phase of her program, she says restricting alcohol consumption to a couple of glasses of red wine per week shouldn't cause too much damage. "At least a glass of red wine has polyphenols!" she says (polyphenols are actually known to have anti-inflammatory effects).

Here's the buzz kill: Dr. Blum says inflammation sufferers absolutely need to kill the hard alcohol consumption. Hard alcohol, while lower in sugar and gluten, is hard on the gut, and can actually make inflammation worse. So, the next time you head out to dinner with friends, reach for the wine list—and keep moderation in mind.


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